Thursday, June 19, 2008

Float tubing for (mainly) pike and trout

You can fish from the bank with the river in front of you.
You can fish from a lakeshore with a rather larger lake in front of you.
You can go to the seashore with an ocean out in front of you.

An interesting thing happens .... the expanse of water on front of you that remains unfished becomes like an itch that you've got to scratch. I mean you may have lots of lakeshore to fish along with interesting places to seek out and fish in. But the large area of water out there that remains unfished is calling to you.
You have a deep suspicion that maybe if you get further out you will discover the motherlode of fish. Not really rational I know but it's real nontheless.
So for large waters - we usually try to get out there in a boat if we can.

The difficulty is that the amount of fishing related gear just went up tenfold. Added to the rods, reels, rodrests, end rigs and waterproof clothing, boots etc we now are proposing to add a darned big boat probably on a trailer. Possibly with an outboard engine, fuel tank, and spare prop, sparkplugs, and sheerpins too.

Not good. This extra stuff will definitely not fit into a wardrobe, and the garden shed is too small as well. How about the garage. Not if the boat is longer than the average car.

Now I agree that it's really nice getting out on the water in a boat. Much more fun than non boating people think. It's one of those things you have to try. Sliding over cool clear water on a warm day, looking down into the depths at the stony bottom receding until you float over unseen depths. This is a really pleasant experience. As a result I have bought owned and sold many boats over the years of my fishing career. I buy it because I want the fun of owning and using it. I keep it for a while and enjoy it. But the boat is unwieldy, it needs a friend with me to make launching fast enough for maximum fun. For a period I fish mainly as part of a pair with an angling boating partner. But after a while it gets taken out less often due to bad weather, friend being unavailable on the day, family committments, or busy work schedule. At some point it is just sitting there getting dirty in the driveway so I sell it, planning to get a new one when I have more time.

This process has repeated itself several times, and for me it now seems natural and I have accepted that spare time comes more infrequently than I would like. But when it comes I want the ability to fish out in the lakes, and not be confined to the shore. I prefer not to rent a boat because I want my gear to be prepared spot on when I do get out there ... I never know when a monster will take, and be hooked, and borrowed gear leads to nasty surprises when there is a battle in progress and no time to allow for stuff that is just about ok, but not really properly prepared.

After a while I searched around for a more suitable solution to my boat need and my boat problem in particular. I read about a few hardy specimen hunters in the US in the Boise Idaho and Utah area fishing for massive fish in productive waters. They fish from water craft called float tubes. I contacted one of them, a nice chap called Del Canty who has a fishing track record that anglers the world over would envy. You can read a bit about some of Del's fishing style here "Outdoor World Mag" Del Canty Interview, Oct 1978 . I don't know if he still fishes but back then Del fished very long and very hard. He is a marine biologist for his profession with the deep understanding of fishing that comes from that. We discussed what these chaps were doing and soon I got myself my very first float tube. Del was one of the most important anglers I met in my life regarding future skills learned, and influence on my fishing style. (I will introduce others at a later date). The strange thing is, for someone who had such a giant effect on my angling ... we never met face to face. That's transatlantic life I guess.

I never looked back. It is thirty years now since I became a float tubing angler. It is the most pleasing fishing water born platform to fish from. Boats are too big and bulky unless you live at the lakeshore. Wading is too limited to the shallows. Kayaks while smaller than boats are still very bulky and you always get wet. But float tubes are just right.

Sure of course a tube also has limitations. It doesn't like high wind. Irish lough boats are designed to be wind-worthy but their owners may not have the necessary experience. So should we be on the lake at all if there is a big wind? A tube is slower over a great water distance where an outboard boat whizzes across the lake speedily. But that outboard is heard by all the fish, the water slops and splooshes against the boat's hard hull (which happens to be shaped like a megaphone speaker) and if you are in a boat the fish hear you coming. Anyway the boat has to launch at the slipway. So they have to motor across. If it's a big lake and you plan to tube the far side .... just drive around instead, walk to the shore and launch your tube anywhere.

Someone described float tubes as an effective stealthy silent ninja kind of fishing. He got it right. And if you want to catch fish you have to be an unseen, stealthy silent item in the background. That is what float tubes are good at.

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