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Fighting Fish from a Boat

Posted on November 08 2012

Fighting Fish from a Boat
The man with the net is your friend. Photo: Cameron Miller

Alaska West guide Spencer Dixon is back today with some more tips based on his time guiding in Alaska.  If you ever fish from a boat, today’s post is for you.

Fighting Fish from a Boat

Our guides at Alaska West are known for their ability to adapt to every fishing situation, keeping our anglers into fish . We spend a lot of time fishing on foot, but there are a lot of situations where it makes sense to fish from the boat.

Whether you are anchored up swinging for kings, rowing down the Arolik skating Mr. Hankey for ‘bows, or stripping flies for silvers, fighting fish out of a boat can be tricky, so here are a few ‘issues’ and how you can avoid them.

Limited Space

The fact that you cannot move within the boat more than a few feet while fishing, has proven trouble to many. Usually, when fishing out of the boat, one angler is in the front of the boat, the other in the back. This means you have a much smaller space than you would when fishing from the bank. Remember you are in a boat, there is no need to try and move around all over the place to chase your fish. Your guide will move the vessel appropriately, whether to shore or away from obstacles – all you need to do is keep your line tight on Mr. Big and listen to your guide.

Anchor Lines and Motors

Sometimes you will find your self anchored up in a spot, fishing from the boat. Typically there will be an anchor off the bow, and maybe one off the stern. So now there are two ropes, hanging down into the water column, just waiting to steal your glory. Be aware that those ropes are there and do not let that fish take you around the anchor line.

Yes, it does happen, but just staying conscious to the fact that those ropes are there will up your chances drastically. Don’t be afraid to really turn that fish away from those lines.

Also while anchored, the motor will be in a storage position, up and out of the water. So when you hook your fish and he bolts around the back of the boat, remember there are enough exposed line-eaters on that motor to ruin many a fishing battle. Listen to your guide and keep your line away from the motor.

Rod Control

All these things come down to rod control.  Every situation is a little different, but here are some things to consider.

While fishing from the boat you are standing 1-2 feet above the water, so the angle of your line while fighting a fish increases drastically, which is not what we want. Keeping your rod tip lower to the water will decrease that angle, keep the appropriate tension on the fish, and improve catch rate. Also, the underside of the hull of our jet sleds get scuffed and banged up, causing sharp, line eating edges. So when your fish decides to bolt under the boat, stick your rod in the water far enough to keep your line away from the bottom of the boat. One rub on that hull can be the difference between high five’s and time-outs.

Remember you have a 9 to 14 foot fishing rod in your hand.  You have the ability to reach over and around obstacles if need be, so do it!

Respect the Fish

The last thing to remember is always respect the fish. They are our coworkers, friends and ultimately the reason we are all drawn to Alaska West. Don’t try to lift the fish out of the water into the boat.  Your guide will net the fish and/or move the boat to shore where you can take pictures, release your fish etc. Keep the fish in the water as much as possible – fish pictures always look better with the fish in the water.

To sum things up – stay calm, enjoy the fight, listen to your guide, respect the fish and be aware you are in boat. Great times will follow.

More Alaska Fishing Tips

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