Tag Archives: Fishing

One Last Reminder – Is the Drain Plug In?

Invasive species regulations are now in effect in many states and many of them now require boaters to remove the plug and drain the bilge and live well before transporting a watercraft. In our Basic Boating Safety Course we have an extensive section on trailering and one of the things we emphasize is to make sure the drain plug is in before launching your boat.

The majority of recreational boats in the United States are trailered to and from the water. Your boat trailer is only one part of the entire boating package, which includes the boat, trailer, hitch and towing vehicle. Neglecting the trailer’s maintenance can result in damage to your boat, your towing vehicle or both. Below is our check-list for launching.

Launching

  1. Do initial launch preparations away from the ramp so as not to impede launching for others.
  2. Raise the outdrive or motor, remove the support bracket and install the drain plug.
  3. Disconnect the trailer wiring. Remove tie down straps and again check the drain plug.
  4. Make any equipment adjustments necessary and check the drain plug.
  5. Connect the fuel tank, check fluid levels and check the drain plug.
  6. Drive to the ramp and back the boat and trailer down the ramp, keeping the tow vehicle’s wheels out of the water.
  7. Set the emergency brake, shift into Park, and block the wheels.
  8. Someone should get aboard the boat, turn on the blower, lower the motor, look for water entering the boat, (in case you forgot to check the drain plug) sniff the bilge and start the motor.
  9. Make sure you have attached a bow line to the boat, then release the winch and disconnect the winch line.
  10. You should be able to launch the boat with a slight shove or by backing the boat off the trailer under power.
  11. Return the towing vehicle to the parking lot as soon as the boat is launched so the next person in line may proceed.
  12. Move the boat to an area away from the ramp to load additional equipment and passengers.

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General Ice Thickness Guidelines

Many outdoor sportsmen and women enjoy the winter months but there are certain things that you should be concerned about when recreating on ice. The following information is courtesy of the Minnesota DNR.

For New, Clear Ice Only

  • 2″ or less – STAY OFF
  • 4″ – Ice fishing or other activities on foot
  • 5″ – Snowmobile or ATV
  • 8″ – 12″ – Car or small pickup
  • 12″ – 15″ – Medium truck

Remember that these thicknesses are merely guidelines for new, clear, solid ice. Many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe.

Checking ice thickness

No matter what you are going to do once you get on the ice – like fishing, snowmobiling, skating or even ice boating, it’s a good idea to contact a local bait shop or resort on the lake about ice conditions. It’s also important to do some checking yourself once you get there. Several factors affect the relative safety of ice, such as temperature, snow cover and currents. But a very important factor is the actual ice thickness.

ice chisel

Ice Chisel

The ice chisel or “spud bar” is one of the oldest methods of making a hole in the ice. In its simplest form, it consists of a metal rod with a sharp, flat blade welded onto one end that is driven into the ice in a stabbing motion. Depending on the sharpness of the blade, the thickness of the ice and the strength of the user, it can make a hole in the ice fairly quickly, especially when the ice is less than a foot thick.

 
Ice Auger

There are several varieties of ice auger. Some people like the hand auger for its low cost, light weight and low noise factor. The disadvantage of a hand-powered auger is that after a few holes, operator exhaustion becomes an issue. Some folks like an electric auger, with its low noise level rivaling a hand auger, with the advantage of a lot less work for the user. An electric auger does, however, need an external 12-volt battery, which can be something of a nuisance to lug around. Gas augers boast the fastest speed in drilling through the ice, but are heavier, noisier and generally more costly than hand or electric models.

 

Cordless Drill

There is one tool, that many households have hanging on the pegboard in the basement or on a shelf in the garage that can make checking ice thickness a quick and easy task – a cordless rechargeable electric drill.

With a cordless drill and a long, five-eighths inch wood auger bit, you can drill through eight inches of ice in less than 30 seconds. Most cordless drills that are at least 7.2 volts will work, but the type of bit is critical. You need a wood auger bit since they have a spiral called a “flute” around the shaft that metal drilling bits don’t. The flutes pull the ice chips out of the hole and help keep it from getting stuck, much in the way a full-sized ice auger works. It is important to dry the bit and give it a quick spray of silicone lubricant after each use. Otherwise, the next time you open your toolkit, you’ll find your once shiny drill bit looking like a rusty nail!

