I love my fishing boat, but I also love a lot of the upgrades I have made to it over the years. Here are five that I would never do without again.
1. Clear polycarbonate enclosure. Protection from cold and spray not only increases the comfort factor, but also makes you a better angler, because you’re dryer, warmer and better rested once you arrive at the fishing grounds. Visibility at night is far better with a polycarbonate than clear vinyl, and that also keeps you more relaxed, allowing you focus more energy on finding fish than finding your way on a night-run to the grounds.
2. Anchor Windlass. I regularly anchor in depths of 100 feet or more, and I used to pull the anchor by hand. No more. The windlass does all the work, and I’m a lot more likely to re-set now if the fish aren’t biting. I think the windlass addition has also forestalled a mutiny or two – no one likes anchor duty when it’s 100 percent crew-power.
3. Autopilot. Any equipment that saves wear and tear on the captain is welcome aboard my boat. An autopilot joined that list about a year ago, and now I can’t live without it. It sure beats steering a course by hand at night and in the fog. But even in great conditions, it takes a big load off. I love it.
4. Radar. I don’t run radar all the time, but when I need it, I need it. I used stay on the dock on pea-soup mornings, waiting for the fog to lift. Now I forge ahead, albeit carefully, with the confidence that my radar – combined with a GPS/chart plotter – will help guide me safely to the fishing grounds.
5. Live-Bait Tank. My boat came with a pair of built-in 20-gallon transom livewells. But I say you can never have too much love, money or live bait. So I added a third 28-gallon deck-tank in the aft cockpit. Now I rarely run out of bait, and that helps me catch more fish.
Of course, there are lots of other cool upgrades on my boat ranging from coaming pads and rail-mount rod holders to AIS and a stereo system. But I’d give any and all of these up before sacrificing the top five.