Moving from a boat that was slipped to a smaller trailerable boat can be a lot of fun and if you plan it right – your trailer boat can fish big! I can’t emphasize enough that you need to really think before you add holes and look at the big picture because if you are anything like me, all the items may not be purchased in the same year and you may have a budget to follow. This planning and attention to detail also prevents you from having to redo your work later. After much searching and of course a marine survey, I found the boat I wanted. I bought my 1994 Proline 211; it was exactly the boat I had been looking for. I wanted a trailerable boat that had a hard top, outboard, cuddy cabin, and self bailing cockpit. I wanted all this for as close to year round comfortable fishing as possible in Wisconsin.
I started with planning where my downriggers were going since that would dictate the rest of the boat. I decided with how I fish and wanting to be versatile so I could fish for multiple species that I would mount these in the corners and just fish them at 45 degree angles off the back. I chose a few feet from the back just to insure easy access if I am fishing by myself. I mounted these on tracks so I could remove them, and because there was no reason to leave my new riggers sitting out during the winter. I also added a backing plate against the tracks, no reason to incur any unnecessary wear and tear on my boat.
I then added some nice plugs that are available from www.mcmastercarr.com for about $70 for the two sets. These insure I don’t accidentally come unplugged, but are easy enough to remove. I added the extra rod holder to my riggers because rod holders are good, and there are many reasons, including stacking, that I may want it there. This ended up being my favorite downrigger rod holder just for normal use.
Next was figuring where and how to mount the rod holders. I had 5 existing rocket launchers on the hard top, so I was happy with that, and just planned on adding more later on. Next I added 2 per side of the Perko rail mount rod holders. These went as far up as I could quickly get at them from the back. I wanted to be able to run at least my outside 2 boards on each side off of these. Next I added 2 Great Lakes rod holders per side and one Bert’s locking holder per side. The Bert’s holders are normally my diver rod holders, but if running multiple divers I may run one off there and another on a Great Lakes holder or on one of my rigger holders. I really like the versatility of all the holders I bought and love that I am able to go from being set up for salmon to walleye in a matter of minutes. If all these aren’t enough, the boat came with four flush mount rod holders to use for whatever you find fit.
I knew that the 150 Yamaha that came on it may not slow down quite enough for walleyes and lake trout so next was a set of trolling bags from www.bigpapasportfishing.com. I planned on adding a kicker eventually but still planed on using these bags to slow down without having to change where I have the throttle set. I eventually came across the right price on a brand new last years model Suzuki 9.9 four stroke. This was just what I needed. I then found a Panther Mount for it and mounted that. It really was easy to mount myself, I just followed the directions that came with it and with a little advice from Hondacat it was all set. One of the best tips he gave me was to always strap it no matter what, by doing this you take a lot of wear and tear off your transom.
My most fun part was electronics. I wanted a lot, but didn’t want to spend a ton. I already have a handheld GPS but also wanted one for constant use when I was fishing. I looked at all kinds of units, but knowing I also wanted to fit radar and a temperature probe into my electronics box, I decided space was limited. So after much research I decided the Humminbird Matrix 97 was the unit for me. It was a combo, color unit with map card capabilities and a good sized screen. I really liked how easy it was to operate and it was definitely reasonably priced. The map card followed as a birthday present for me.
When it came to temperature probes I liked the size of the Depth Raider for sure. Both the small probe for less blow-back, and the small display with good sized numbers were things I wanted.
The last bit of electronics to add to the puzzle was radar, I ended up buying a Raymarine SL 70 Plus used on eBay for pretty cheap. This is a discontinued model that would work with a newer scanner, and the scanner I bought new. By doing this, I kept my options open that if I ever wanted to upgrade I could without replacing everything.
Right before fall, it was time to add the enclosure. I brought it to a place in Wisconsin called Marine Tops Unlimited. They did a good job, but I was a little surprised at what an enclosure costs. It was less than a truck, but about the same as adding a kicker. It was a little more than I wanted to spend, but boy is it comfortable when the weather is nasty. Sometimes it is just nice to completely get out of the rain and wind. It makes the nasty weather a lot more bearable, and the more my wife likes it, the more I like it.
There were a few things I needed to change after having my new to me boat for a year. The first is tackle storage. I added a flasher holder from Big Papa to keep things a bit more organized. I also added a Special Mate tackle box to keep my regular use items organized and accessible. The second thing I added was more rod storage space. I did this by adding a couple of Traxstech tracks up the sides of the hardtop and put four Bert’s net holders in each. This is just more out of the way storage for unused rods when we are fishing. Then I added a pair of automatic inflatable life jackets for my wife and I because you never know when you may need them. I am now removing bottom paint and buffing out the finish. I figured there was no reason to keep painting when it could be removed and finished off just like new. Then I am going to start going through my trailer including the brakes, bunks, and bearings.
These are all the steps I took in setting up my current dream boat. The things I cannot stress enough are to plan looking at the big picture, do as high of a quality job as you possibly can, and to keep it spacious and organized. Follow these couple steps and you too can make your small boat fish big.