Reducing Fuel CostsSome of us have small boats and engines; some of us have big gas guzzlers; and, some of us have a three outboard bank of 300 horse monsters. I personally have a 4 stroke 150 that is reasonably economical on fuel.
Slow Down!I find that running wide open to every place I fish is really eating my gas. So, here is suggestion number one: SLOW DOWN! I find that running at 3500 to 3800 RPM is enough to get me up on a plane and push me along at a good clip – somewhere around 30 knots. Any higher RPM than that and it seems like I can actually watch the gas gauge drop. I don’t even want to think about three 300 horse engines running wide open!
Stay Closer to HomeSuggestion number 2: Fish closer to home. I can’t tell you how many times I pass a boat in the ICW heading the opposite direction from me. They launched north of me and ran south to fish close to where I launched. I launched, ran north, and ended up fishing close to where they launched. What’s up with that? I realize that sometimes the fish are not close, but perhaps another launch site is closer to the fish you want.
Stay Closer to ShoreThis one may be handled for us in the near future. But this one says: Fish closer to shore. Offshore fishing along the Atlantic coast can mean running many miles to reach that reef, ledge, or wreck. I say it may be handled for us because already the grouper fishing has been shut down in the Atlantic from North Carolina to the Florida Keys beginning January of 2009 for at least six months. Snapper and other bottom fish are sure to follow as the South Atlantic Fisheries Marine Council (SAFMC) plots its course to conserve the fishing resource. Arguments abound around this closure – but that’s a whole other story.
Find an Alternate BoatWhy not try an alternate boating source? Kayak fishing has become remarkably popular over the last few years. It is an easy ride and a different way to fish. While it can be fished in the ocean, it usually means fishing back country waters. These waters are not easily reached by power craft, and they often hold more fish. You can fish waters that have perhaps never been fished before.
You may even think about downsizing your boat to get into a more fuel efficient craft. I have fished all day on three gallons of gas in a smaller boat, as opposed to 20 to 25 gallons a day in my current craft.
Look at Your BaitDo you buy bait? If you do, you know how much the price has gone up over the last few years. I see live shrimp going for as much as 50 cents a shrimp. Put one on a hook, drop it over, and watch as small fish eat it off your hook in literally seconds. It is frustrating and costly.
I remember back in the 1950’s and 60’s we bought live shrimp for as little as 25 cents a dozen. We would usually get 12 dozen shrimp for a full day of fishing. That amount today would run you $72!
Catch You OwnDo you own a cast net? Do you own a minnow trap – you know the kind, those football shaped wire mesh tubes with the ends folded in? If you do, you should consider catching your own bait. My guide friends have caught at least part of their bait for years. The first thing they do after leaving the dock is head for the bait and pitch the cast net a few times. It actually makes the trip more interesting for the paying party as they see what the fish are eating. For us, it can mean saving a lot of money at the bait shop. Use a minnow trap and catch small baitfish in creek mouths and marshes. It only takes an hour or so to collect quite a number of baitfish.
Try ArtificialsI catch most of my fish on artificial lures. Some, like the bucktail jigs, I pour and tie myself. They can last for many fishing trips before needing to be replaced. I use topwater, store-bought lures a lot as well. And – I do catch fish!
There are some artificial lures that actually can cost as much as live bait. Some of the “Gulp” type of soft baits can cost up to 70 cents each, and while they will last longer than a live shrimp, they too, can be expensive. I use some softbaits like these and can usually catch three to four fish on one before needing to replace it on my jig head. It is far more economical than purchased bait.