Imagine our angling ancestors fishing only where
they could row a cumbersome, wooden boat. Imagine being limited
to heavy braided line or trying to cast plugs for hours on
end with a stiff, fiberglass fishing pole. Imagine the days
before electric trolling motors when the only way to slow
a river drift was to throw a couple of five-gallon pails over
the side of the boat. Imagine our ice angling forefathers
chipping holes in the ice with a heavy steel bar rather than
a gas-powered auger and warming their hands over a coffee
can of charcoal. Those were the days … Many of us remember
when employing a multiple system of batteries meant using
multiple chargers to replenish them. We can recall the days
when one rod served all our fishing needs. We hailed the arrival
of Lowrance's "Green Box" flasher, but still relied on landmarks
to triangulate the location of our favorite fishing spots.
It's been said that invention is the product of necessity.
Today, it's more a product of making our outings on the ice
or water as convenient, comfortable and efficient as possible.
Triton has given us rock-solid, roomy fiberglass boats that
take us from spot to spot comfortably and quickly. Mercury's
low-emission, fuel-efficient outboard motors help us protect
the environment and give us the means to fish areas that are
miles apart, and their four-stroke kickers purr like a sewing
machine without gagging us on exhaust fumes. MinnKota gives
us powerful electric motors that let us slip in and out of
fishing areas without spooking our prey, and Optima Batteries
give us the technology to power those motors for hours upon
hours. Highly detailed sonar units like Lowrance's new LC109
tell us exactly what is beneath us, from fish to thermoclines
and hard bottoms to soft bottoms. Lowrance also gives us the
means to return to precise locations and discover new spots
with global positioning units. Underwater cameras offer an
even clearer view of the aquatic world.
||Graphite rods and super lines make it seem like we can
see the bottom through our hands when we fish, and Off-Shore
planer boards allow us to cover water that previously
would have meant multiple trolling passes. The reason
most of us go fishing is to fish. We don't want to deal
with half-charged batteries, rusty or dull hooks or tangled
rods. We don't need the hassle of stumbling over a bulky
tackle box or fiddling with the mount on the kicker motor
trying to get it into fishing position. Here are a few
more ways to make your fishing outings hassle-free and
more enjoyable than ever: When I fish, I may hit 20 spots
in a day, or more. If I'm trolling, that used to mean
a lot of trips to the back of the boat to deal with the
kicker motor. Sometimes, it meant getting blown completely
off course while I set rods. No more. Panther Marine Products
(www.marinetech.com) has integrated kicker control into
the main control cockpit. First, Panther's Auxiliary Motor
Lift lets an angler lower the kicker into fishing position
with the push of a button. Second, the Electro Steer Remote
Auxiliary Steering accessory allows the motor to be controlled
from the cockpit rather than the back of the boat.
Now, I can make directional adjustments with
the touch of a finger while setting lines, and troll from
the comfort of the captain's chair in my Triton 219X. Anglers
with older outboards not equipped with trim and tilt will
also appreciate Panther's Integral Trim and Tilt systems.
MinnKota (www.minnkotamotors.com) offers some options that
are well worth the investment, too. The Maxxum Pro Bow-Mount
is a lift-assistance feature that cuts the weight of lifting
the motor in half. There are also power lift options available.
Many new MinnKota models come with a universal sonar feature.
The transducer is incorporated in the main body of the motor,
and can be connected to virtually any type of sonar unit.
For anglers who spend most of their time anchoring up on structure,
the DeckHand electric anchor is a great tool. Quick Release
brackets are another great invention that allow removal of
the bow-mount in seconds for either security purposes or when
heading out on especially rough water when you know it won't
be needed. And one other MinnKota accessory I wouldn't do
without is the MK106 On-Board Charger. Plug it in at night
and rest assured that your batteries will be ready to go the
following morning. It will handle up to four batteries and
shuts off when the charge is complete. And it eliminates the
need to take along multiple chargers that require multiple
extension cords and can short out or blow fuses if it rains.
All of us have wondered during a long day of fishing in extreme
current or heavy wind how long our trolling motor batteries
can hold out. While I know my Optima batteries will get me
through any day, it's nice to know exactly how much charge
they have remaining. Both Panther and MinnKota have accessories
for that purpose. Panther has battery gauges that can be mounted
in the dash while MinnKota has a monitor that can be flush-mounted
anywhere in the boat. Tackle storage is another issue. Fortunately,
there are systems available today like Flambeau Outdoors'
Tuff Tainers (www.flambeauoutdoors.com) that promote better
organization and convenient storage. You can also reduce the
threat of rust-causing moisture in your tackle boxes by using
Flambeau's Zerust Dividers which replace the standard plastic
compartment inserts and help keep everything from jigs and
crankbaits to plastics and terminal tackle dry and organized.
Sometimes, it's the little things that make a difference.
Tools like needle-nosed pliers, scissors, line snippers, hook
sharpeners, fish counters and even line strippers are always
good to have at hand. Consider an organizer that mounts along
the inside of the boat to stash these tools, or a couple in
various locations so you always have the right tool at hand.
Technology has given us more conveniences for our angling
outings than most of our forefathers ever dreamed possible.
It's like air conditioning in our vehicles and four-wheel
drive pickups. Give yourself a break. Once you've tried some
of these accessories, it will be hard to imagine fishing without