Tape Measure

Some people claim they can judge thickness by where the chisel or drill suddenly breaks through, but that happens so quickly, it’s easy to overestimate the thickness. It’s smarter to use a tape measure or something like an ice fisherman’s ice skimmer handle with inch markings to put down the hole and hook the bottom edge of the hole to determine the ice’s true thickness.

Other things to keep in mind when checking ice.
Ice is seldom the same thickness over a single body of water. It can be two feet thick in one place and one inch thick a few yards away due to currents, springs, rotting vegetation or school of rough fish. You need to check the ice at least every 150 feet, especially early in the season or any situation where the thickness varies widely.

Recommended minimum thicknesses for new clear ice.

4″ Ice fishing and small group activities
5″ Snowmobiles and ATVs
8″ – 10″ Small to medium cars, and pickups.

White ice, sometimes called “snow ice,” is only about one-half as strong as new clear ice so the above thicknesses should be doubled.

Vehicles weighing about one ton such as cars, pickups or SUVs should be parked at least 50 feet apart and moved every two hours to prevent sinking. It’s not a bad idea to make a hole next to the car. If water starts to overflow the top of the hole, the ice is sinking and it’s time to move the vehicle!

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The Marine Environment – Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS)

Zebra Mussels

Many states are beginning a proactive approach  to enforce laws that many boaters may not even be aware of. The effort aims to assure that boaters do not accidentally spread Eurasian water-milfoil, zebra mussels, and other aquatic invasive species to other bodies of water. Inspectors will be stationed at various bodies of water to help boaters understand invasive species laws and what they must do before leaving that body of water.

Aquatic nuisance species (ANS) are non-indigenous species that threaten the diversity or abundance of native aquatic species. Two such ANS are the Zebra mussel and the Quagga mussel. Great Lakes water users spend tens of millions of dollars on zebra mussel control every year. Zebra mussel infestations cause pronounced ecological changes in the Great Lakes and major rivers of the central United States.

Giant Salvinia

Non-indigenous aquatic nuisance plants, such as purple loosestrife, Eurasian water milfoil, giant salvinia and hydrilla quickly establish themselves. Environmental and economic problems caused by the dense growth of these weeds include impairment of water-based recreation, navigation, flood control, water quality and fish and wildlife habitat.

Invasive species can crowd out native species, disrupt lake ecosystems, and interfere with boating, fishing and other recreation. The main way that invasive species and fish diseases such as viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) spread to new waters is aboard boating and fishing equipment, boat trailers, water in livewells and live fish being moved from one water body to another.

Boaters, anglers, and others enjoying the waters of many states are required to:

  • Drain all water from vehicles, trailers, watercraft, containers, fishing equipment, and gear when leaving any state waters or its shores.
  • Do not take live fish away from any lake or its shores. A fish is considered dead when it is no longer in water. This law applies to shore anglers as well as those who fish from a boat.
  • Remove all aquatic plants, animals and mud from watercraft, trailers and vehicles before leaving a landing for the day. Do not transport a vehicle, boat, boat trailer, equipment, or gear of any type on a public highway which has an aquatic plant or animal attached to the exterior.
  • Use minnows left over after a fishing trip again on the same water OR on any other waters if no lake or river water, or other fish was added to their container.

Please consult with your state marine patrol and local marinas to identify non-indigenous species in your area. For more information on Impacts of Aquatic Non-indigenous Species, visit http://www.protectyourwaters.net/impacts.php

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Another App That Could Turn Your Smartphone Into a Fishfinder

After a few futile hours at the pond with a fishing-rod many begin to wonder what it would be like using one’s smartphone to see where all the fish hide. Friday Lab created the first smart sonar Deeper in the world both for amateur and professional fishermen. It is the sonar that can show you where to look for fish directly on the screen of a tablet computer or a smartphone.  If you could not brag about great catches until today, with Deeper you will always bring fish home.

