The rising cost of fuel affects everything, including fishing. Skyrocketing fuel prices have hit the commercial and sport fishing charter boat industries along the coast like a brick. Some say the number of fishing trip bookings are off by as much as 50 percent. Locally, weekend anglers are feeling the fuel pinch as well.
So what is one to do? Avid anglers can't just stop fishing, but here are some tips to save money:
Rather than fishing alone, take one, two or more buddies with you. The math is simple. One angler pays 100 percent of all fuel costs, two split it 50-50, and with a third angler, the cost is divided three ways.
Getting from one fishing spot to another can become expensive, so select a launch site near the area you intend to fish. Now is not the time to do runs from dam to dam in search of fish.
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Plane the boat as quickly as practical. The longer it takes to reach plane, the more fuel the motor will guzzle. Once on plane, optimize fuel consumption and speed by trimming the outboard motor and trim tabs.
Proper trimming is accomplished by leaving the throttle in a fixed position while at speed and watching both the speed and tachometer as you adjust the trim controls. Continue adjusting until the RPMs rise to a point where there is no noticeable increase in speed. At that time, optimum performance has been achieved.
The underside of your boat should be free of algae, grass and barnacles. A clean, smooth hull will result in better performance and improved fuel economy. A premium-quality bottom paint will help prevent slime and growth and will allow the boat to slide through the water with ease. Waxing the bottom of a fiberglass hull will also enhance performance.
Tips from Gus
When possible, turn the gasoline motor off instead of allowing it to idle at the dock. Drift or use an electric motor when slow trolling. Rebuild or replace a bent, nicked or chipped boat propeller. Reduce weight by removing all nonessential gear and running with a minimum, but safe, amount of gas. Redistribute the remaining boat load so the boat will run at its optimum speed.
Canoes and kayaks are not exempt from the Life Vest Law. A new state regulation requires all vessels to be equipped with personal flotation devices. The regulation previously stated “motorboat” and not “vessel,” which excluded canoes, kayaks and rowboats. All vessels are required to have at least one personal flotation device (Type I, II or III) for each person onboard. If the vessel is over 16 feet long, it is also required to have a flotation device that can be tossed overboard (Type IV).
Safe boating class: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday at Gander Mountain, I-77 Exit 36, in Mooresville. $49.95. Details or to register: Lighthouse Marine Services, 704-587-0325.
Hot Spot of the Week
Suspended stripers are being caught in the main river channel by trolling deep diving lures, jigging, and drifting live bait. The best action is from the triangle formed by Markers D1and D3 in Reed Creek and Marker 3 in the old river channel. Big bass, both largemouth and spots, are hitting shaky hit jigs in water up to 40 feet deep around humps and submerged structures. White perch and catfish are in deep water along the 20-, 30- and 40-foot contour lines.