FISHING TIP OF THE WEEK: Organize Your Cockpit to Catch More Fish
Photo: A well organized, clutter-free cockpit will help immensely when it comes time to land or release a big fish.
Different boats obviously have different amounts of cockpit space to work with, but no matter how much area you start with, organizing your equipment and tackle can make a huge difference in terms of hooking and landing big fish.
Tackle storage is a challenge board any boat, and not just in terms of available space, but also in terms of having the right tackle close at hand so it’s available when you need it. Whether your boat has built-in cabinetry and drawer space or you store and organize your tackle in bags or tackle boxes on deck, you must have all of the tools you need close at hand and arranged neatly so you know where to find them instantly and won’t need to search for something in the heat of battle. This includes hooks, crimps, lures, leader material and the like.
This goes for accessories as well: things like pliers, cutters, gloves, de-hookers, knives, gaffs and tag sticks must have a place to be laid out that’s out of the way, but easily accessible so you can grab them intuitively without having to search. The trick is to create patterns for arranging these items that you follow on each trip. Lay out your gear the same way, in the same place time and time again so it becomes habit and you will therefore know exactly where a particular needed item is without having to think about it. This save considerable time and effort and helps eliminate costly mistakes during the end game, the most critical time in any fish fight.
Finally, make sure you have clear paths around the cockpit for the wireman and/or gaffer. If you’re using a fighting chair, he or she must be able to pass between the chair and the transom with ease as they chase the fish when it gets close to the boat. If you’re fishing standup gear, it becomes even more critical because you must keep pathways clear for the angler as well as the wireman. Buckets, towels, gaffs, hoses and other items typically found in a cockpit can trip you up, potentially causing a lost fish or worse, an injury. Keep your deck clear so everyone can move about unfettered.
Simple planning and careful orchestration of the space you have to work with will maximize tour chances for success when the fish of a lifetime pops up in your spread.
John Brownlee is the host of Anglers Journal Television, and the former editor-in-chief of Marlin and Salt Water Sportsman magazines.