Deeper is a smart sonar for smartphones and tablets supporting Android 2.2+ and iOS 4.0+ operating systems.  The smart sonar works in the depths from 0.5 m to 40 m and uses Bluetooth connection to display the information about the fish, the pond bed, water temperature and obstacles you may bump into, on the screen of a phone or a tablet.

With Deeper sonar you can go angling in any weather: the device works in the temperatures from -10 to +40 degrees. When angling from a boat, a coast or a bridge, you can observe the situation on the screens of your smart devices within 50 m radius. Deeper turns on and is activated only when immersed in water, that way it extends its working time so in unfavorable conditions there is no need to take off your gloves or other protection to get a grip on small operational buttons.
 
Deeper sonar is very compact and ergonomic, being only 6.5 cm in diameter and made in such a way that it cannot be damaged by water. The sonar is resistant not only to water, but also to small shocks. The lithium ion battery ensures about 6 hours uninterrupted operation of the echosounder and Deeper can be charged using a conventional Micro USB cable.

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Five Inflatable Life Jacket Myths: Do You Know the Truth?

Source: BoatUS

Inflatable Life Jackets- which automatically or manually inflate with the tug of a pull cord have been around over 25 years, but there are still quite a few misperceptions about how these life saving devices work. The BoatUS Foundation set out to debunk some of the myths:

1. Inflatable life jackets are zero maintenance – Let’s face it, pretty much nothing on a boat is zero maintenance. Before you head out for the day, simply check to ensure the CO2 cylinder is screwed firmly in and you can see the green indicator tab. Once a year, take it out and blow it up with your mouth, wait overnight, inspect for wear and check for leaks. Repacking is a task made simple – a few folds and a tuck – as instructions are found printed inside the cover flap. Most life jackets that automatically inflate when you hit the water also have small dissolvable components that periodically need replacement, but it’s a simple process. A rearming “kit” comes with everything you need.

2. One size fits all – While most inflatables are sized as “universal adult,” all have adjustable cinch straps that will provide a good fit for nearly every size of grown-up on the boat. Inshore-type jackets tend to be less bulky and are more compact than those jackets designed for offshore use. There are no inflatables for kids under 16, but the BoatUS Foundation is working with other national boating safety groups and the US Coast Guard to increase support for inflatable jackets that are more suitable for kids.

3. Not a lot of choices – Actually, there are. Once you get past a range of colorful designs, there are two basic styles of inflatable life jackets: over-the shoulder suspender-style and waist-fitting belt pack. All US Coast Guard-approved inflatable life jackets have a mark showing its type and how it should be used. A big advantage is that inflatables can provide nearly twice the buoyancy of similarly-rated foam life jackets, and are also are better in terms of righting a person in the water, when compared to some other traditional types.

4. Inflatable life jackets are too expensive – Inflatable life jackets start at under $100. That is a real expense for some, but consider that a cheap life jacket that no one will want to wear is as useless as a hook without the worm. Belt pack types tend to be less expensive than suspender style, while automatically-inflatable types or those with extras like an integral sailing harness increase the price.

5. Inflatable life jackets are uncomfortable -Inflatable life jackets are compact, don’t trap body heat, give full body movement, and can be as unobtrusive as small bait pouch attached to your belt. Look for one that has a neoprene chafe guard around the neck and one that can be adjusted to prevent it from shifting from side to side.

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NOAA Offers to Pay Sport Anglers NOT to Fish

Would you give up your annual state fishing license if the government offered you $500? How about $250? How about $15?

That’s what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service is trying to find out in an unusual survey being administered this year in Massachusetts. Working with the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries and the statistical research and analysis firm Quantech Inc., NOAA Fisheries Service sent surveys to 1,900 Massachusetts sport anglers who hold recreational saltwater fishing permits, asking them for information on the value they place on sportfishing.

A total of 500 anglers who get the survey are being asked if they would give up their sportfishing licenses in exchange for a real cash offer — with an actual check in the mail that ranges from $15 to $500, depending on the angler being surveyed. If the angler opts to cash the check, he or she must surrender the saltwater fishing permit.

