Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to the days when “Bail Out” referred to what you did with a coffee can because your boat sprung a leak? We’re all feeling the effects of today’s economy, and it’s pretty apparent that things aren’t going to turn around overnight. That means we’re all looking for ways to stretch our recreational dollars and help lower our fishing budgets without sacrificing the “fun factor”. It’s the same whether you’re a professional fisherman or a week-end angler; anything we can do to make our time on the water more efficient and economical will be beneficial. We would like to share a few of our favorite money-saving tips in hopes that they will help you get more “Bang” for your fishing dollars this season.
One simple way for an angler to save a few bucks over the course of a season is to use less fishing line. Now we know how important good line is for fishing success, and we are not telling you to leave line on your reel that’s old, frayed and may break on that fish of a lifetime, but we will tell you that when we change line on our reels, we are very mindful not to strip the spools completely. When you think about how much line you actually use on a spinning reel for instance, it only makes sense that when you change out line, you only replace about half the spool. On reels you use for long-line trolling, you should obviously strip more line off since more of the line is actually being used. We use a Blood Knot or Double Uni-Knot to connect the old line to the new line, and it really makes a spool of line go much further. Using lines that last longer will help too. We find that on reels we spool with Berkley FireLine, we don’t need to change line as often. FireLine stays strong longer and in some cases we may not re-spool those reels more than a couple times a season.
Another expense anglers deal with all the time is the money you spend on live bait. There are a couple things to consider here that can help lower your bait expenses in the future. One is to take good care of the bait you buy so there’s very little waste. If you’re buying minnows for instance, a quality aerated bait bucket like Frabill’s Min-O2-Life or the larger Aqua-Life Bait Station can keep a supply of minnows lively and ready to fish for extended periods. If you use a lot of crawlers in the course of a season, consider buying them in bulk and keeping them in bait storage containers like Frabill’s Habitat V Worm Storage System with Super-Gro bedding. Take care of your live bait properly and you can save a good chunk of change every season.
Of course one of the biggest buzzes in the walleye fishing world the past few years has been going without live bait altogether. On many bodies of water and in many situations, it can be much more efficient, effective and economical to use artificial baits instead of live bait for walleye fishing. We can honestly say that over this past season, Berkley’s GULP! Alive 2 ½ inch Minnow
has saved us a lot of money that we would have normally spent on live minnows. A large bucket of GULP! Alive Minnows will last you a long time and catch way more walleyes than an equivalent number of live minnows. Particularly in shallow water applications like pitching jigs to weeds or other shallow cover where the walleyes are inherently more aggressive, we can honestly say that a 2 ½ inch GULP! Alive Minnow on a 1/16th ounce jig (or in some cases a 1/8th ounce where the added weight is needed), because of the erratic action and swimming motion the offering has as well as the dynamite scent and attraction of these baits, is more effective at catching fish than a live minnow on the same jig. Plus you can take the bait off the hook and drop it back in the bucket to “re-charge” the scent, in effect recycling the bait to use again later. It’s simply a great fish catching system.
Now as we write this gasoline prices are the lowest we’ve seen in some time, but there’s little doubt in anyone’s mind that the prices we experienced this past summer will return. Between filling the tank in the boat, and filling the tank in the tow vehicle, gas can be one of the (if not THE) biggest expense for anglers through a season. Several times this past year we were approached by other anglers asking how we could afford running the big 300 HP Mercury Verados
we do. Fact is, we figured out very quickly that the Verado engines had such great power, that we got fabulous boat performance without needing to run them at full throttle very often. That coupled with the Mercury SmartCraft Gauges
which allows you to closely monitor your fuel consumption and RPM’s (among other things) as you run, went a long way to help us get the most from our outboards with the least amount of fuel possible. Together, this system is worth its weight in gold and saved us a lot of fuel expense in the long run.
Obviously fishing with your electric trolling motor more often is also a great way to save gas in your boat. But if you do that, you want to make sure you are taking good care of your trolling motor batteries (as they can be expensive to replace) and starting off each day with a full charge on your system. This past year we were introduced to a new charging system from Stealth 1 Charging (www.stealth1charging.com
), the Stealth 1 Pro Max. This system is great! It constantly monitors your boat’s batteries (cranking and trolling) and can charge batteries while your big outboard is running. On top of that, you can also plug in to any 110 outlet at the end of the day and top-off the charge on your batteries if needed. It’s a very efficient system and well worth it if you’re an angler that relies heavily on your electric trolling motor a lot throughout the season.
2009 will bring many economical challenges to most of us. Fishing can help relieve the stress and recharge our own batteries, so we encourage you to not cut fishing out of your budget. For some, it will mean fishing a little less, or at least fishing closer to home. There are plenty of things you can do to get more Walleye Bang for your Buck … we hope these few tips have got you thinking about other things you can do to be more economical this season. Share these ideas and your own with your fishing buddies – and together, we can all keep fishing and having fun in this season!