How Not To Have A Holiday From Hell

Jim HarnwellThe following is an article by Jim Harnwell, and reprinted with the kind permission of Fishing World Magazine.

A bit of time spent preparing for your big summer escape can pay off with more fish – and more fun.

If you are anything like me, a summer holiday is an event that’s eagerly anticipated for months in advance. Endless dreaming of long, hot days spent fishing, boating and generally lazing around builds up all sports of expectations. However, the perfect holiday won’t eventuate just because you’ve enjoyed a few daydreams.

After enduring more than a few disappointing holidays in my time, I’ve come to the conclusion that preperation is the key to success. For anyone into fishing, carefully preparing your boat and fishing tackle is vital if you’re to enjoy a safe, successful and fishy break away.

The Boat

Boats all sizes and shapes seem to come out of the woodwork during the summer. The average fishing boat has a fairly rugged existence – they’re drenched in salty water, bumped over rough roads, left out in all sorts of weather and bashed across the unforgiving ocean. It makes sense to ensure your boat is up to the task before you head off down the highway for the Christmas break. I personally can’t think of anything much worse than standing on the side of the road with a buggered up trailer watching all the other holidaymakers happily cruising past.

Here’s a few pointers to consider if you’re planning on dragging the boat down or up the coast this summer.

  • Check your trailer for wear and/or cracks. Ensure the springs are in good order. Check your wheel bearings and repack/replace as necessary. If you don’t know how to do this, buy a mate who does a beer. Otherwise, get them seen to at your local boat repair workshop. Dodgy bearings can cause real headaches on the open road. Also check your tyres. Make sure your spare is properly inflated. Check your trailer lights are working properly.
  • Get your motor serviced. Most modern outboards should be serviced annually. It makes a lot of sense to do this before you go on holidays, not after. Apart from a comprehensive service by a qualified technicians, basic to consider include checking your prop has no line tangled around it; ensuring your water separator is clean; checking your impellor and tell-tale are in good working order; making sure your fuel lines aren’t cracked; checking that your tool kit is where it should be; and ensuring you’ve got the necessary spares on board. At the very least, these should include: spare spark plugs, two-stroke oil and fuel in proper containers, WD-40, CRC or similar spray, a rope to pull start the engine and a spare prop or two. If you’ve got an auxiliary fitted to your boat, make sure it works. No use having a spare motor if you can’t get it started! Pack a hose with tap attachments somewhere handy so you can flush out your engine and wash your boat down.
  • Give your electrical system the once-over. What you want to look for here is that your batteries are in good order and that there is no obvious corrosion in your cabling. If you have doubts about the electrical system in your boat(and remember, saltwater and electrical cabling doesn’t go together), get it checked out by someone who knows what they’re doing. Also remember to carry plenty of spare fuses and check your batteries regularly. Being stuck out at sea in a dead boat is no fun. It’s a good idea to have a back-up battery on board in case anything goes wrong. Ensure your radios are working if you’re heading offshore.
  • Check that you have the relevant safety gear on board and that it’s all in good order. For a boat used in offshore situations, an EPIRB, flares, 27 meg and VHF radios, lifejackets, fire extinguisher and comprehensive First Aid kit is the minimum you should have onboard. You should be able to get all of this stuff at agood boat shop. It might make a hole in your wallet, but you’ll have more than that to worry about if you get into trouble at sea. It’s a good idea to carry a supply of food and water as well. A phone call to your State Waterways authority will bring you up to date with the safety gear required for your boat.
  • Take up the floor in your boat (if it’s got one) and check inside the hull for and cracks or holes. Also check your buoyancy foam hasn’t been affected by fuel leakage. If you’ve got an underfloor fuel tank, give it a good visual inspection for hairline cracks. If you’ve got an aluminium boat, spend some time looking for sinkers or other metal items that might have made their way down inside the boat. These items can cause serious electrolysis to your hull.

Fishing Gear

Getting to a spot, finding the fish are on the fang and then discovering that you haven’t got the right gear is a major exercise in frustration. A basic assortment of rods and reels in the four to ten kilo class should handle most holiday fishing situations. A light to medium threadline outfit and a standard beach/rock combo is fine for most coastal work. If you’re into fly fishing, an eight weight should cover most estuary/inshore situations.

Lures, flies, leader material, spare line, plenty of terminal tackle, spare trebles and rings, a yabby pump and sieve, pliers, knives, WD-40, reel grease and tools, landing net and fish smoker should complete the picture.

It’s important you stock up on the basics, which generally don’t take up too much room. You can never have enough hooks and sinkers – make sure you get a good selection to cover all the options. It’s also a good idea to spool your reels with new line. The stuff from your last holiday is probably past it by now. Get your reels serviced at your local tackle shop. You’ll want a nice, smooth drag if you hook up that fish of a lifetime.

I can fit most tackle I’d use on a summer holiday into a single Plano 758 tackle box which then slots nicely into the boot. As a final note, try and pack all your rods into protective tubes – it’s amazing how easily they break when they’re packed into the back of the car.

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