Boston Harbor encompasses almost 200 nautical
miles and its inshore fishing rivals any in the North East. Each year the harbor's
fishing continues to improve and last season's fishing was encouraging in several
ways. For the first time in many years, anglers had a variety of fishing opportunities.
From cod to flounder, to bass and blues, anglers were able to target their favorites
with good expectations for success all season long.
Out Big Bass On Flies"
Published by The Fisherman 2005
a hungry striped bass really care what is thrown at her? Many experts have written
volumes on this topic. Heaven knows that I have discussed, debated, and even argued
this topic over hundreds of cups of coffee. Yes, there are days when the fish
are so aggressive that it seems you can catch fish on anything that is cast to
them. However, those days are few and far between.
to successfully faking out big bass is to truly understand their feeding habits.
Throughout the season, I have to fish through several distinct bites. What I really
mean is that the bass are keyed into different baits at different times of the
year. Where I fish in and around Boston, mackerel and herring are the primary
bait during the early season. Next, the bass move onto silversides. During the
heat of the summer, the bass will often begin to feed on the bottom enjoying crabs,
shrimp, clams, and even a lobster or two. Peanut bunker is the preferred bait
from late summer and continuing into the fall.
bass is only the first step and many times getting these fish to unzip their lips
can be much more difficult. If you are able to make the right connection and match
your fly to what the bass are feeding on, you will catch more fish. While an exact
imitation is not often necessary and even possible, matching the approximate size,
shape, and color that creates the life-like silhouette will set you up for success.
year, I seem to acquire a number of new fly patterns to add to my arsenal. The
number of available patterns and various size/color combinations can be mind boggling.
With all of these flys to choose from where do you begin? When selecting the appropriate
fly, I factor in the time of day, the season, weather and sea conditions, the
depth of water, and of course the availability of bait. Using this knowledge,
I begin to fine-tune my pattern of choice until I find the correct size, shape,
and color that fake-out big bass.
Your decision is made somewhat
easier because striped bass are
opportunistic feeders. They tend to pursue
the bait that is most plentiful and easily attainable. It's the angler's job to
make the fly standout from the natural bait and get bass to eat.
are no hard fast rules, but I have had more success fishing full body flies during
the early season when bass are aggressively feeding on herring and mackerel. This
is the time to fish big flies, 5 to 7 inches and sometimes even larger. I tye
these flies in the natural bait colors including black/white, blue/white and olive/white.
the season progresses, the available bait becomes smaller. Bass begin to feed
on silversides, shrimp, and crabs. During periods of low light, I use brightly
colored flies that allow my offering to stand out. I switch to more natural flies
especially translucent smoke colored patterns during the light of the day.
peanut bunker invade Boston Harbor in late summer and throughout the fall, I add
a lot of flash to my flies. This bait tends to bunch up into huge balls and a
fly that appears to be a little different will get quicker attention. Using metallic
flash gives the fly the reflective quality of escaping baitfish when the sun hits
the fly and helps it to stand out.
I must admit that when the
fishing gets tough I am partial to a smaller number of flies. Some time has passed
since I wrote an article titled "Give Me Five" for this publication.
However, these patterns remain my go-to flies. I have the confidence in these
patterns to trigger a bite under most any condition. My favorites include the
Deceiver, Clouser, Half 'N Half, Poppers, and Gurglers.
Deceiver is without a doubt the most popular and probably the most versatile patterns
ever tied. The Deceiver combines the national movement of feathers and bucktail.
I tie these flies sparsely in sizes 2-3 inches to imitate silversides and much
larger and fuller to create a large profile fly to duplicate herring and mackerel.
Clouser Minnow like the Deceiver is a universal pattern that I use when bass are
feeding below the surface. It too can be tied in many different sizes and colors
to represent a variety of bait. The Half 'N Half combines the best qualities of
a Deceiver and a Clouser. The addition of the saddle feathers to a weighted fly
creates a larger profile while incorporating the darting action of a Clouser.
fish I tend to remember the most are the cows that I catch on the surface. Poppers,
sliders, and gurglers create the surface commotion that often gets quick attention
when bass are feeding on the surface. These flies are equally effective in the
calm waters of shallow water flats as they are in turbulent waters in rips.
often, I have seen anglers select the right fly that correctly imitates the bait
but fail to connect with many fish. These anglers often do not move the fly in
a way that attracts bass. Sometimes no retrieve is needed and allowing the fly
to dead drift with the current is all that is needed. However, most of the time
the fly needs action. The way the fly moves and pushes water is equally as important
as selecting the correct pattern.
