bass fishing

  • Great Fishing Gifts

    Got your shopping done yet? Yeah, neither have we. If you're stumped about what to give your favorite fisherman (or woman!), the Skipper has a few suggestions.

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  • Bundle Up for Winter Boating

    Is winter boating a thing? Yes, though not so much in our part of the world. In the coldest months, we northerners catch most of our fish through holes drilled in thick lake ice. Winter offers great fishing opportunities and snow-kissed fun for the dedicated boater with access to open water - and who's not afraid of the cold.

    Cold weather saps battery power. A battery loses 30 percent of its charge at freezing temperature (32F/0C). Keep your battery charged to avoid frustration when starting your motor. Also, watch for water in your fuel. Warm days followed by cold days cause condensation, which can contaminate your fuel. If you'll be using your boat over the winter, change your fuel/water separators and filters before cold weather sets in, as David Meeler of Yamaha Outboards advises. Adding a fuel stabilizer helps, too; it can keep your fuel fresh for up to 12 months.

    Snow left to sit can be hard to remove, and that's true of your boat as well as your front walk. Cover your boat when not in use and remove any snow or ice that accumulates on the hull. Ice adds weight and can clog through-hulls. Try a plastic ice scraper rather than a metal tool, and work as patiently as you can to avoid scratching your boat.

    If you're going fishing, be aware of water temperatures, as fishes' behavior depends on it. Fish are more likely to be active on sunny, warmer days, and you'll be more comfortable fishing on those days, too. Read up on the fish you're after and adjust your strategy accordingly to avoid disappointment. Take Me Fishing has good information on cold weather bass fishing.

    Speaking of fishing, watch your livewell and drain it completely when you're done. Water swells when it freezes, bursting hoses and breaking pipes. If you're boating on a very cold day, close off and plug your livewell from inside the boat before you set off to avoid a plumbing disaster while you're on the water.

    Keep warm and wear your life jacket. You lose body heat 25 times faster in cold water than you do in cold air, and a plunge overboard without a life jacket can quickly turn deadly. Bring an insulated container of something hot to sip, dress warmly, and keep as dry as you can. A portable butane stove is an affordable, comforting addition to your boat or ice-fishing shanty, allowing you to heat water, brew a percolator of coffee, or warm a pot of soup. Wear sunglasses or goggles to protect your eyes from glare and cold.

    As always, be aware of your surroundings, make a float plan and leave it with someone you trust, boat sober, and have fun!

  • The Good Kind of Trolling

    When trying to sneak up on the fish in your favorite spot, your regular boat motor might be just too much. A well-chosen electric trolling motor can give you the edge needed to catch your limit with relative ease, but where to begin?

    The power of trolling motors is expressed in pounds of thrust, not horsepower. How much thrust do you need? That depends on the length and weight of your boat. The chart below gives an idea of the minimum thrust requirements for boats of different sizes. You might want a more power than the minimum, of course.

    Chart: Chart:

    What about shaft length? We've seen recommendations in the neighborhood of 20 to 24 inches below your boat's waterline, so that's a good place to start. Some boaters calculate shaft length based on the distance between the transom or bow and the waterline. A longer shaft is better in rough, choppy water because it keeps the propeller below the water when the boat bounces on the waves.

    Obviously, salt water is, well, salty, and salt is corrosive. If you're a blue-water fisherman, choose a trolling motor designed for use in salt water. Such trolling motors are better sealed against water than ordinary motors. Look for props and mounts made to withstand salt water, too.

    Because it's clean and quiet, electric propulsion is one of the most attractive features of trolling motors. Without noise or fumes, you can glide along silent as a fish - but only if you have adequate battery power. The higher powered the motor, the more power it draws. A 12-volt motor runs on a single battery, but more powerful motors need two or more. A trolling motor strong enough to power a pontoon boat or a biggish sailing craft will probably require three 12-volt marine batteries. Multiple batteries take special wiring configurations, so read your manual carefully.

    Bow or stern mount? Where you mount your motor depends on where you hang out in the boat. A transom mount doesn't make much sense if you fish from the bow, and vice versa. If you add a remote control, though, you can control your trolling motor no matter if you're fore or aft.

    Once you've selected your motor, you can also choose extras like foot-pedal controls, chargers, adjustable mounts, and tie-downs. Find trolling motors and accessories for less at Great Lakes Skipper!