According to NOAA Fisheries Service, the goal of this unusual offer is to better gauge the “true value” of a sportfishing license. In a statement about the plan, NOAA said most economic studies of saltwater recreational fishing estimate the number of jobs and the amount of sales and income supported by the spending of sport anglers, but they have not included the value anglers themselves place on being able to go saltwater fishing.

“Being able to improve evaluation methods by comparing responses to real offers with responses to hypothetical offers will be a great benefit, and that’s what this study is intended to give us,” said Scott Steinback, an NOAA economist who designed the study. “Studies like this have been done to value other kinds of intangible benefits like recovering endangered species or valuing open space, but I think this is the first time it has been used to value the pleasure and satisfaction derived from recreational fishing,” he said.

The federally funded survey will cost $145,000 — and $75,000 of that will go to pay anglers who opt not to go fishing. However, Steinback said, the focus of the study is about measuring the value of recreational fishing in Massachusetts, and it is not an attempt to raise fishing permit fees or restrict sportfishing activities.

“I understand if there are some questions and concerns because this kind of survey has not been done before, but it is not about taking anything away,” Steinback said. “Rather, I see it as a way to provide a monetary estimate of angler satisfaction.”

Early response to the plan from anglers has reportedly been mixed. The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries had to send out an email advisory to anglers statewide to assure them that the survey and the cash offers being made were legitimate, and that the survey was not a scam.

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Don’t Wait Til The Last Minute to Get Your Christmas Gifts


It’s that time of year to start thinking about presents for those boaters in your life. For today, we are offering the —

Safe Boating Reference Set – Skipper’s Onboard Source

Order by Tuesday, December 20, 2011 to assure delivery by Christmas. Order will be shipped priority mail.

Skipper’s Onboard Source– The information you need to know (and carry with you) in a portable, waterproof format.A “flip book” of 18 laminated pages (3.5″x9″) to carry onboard, covering aids to navigation, dayshapes, running lights, sound signals, rules of the road, weather, signal flags, radio procedures, required equipment, etc. For details and ordering click here.

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Aides to Navigation

A few days ago we posted a Trivia question concerning the direction that a boat was going based on the Aides markers it was passing. Most who answered were absolutely correct about “Red Right Returning” and Tom D, who was the first to answer that the boat was going out to sea, wins a Nautical Know How T-shirt. However, we got a response from Eamonn who boats in Ireland where “Red Port is Left in the Can” is the mnemonic used to remember that Red is left on the port side when coming in from sea.

Why would it be different in Ireland? Because the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (or IALA for short) has developed 2 regions that exist around the world; notably the IALA region A and the IALA region B. Region B covers the whole of the Americas, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, while the rest of the world belongs to the region A.

U.S. Aids to Navigation (U.S. ATONS)

The buoys and beacons in this system conform to the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) guidelines and are located in IALA region B. They are sometimes referred to as the IALA-B system. In this system, there are lateral and non-lateral markers. The lateral markers indicate the navigable channel by their position, shape, coloring, numbering and light characteristics. The non-lateral markers are informational and regulatory markers.

To navigate safely using the lateral markers, you should pass between the red and green. Returning from sea, the red markers are on your right (red, right, returning) and the green are on your left.

U.S. Aids to Navigation

Lateral Buoys and waterway markers

In the International system, navigation aids mark the edges of channels to tell which way open water is. They are called day beacons if unlighted, lights if lighted at night, or buoys if they are floating. Some buoys are also lighted for identification at night.

“Red, Right, Returning” tells you to leave the red markers to your right, or starboard, when returning from sea. The green markers are then left on your port side and between is the channel. Be sure to look behind you when navigating a narrow channel to make sure you are not being pushed out by wind or current.

Floating Red markers are called nuns and are triangular in shape. They are numbered with even numbers. Floating Green markers, on the other hand, are called cans and are square or shaped like a large can and carry odd numbers.

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US Body Issues Damning Verdict on E15

This week the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy released the results of two studies on the effects of using fuel that is 15 percent ethanol in volume (E15) in marine engines.

