Mike Iaconelli shares his tips for careful and precise boat control that will help you land more fish. Photo by Phoenix Moore
By Mike Iaconelli - August 2, 2020
I haven’t seen much media coverage lately about boat positioning, and that’s not a good thing. If your boat isn’t positioned correctly in relation to what you’re fishing, you’re doomed.
We all know that to fish a log correctly, you need to cover the top end, the bottom end and both sides. To do that you must have your boat positioned correctly and move it a little with each cast, so you’re fishing the right angle. The same thing is true with a brushpile, a rocky flat or a drop: You have to cover it all, and from different directions.
The trick to doing that is to know how to control your boat.
My Competition Boat
My Bass Cat Cougar and my Yamaha 250 V MAX SHO make starting out easy. I can get where I’m going in a hurry but, at the same time, I’m not making a lot of noise or creating massive waves that’ll mess up my spot.
I like the Cougar because it suits my style of fishing. But they have a ton of other models that might fit you better, and they range in price to fit almost any budget. Check them out when you’re in the market for a new boat. And don’t forget: You can get accessories for them if you’re disabled or physically challenged.
The Yamaha on the back is a great addition to my Cougar. It’s quiet, efficient and reliable. Again, they make all sorts of different sizes and styles. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best outboard I’ve ever owned. Check them out before you buy anything.
As a package, this combination gives me a stable casting and fishing platform. That’s what you need as a first step in proper boat positioning.
Trolling Motor + Electronics = CRITICAL!
Once I get near my spot it’s time for my Lowrance equipment to go to work. We’ll talk about my trolling motor — the Lowrance GHOST — first. It gives me 130 pounds of thrust, which is enough for any situation. And, it’ll hold me in position with absolute certainty, as well as do a lot of other neat things.
But the real deal is that it’s quiet. It doesn’t scare the fish like most trolling motors when you’re in shallow water.
Once I have that going, I check out my Lowrance GPS and SONAR system. It’s unbelievable. I’m seeing things with my new LiveSight that I didn’t know were on the bottom in waters I’ve fished for years.
Before I give you a few tips that’ll help you position your boat correctly, I want to say something from the heart: My equipment is top of the line. I know that. I’m a pro and depend on it to earn a living. But just because your equipment is a few years old – or less expensive, or has fewer features on it – doesn’t mean that you can’t put your boat where it needs to be or catch a boatload of big bass.
Here’s the truth of the matter: I learned to position a boat long before any of this new equipment was around. It’s easier and better now, for sure. However, back in the day, we used 12-volt trolling motors and flashers, and we caught a lot of fish!
What I’m saying is that if you can get the newer equipment, go for it. You won’t be sorry. But if you can’t, don’t give up. Use what you have efficiently.
8 Tips That Will Help you Immediately!
In order to maximize your time on the water — with new equipment or old — you need to learn to do a few things, and learn to do them well:
- Always create a safe zone around your target – an area your boat never goes into or disturbs anything. Don’t hit the bank or stir up mud. There’s nothing wrong with making long casts.
- Use the wind and current to help you position your boat. Drifting backward while you’re casting is okay. I did it for years.
- When you do use your trolling motor, set it to the lowest possible power setting you can get away with. The less noise and disturbance the prop makes, the better.
- Run your trolling motor on constant whenever possible. The off and on turning of the prop disturbs the fish more than a constant speed.
- Use your electronics as your underwater eyes. I have one eye on my map and one eye on my SONAR at all times. I want to see everything both of them are showing me. Two screens are the best, but a split-screen will do the same thing.
- Don’t neglect marker buoys just because you think they’re old-fashioned. I use commercial ones when I’m practicing or fun fishing. When I’m in a tournament, I go with clear soda bottles. Wrap some heavy string around them, along with a heavy weight. They’ll work as good as the ones you bought at the tackle shop.
- A drift sock is super good when you want to fish across a long break or a giant weedbed. The strings on them will control them pretty well once you get the hang of using them.
- Avoid anchors when you can. I only use them in extreme conditions, when I want to protect a spot from other competitors or when I’m bed fishing.
Careful and precise boat control will put as many fish in your livewell as anything else you can do when you’re fishing. Do it!