The first steps in fishing boat ownership will be covered on this page, including hitching your boat trailer, trailering your boat and backing your trailered boat. Just like learning to ride a bicycle pay attention to certain basic principles, learn from experienced boat owners, observe good and bad behaviors at the lake and then practice which will allow you to enjoy years of pleasure launching and loading your boat. A wise fishing boat owner will master trailering their boat, backing their boat and driving their boat.
The first step of fishing boat ownership is to pick up your boat and trailer and hitch it up to your tow vehicle. Note the hitch sequence because you will be doing this often and it is important to not leave out even one step. Make a list so that you will remember: the electrical connection, any trailer brake connection, how the hitch is connected and locked in place. It can become so routine that you may forget an important step. With practice you will be able to back up to your boat trailer without a friend or buddy to help and come reallly closel even the first attempt. However, an extra pair of eyes helps to direct you and will save a few minutes. Once you have your hitch ball located under the trailer hitch, lower the trailer hitch onto the ball. Once the trailer hitch is properly seated onto the ball, close and lock the hitch onto the ball. Look for a pin that slides into place to prevent this door from coming opening while traveling - insert this pin to complete the locking process. You will have 3 or 4 more things to connect. Electrical - for trailer lights, 2 safety chains and an emergency brake chain if your trailer comes equipped with trailer brakes.
Remember because you now have a vehicle that is much heavier and longer than normal, all routine moves you make when traveling will be affected. Getting your vehicle up to highway speed will take longer - which means that when entering traffic you need to allow extra room to do this. The same is true about stopping - do no tail gate. Always allow extra distance between you and the vehicle in front and when stopping. When turning remember to swing wider than you are accustomed to doing. Your trailer tires will not track directly behind your tow vehicles tires when turning. Some trailer tires are actually wider than the width of tow vehicles. Know how wide your trailer tires are compared to you to vehicle tire stance. This is important to know when navigating through construction zones or crossing narrow bridges or on narrow roads and there is oncoming traffic.
Towing your freshwater fishing boat can be deceptively easy. In fact there may be times you almost forget you have a boat and trailer behind you. This is not good. If you have never driven a vehicle with a trailer you should not leave the dealer, head out on the highways, or head to the lake without practice. Find an empty parking lot and practice pulling into a double parking space trying to stay between the lines. Gain a perspective just how far back your trailer goes behind your vehicle. This is important to know if it becomes necessary to pass another vehicle on the highway so that you have a better idea how much room to leave before you pull back into your lane. Enjoying your fishing boat ownership requires that you become good at backing your boat and trailer - only if you ever want to launch your fishing boat and go fishing.
Launching your freshwater fishing boat requires you become good at backing your boat in a controlled and specific path. Backing your boat and trailer is not as intuitive as driving it forward. But with practice this can be mastered. Remember that it is the ball of the trailer that is actually pushing or pulling your trailer. As a result when backing up the rear of the trailer can seem like it is going in the opposite direction from how you are turning your front tires.
At PFT we suggest 2 things: take a lesson from a friend, observe how they do it, then ask them to coach you. Secondly, practice in an empty parking lot. Once you learn to back your trailer in a relatively straight line you are ready to head to the boat ramp. Your first attempt to launch your boat should not be on a holiday weekend when it is very busy. Boat launch ramps look very narrow when there are multiple vehicles trying to launch. Backing your boat and trailer is best done in a slow and steady manner, this is not a race. Remember, if the boat starts turning too sharply - correct by by pulling forward to straighten up your trailer. Then back up using a slightly different line. This is what fishing boat ownership is all about, putting your boat on the water and going for that big bass, walleye, crappie, or your favorite species.
Fishing Boat Ownership, Cont'd.