Are you a shore fisherman? If so, I probably don’t have to announce shore fishing access to the lakes, rivers and even some streams seems to be shrinking.
And even when good access is available, the chance of catching fish is less from shore than it would be from a boat.
Why not make this the year that you toss away that old folding fishing chair you’ve been using for shore fishing and become a boating angler?
You don’t fish that much? I’ll bet you’ll fish a lot more when you own a boat. No longer will you have to wait and hope the fish will come to you, because you’ll be able to go to them.
Let’s begin with your needs. If you’re alone, it’ll be simple — perhaps a 16-foot aluminum boat with a 10-horsepower outboard might be the answer. That’s how I started, but I’ve since been through, in all honesty, about 20 boats.
Family members such as your wife and especially your children who didn’t have an active interest in shore fishing have a tendency to change their feelings when dad has a boat. It’s very difficult to do any tubing, water skiing or anchor up on a shallow sand bar for a little “off the boat” swimming without one.
So my recommendation is a 16- to 18-foot aluminum or fiberglass deep V-hull with at least a 50-horsepower outboard and drive-on trailer. This is a good family-size package and for the new “fishing friends” you’re going to attract.
I learned the hard way that the best choice is to install the maximum-rated horsepower on the boat. All motorboats have a Coast Guard horsepower rating permanently affixed inside the boat’s hull. Go with it.
There is one piece of equipment referred to as an accessory that I think is a “must” — an electric trolling motor. Choices are bow- or stern-mounted, and since you are more than likely to do all your fishing in the bow, that would be my placement choice.
The power of an electric motor is rated in thrust pounds, and I recommend no less than 60 pounds, powered by a separate, deep-cycle marine battery. Not only is the electric motor a way to move around more quietly, but also it can position your boat for the best lure/bait presentation. Broken weed lines, rocky points and bridge abutments can all be fished more productively with a quiet electric motor. And it’s good to have in the event of an outboard motor problem or if you run out of gas.
Speaking of structure, depth and safety, every power boat should be equipped with at least one fish/depth finder. Visible structure is easy to find, but big bass, pike and walleyes often hide in underwater structures. Choices are many,
depending upon how much detail you want. I suggest a liquid crystal display (LCD) unit with an automatic mode feature which only requires turning it on.
The more you use the unit, the more you will learn to read the bottom and recognize the fish symbols. Running down the lake in unfamiliar territory without one of these units can also lead to some very expensive prop and/or lower unit repairs.
Power boats require certain federal/state safety equipment, determined by the size and propulsion of the boat. These include personal floatation devices (PFDs), fire extinguishers, sound-producing devices, visual distress signals, etc. For full details, Google “NYS Boaters Guide.”
As a new boater, it’s a good idea to take the New York State Safe Boating course. If you have a youngster at least 10 years old and less than 18, take them along and get them ready to be your first mate. It’s a very worthwhile course for all. For further details go to: www.-nysparks.com/recreation/boating/education.aspx.
Now your last decision — should you buy a new or pre-owned boat? This is the same choice you make when buying a car or truck. Only you can answer the question.
Whichever you choose, I recommend buying from a marine dealer who will stand behind the product. Our boating season in the Northeast is too short to have on-the-water boating problems, and it’s always nice to have that dealer warranty on your purchase. The same goes for winterizing and spring preparations: Leave it to the experts.
New York state offers many great fishing/boating opportunities to take advantage of. Here’s one to offer to the family this evening at dinner and check the reaction.
Ask the family if they’d be interested in an island getaway this summer, sleeping under the stars. Included would be swimming, waterskiing, tubing, picnicking, boat rides and, of course, fishing.
Just a short ride up I-87, Lake George offers 387 New York state shoreline campsites located on 44 state-owned islands. Eighty-five are located in the Narrow Island group (Mother Bunch group), 170 and 42 cruiser sites are in the Glen Island group (The Narrows) and 90 are on Long Island. The cruiser sites are for large boats with sleeping quarters. Twenty-five sites in the Glen Island group are located on the mainland, but accessible only by boat. Most sites are well-forested and private. All sites have a dock for at least one boat, a fireplace, picnic table and toilet facility. Cruiser sites also provide a charcoal burner and privy.
What are you waiting for? Start shopping!