Tips and Tactics – part 5
Here is a simple method to locate a suspected leak in your riveted boat. Keep your boat on the trailer and hitched to the tow vehicle. Place the trailer in a level position and begin filling the boat with a garden hose. Place enough water in the boat to cover the entire bottom of the hull. The weight of the water in the boat should put enough stress on the hull to make a rivet weep. Let the boat and water sit until the droplets of water are seen on the exterior of the hull and mark the location with a red pencil or felt marker. Drain the boat and get ready to peen the rivet head(s)
If you have a larger boat, 17’ – 20’, you may have to support the trailer on wood blocks to prevent damage to the trailer and tires. Add water to the boat until you reach the approximate water stain on the exterior of the boat. This will cover the majority of rivets that could be creating your leaks.
Once you identify a leaking rivet, put a small permanent marker dab on it and remove the floor to locate the loose rivet. This job takes two people to accomplish, so find a friend. Who ever has the best access to the rivet will hit it with a decent size ball peen hammer while the other person holds a heavy hammer head against the same rivet on the opposite side. We used a nice two- pound heavy hammer with a flat head but a heavy ball peen hammer pressed tightly against the rivet will do. Just tap the rivet a couple of times and flatten it gently. This will tighten the rivet and stop the leak without replacing the rivet. If you hammer the rivet too much, the leak will become worse as the rivet will split and lose its holding power. Small boats and car toppers can be taken off the trailer and placed against a building or support to make the repairs easier. Larger boats can be shifted on the trailer to gain access to rivets impacted by the trailer frame.
Do not attempt to over work the rivet on either side of the hull. Too much peening will flatten out the rivet material, weakening the rivet. This will force you to drill the rivet out and replace it. Always wear hearing protection, gloves and safety glasses when you peen rivets.
Many fishermen drown when wearing chest waders. Make sure you have a substantial belt cinched tightly around your waist to prevent water from filling your waders in case of a slip or fall. Just as bad and just as deadly are hip waders. They don’t cinch up well and as soon as any wader starts to fill, the water forces the air in your boot to your feet. This tips your feet up making it difficult to right yourself and you are head down and drowning.
Always wear a quality PFD to keep your head above water if you do have an accident. There is no excuse for stupidity and the PFDs that are available today are very comfortable to wear all the time.
Never cross fast flowing streams without a good wading staff and a partner if possible. Rocks in streams are often very slippery and an extra hand to support you in current is invaluable.
Most male drowning victims who have fallen out of a boat have been found with their zipper down. Be safe, stay in the boat and use your bailing bucket for relief.
Always keep a first aid kit in your boat. You never know when it will be required. Check it often and make sure everything stays dry. Many times I have seen my surgical scissors leaving rust stains on bandages. Toss them and get a new pair.
Consider a pair of side cutters as a tool in the boat. Not only for cutting and replacing wiring, but to cut the eye off a hook so the hook can be pushed through your skin and removed. Here again, the next tool is a good pair of needle nose pliers. I refer to needle nose pliers because I have more control when forcing a hook out or grabbing the hook shank as needed.
Never trust your factory installed bilge pump to get you out of a jam. Do yourself a favour and add in a second, much larger pump. Go the extra bucks and add in an automatic float switch. All bilge pumps are rated for a horizontal flow and most come with a manual switch. Many fail or become less than efficient because they pick up small pieces of fishing line, beads, metal filings, plastic filings, terminal tackle or carpet remnants in the impeller.
Any time you see water above the floor boards, you are riding in the Titanic. A regular sized 17’-0 boat with a large displacement hull will take an hour to pump out with a factory 500 gph pump. Any vertical lift will reduce the volume of water the pump is capable of pumping. In some instances, the pump will lose 30% efficiency because of lift and length of discharge hose. In many situations, you do not have an hour to sort out your problems.
I have had personal experience with this issue. It is a bad feeling when you are out in rough water with your son and you know swimming to shore is not an option. After that experience, I installed a 3700 gph bilge pump in the boat. When I am taking on water, the automatic feature tells me I have water in the hull. That is when I kick in the factory pump to empty the hull.
A short story
My son and I were fishing a tournament on Lesser Slave Lake Alberta. The conditions were poor to say the least but we persevered in strong winds, rain and five foot seas. I was operating the boat and we were busy catching fish. Because the conditions were so bad I seldom looked up and only then to check on my son. As I was boating fish I noticed how easy it was to pick them out of the water and bring into the boat. I mentioned this to my son and he looked back to acknowledge my statement. The he said; dad, have you looked at your feet?