Anglers can use the rod and
line to duplicate the movement of the bait that they are trying to imitate. Use
the retrieve to control depth, speed, and motion. Many anglers tend to retrieve
the fly too quickly with little action. A simple adjustment in the speed and manner
in which the fly is retrieved can often make the difference from casting and catching.
Experiment with length of the strips from long to short as well as the power at
which the line is retrieved.
Use the tide and current to intercept
feeding fish. These funnel the bait to the fish. It's my job as skipper to maneuver
the boat so that my anglers have opportunities to present their flies in the most
natural way. Striped bass have an eye structure similar to the human eye that
allows them to see well so it's important to keep the boat out of their strike
Take the time to learn more about the feeding habits
of bass and you too will be able to fake out the big ones.
Published by The Fisherman 2005
By Captain Bill
I have trained my clients to meet me at
dock and be ready to sail long before dawn. My clients are not often casual anglers:
they are true bass-aholics willing to forsake sleep in order to stalk bass in
the shallows in the wee hours of the morning. When I first meet new clients and
announce the start time, I can tell very quickly if they are serious anglers by
And I'm serious about leaving dock long before most normal
people would ever think of stirring from a night's sleep. It's not that I do not
and I don't. But I know that the prime time to catch big bass
in skinny water is when the sky just begins to pinken in false dawn and for the
next few hours. Sure on cloudy or overcast days, this bite may last longer, but
on most mornings, the shallow water bite is short lived. Dawn is a very special
time to be on the water, and this early morning bite can be very productive year-round.
Fishermen armed with even a cursory knowledge of the behavior of big bass
know that low light conditions provide opportunities to encounter trophy fish
right on the surface. On many mornings, my clients will be stalking and casting
to several jumbo bass long before the sun begins to heat the water. There is also
very little boat traffic to spook these fish. For the most part, I know most of
the other boaters, at least enough to say good morning. I am sure that if you
join the dawn patrol with any regularity, you too will become familiar with many
of the players.
Dawn is the time I explore the numerous shallow bays, small
coves around the Inner Harbor Islands, tidal flats, and the mouths of the rivers.
The best areas provide quick access to deep water. To catch big bass regularly,
take the time to learn these shallow waters and how these fish move in and out.
To the novice, all these areas look similar. However, veterans know that bass
use finger channels to slip into the shallower water under darkness in search
of food. These anglers look for feeding lanes along bars, mussel and clam beds,
points of land that drop-off from the shore, and other structure that tend to
hold large numbers of baitfish, shrimp, and crabs. Many of these use the shallow
waters to incubate their young.
My best advice is take the time to explore
shallow areas during outgoing tide. As the structure exposes, it is often much
easier to identify primary feeding zones and finger channels that bass use to
move around in the shallows. Do some homework. Use nautical charts to determine
contour and water depth. These charts will also reveal detailed information about
vegetation and bottom structure.
Be sure to pay close attention for any
signs of fish. Many times bass move very slowly along the surface waiting and
watching for movement of baitfish. These fish will be barely recognizable to the
untrained eye. Many inexperienced anglers unintentionally look down into the water
rather than scanning the surface. I use specially tinted polarized sunglasses
to aid in my search. Look for fins or any noticeable movement on the water. At
times, bass will be found herding the bait and trapping it on the surface. However,
I often see bait fleeing and jumping clear out of the water, long before I pickup
on the bass.
When approaching shallow water, be sure to do so slowly and
keep the noise to a minimum. As a number of my brighter clients like to point
out, sound travels much faster across water than it does through the air. While
I can not explain the physics behind this as my clients can, I can tell you that
even the slapping of waves caused by the wake of a boat will often spook these
fish. Remember that bass hear much better than you so if you can hear noise, there
is no doubt that they will pick up on it.
