The weather is a variable we all have to deal with that we have absolutely no control over. Keeping your boat on track can sometimes be nearly impossible. Controlling your boat in the nastiest of conditions as well as in the best conditions can be the difference between catching a few fish and catching a limit.
With today’s advancement in motors and electronics on our boats, boat control has never been easier. With many of the new features such as spot-lock, autopilot and, saved track navigation, much of the work has been done for us. Nonetheless, as the operator, you still need to know how to use all these great gadgets in conjunction with one another. One particular place I see most people struggle with boat control is when fishing the river systems, and arguably so. River current can be tougher to navigate through than a room full of 1st graders picking up candy from a pinata. Current seams and fluctuating flows can almost drive you crazy. Standard practice for vertical jigging is to point your bow up-stream and set your trolling motor speed to match the current speed. However sometimes you may have the wind working the opposite direction against you, a current pocket pulling you back upstream and other variables. This keeps your foot on the pedal or your finger on the remote. Making your ability to present your bait that much more challenging. Take what mother nature gives you and make the adjustment to what works, that day. If you have to drift with the current sideways to keep the bow pointed into the wind then do so, if you have to pull upstream due to lack of current then do so. Keep your head on a swivel to watch out for other boaters when drifting with your back downstream. Don't force a method of fishing if the right conditions aren't present. Save your track when using your trolling motor or follow contour if possible. Minnkota has given us an advantage with saved tracks and the I-pilot I-link allowing the trolling motor and your graph to communicate. This has allowed us to spend more time fishing and less time navigating. Take the time to learn how to use these before hitting the water and you'll be very glad you did. A little time spent in the garage exploring your trolling motor capabilities can go a long way.
Kicker motor and trolling motor make for a great team when pulling crankbaits. I can honestly say that I have my bow mount trolling motor in the water 99% of the time I'm fishing and it doesn't matter what technique I'm using. When I'm trolling I use my kicker motor with my Troll Master II to keep my speed where I want it and my bow mounts to steer the boat. I find that the bow mount can make course corrections from the front mutch faster than the kicker motor. This also allows me to be hands-free by setting my trolling motor on Auto-Pilot so I'm able to reel fish in without the wind blowing me off course. This is another great place to use the follow contour option if you have the I-link system.
Practice makes perfect when it comes to boat control so don't get discouraged when you struggle or your fishing partner is having a tough time keeping you on course. Especially if you/they just got a new boat and or motor. A little time on the water will go a long way, A lot of time on the water will make your friends look like rookies as you navigate to successful days full of limits. Soon all your buddies will be wanting to fish in your boat to see what the secret sauce is. Just tell them it's boat control.