Driving a boat seems to be something many anglers overlook in being a better bass fisherman or woman. I recently fished a BASS federation tournament wear I drew a friend. We were joking about how it would be great if we drew each other. He had been practicing in creeks I intended in fishing so it would be a perfect situation for both of us. My boat was at the dealership because I had an unfortunate encounter with a sand bar and a green non boater in the Wal-Mart BFL. It’s a tale for another time but you can not get angry at ignorance. We were about boat sixteen and knew several boats were going exactly were we wanted to fish. Mark was visibly upset and I told him don’t sweat it we will “drive” past half of them, and my line will beat the rest.
The boats in front of us wound around every curve and took a longer run by mileage. On big river systems most of the water is navigational. The Ohio, Mississippi, Cumberland, and Tennessee Rivers are all navigational near the banks. Why this is important is you drive a straight line from each turn across the river to shorten the distance. The tournament we were in required long runs so with the run we could make up time by driving the lines correctly. Mark was like “your smoking something man”; I said no just take the lines I tell you. I knew how each bend turned so I would tell him were to run. Well you know it is not like were all like Tom Cruise in Days of Thunder, we just were not just “told to get in and drive and” we “could drive’. Unfortunately I have noticed that it seems that many anglers do however just get in and drive. We actually ran down twelve of the sixteen and made it into the creek we wanted first. The second boat in watched me boat the first fish.
So how do you do it? Well here are some of the things that I think that are important. First in my opinion, when it comes to the prop pitch, engine height and making sure the boat is set up correctly 90% of all fisherman, do not have the expertise to “do it them selves so leave the boat set up to a reputable expert.” Second, if you have not been in a high performance hull, do some study and have someone teach you at least the basics. Learning how to trim a boat in different situations can help you run faster and safer. Everyone can handle a boat in flat water but what about six to eight foot swells? Slowing down and trimming the motor down and paying attention to how waves lay can make you drive by the competition. Knowing the waterway well is also important for driving the fastest lines and the safest ones as well.
The picture shows a river bend that you can see if you drive the north bank correctly (hug the bank line until you see the straight of the river) will be the shortest run but most boaters will just turn on the same line as the river turns much like the barges shown. The same can be done on a smaller scale on reservoirs but extreme caution must be taken in knowing navigational hazards. The last thing that I would like to stress is for all of you reading to use your safety equipment at all times. It may never happen but there may be a time when it saves your life.