Once fish have been located, use
the wind and tide to position the boat. Set up drifts far enough away so that
the fish do not see the boat. Cast lures or flies well ahead of cruising fish
so that your offering lands in sight of the fish. Allow lures to rest before beginning
the retrieve. Bass often hear the splash of the lure hitting the water and quickly
begin to focus on it. Fish use their eyesight and lateral line to track it as
you retrieve. A well placed cast and the correct action in the retrieve will result
Fly fishers should come prepared to cast a floating line with
long leaders. I prefer an 8-wt. rod that delivers the fly with some delicacy so
that it does not make a big surface commotion. In my homewaters of Boston Harbor,
I tend to use sliders rather than poppers. I find that these create just enough
surface movement to get the interest of most bass but do not spook them. If I
am using a popper, it will be a small soft-body fly. I have also had great luck
with white snake flies in sizes from 2-4/0 depending on the size of the available
bait. When the fish are keyed in on particular bait, such as shrimp, I will match
this bait and present what they want.
Those anglers who prefer light tackle
have plenty of choices to make. The first and the most important is line. I use
10-12 pound monofilament rather than one of the newer brads. I find that this
line will deliver longer casts that are necessary in this type of fishing. I also
use a flourocarbon leader connected directly to the mono with an Albright or Uni-knot.
stalking bass in shallow water, I have switched almost exclusively to using soft
plastic baits such as Bass Assassin Shads, Slug-Gos, and Fin-S Fish. These lures
land on the water more softly than traditional wooden and hard plastic lures.
I also find that bass will come back time and time again to attack these lures.
I believe that these lures have a more natural feel to them. I also find that
soft plastic lures can be worked in many different ways. Whether it a slow jerk,
the walking the dog technique, or a quick pop, soft plastic baits are very versatile.
the sunrises higher in the sky, bass will move into deeper water. To consistently
catch fish during these transitional times requires changing tactics. Fly fishers
will need to change lines to get flies down into the water column to reach these
fish. I favor the Clouser Minnow and the Half 'N Half patterns fished on sinking
lines. Light tackle anglers will have better luck working leadhead jigs. While
many prefer traditional bucktail jigs, I have had great luck with plastic swimming
jigs such as Harrison Hoge's Vivif lure and Storm's Shad. The depth of the water
will determine the amount of weight needed.
It is very possible to catch
trophy bass in very shallow water year-round. The trick is to get on these fish
when they are most active
at dawn. Stalking big bass as they hunt the shallows
is not easy but will often be reward with some explosive action. Proper boat handling
and skillful casting are necessary. Increase your success by taking the time to
learn the basics of shallow water fishing and making the commitment to get on
the water early. You too will find yourself among the regulars who duel at dawn
with trophy bass.
1.Dawn is the prime time to
find bass feeding in the shallows.
2. Dawn is a special time on the water.
Join the Dawn Patrol and increase your success in shallow water.
is the time to stalk bass in shallow water.
5. Low light conditions provide
great opportunities to encounter trophy bass in the shallow.
Boston Harbor Revisited
Published by The Fisherman 2005
By: Captain Bill Smith
Last year was a season of big fish and memorable
catches in Boston Harbor. Although the number of bass and blues were down when
compared to previous years, guests aboard my charter boat caught more trophy fish
than any other season in the recent past. Most of these fish were released to
fight another day, including a 40 pound bass and a 38 pounder caught on flies.
The fish arrived early and the weather last spring even cooperated.
cod to flounder to bass, anglers were able to target their favorite spring fish
throughout May. The number of legal-sized cod on inshore structure provided steady
action. While many anglers headed straight out to the Dumping grounds or the B-Buoy,
I found plenty of cod on Thieves Ledge and Three and On-Half Fathom Ledge. I also
did well fishing some wrecks east of Nahant.
The winter flounder stocks
in Boston Harbor have also rebounded to add to the springtime mix. Crow Point
Flats and Hough's Neck were constant producers. When the weather was good we often
stopped at Calf Island on the way in from the offshore ledges and caught some
very nice flounders. We even managed to hook a few tautog in the rocks.
By the third week in May, mackerel made their annual appearance throughout Massachusetts
Bay. For almost three weeks, anglers had opportunities to stalk very large bass
just outside the Harbor. Some days the ledges from Minot's Ledge to Boston Light
were the hot spots, and the next day bass would be found herding mackerel from
Grave's Light to Egg Rock off Nahant.
