More critical than most people think. I don't think I realized this right away. Initially I learned how to bass fish from the bank. Then I progressed to a small jon boat for a lot of years. I think out of necessity I learned many of the basics of boat positioning. When I finally got into a full sized bass boat I understood how the position of the boat was crucial in executing what I needed to do, presentation-wise that is.
It is definitely a crucial part to every technique, just as important as the line, rod, or casting presentation itself. I always try and use boat positioning to my advantage. It makes the rest of your mechanical presentation that much easier. But at the same time I always try to stay in what I call a "safe zone".
A safe zone is the area where your boat is positioned in reference to not spooking or scaring the fish. Your safe zone changes daily, depending on water clarity, current, wind, or light conditions. With time you will get the feel for what's right. General Rules of Thumb:
- Make longer casts in clearer water.
- Never hit the cover or bank when possible.
- Use a constant speed with the trolling motor. Ideally use current or wind to your advantage (when possible)
Be An Information Gatherer
The more information you are presented with, the better able you will be to get yourself in the proper boat position. This is especially true when fishing deeper water and trying to locate non-visible structure and cover. Information cues such as depth, GPS locations, physical land objects, and distance from the bank are all elements that help you achieve accurate boat positioning.
Trolling Motor: The use or non use of this device. Use natural wind or current when possible. I prefer 24 or 36 volt motors in the 80lb. thrust range.
Electronics: Your underwater eyes - a crucial part. Depth finders (LCD's and Flashers) let you determine not only depth, but also fish and baitfish activity, bottom hardness, and thermocline. I use Lowrance Electronics. Global Positioning Systems are an invaluable tool to any fisherman. Lets you get back to an exact area within feet. By using a numeric system corresponding with map locations, a GPS can get you right back to where you need to be. I use both a hand held and boat mount unit. I use my hand held unit when flying over a fishery or when I must be in another boat. I use my Lowrance unit in my boat.
Markers: Marker buoys are key in staying on that exact spot or school of fish. I use orange buoys when practicing, but will use home made clear soda bottles when tournament fishing.
Drifting Aids: The wind sock. Awesome for fishing break-line or drift situations. Tube fishing on the Great Lakes would be a perfect example.
Anchors: I will only use anchors in extreme conditions; to protect a spot, or when bed fishing.