Fix It or Upgrade?

Jake Haddock
Fix It or Upgrade?
Preventive maintenance to stay ahead of the gremlins.

We are getting ready to plunge into a great time of year to fish. The time of year when the waters are less crowded and fish can act like fish again. Many people would rather be getting ready for deer season but I will be fishing; if I can get my boats in working order. Last time I was fishing out of the Flats Cat there was an electrical issue with the jack plate. I had already fixed this issue this past winter (or so I thought), but I guess it wasn't fixed good enough. This time I am letting the professionals take care of it. Actually, they are completely re-wiring it, with new gauges and all. So, this means the Cat will be out of commission for a while. There was discussion for a while about just getting a new boat and starting all over. This idea really appealed to me as you can imagine, but I don't think that's going to happen right now. I mean, it's only an electrical issue. It can be fixed.

The jet drive is getting a little TLC too. I am currently working on it myself. This past weekend I put new floor boards in it, re-welded the cracks on every corner of both hatches, and replaced the fuel filter and spark plugs. As my uncle always reminds me, boats aren't maintenance free. He couldn't be more right. They are far from it. In a perfect world, you might get a new boat every other year before these problems started arising. Unfortunately, for most of us this can't happen.

Since we're talking about taking care of your fishing stuff, one of the most helpful things to have is a functioning wading belt, as well as all of the things that go on that belt. I have been packing a FTU All Pro wading belt for about four years now, or at least that's what it was called when I bought it. I'm not quite sure if they have changed the name of the product by now. However, I did upgrade a few attachments on the belt, such as a down-sized tackle box for easier removal. Also, I upgraded the stringer to a brand that I came across in this magazine a while back called Fish Slick. I don't know what kind of coating they put on those stringers, but it's so much better than trying to force a fish off of a nylon stringer. The fish just slip right off. Your topwater hooks won't get stuck in it either. If you don't like the stringer you have, you might want to give Fish Slick a try. Another thing of importance is to have a quality pair of stainless pliers on the wading belt. Some people like to carry the surgical forceps style of fishing pliers, but I have always liked my FTU brand stainless pliers. I always carry a lip gripping tool as well for handling fish. It's good practice to take good care of all the attachments of your belt, especially the pliers and lip tool. You can do this by first rinsing it all off with fresh water. Then, spray a light coating of WD-40, or Corrosion-X on anything that will rust after every use in order for them to be kept working like new. This simple maintenance after every trip will save a lot of headaches for the next time you go fishing.

In years past, I tried to save all of this boat work and gear upgrades for the winter season. However, the past two years I have really developed a love for fishing in the cooler seasons. So now I find myself working in the heat to prepare for the cold. I don't like it one bit, but if I don't get everything fixed soon I'm not going to be a happy camper when the first cold front gets here. It's just part of it. Once again, this leads me to another one of my Uncle Mitchell's favorite phrases to tell me, "It's an action item." In other words, it takes getting out of your seat and doing something to get things accomplished. Stuff breaks, especially when its around saltwater. That's all there is to it. The only question is do you fix what you already have or upgrade and buy new?