There are literally thousands upon thousands of do’s and dont's when it comes to running a safe boat. You can be the most proactive captain in the world, spending thousands of hours studying every little thing there is to know about ALL THINGS NAUTICAL, but all of this knowledge is USELESS if something happens to YOU while on the water.
Your crew’s confidence in you might be the very thing that endangers their lives. Spending just a few minutes training your “crew” will not only keep everyone safer, it’s actually pretty fun. Your friends and family will enjoy themselves more and they will feel like part of a team.
I taught my sons a short speech that they give to their friends before casting off; “Ok guys, we are casting off. We are gonna have a blast. The life jackets are here, the first aid kit is here, the fire extinguisher is here, the throwable life ring is here. Please keep your personal belongings stowed up and off of the deck."
We monitor channel 16 on the VHF. (Give directions on how to make a distress call, they are found on the Coast Guard website). He points out exactly where our numbers are on the chart plotter, (lat and long), and where we are departing from, explaining how the boat icon and “bread crumb trail works”. He gives short directions on how to start the boat, and where the battery switches are. He ends the speech with; “We are gonna have an awesome trip, stay alert, and look out for each other!" It’s important to keep the speech short and to the most important points.
While under way take the time to teach your crew all of the other “little” things.
• How to start and stop the engine.
• How to put the boat in gear.
• How the kill switch works.
• How to set and weigh the anchor.
• Where the bow, stern, port and starboard sides are.
If swimming, teach how to pair up with a buddy, how to check the depth and currents before jumping in. Always enter the water with a floatation device even if you are an Olympic swimmer! Encourage your crew to ask questions. Encourage them to help “look out” while under way and not to be afraid to point out other boaters. It’s ok for a passenger to point out another boat that is “over taking” you. The more eyes the better. Let them know that you appreciate it. There is no place for an over-inflated ego on a boat!
Encourage others to take a boaters safety course, share “wheel time” with those eligible. It may not be legal for the younger crew to drive the boat, but you can still show them how in case of an emergency. What if you have a heart attack? Does your 10 year old know what to do? Knowledge is power. Share the power.
On longer fishing trips leave a simple “float-plan” with someone on land. Tell them where you will launch from, where you plan to fish and when you plan to return. Agree on a time to check in by. It’s easy to do and can save your LIFE!
There are so many things that can harm you on the water, this simple list covers some of the basics, but it DOES NOT COVER EVERYTHING! You can never stop learning. There is some great info available online. Check it out. Take notes and share the knowledge!
Stay safe out there and Leave a few fish for me!
If you keep your boat wrapped up, winterized and waiting for spring, you could be missing out on some of the best striper fishing of the year. Extreme nighttime cold pushes baitfish like Shad and Herring deep into the main river channels.
On warmer sunny days Shad will move up shallow onto clay and rocky points that are being baked by the sun. Water temps that are just a few degrees warmer can be very attractive to these baitfish.
Fishing shallow points can be phenomenal, not only are there great numbers of fish but often the biggest fish of the year will come from these shallow hotspots.
Warmer afternoons and evenings are best, especially after we have had several warmer days in a row.
In mid winter start by fishing these points that are close to the main river channel on the main stem of the lake.
From there, move onto secondary points near the mouths of the creeks off of the main stem. These secondary points are usually best in late winter to early spring. Don’t be afraid to go too far back into these creeks.
Of course, every lake is different, start off with the main lake points first and then move on from there. It shouldn’t take very long to establish a pattern.
For those that like to fish with artificial‘s, cast Rattling Rouges that suspend or sink slowly, Husky Jerks and Redfins are great baits as well. I like to use these types of crank baits earlier in the day when the fish may be deeper on these points. Clown colors, silver, blue,and green combinations are my favorites.
As the the day goes on and the shallow water gets warmer I like to cast flukes right up to the bank, I work the bait very slowly with very subtle twitches, sometimes no action at all.
I like Bass Assassin Flukes and BKD.‘s in the 6 inch size. I like natural colors when the water is clear and brighter colors when the water is stained. Chartreuse silver and pearl can all be deadly. Use a 5/0 long shank worm hook with no weight at all. Light spinning tackle or bait casting gear is perfect.
For those that like to fish with live bait, the planer board is the way to go. Pull Shad right up on the banks. Use very little to no weight at all. On some days I will only deploy planer boards on one side of the boat, concentrating on the bank.
Experiment with the length of line set behind the boards as well as how deep or shallow the boards run. I cannot express it strongly enough, fish shallow!
For those that fish all year-round, this is just the sweet part of the season, for those who don’t unwrap their boats until April this might be your new favorite time of year to fish!
Please stay safe on the water and leave a few for me!
Mike Smedley "The Striper Ninja"
Mike has caught Stripers on over 50 bodies of water in 11 different states, in both Freshwater and Saltwater. His YouTube channel is currently receiving nearly a quarter million views per month. In fact, if you added up the view totals for Roland Martin, Jimmy Houston, Kevin Van dam, Hank Parker, Mike Iaconelli, and Rick Murphy's Sportsman Adventures, and then DOUBLED THAT TOTAL, They would still add up to LESS THAN HALF of the views of "The Striper Ninja!"