I looked down and was amazed to see my rubber boots with water well over my ankles. Then I spun around and looked at the transom and it was three inches under water where the motor mounted. We were in big trouble and sinking fast. I kicked on the factory pump and watched as this pump tried to remove bilge water. But we were taking in water through the control cable boots at a much faster rate.
We quickly moved all tackle bags to the bow and tied them to the bow seat. I told my son that the plan was to start moving forward in hopes of reducing the water intake. I then instructed him to move up to the bow mount and hang on. One mistake and we were toast. The engine has just been upgraded from a 90 to a 150 hp. As the throttle was engaged, I could feel the water shifting in the bilge. I kept applying power as the bow reared up, knowing fully well that an engine failure would end in disaster. By now the engine cowl was only visible where the air intake to the carburaetors was visible and the rear hatch covers had blown open. Water was coming out of the hatches and over my splash guards as fast as the opening would allow and we pushed the boat into the wind and waves. We fought the water in the boat and the rough seas for 20 minutes before the bow started to drop and the transom was no longer under water. It took over an hour for the bilge pump to remove the balance of the water in the hull, but with the power of the 150 and lots of good fortune, we lived to fish another day.
Sometimes I will run a jig and trailer. This is not a plastic attractor but a second hook. I use this double hook method if I am having difficulty determining what my quarry wants in presentation or I have other issues to contend with.
My jig is slightly heavier than just a single jig set up and off a one foot tag line attached to a three way swivel. The single hook will be set up line a short Lindy rig and usually less than five feet behind the jig. The second hook could be plain or dressed with bead or bead and blade combination. The longer the line to the jig, the greater length I will have on my secondary hook. The heavier the jig, the faster I will move. A 1/2 to 3/4 ounce jig is not uncommon for me.
I will run two different baits. The jig might have a Berkley Pro jig worm and the trailer a PowerBait minnow or leech.
In a similar vein, I use a lot of stinger hooks. I have an assortment of home made trebles and single hook stingers.
In flowing waters, fish often miss the intended target or bite short and this can be found when jig trolling as well. Depending on the flow or ground speed, I use my stinger hook as a secondary target with the addition of bait. This is why I build my own stinger hooks to match the desired action I want from the second hook.
Flowing water fish are tight to the bottom. A baited jig has to have the weight to overcome the current, not unlike a jig being trolled under power. The angler can envision the jig being lifted out of the rocks and popped quickly back to the boat, especially when avoiding snags.
The fish are following this jig as it pops free and then suddenly drops to the bottom. Many times a fish will not have enough time to inhale the hook before it disappears amongst the rocks or it will grab the tail of the bait instead of the hook.
When I suspect this scenario I will look for a stinger about six to eight inches long. Usually a single hook stinger so I am not gathering moss and debris as the hooks pass over the rocks.
My stingers usually are built with tiny snap rings that are coated in rubber. The rubberized split ring slides over the hook point of the jig with ease and helps anchor the jig bait and makes re-baiting the jig easier. So my stinger is no longer working with the main hook, but carrying its own bait.
In current I prefer PowerBait and Gulp. We are not allowed to use live minnows and frozen bait is usually not tough enough to withstand the constant popping and reeling. However the conditions of the day will determine the bait choices.
There is one very important factor when considering this application. Anglers must use a flexible stinger and a suitable length of stinger is crucial to getting the desired action of the second bait.
This is what you should be thinking about in my opinion. As you cast and retrieve your jig or pop and glide your jig under power; you must see that there are too very different actions.
First, your heavy jig is going up off bottom on a plane and then quickly dropping near vertical as it heads for the bottom. Your trailer is following but there is no real weight affecting the drop. Your secondary bait flutters as the forward motion of the jig stops, rolls, turns and almost suspends as the jig hits bottom, then slowly sinks as you prepare to pop the jig once more.
That split second, where your secondary bait remains suspended or slowly drops is an easy target for your quarry to catch and usually results in a superior hook set. So much easier to hit than the jig that is headed into the rocks.
This is why this combination is so productive. I even use a similar set up when fish are lethargic and off the bite. The first hook becomes the attractor and the second hook becomes the money hook.
Sep 21, 2006