By Bonita Staples
There are a lot of accessories available for your boat and personal use that may not be available at marine dealerships and tackle stores. These accessories can improve your fishing experience or personal convenience while on the water. Let's start with accessories for the boat.
Hydraulic jack plates are primarily for adjusting your motor height to add speed and performance, but that's not the best feature. Some lakes are known for stumps and hydrilla; this is where a jack plate shines. You can raise your motor straight up and get your prop out of harm's way.
To operate the jack plate or your tilt and trim, there is a new product that goes on your steering column. The switches are called ProTrim and are made by Teleflex. They are more convenient than buttons because you don't have to let go of the wheel to tilt and trim your motor or raise and lower the jack plate.
While we are still in the boat driver's area, another useful item is the Hot Foot and Hot Foot slide plate. The Hot Foot is a spring-loaded pedal that hooks up to the motor accelerator cable. You control the boat speed with your foot as you do in your car. The slide plate mounts under the Hot Foot and allows you to adjust the pedal for you or your partners leg length back and forth by five inches.
The Ultra Mount 11 & III, Johnny Ray Mounts and Ram Mounting Systems all make a removable mount for your electronics, graphs, lights and radios. You can remove your electronics easily after your fishing trip and store them away to protect them from damage while trailering or from possible theft.
Saf-T-Brite light is a floodlight that mounts on your forward navigational lights post and wires into its power. The flood gives you a good view of the area in front of your boat as you launch and pull up to shore or go to that honey hole before daylight or come in after dark.
A compass is one thing that you should never be without in your boat. It doesn't have to be an expensive one, because even a dime store compass seems to do okay. If you don't know, when you think you are steering straight in the fog without a focal point you typically will keep bearing left until you run into shore or make a complete circle. This is due to the prop thrust. You can totally lose your sense of direction without landmarks or the sun. A radio with weather channels is another item that you should consider, not only for the entertainment and weather information, but also for the reports from those big bass tournaments sponsored or covered by the radio stations.
Keel Shield or Hamby's Protectors both protect the bow of your boat when you pull up on shore, and help eliminate any damage to the gel-coat in the keel area.
Some other items include, prop locks, boat alarm systems, Bimini Tops, trolling motor handles (like Pro-Kon-Troll, Big Foot and Flex Handle). The Solargizer and the Connector are excellent for extending the life of your batteries.
Now that we covered items to enhance the boat, lets look at some personal products to make your days fishing easier. Of course the first things you need are a good pair of polarized sunglasses, a hat to help shade your face and neck and a good sunscreen to protect your skin with at least an SPF of 30 is best. I like Pre-Sun clear gel that has a SPF of 30. It dries clear quick and isn't oily.
For running down the lake, I use Scott Protector goggles that fit over my glasses and protect my eyes from the wind, bugs and cold in the winter.
Speaking of winter, there is a Neoprene and Neo-Fleece facemask that helps keep the cold wind from causing frostbite on your face while running down the lake.
I use a soft leather-fishing glove that has rubber spots on the fingers and palm to help grip the fish. The gloves are designed for fishing and fit your hand tight. The glove protects you from sunburn, the fish's fins and teeth as well as the hooks from the lures, although around hooks, nothing is totally safe. Speaking of hooks, another item you should always have in the boat is a first aid kit and a pair of side cutters (to cut off hook barbs).
You also need to keep a rain suit or some kind of rain gear in the boat for those sudden storms. I also keep an extra tee shirt and socks in a Zip-Lock bag for a quick change if needed. I have a head net for those days when the bugs, mosquitoes and biting flies get to be a problem.
A life jacket is required, but the new Type III So-spender and Waste Model inflatable PFD'S, make wearing a life jacket in the heat of summer or on windy days, not bad. It also makes it easy to just wear them all the time, because it's not too bulky or cumbersome.
Then there is my fish catching whistle, a Bryan Kerchal Memorial Fish Whistle. I hope this article gave you an idea of some accessories that might help enhance your enjoyment and add to your safety on the water.