Once the mackerel moved north, the
bass turned their attention to the huge schools of herring that migrated into
the Harbor's river systems for their annual spawn. Throughout June, large schools
of bass were encountered in the Inner Harbor. Dorchester Bay, Quincy's Fore River,
and Sculpin Ledge were consistent producers. While many anglers had success live
lining herring, my guests did well casting swimming jigs including Harrison-Hoge's
Vivif and Storm's Wild Eye Shad. Productive flies included several herring imitations,
Big Eye Deceivers, and large (4/0-6/0) Half'N Halfs.
Bluefish also made
an early appearance. They, too, stayed in the Outer Harbor and the off-shore ledges.
For several weeks in June and early July, anglers encountered massive schools
of blues. These fish were very aggressive and much larger than normally encountered
north of Cape Cod Bay. By mid-July, these schools had moved on, and schools of
smaller bluefish took their place.
July was a month of transition. The
early season concentrations of bass began to scatter. Most mornings saw decent
surface action but once the sun came up, the fish became less aggressive. My charters
left dock well before dawn to catch the early morning surface bite. Quincy Bay
and the flats around the airport were consistent producers.
the shallows, it was time to fish the structure that big bass love, rocks. And
Boston Harbor has plenty of these. While many boats were frustrated, my clients
caught a number of trophy bass using swimming jigs and weighted flies fished on
full sinking lines. The key was to fish tight to the structure. Faun Bar, Nubble
Channel, Ram's Head, and Black Rock Channel were consistent producers. I also
had good luck north of the Harbor including Lynn Harbor, Halfway Rock off of Nahant,
and Marblehead's Tinker Island.
While June and July have traditionally
been the best time to target big bass in shallow water, last year it was August
that proved to be explosive. While most surrounding areas experience "the
dog days of summer", clients aboard my charter boat caught a number of big
fish on light tackle and flies. Early in the month, Winthrop and the rip at the
northeast of Long Island fished well on incoming tides. Sunken Ledge and Wollaston
were the places to be on the dropping tide.
From late August to mid-September,
the best action was found north of the harbor. Bass and blues were encountered
in very shallow water along Winthrop Shores, Revere Beach, and Lynn Harbor. There
were scattered pods of peanut bunker that held along the shoreline. Unfortunately,
a number of off-shore storms created sea conditions making it difficult to get
to the fish.
The weather caused me to cancel more trips in September and
October than during the rest of the year put together. Normally, this part of
the season provides a number of opportunities to fish for bass, blues, and cod.
This didn't happen last year.
Boston Harbor continues to attract not only
the attention of local fishermen but it is also becoming a destination for worldwide
anglers. There's something for everyone, and this area fishes well from spring
for Boston Harbor Revisited
The 2004 season was a year of big fish.
2. Mackerel kept big bass busy
during the early season.
3. The airport flats fished well throughout the
4. Last year, several trophy bass were landed north of the Harbor.
Another Boston Harbor trophy bass pulled from the rocks.
6. August was
the time to target big bass in the shallows.
Finding Fish in
Skinny Water in Boston Harbor
Published by The Fisherman 2005
Not too long ago when
flats fishing was the topic of discussion thoughts turned to Florida and other
warm exotic areas. Now a days, more and more New England anglers are discovering
the excitement and challenges of skinny water fishing. My personal addiction to
shallow water striper fishing began several years ago when I got a surprising
phone call from a client wanting to do some light tackle casting for stripers.
His father, an avid Florida flats fisherman was going to visit that summer and
wanted to try his hand at Boston Harbor's bass fishing. The catch was that he
only wanted to sight cast in shallow water. It was winter so I had plenty of time
to review my logs and study charts to develop a fishing plan.
two days around the new moon in June because of its exceptionally strong tidal
flow. I decided to hunt Governor's and Deer Island flats off the airport. There
are also some deep-water channels adjacent to these shallows. I knew that herring
are abundant at this time of the season. I was quite confident that I had the
right ingredients for some great striper fishing.
