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Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: Weighing the plusses, minuses of using a small or large boat


FOR MORE than a year my “big boat,” a 19-foot custom made Eastern open boat, had been put into mothballs because it was kind of hard for me to handle. Meanwhile, my new “tin can,” a 16-foot aluminum skiff, was very easy to trailer, load and unload. But if you read last week's column you already know that the new one was a “slow boat to China” with three people onboard.

One of the reasons for not using it was that the once very handy power winch that pulled it onto its trailer with the push of a button had been fried by an unexpected trip into the salt water. So we hadn't replaced that power winch with another one. We just re-installed the original “Armstrong” version that cranked very hard.

So after having a striper trip spoiled by the slowness of my skiff with only a 15-horsepower motor, we're putting a new power winch on the old boat and had 'er gone all over by a real mechanic, who put the original “Plane Jane” back into fishing shape. We are really excited about being able to go offshore and also fly around the Piscataqua and Great Bay at a reasonable speed.

There's the “ying and the yang” about both boats, but with two of them there's more plusses than minuses. With my small SUV (A Saturn Vue all wheel drive) it's somewhat of a gamble pulling the big boat up after loading it on the trailer if the tide is real low and the back wheels of the vehicle are on a slippery concrete boat ramp.

It gets even more interesting when we have to launch and/or retrieve the big boat when the tide is so low that we have to use a gravel beach. One time the only way we got the big boat back on solid ground was with a crowd of onlookers putting their shoulders to the vehicle and boat and pushing us up onto good ground.

Otherwise the only negative is fuel consumption. Last time out on my small boat, we went through about three gallons of gas. The average consumption on the larger boat is about 15-20 gallons a trip.

But on my big boat, it's conceivable to take as many as six people onboard, counting the Dickster. Small boat takes two adults without any adverse effects but leave home the extra rod or gear or especially passenger!

This is the time of year when the largest stripers will often be found a mile or more offshore on a structure that attracts mackerel and small bait-sized pollock to feed on. Since we had mothballed the big boat we haven't been able to quickly reach those spots but now it's gonna be striper beware as we'll not be handcuffed by those restrictions.

Chum is the secret of having a great day on stripers and often a few huge bluefish when fishing the offshore humps. It's nice to pick up a few mackerel inshore before anchoring on your chosen offshore structure. And having 10 or more pounds of frozen ground-up mackerel or whatever baitfish you have will start the process.

The idea is to chum in big schools of mackerel, which in turn will usually bring in some huge stripers or blues. The key is to keep the mackerel around and keep catching them while also having a couple of striper rods baited with live mackerel that are suspended under balloon bobbers. Having a three- or four-man crew is very handy as there's a lot of work to do.

When the stripers or blues show up, you abandon the mackerel catching and concentrate on catching them. It's quite a show to watch and you gotta love it when a plan comes together!

Know that the first mission with any trip on the water is possession of proper life-saving equipment and the knowledge of how to use it! Cell phones and/or a marine radio are a must! A small emergency first aid kit also, along with bottled water, sunscreen and some kind of high-value food is good insurance.

With all this knowledge, know that catching fish doesn't make for a good trip. A good trip is getting home safe and sound. It's a great trip when you have something to show for it.

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Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.

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