Sunday, June 29, 2008

Out of the boat and into the water

Sometimes bad things happen and good things come out of it.

Death of an outboard
My outboard motor blew up about eight months ago. That was the second time since I bought it 4 years ago. This time I decided not to fix it because I think it is a lemon, a Monday or Friday built outboard. On top of that, there are no competent mechanics around to do the job. Maybe on the main island, Viti Levu but not on the one where I live, Vanua Levu. In order to get the motor to a mechanic who could actually fix it I would have to drive 2hrs to catch a 12hr ferry ride and get a hotel room for the entire time it is in the shop. That is just not going to happen as I have already stated, I think it is a lemon so fixing it is just out of the question.

Solar powered fishing
The lack of motorized boating has forced me to adapt my well defined style of boat fishing. Having fished out of a boat for the last seven years, you could say I have formed a few habits to the way I fish. Now in general this is a good thing. I have certain routines and methods to create a comfortable and successful fishing trip. The problem with this is when something happens to the boat motor and I am forced out of my fishing comfort zone. Now I still have an electric trolling motor on the bow and it is getting used a lot. I charge it off a solar panel and that usually takes about 2-3 days of good sun to get a really good charge. There is a definite distance restriction when using electric only and for some reason I am always going into the wind. Realistically I can only fish with the electric about once a week. If I want to fish more, and I do, I am out of the boat and wading in the water.

Time to change
Being on foot now means I have to scale everything down. Tackle boxes, five gallon buckets, big landing nets, and multiple rods are completely out of the question. More like 5-6 favorite lures, pliers, fish glove, leader material and a knife. That is it, nothing else. I must travel light because more than likely I will travel far and deep. I could be chest deep with my rod held high or ankle deep casting over a small reef edge. Once the tide came in and I actually swam from one stone to another with only my head and my rod out of the water. I am sure that was a sight to see. The comfort zone as I knew it is no more and that is not such a bad thing.
Since I have started wading it has actually become easier to go fishing. I now take such a little amount of gear that I can be ready in just a couple minutes. Things are very uncomplicated now. I spend more time fishing and less time prepping, cleaning and putting away gear. I do not have to work strictly with the tides to keep the boat floating or lug a fuel tank and battery around.

Water hazards abound
As a regular boat angler I have found a few new obstacles to wading while fishing. I no longer have the height advantage of a boat when spotting fish, reef edges or weed beds. If the sun is in the wrong position or behind a cloud then it is very hard to see anything at all and feels a lot like blind casting. When the wind is blowing into my face I can not reposition the boat so it is at my back. The best I can do is put a heavier lure on and load up every inch of rod length to get a cast off. As for snags, when it happens and it does, I am faced with the dilemma of breaking the line and loosing my lure or swimming out and trying to get it free. It really depends on how far out it is and how deep it is. Probably the worst hazard I have personally faced is a stingray. Normally a very docile creature, but step on one and you will feel their sting. The more I fish my particular area the better I get to know it and the hazards. I have created a mental map of the area by using an elevated position to view it, especially at the low tide.

The good the bad and the fishy
Being without a motor has been both good and bad. The bad being the lack of freedom to move about and change locations if an area is not producing. When I had more mobility on the water I would fish as far away as 2-3 miles. My regular haunts included river mouths and mangroves as well as some really nice shallow reefs. These are all accessible by boat only therefore I no longer fish them. The good on the other hand has been the change in the way I fish in general. I realize I can fish with a lot less than I was fishing with before. I now spend more time fishing one particular area thoroughly before moving on. Within walking distance of my home I now catch good fish in places I normally would never have fished.

I have now added a completely new style of fishing to my repertoire. I still miss having a motor and the freedom it allows. However, the lessons learned and the fish caught have made it bearable to say the least.
If you happen to be without a motor just lighten up, get wet, and get back to catching a fish.

Tight lines and screaming drags


Louise said...

Fabulous pictures! Looks fun, too.

Debra Trean said...

Very impressive photography!

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