The first day didn't
seem too promising. It was quite cold and overcast. It was blowing southwest,
the direction I like. But it was blowing hard enough to stir the water and even
kick up white caps away from the shore. It would be difficult to locate fish on
the surface. Nevertheless, we were going to give it a try.
I met my clients
just as the sun began to peak over the horizon. The tide was still slack as we
pushed off the dock with a plan to fish the airport flats on the turn of the tide.
Bass often move out of deeper water and into the shallow water of this area as
the tide begins. The problem we faced was that this area offers little protection
when the wind blows as hard as it did that day. Small bait fish such as silversides
and spearling often slip into this area with the tide. Just off the airport's
approach pier is hard bottom that attracts lots of crabs, small lobsters and fin
fish. Just outside of the adjacent flats is a deep-water channel frequented by
big bass especially in spring and early summer when herring are in the Harbor.
After several unsuccessful drifts along the shore, the son switched techniques
and began to fish deeper using a half ounce jig rigger with an olive/white shad
body. Almost immediately, a fair-sized schoolie attacked, and we were tight to
the first fish of the day. While his dad continued to try a number of surface
lures, the son repeated his earlier catch several times during the drift. The
schoolies were holding just off the bottom in 6 feet of water. Dad continued his
search convinced that the bass would eventually take surface offerings.
As the sun came up higher and the tide began to flood we noticed some bird action
further offshore in the Anchorage off Deer Island. We motored over to this area
and set up a drift. Almost immediately both anglers were tight to fish, a situation
repeated many times until the tide began to slacken again. A good ending to the
day but not the shallow water sight casting on which we planned.
again the next morning just before sunrise. Wind would not be a factor this day.
I decided to try the shallows along Wollaston Beach. Arriving just after dawn,
we immediately notice some nervous water and then witnessed a tremendous eruption
My clients cast soft jerk baits just ahead of the commotion.
Allowing the lure to settle before beginning the retrieve, Dad made two twitches
and felt the strike of his first big bass. He used the rod to lead the bass to
the boat where I managed to grab it. Today, I carry a Boga Grip which makes this
task much easier. Wrestling this beautiful bass into the boat for a quick measurement
before releasing her, we were amazed in how shallow of water this 39-inch fish
Throughout this morning, we encountered other pods of big
fish. As the sun came up, we were better able to observe bass working very shallow
water along the bar at the southeast end of Wollaston Beach. Several times we
were able to lead fish to our lures by first locating the fins, casting ahead
of them and allowing the fish to catch up to the lure.
Since these trips,
I have spent much time exploring the shallow waters of Boston Harbor and refining
techniques. I find hunting fish in skinny water to be one of the most exciting
and weather permitting, productive ways to fish. You can often watch fish follow
and take your lure. And experience shows that stripers and blues tend to fight
much harder when hooked in shallow water.
Although shallow water techniques
are similar to those used by our southern cousins, the way we approach flats differs
in several ways. Even though more and more flat bottom bay boats are showing up
in the Harbor, few, if any, local skippers pole their boats as they do in the
South. Rather, most skippers use engines to position their boat and use wind,
current, and tide to move them to the fish.
This drifting approach requires
anglers to use commons ense and to respect the rights of other anglers. Never
motorup into the shallows. It is much more effective to approach quietly and shut
down a good 50 to 75 yards upwind of the area. When setting up a drift, give other
boats the same distance as you would like. Especially give wading anglers a wide
Boston Harbor offers world-class shallow water fishing for stripers
and bluefish with excellent access to small boat anglers. The state maintains
all-tide ramps in Weymouth on the Back River and in Winthrop next to the Yacht
With over 100 miles of shoreline to explore, there is plenty of
water to explore. Several rivers, brooks, marshes, and small escuaries provide
plenty of breeding areas for baitfish in the inner harbor. I have had excellent
luck hunting the shallow waters of Hull, Hingham, Dorchester, and Quincy. Many
of these escuaries provide maximum protection from prevailing southwest winds
so the water is calmer, cleaner, and safer for small boat anglers. Fish are often
much easier to locate and stay on in these shallow waters. Their movements are
also more predictable.
