Most anglers have the same problem – Where do I shove it? Storage dilemmas on boats afflict nearly all boaties, but never fear solutions are available.
My tackle box is always full and every boat I’ve ever owned has been a work in progress with respect to how I like the storage laid out. Boat designers give us a great starting point, but it’s really up to the angler’s needs to take it to the next level.
Practical storage inside the boat (both salt and freshwater models) offers a wealth of advantages, most importantly to increase enjoyment out on the water. Who wants to waste time tearing gear apart looking for an item, especially those used most during a fishing day?
The Boga-grip is something I use frequently so I store it on my centre console in an easy access open-top mesh pocket. This mesh pouch from the Stow Away Company comes with integrated Velcro that wraps around the stainless steel structure and can easily be relocated. It is incredibly handy as I always know where the Boga-grip is when I need it, and it reduces clutter from the deck. It is also great at the end of the trip clean up as all it requires is a quick rinse with the hose. The mesh allows it to drain and dry in the mesh pocket, so it’s clean and ready in place for next time.
I also have a mesh rubbish bag on board my boat that operates on the same principle. The rubbish bag attaches to the boat and at the end of the day it’s a straight forward step to un-Velcro the rubbish bag, carry it to the bin and up end it. Goodbye rubbish and the bag is hosed and then re-Velcroed into the boat.
Safety gear is the most important storage option for any boat and the T-Top safety gear bag is a very good solution. The T-Top bag is simply attached in place above your head (on a console top) via Velcro, quick release plastic clips and adjustable webbing straps. The bag stays above your head (the adjustable straps keep it from slipping down) and everybody knows where the lifejackets are should you need to grab them in a hurry.
Most safety gear storage bags available are aftermarket models, but make sure you go for the Velcro options – models that use metal components such as closure clips are often unable to be opened when the Fisheries guys pull up alongside you to inspect your safety gear.
Next time you are getting canvas work done on your boat get them to incorporate the T-Top bag into your ‘roof’. Ideally boat manufacturers should offer integrated T-Top bags as a showroom option. If I can offer any tip about T-Top bags it would be to use the largest size available. We might only carry six people maximum when fishing, but we’ll carry up to ten lifejackets due to size variations of guests you may have on the boat. You’ll need medium and small sizes for children, along with a baby jacket (just in case) for unexpected situations and visitors. Even though we try to cater for guests, we always make everybody is responsible for bringing their own life jacket(s). Obviously we already have jackets to cover most crew mixes but when someone is XXOS in size or when friends bring a couple of kids, we know we’re covered. It’s a back-up to make sure that safety is priority.
Mesh bags near cleats and fenders are also useful for keeping lines and ropes off the floor. This reduces the hazard of tripping aboard your boat and I find this particularly reassuring during ‘after dark’ fishing trips. In fact I can’t champion enough that intelligent storage can make or break a fishing trip and this is a hundred times more important at night.
It is amazing what you can’t/don’t see at night, especially stuff on the floor because of the ‘shadow’ caused by the gunnel height (such as a tackle bag, rope or bucket). These items could easily trip you up while your attention is diverted on fighting a fish or perhaps netting a fish for one of your mates. The worst I ever had was three sets of trebles imbedded in a calf muscle because I tripped over an open tackle box.
Mentioning trebles brings me to the subject of keeping hooks and lures out of harm’s way. In the case of hooks and trebles already rigged on your rods this means either overhead style vertical rod holders (aka rocket launchers) or horizontal storage such as in rod lockers in a bass boat.
There are also many storage bin/container options in which you can stow bits and pieces, including hooks, sinkers, rigs and tools. I’ve tried quite a few of these and have found that what is best for you comes down to your individual circumstances and different fishing situations.
The downside to these devices is that they regularly (always) end up cluttered with stuff jammed in, and the item you want is very often on the bottom. Still I do use them, but have found that I end up trialing a number of options before I get the system settled. For this reason I prefer anything with Velcro rather than options that bolt or screw on. Velcro is much easier to move around and experiment with.
For my tools, rather than use the ‘screw on’ wall mounted type of tool holder, I prefer to use the mesh style Velcro and double sided tape multi-pocket tool holders. Again, the tools are more secure inside them, they are less likely to bounce out and washing your tools at the end of the day is a simple task. Anytime you don’t have to drill a hole in your gelcoat is a good thing. Once you’ve drilled, you can’t change your mind.
I like to store my sunscreens in a similar way to the tool and Boga-grip storage; in mesh pockets.
For items that need to be kept dry, hard storage such as the marine glove box works a treat. I also use the Plano clear-lidded waterproof boxes for items such as mobile phones, media cards for our electronics, wallets, keys and I’m sure you can add a multitude of further uses. Waterproof storage boxes are a necessity for first aid supplies (which are a must on any boat).
I also use hard storage draws and trays for ‘regular’ low-value tackle like bait jigs, sinkers, rubber bands; essentially the sort of stuff that everyone will reach for at sometime during a fishing day and it doesn’t make sense to have your crew rummaging around in their own or your tackle box looking for such items. Having these low value items in their place means that you are more likely to employ a change in sinker size or quickly button on a new live bait jig and, consequently, you will stand a better chance of catching more fish.
Other nifty storage ideas include the attaching of items to the underside of locker lids. Items often stored in such locations include soft plastics in their proprietary bags, spinnerbaits (held by the main hook) and measuring rulers/mats, torches and/or post-mounted navigation and running lights.Reads: 4569