It doesn’t matter if you’re fishing from a canoe, or a 38-foot Bertram, any captain will tell you that having a neat, organized environment is the key to happiness… and fishing success. I know, there are times when the bite just explodes, and chaos ensues… that’s exactly when and why you’ll appreciate having everything in order.
I recently had a chance to spend time fishing the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon with guide Jon Huston. He runs a 21-foot Lund aluminum boat to chase myriad species in these waters. And I have to say that Jon is, by far, one of the most “dialed” captains I’ve fished with when it comes to keeping his “office” ship-shape.
Huston’s tips for an organized vessel:
1) Keep it simple. Lock on to what you use and need most, and have those things within arm’s reach of your primary position in the boat. Sure, it’s good to have spare gear and contingency plans, and that’s what storage lockers are for. But keep what matters most close at hand.
2) Use containers. Jon keeps his tools (pliers, knife, clippers, etc.) in a sealed Rubbermaid tub. His pre-rigged hooks and leaders are in another box. His baits are in another… his weights are in a bin, segregated by size. All gear containers are clearly marked, and most offer protection from the elements. When Jon is done using his tools, they go right back in the box where they belong.
3) Clean as you fish. Lemon Joy, a scrub brush, and hand towels are the captain’s three best friends. The best time to deal with things like mud, blood, greases, and grit, are when they first show up on the boat… not after the day ends, when they set-up and are difficult to wash away.
4) An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure… and that usually starts with the feet. Be sure to rinse the soles of your boots (and have your passengers do the same) before they climb onboard. A rinse bucket with fresh water is never a bad thing to have handy.
5) Communicate the rules to your passengers. They likely don’t know your expectations, especially if they don’t have a boat of their own. If your bilge pump has a problem with sunflower seeds, for example, let everyone know what’s cool and what’s not from the start… they’ll surely understand.
How about you? Any tips and tricks for keeping things clean that you’re willing to share?
Kirk Deeter is an editor-at-large with Field & Stream magazine, and the editor-in-chief of Angling Trade. He is the co-author of four books, most recently the Little Red Book of Fly Fishing.