The best time to fish the shallow waters of the
inner harbor is early morning and then again at dusk, especially if there is an
incoming tide. Bass often move from deeper water to feed in the shallows as the
tide covers the inshore structure. Sight casting might be more difficult especially
for untrained eyes. But through careful observation, anglers learn to read the
water looking for irregular bottom changes. Especially important is the proximity
to deeper water-the highways bass use to move from area to area. Also learn to
look for surface changes such as wakes, ripples, and other nervous water which
indicate the presence of moving fish.
Success in shallow water is tied
to proper tackle. These waters can best be fished with light tackle (6-12 lb.
rods) and fly rods. While every successful flats fisherman has a favorite lure,
mine are soft jerk baits such as Bass Assasins and Slug-gos. Small poppers also
will get plenty attention. Color is often important and size can be critical so
be sure to match this to the available bait.
More and more fishermen are becoming
dedicated shallow water anglers and for some this even becomes an obsession. When
the conditions are right, some really trophy-size fish can be stalked and caught.
Take the time to explore the often overlooked shallow waters of Boston Harbor,
and you too can score.
1. Throughout Boston Harbor there
are many shallow water areas to explore both from the shore and boat.
In Hingham, you'll find some excellent flats with great deep water access.
Low water is the time to explore and learn the shelter areas along Wollaston Beach.
Look for any bird activity which indicates the presence of small baitfish such
as silversides, spearling, and sand eels.
5. Look for wakes, ripples, and
other visual signs of nervous water which indicate the presence of moving fish.
Each year some trophy size bass are taken by light tackle enthusiasts fishing
Boston Harbor's skinny water.
Common Sense Fishing Etiquette
The Fisherman 2005
By: Captain Bill Smith
sun was up for quite awhile but the bass still had the bait pinned on the surface.
Don't get me wrong. . . it was not a fish a cast. But the action was very very
good. Birds were diving as the bass worked along the surface. Out of the corner
of my eye, I spied a few boats zeroing in on the aerial assault. I knew that we
would soon have company, and I prepared my clients for the inevitable. Our picture
perfect day was about to come to an abrupt end. They were spoiled having been
working this school of fish since dawn.
What we were not prepared for was
the complete lack of courtesy in which these boats approached. Rather than positioning
their boat to make use of the wind and tide to get to the fish, some ran right
through the school. One boat actually stopped right in front of my boat so close
that my fly fishermen would have entangled the boat's antennas while casting their
lines if I didn't move.
My guests did not appreciate the rudeness of these
newcomers nor did they understand why I decided to leave. It's not that I don't
like crowds, and I don't! But I knew that the surface action would soon be over
since these boats would break-up the fish. I also realized that a mutiny would
break out any moment as tempers continued to rise. It was best to leave.
. . .ignorant. . .unaware. . . careless. I am not much for labels nor does my
personality allow me the time to psychoanalyze. However, I have witnessed this
scene time and again. Most of the time with the same results that are not very
pleasant. There's little doubt that many of you have experienced the same scenario
and probably on more than one occasion.
I have no intention of preaching
nor am I going to take the moral high road. To me, proper fishing etiquette is
just using good manners. It is treating each other with the same respect that
we would like shown to us.
Fishing is a cooperative sport. When the fish
cooperate, anglers are happiest. As with the fish, we are also happiest when our
fellow anglers are cooperative. There is no reason to make the fishing even harder
than it should or needs to be.
There are some anglers out there that simply
have no clue about proper fishing etiquette. Others know it, but pretend that
they don't. They choose to ignore good etiquette. The worse are those who simply
just don't care!
Can we educate anglers about proper etiquette? A few believe
that this topic can best be taught at home. Some use nasty four letter words or
visual signs in an attempt to educate. Others know that proper etiquette can best
be taught through good example and model the behavior that they would like to
Good etiquette is really nothing more than common sense. However, too
often this is lost in the excitement of a full-fledge surface blitz.
First, we must accept the premise that there are many ways to catch fish. Etiquette
requires anglers to follow a two way road and avoid one way streets. I enjoy and
have had good success casting flies and light tackle lures. But I also know that
trolling and bait fishing are equally effective and at times can out produce casting.
Trollers should show courtesy by working the outside of blitzing schools of fish
rather than trolling through the middle of the school. Likewise, casters need
to give boats that are trolling multiple lines plenty of room when setting up
Next, learn how to approach a school of working fish. Resist
the temptation to drive right into the blitz. Try to anticipate the direction
the fish are breaking and move beyond and around the school. Use the wind and
tide to position the boat. Often times, this can be repeated a number of different
times throughout the blitz.
