Tips and Tactics
Small boat owners can have the same advantages of a larger boat when carrying fish for dinner.
It is still a common sight to see the old stringer hanging off the side of a small boat because there is no live well available. Unless you are fishing for very large fish, you can keep your catch alive and fresh with a simple home made live well.
This container need only be an insulated cooler that fits across the beam of your boat. It need not be any length greater than the fish you plan on keeping and works extremely well for pan fish. The container only requires a minimum of changes to make it effective.
First, pick the proper size of container to fit the boat. Remember that the water you put in the container is directly proportional to the maximum allowable weight for your boat and passengers. You can easily calculate the total weight of container and water by knowing the size of the cooler.
This is a very important safety consideration.
Once you have chosen the size of cooler, you must make sure it has a stable location on the deck of the boat. You may have to add a section of floor into your boat to distribute the weight evenly across the beam of the boat and allow for securement.
You do not need an out of control live well container when traveling on rough water.
There are a number of ways this live well can be filled. You can do this manually with a bailing bucket or invest in a small bilge pump. Often the manual system fails, only because the fisherman becomes engrossed in fishing and forgets to change the water.
I would suggest a small, 12 v. battery operated bilge pump as an option. The bilge pump only requires alligator clips to the battery post and a length of outlet hose to fill the live well.
The same set up can be used to drain the live well, if you choose not to put in an over flow.
This system is not fixed to the exterior of the boat and is totally portable.
You can modify and improve on this system all you want.
The key is keeping your catch fresh for the table without adding a lot of cost to your trip.
All your components are available at any retail outlet that sells marine products.
There are added benefits of a portable 12v. bilge pump for the small boat owner. The bilge pump can be used as a back up in case you are taking in water or used to flush out the boat after a hard day of fishing.
On the fly live well pick up.
These are found on the majority of boats carrying live wells today. A simple and effective water pick up can be made from bent tube or copper pipe. The pipe can be straight or with an elbow to pick up water.
The length of straight pipe used as the initial water pick up is optional and the water can be routed to the live well with a corresponding size in plastic tubing.
Place the water pick up at the stern of the boat. The tip of the straight pipe or elbow need only be level with the underside of the hull of the boat. Clamp the metal tube to the stern of the boat to prevent twisting or misalignment. Use metal plumbing clamps with # 8 x 1/2 stainless screws or # 46 x 1/8 stainless rivets to attach the clamping device to the transom. Use dabs of silicone caulking on the threads of the screws or in the rivet hole to prevent leaks.
Press plastic hose over the metal tube and run over the transom to the live well. You can use a variety of plastic holding devices to hold and guide your water delivery tube to the inlet of your live well.
You may wish to add a hose clamp at the joint of the metal and plastic tube, however a friction fit is usually good enough. Run the water line into the top of the live well. This simple system will pick up water from the lake at less than ten miles per hour. A 3’8 inch water delivery system will easily fill any size live well and most likely over match a 3/4-inch overflow under speed.
If you must extend the water delivery hose into the depths of the live well, you have to add an in line block valve between the pick up point and the live well. Without this valve, you will encounter siphoning and live well draining when the boat is idle or out of the water. The added benefit of a block valve is control over the water volume entering the live well or the ability to stop the incoming flow of water when not required.
Fish measuring boards have become a necessary conservation tool for the fisherman and family. No longer will we be excused from having fish on board that do not meet regulations or use measuring methods that injure fish. Here is a simple method of building a measuring device, to avoid ruining a good day of fishing.
Take two 1 x 4 boards, thirty inches long and bevel one longitudinal edge of each board to an approximate 22- 1/2 degrees. Apply wood glue to the bevelled surfaces, square up and press together. Nail both sides of the bevelled edge in opposite directions to give yourself a solid joint.
Measure the width of the “V” at its’ widest point. Cut a piece of 1 x 6 to match the width of the ‘V” or slightly wider. Tip the “V” upside down on a flat surface and center the 1 x 6 end piece. Put wood glue on the end of the “V” and nail or screw the 1 x 6 on the “V”. This will close off one end of the measuring board.
For a right-handed person, you must close the left end of the V, in its’ upright position. This will be your natural way to lay a fish (head to your left) on the board for measuring and reading the ruler.
There should be a squared edge remaining below the point of the “V” from the 1 x 6. This will be the base of the measuring board when the measuring board is righted. This square edge will keep the measure board from tipping, making measurements easier. Paint the entire measuring board with a light coloured paint leaving a smooth surface to place the fish on and make cleaning easy.
Purchase a well-marked aluminium ruler from the hardware store. Find a ruler that has been stamped, not painted. If the numbers are painted, you will have to coat the painted marks or be prepared to replace the ruler after a seasons’ use.
Cut the ruler to fit your measure board. Drill two small holes in your ruler where the measurement lines are not impacted. Place the ruler with the smallest measurement on your left and on the opposite side of the measuring board from where you will be taking measurements.
The ruler should touch the inside face of the 1 x 6 with the largest numbers to the open end of the measuring board.
Keep the ruler as high as possible on the measuring board for ease of reading. Screw the ruler onto the measure board with stainless wood screws.
This will give the average fisherman a good point of reference when deciding on which fish is a keeper and which fish will be released.
Note of caution; Use an oversize drill bit when placing holes in the ruler. This will allow the ruler to grow on hot days and prevent the screws from backing out or the ruler buckling.
Those of you who rely on the plastic rulers often found in sporting good stores should take note. A plastic ruler can grow as much as 5 MM / ¼” on a hot day.
This also applies to conservation officers who might use a plastic ruler for checking the fishing public. Plastic rulers are unpredictable and should not be used to measure fish.
If I am concerned about measuring fish on a hot day, I will always leave my ruler out of the sun and measure the fish on a cool wet board.
Fish out of water are suffocating. They become quite stressed quickly. You can add to their stress and shorten their life by attempting to measure on a hot board. Remember, the fish came out of a cool water environment.
A comparison of a fish on a hot measuring board would have you walking across asphalt without shoes on a hot day. Leave your board in the shade or in the livewell if practical.
Fishing barbless hooks seems to affect the angler the most. This is not a discussion about the pros and cons of fishing barbless, but more on the techniques required to keep the fish on the hook.
Fish species like the rainbow trout, or the smaller Northern pike are often the most acrobatic. Other head shaking species really don’t fit into the first picture at all.
I have found there are two change ups required to fish barbless hooks successfully. The first change was to move into rods with more supple actions. This is especially true of small acrobatic fish.
The supple rods will allow the fisher more opportunities to make errors and not lose the fish by keeping a constant pressure on the hook in the fish with the flex in the rod.
The second point has to do with fishing line. The more non-forgiving the line is, the greater the length of rod you will need to keep these fish on the hook.
September 20, 2006