Spiraling fuel prices are hitting everyone deep into their pockets. Regardless of what we do or the hobbies we enjoy, everyone will be affected by these increased costs. One group that will be hit especially hard is the boating public.


Spiraling fuel prices are hitting everyone deep into their pockets. Regardless of what we do or the hobbies we enjoy, everyone will be affected by these increased costs. One group that will be hit especially hard is the boating public.

Boats are traditionally gas hogs. I can remember days of running the big two-stroke outboards in a tournament, and using more than 40 gallons of fuel. Not many people can afford $150 worth of gas for an angling outing.

If there's one thing successful anglers can do, it's adapt to the conditions. Sometimes it's the weather, sometimes it's the conditions on the water such as boating traffic or water levels. Now, it's time for anglers to adapt to the high fuel prices.

For those running boats, there are ways you can reduce the sting of the high costs of operating your boat. By following a few simple tips, you can greatly reduce your fuel consumption and keep some of your hard earned money in your pocket.

Today's performance boats are pretty efficient on the water. There's little drag on their hulls due to advances in design and construction. But there are ways to increase their efficiency on the water.

Waxing your boat hull and keeping it clean will go a long ways in helping it slide through the water. A quality boat wax and a buffer will give your hull a nifty shine, and allow it to glide through the water.

Accessing the bottom of the hull can be tricky. Care needs to be taken to avoid damage or injury. Most trailers allow good access to boat hulls, but there'll be areas you can't access with the boat on a trailer.

Many boat dealerships will hoist your boat off a trailer and wax the hull for you for a charge. This is much safer than trying to lift your boat off the trailer dry.

One of the biggest tips you can do is to simply lighten the load. Start at the front of the boat and remove any items you haven't used in a while. Carrying extra weight is just wasting fuel.

If you have a large anchor, take a look at downsizing it. Most boats can be held in moderate wind with a 15-pound anchor. Carrying along a huge fluted anchor might simply be overkill.

Carry only the tackle you plan on using. Fishing tackle weighs a lot more than most people think, and the areas you stow it only hamper the boat's performance. Keep your tackle to a bare minimum when you can.

Keep your live wells dry until you need them. Water is very heavy, and hauling a couple of full livewells of water around all day put a huge load on our boat's performance.

Carry your drinks in iceless coolers. Better yet, freeze a few bottles of water and mix them with unfrozen, but cold, bottles of water or pop. By eliminating the ice, you reduce weight. The frozen bottles of water will keep the other bottles cold, and, when they are gone, drink the thawed out frozen bottles.

If you're fishing an afternoon trip, don't fill the boat's gas tanks to the top. Many modern boats have 30-gallon, or larger, fuel tanks when full weigh a lot. Why carry the extra weight around when you only plan on fishing for a couple of hours.

Ensure that your engine is performing at its optimum efficiency. Have a mechanic perform a tune up on the engine. Check the propeller for any dings or bent blades that might affect performance. Having it operate at its best will save you fuel while giving you top performance.

The biggest thing you can do to save fuel is reduce speed. Most folks think a boat has two speeds, stop and wide open. Operating your boat at half to three-quarter throttle will greatly reduce your fuel consumption.

I for one have always been a speed nut and love a fast boat. But I'd much rather take a little time getting to a location and saving some dollars than know I couldn't afford to even unload the boat.

Tow-vehicle gas mileage is better than boat mileage, so tow your boat to the nearest ramp adjacent to your fishing locale. No need to fight heavy winds and long stretches of water when you can unload nearby and save the fuel.

If you're looking for a new boat, and are on a budget, look real hard at one of the new aluminum boats matched with a four-stroke motor. They're nicely set up, and can run for days on a tank of fuel.

Most won't win many boat races, but fish don't swim that fast. A nice 17-foot aluminum boat with a 70-horsepower outboard motor will do most anything a person wants to do around our area.

Getting your boat to the lake also takes a lot of fuel. Tow vehicles are under a lot of load when towing a boat, so taking precautions to reduce that load will greatly increase fuel mileage.

First, when was the last time you checked the tire air pressures on your tow vehicle? If it has been recently, I'm proud of you. But have you thought about the tires on your boat trailer?

Towing a boat with low air pressure in the trailer tires is like pulling it with the brakes on. Routinely check the trailer tires for proper inflation, and you can save a mile or two per gallon of fuel.

Take the weight out of the boat, and carry it in the tow vehicle. If you have a truck, put your tackle, drinks, food and other removable items in the truck so the vehicle is pulling the extra weight but carrying it.

Never tow your boat with water in the live wells. This is a huge amount of weight, and robs gas mileage. Also, leave the boat fuel tanks empty as long as you can before filling them so you aren't hauling the fuel around also.

Reduce the drag the boat has while traveling down the road. Lower the seats on the decks, or remove them totally. Set them in the truck until you arrive at the lake.

Having your tow vehicle set up properly to tow your boat is also important. Your trailer frame should be parallel with your tow vehicle frame. If it isn't, you're probably towing your boat with an extreme amount of tongue weight or too little tongue weight. Either way, it affects the performance of the tow vehicle. Use different height stingers in your drop hitch to adjust your trailer to the proper level.

We simply can't let the high cost of fuel dictate our lives. We need to do what we can to combat the high costs, but still enjoy the things we love in life.

Following these simply tips I've shared with you should reduce your fuel consumption enough to counteract some of the high costs of operation.

If not, wading is always an option.

Good fishing.

Editor's Note Brad Black can be e-mailed at okieangler@brightok.net.