It is also important to learn how to position
the boat. Fly fishermen require a lot of casting room because of the mechanics
of the sport. Keep this in mind when determining how much room is enough room.
When positioning for the drift, never cut another boat's drift by getting in front.
Be sure to set up behind those who have already begun their drifts.
that is hotly debated is whether it is important to shut the motors down when
working a surface blitz. Many say that a running motor does not have an adverse
effect on the blues or bass during a blitz. I believe that the noise and accompanying
vibrations of a running engine often spooks the bait and break it up. For this
reason, I shut down and do not repower until the fish move off.
has many challenges so there is no reason to make it any more challenging. Too
often anglers get distracted, and when this happens they make mistakes. Relax
and take the time to think before making a hasty decision that you might regret.
best advice to quote an old cliché: We should all try for a minute or so
"to walk in each other's shoes".
Captions for Common Sense Fishing
1. Use common sense when approaching a surface blitz and respect
2. The scene is set for great fishing. . . birds are crashing
the water, bass are working bait, anglers are hooked up, and suddenly the fleet
3. Learn how to approach a school of fish without spooking the
fish or annoying other anglers. Photo Credit: Sean Mulready
the direction the fish are moving and use the wind and tide to position your boat.
This picture perfect day is about to come to an abrupt end as the approaching
boats run right into this school of fish.
Tips From The Trailering
Published by The Fisherman 2004
By: Captain Bill Smith
A large number of inshore fishing boats are trailerable. However, there
is much more to trailering a boat than backing up and hitching up. It's very important
to start out correctly when purchasing a new boat, motor, and trailer. When putting
together your boat, much thought should be given to the proper trailer. It is
much more than a dealer add on. Over the years, I have seen more than a few new
boats that have been improperly set up by the dealer. Be sure to know the maximum
load capacity of the trailer.
I set up my boats on heavy duty galvanized
trailers that can handle loads larger than the hull and motor weight. This will
allow me to load all gear equipment and fuel without fear of overloading.
Check with the boat manufacturer to be certain of the bunk or roller system that
is recommended for your boat. These not only support the weight of the hull and
motor but also protect the boat during launching and recovery. An improperly fitted
trailer will make launching and loading difficult. But more importantly, it can
cause serious damage to the boat's fiberglass or even the inner core. Purchasing
the correct trailer is only the beginning.
As a professional guide and licensed
charter captain I trailer my boat no less than 100 times a year and have done
so for many years. I have become so use to a trailer following my truck that when
not hitched up, I feel unnatural. Over this time, I have learned a number of tricks
from backing up into tight spaces to saving gas money by tuning into the tow vehicles'
RPMs. But more importantly, I have learned that proper maintenance is the key
to trouble free trailering.
First, it is imperative that the tow vehicle
has enough power to handle the trailer. If it doesn't, you'll have difficulty
negotiating any hills, launching can be testing, and even worse, you risk damaging
the engine. Trailering even light loads puts extra strain on brakes, the cooling
system and the transmission. Be sure to read the owner's manual for suspension,
weight distribution, and ground clearance requirements. Maintain proper tire pressure
and fluid levels in the tow vehicle. These should be checked on a regular basis.
Proper trailer maintenance can do much to assure a day of fun on the water. A
lack of it can cause real nightmares. The majority of trailer breakdowns occur
because of tire failure or rusted wheel bearings. This is especially true for
those who use their trailers only occasionally. Sitting for long periods of time
can lead to tire rot and frozen bearings.
Follow a plan for regular trailer
maintenance. On a weekly basis inspect tires for flat spots, uneven wear, and
proper tire pressure. Just a word of advice on tire pressure: Underinflating can
cause tires to heat up and blow out. Overinflating can also lead to tire failure
and instability while trailering.
Most trailers now come equipped with special
grease fittings that allow you to monitor the level of grease in the wheel bearings
and add more. Grease not only keeps bearings lubricated, it also keeps water away
from the hub assembly which causes rusting. If the trailer does not come with
grease fittings, there are a number of after-market ones that can be installed.
