We’ve all heard stories of the big one getting away. Or how close we were to the ultimate catch. Aussies enjoy both fresh and saltwater seafood, with sizeable amounts regularly featuring on daily menus. But what better way to indulge in your meal than having caught it yourself. The number of people fishing is steadily rising, as is the number of registered fishing vessels. Recent estimates put the figure to over 3 million Aussies fishing recreationally each year and a large portion doing so regularly and in recreational fishing watercraft.
Owning a boat is the first step to accessing countless inland waterways, rivers and endless coastal fishing grounds. And any boat, from 3-metre tinnies to 10-metre boats with room for a few mates or family members will bring hours of fun on the water, and the chance for some tasty rewards in between. What you will want is a few accessories in getting those odds higher. Here are 3 basic fishing accessories every fishing fanatic or regular bloke should have when fishing on their boat:
Bait boards are a fishing boat accessory that you’ll use often. This is the dedicated area where you’ll be preparing bait, rigging lures and lines, and in bigger variants, storing tackle. A bait board sourced in the right size for the boat can increase your chances of getting more and bigger catches on board, with everything prepared and stored in one convenient place. They can also be placed in varying positions on the boat, often with metal brackets like those found in a rail mount bait board and legs with adjustable height to ensure a secure fit.
The boards themselves can be optioned in different materials, Traditional variants are made from timber, but with more lightweight and sturdier options around, particularly thermoplastic polymers like injection moulded Polyethene, you have a board that handles the weight of cutting and slicing and still endures the harsh sea conditions, If you’re after the last word in durability, then go for a bait board made from heavy gauge stainless steel. This can consist only of the frame, with nylon and PE making up the cutting board, or be fully metal.
Designs and shapes also differ. You can custom build a board to suit the available space, or get a production board. The latter will have included high sides to prevent slippage. Also, consider a rail mount bait board with provisions for the tackle in separate compartments, recessed knife holders in preparing cuts, run-off trays and drain holes to siphon off excess water, as well as inclusions like cup holders to hold your beer while you’re bringing in that huge catch. Most bait boards will also have included rod holders, so you don’t have to be far off the action while preparing bait for your next catch.
Pay attention to sizes, weight and mounting widths. All production rail mount bait board models are removable so placement is more an issue of where you deem fit.
Rod holders are another necessary piece of gear. They keep rods right where you want them. Though some bait boards have these mostly as an afterthought, dedicated rod holders will definitely get catch numbers higher and increase the enjoyment out on the water. The hands-free approach is handy when you want to bask in the sun with a beer in one hand and a sandwich in the other.
Rod holders let you have multiple lines in the water, with rods better organised and easily accessible along the boat, and keep lines from tangling. Different options are geared toward freshwater and saltwater fishing, and you’ll also find variants that are good on the rocks. This leads to different materials and different designs. Nylon, aluminium, ABS plastic, fibreglass, and coated stainless are used. Rods in stainless steel or chrome-coated brass are good in rougher waters when trolling due to better durability, while nylon, fibreglass and plastic holders are good against corrosion from salt water and are cheaper options that work well in calm seas.
Fixed holders are more common on bigger vessels and have allotted spaces. Smaller boats make do with removable rod holders and these slide into mount brackets that can be placed anywhere along the boat. They’re not as durable as fixed holders but still do a good job. Variations in mounting mean some flush-mount holders keep the rod at an angle of 30 degrees and inserted in the gunwale. Swivel or pivot mount holders offer a degree of flexibility in lines, and are ideal in big game fishing. Clamp mount holders are easily installed in rails or vertical stanchions, so offer the most versatility in placement.
Generally smaller boats will be better off with removable holders in lighter and cheaper materials, and bigger boats with heavy-duty fixed metal holders, often in a flush-mount design.
Going prepared and with all your gear organised in easily accessible compartments, means you’ll want a decent tackle box. This needs to have the storage space for lures, bait, hooks, leaders sinkers, floats and other terminal tackle gear. Tackle boxes help with efficiency and speed, so you’re ready every time.
When choosing a bait box, you’ll need to consider size, storage and separate compartments, materials and durability as well as portability. The basic distinction in design is between hard plastic boxes and soft cloth bags.
Hard boxes resist cracking in harsher conditions, have sturdy fold-out trays or utility boxes for smaller items, and top-loading compartments for the bigger stuff. Soft tackle bags are a more recent fishing accessory, made of durable waterproof materials and have ample storage inside. They’re also lighter, so easier to handle and move around.
Ultimately, you’ll want a box that holds a bit more than the gear you currently have (letting you expand in the long run), and the right number of compartments that are also well sorted and visible. Hard boxes benefit from lightweight moulded plastic, whereas tackle bags are nylon or canvas and both are built well (airtight latches, seals and zippers) and durable enough to withstand tough conditions.