The studies were conducted on engines provided by two marine engine manufactures; Both are members of National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).

The long-awaited reports show significant problems with outboard, stern drive and inboard engines. Results of the reports show severe damage to engine components and an increase in exhaust emissions, reinforcing the recreational boating industry’s concern that E15 is not a suitable fuel for marine engines.

Photo Courtesy BoatUS

Emissions and durability testing compared E15 fuel and fuel containing zero percent ethanol (E0) and examined exhaust emissions, exhaust gas temperature, torque, power, barometric pressure, air temperature, and fuel flow.

Specifically, the report showed degraded emissions performance outside of engine certification limits as well as increased fuel consumption. In separate testing on engine durability, each tested engine showed deterioration, including two of the three outboard engines, with damages severe enough to prevent them from completing the test cycle. The E0 test engines did not exhibit any fuel related issues.

NMMA worked with its manufacturer members in securing the resources and facilitating the testing for these reports. NMMA supports further testing that will provide additional understanding about the negative effects of E15 on marine engines.

NMMA President Thom Dammrich says, ‘Current proposals by the ethanol industry to increase the amount of ethanol in gasoline should seriously concern all boaters and owners of other small engine equipment.

Although NMMA strongly supports renewable fuels as a means to reduce America’s dependence on foreign sources of oil and improve the environment, there is growing evidence that ethanol is not the answer to America’s energy challenge.’
For more information, please read the full versions of the Emissions and Durability test or the Fuel Endurance test from the Department of Energy.

For questions please contact Lauren Dunn at +1 202-280-6928 or ldunn@nmma.org.

Both Volvo Penta and Mercury Marine provided test engines as well as the testing facilities. The U.S. Department of Energy approved the final analysis of the results.

About NMMA:
National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) is the leading association representing the recreational boating industry in North America. NMMA member companies produce more than 80 percent of the boats, engines, trailers, accessories and gear used by boaters and anglers throughout the U.S. and Canada. The association is dedicated to industry growth through programs in public policy advocacy, market statistics and research, product quality assurance and promotion of the boating lifestyle. For more information visit www.nmma.org.

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Coast Guard Advises Preparation for Hurricane Irene

[Image of 5-day forecast and coastal areas under a warning or a watch]The Coast Guard urges mariners and residents to begin planning and preparing for Hurricane Irene.

Tropical systems acquire a name when they reach tropical storm strength with sustained winds reaching 39 mph. They become hurricanes when winds reach 74 mph and become major hurricanes when winds increase to 111 mph.

As storms approach, the Coast Guard urges people to remember these guidelines:

  • Stay informed: The public should monitor the progress and strength of the storm through newspapers, the Internet, and local television and radio stations. Boaters can monitor its progress on VHF-FM channel 16. Small craft advisories and warnings are also available on VHF-FM channel 16.
  • Evacuate as necessary: Mandatory evacuation orders should be obeyed. Coast Guard personnel and other emergency responders may not be able to evacuate people in danger during a storm.
  • Secure your boats and boating equipment: Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to inland marinas where they will be less likely to break free of their moorings or to be otherwise damaged. Boats that can be trailered should be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding. Those mariners who leave their boats in the water are reminded to secure life rings, life jackets and fenders.
  • Be cautious of hazardous materials: If you have hazardous materials on or near the water, you are responsible for any spills that may occur. Take the necessary precautions to secure these materials prior to any foul weather.
  • Stay clear of beaches: Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by storms. Swimmers are urged to stay clear of beaches until local officials say the water is safe. Rip currents and undertows can drag swimmers away from their boat or the beach and lead to death by drowning when they attempt to fight the current and become exhausted.

Mariners are reminded that drawbridges along the coast may deviate from normal operating procedures prior to a storm. They are generally authorized to remain closed up to eight hours prior to the approach of gale force winds of 32 mph or greater and whenever an evacuation is ordered. Because of the uncertainty of weather movements and related bridge closures, mariners should seek early passage through drawbridges well in advance of the arrival of gale force winds.

For more information on hurricane preparedness, please visit the National Hurricane Center’s Web page at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/.

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