Be sure to pack for emergencies. A properly inflated spare tire is a "no
brainer". And almost no one would ever head out without a lug nut wrench.
However, few bother to check the size of the trailer's lug nuts to be certain
that their wrench fits. The lugs of the trailer wheel are often quite different
than those of the tow vehicle. I also recommend a compact floor jack since the
vehicle's jack will not fit under the trailer's axle.
I also suggest that
at the beginning of each season remove the trailer wheels and apply a thick layer
of grease to the back of the rim before remounting. This will make it easier to
change tires in emergencies. Also be sure to apply a thin layer of grease or "Never
Seize" to the lugs. Periodically, check the lug nuts to be sure that they
have not rusted or loosened up.
While many recommend carrying an extra set
of bearings, I suggest an extra hub with new bearings and racers already installed.
I find it easier to remove the retaining nut, washer, and cotter pin to replace
the entire hub assembly than to fool with bearings. The bearings are often rusted
and frozen to the racer making roadside surgery a very challenging task.
Also included on my weekly maintenance list is a test of the braking system. Be
sure to check both the vehicle and trailer brakes. Inspect the ball hitch for
excessive wear. Over time, the ball's retaining nut loosens and needs to be retightened.
After I wash the entire trailer and the undercarriage of the tow vehicle, I check
all shocks and springs.
Before each trip, be sure to walk the trailer.
Check for proper loading: front to back and side to side. This will prevent fish
tailing and provides control. I also make sure that the boat is secured to the
trailer and the lights are working.
Securing the boat is another no brainer,
but I have seen many boats held to the trailer by only a winch cable or strap.
Cinching the boat tight to the bow stop can help prevent the boat from jumping
during quick movements, but this should not be trusted. I prefer to use transom
tie downs to hold the stern at both corners. My boat has eye bolts to attach these
straps to both the hull and the trailer frame. I make protective pads out of sheets
of rubber that I put under each strap to protect the boat's gel coat against chaffing.
I also use a set of rachet straps to secure the bow to the trailer. These run
from bow hook to each side of the winch post. These help to prevent excessive
bouncing and relieve the strain on the winch cable.
Larger boats may need
an additional strap that goes over the width of the boat. This strap can also
be more easily seen from the tow vehicle. The few minutes extra it takes to put
on and remove tie down straps is well worth the safety and the peace of mind they
Most trailers come equipped with hand rubber rollers that have
a plastic sleeve inserted through the middle which acts as a bearing for the metal
shaft that mounts to the frame. Under heavy loads, especially when boats sit on
trailers for long periods of time, these types of rollers develop flat spots.
Over time, UV rays also break down these rollers.
Peter Monohan, the trailering
guru at Monahan's Marine in Weymouth, helped me to cure these problems by replacing
my trailer's rubber rollers with Stoltz rollers. I have found these poly rollers
to be an excellent investment. They are extremely strong and will not flatten
under loads. The steel sleeve of Stoltz rollers reduces friction making launching
and recovery much easier. Unlike black rubber rollers these amber rollers do not
mark the hull. As Peter says, "Stoltz rollers are worth the extra cost."
Another tip Peter taught me is no matter which roller you use, they should be
removed and inspected yearly. Grease the retaining pin before reinstalling the
rollers. On my trailers, I replace the factory equipped metal retension pins with
stainless steel ones and when loaded with grease they freely roll for quick launchings.
As a daily user of launching ramps nothing frustrates my guests and me more than
having to wait while other unprepared boaters block access.
Be safe and courteous
to others and you too can enjoy the advantages of trailering your boat. Proper
maintenance does much to assure an efficient use of boat ramps.
It is very important to use the proper trailer to tow your boat.
2. A weekly
check of the trailer's braking system and suspension is a
Carrying an extra hub with new bearings and racers already installed can simplify
4. Stoltz rollers (right) will not flatten under heavy
loads as will rubber rollers (left) and make launching much easier.
Monahan's of Monahan's Marine in Weymouth continues the tradition started by his
father of stocking most every trailer part you will ever need.
should be secured by tie down straps; never trust the winch cable or strap to
keep the boat from moving.
7. Most trailers come factory equipped with special
grease fittings that allow easy access to wheel bearings.