With fall fast approaching, there’s no shortage of things to do in the Pacific Northwest. Fall Chinook season is already upon us, coho will be coming in, hopefully, the crabbing will just keep getting better, and clamming is always a joy this time of year.
Author, Scott Haugen, with a nice fall Chinook taken last season in Jody Smith’s new River Wild boat. Haugen was most impressed with the roominess and ease of movement in this boat while fighting fish, and how quiet it was when running, even trolling.
To access these and so many other fishing-related journeys, having a boat will boost the odds of success. Whether you’re looking to tidy-up your existing boat, or, if hoping for a new one, here are some things to consider.
Last August I fished the lower Umpqua River with longtime friend and noted guide, Jody Smith. Jody is a full-time guide, and caters to clients from around the country. His goal is always to make the most of their time, ensuring comfort, and hopefully, success.
While we can never be certain of catching fish, we are in control of comfort, especially when it comes to setting up a boat. Jody had just gotten his new boat, a 25-foot long, 90-inch wide Jet Sled, and I was excited to fish from it.
Making a two-mile run from the ramp, we talked the whole time, and traveled near top speed. How was this possible?
True, quiet motors help, but what made the real difference was the floor.
The quietest riding sled boat the author has ever ridden in, thanks to flooring that’s secured with epoxy rather than rivets.
Even on choppy water the boat was incredibly quiet, thanks to no rivets holding the sheets of diamond plated flooring in place. “It’s all epoxied down,” smiled Jody, pointing to the floor, when I asked why the boat was so quiet. “It just makes for a smooth, quiet ride, which everyone appreciates, and the design helps dampen noise vibration when fishing in shallow water, too.” The floor has a non-glare finish, which is also nice on those sunny days.
Inside the boat, bait trays are built-in to the side rails, and can easily be slid and secured. A sinker tray is also set inside the transom, atop which sits a bait cutting board. Recessed washdown pumps are in the front and back, making cleanup of all areas, even the fish box, easy.
A built-in trash can stays out of the way, and keeps trash from being blown out when traveling.
Due to an array of strategically placed LED lights, getting all our gear ready in the early morning, was very convenient. Even the inside of the 14-foot rod lockers had LEDs, which made handling rods, efficient.
Two more setups really caught my eye. First were the retractable cleats. When we untied from the dock, Jody pushed one of the cleats down, and asked me to get the ones in the front of the boat. And when I unclipped the bumper from its low-profile attachment point, I was even more impressed. When moving around the boat with a salmon net, it’s inevitable that at some point, the bag will get caught on a cleat; not so on this boat.
In addition to retractable cleats along the boat, these low-profile, quick-release buoy clips ensure nets and fishing lines don’t get tangled, potentially costing anglers time, and often, fish.
The GPS antenna is set flush in the back of the boat, rather than atop an elevated post, which is usually the case. This also eliminates net and rod tangles.
There were no aftermarket add-ons in Jody’s new boat, as he had everything designed to meet his personal fishing needs.
If you’ve already invested in a boat, adding pieces of gear to help make it more comfortable and user-friendly, is easy to do. Of course, only you know how to best do this in order to suit the fishing you do, the number of people you take and equip it for where you want to go. Heaters are nice, as are knife racks, bait boxes, leader trees, rod holders, and more, and how many you have, and where you position them, is up to you.
Once you invest in a boat, you’re taking fish-catching opportunities to the next level, for so much of an angler’s success comes down to access. With a boat you can reach places and fish spots that are impossible to do so, otherwise. And you can do it in comfort.
If looking to invest in a boat, consider all you can do with it.
While ocean conditions and salmon runs are in transition, don’t overlook other trips you can take with your boat. Explore the crabbing and clamming options that are out there; hit the big rivers for shad and perch; even consider the high lakes and open-ocean opportunities that exist.
There are many great fishing adventures to be had, and the time to enjoy them is now.
With life never slowing down, and time being tight for everyone, investing in a boat will force you to get out more, which is really the goal all of us want to achieve.
- written by Scott Haugen
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All photos taken by Scott Haugen