The winter “off season” is a great time to consider aftermarket items to increase the angling abilities of your Great Lakes fishing craft. And because it’s also boat and sport show season, this is an excellent time to shop those expositions to learn what’s new and compare all that’s out there under one roof. What’s more, factory reps often attend the shows and man their company’s booths to offer expert advice on their products and how to rig and use them, information you may not net from your local dealer. If you’re lucky, there will even be a boat on the show floor that is already rigged with an accessory you are considering, offering an invaluable opportunity to see where and how it is placed in particular position and why.
Of special interest to Great Lakes anglers these days are aftermarket gunwale-top rail systems and rod holders. The highly adaptable mounting platforms accommodate traditional rod holders and multi-rod “trees,” but a variety of other gear and handy accessories, from downriggers and fishfinders to tackle racks and cupholders. The best way to select the right rail rig for your boat is to go to one of the boat shows and see the various systems mounted on a variety of boats. Cisco, Big Jon, Tite-Lok, Bert’s, Cannon and TraxTech are among the more popular brands of rail systems found aboard Great Lakes boats, but you are likely to see many others at your local show and their particular applications.
Ditto electronics. Garmin, Humminbird, Lowrance, Ray Marine and other major marine electronics manufacturers offer new models and upgrades to their lines every season and it can be tough to keep track of the improvements and determine which are most useful to your particular style of fishing and the budget you have available to make an upgrade or change.
Aftermarket on board battery-charging systems are extremely important to Great Lakes fishing craft rigged with such electronic accessories, and that technology to keep the batteries that power them is changing by the season as well. Minn Kota, Blue Seas Systems, ProMariner, NOCO, Guest and Marinco all offer a variety of on board chargers with various features, some of which may be perfect for your particular application and represent a major upgrade to your boat’s system.
The winter sport and boat shows are a great place to see first-hand much of the new and improved sonar, GPS, and VHF radio systems practically side by side and discuss the details, the rigging, and the pros and the cons and the pricing with the reps.
The same goes for other aftermarket accessories that increase the comfort, efficiency and angling effectiveness aboard your boat. Customizing your watercraft to fit your particular fishing needs is a big part of the fun of boat ownership, and this is a great time of year to consider and study your options for the season to come.
Captain Lee highlights Captain Ross Robertson
Toledo native Captain Ross Robertson grew up fishing Lake Erie and is into his second decade as one of the top walleye guides on the Great Lakes. His Ranger 621 is rigged to the gills with practical aftermarket accessories that make it a walleye fishing machine that is as effective around the Apostle Islands as it is on the Niagara Bar. A key accessory for Robertson, who spends a great deal of his fishing time trolling and presenting baits in front of active fish, is a Fish Hawk X2 portable speed and temperature probe that displays real lure speed, depth and water temperature at depth a boat-mounted LCD monitor.