FISHING

How Can Fishermen Save Gas: A Few Tips to Keep Your Pockets Intact

How Can Fishermen Save Gas
Neal Walker
Written by Neal Walker

A quick answer lingering on the internet to the question ’how can fishermen save gas?’ is ‘By forming carp pools.’ Well, that is the answer to a mathematics riddle of the same words. Not to worry, though. We are talking about much more than a math riddle.

With gas prices skyrocketing in recent years, it is but obvious that you would appreciate a few tips on how to save gas on your next fishing trip. We will discuss a few easy fishing habits you can inculcate in order to save whopping percentages of gas in your fishing adventures.

16 Fishing Habits for A Greater Fuel Economy

Don’t Let that ‘Load Creep’ Creep Upon you

If you own a fishing boat, it is but natural to keep loading it with little things now and then. Adding gear to your boat may result in a more comfortable fishing experience; however, this would be at the cost of more fuel consumption, which is definitely detrimental.

The heavier the boat, the more gas it needs to run. So, make a conscious effort to keep load creep at bay by scanning your gear now and then to eliminate anything that you may not need.

Don’t go overboard, though, and keep your safety equipment and spares on your boat when you venture out. But, do have a check on things you absolutely would not require.

A study conducted found a whopping 27 percent of gas savings at cruise speed and 14 percent savings at full speed when the load of a cruise was reduced.

Don’t Let that ‘Load Creep’ Creep Upon you

With a passenger weight of 1400 pounds, fuel of 600 pounds, and 512 pounds of water, the cruise was seen to show 25.7 mph, 14.7 gph, and 1.75 mpg at a cruise speed of 3500 RPM and 44.8 mph, 34.8 gph, and 1.28 mpg at a full speed of 5500 RPM.

When the passenger load was reduced to 600 pounds, fuel to 120 pounds, and water was entirely removed, the same cruise showed 29.3 mph, 12.2 gph, and 2.40 mpg at 3500 RPM and 51.5 mph, 34.8 gph, and 1.48 mpg at 5700 RPM.

Another tip to keep your boat lighter is to flush away the water from your live wells on your return trip when you most likely will not need to use it. Most boats have the provision to drain the water from the live wells.

Make use of this provision to shed the weight of water, which is around 8 pounds per gallon. As far as possible, fill your fresh water tanks with as much water as you think you would need and avoid overfilling them.

The same goes for your fuel tanks. Keep them half-full if that would satisfy your needs, so you can save the weight of fuel, which is around 7 pounds per gallon – almost as heavy as water.

Distribute Weight Evenly on your Boat

Even distribution of weight on your boat is another necessity. Distribute gear and people in such a way that they are balanced on the two sides of the boat. This results in the boat being plane on the water instead of plowing through the water, thus preventing excessive gas consumption.

When your boat is up and running, trim your engine to ensure that the boat has the minimum possible contact with water.

Effective weight distribution is not limited to the sides of the boat. You will get maximum fuel efficiency if the bow of your boat is lighter than its stern. If it is the other way round, the heavier bow will push more water, and this will, in turn, cause the engine to draw excessive fuel.

Keep heavier items like tools, anchors, and spare props towards the rear and lighter items like life jackets, ropes, and towels towards the front of the boat.

Pay attention to the trim tabs

As mentioned in another point earlier, trim your engine in a running boat for efficiency. You can know when you have achieved the optimum trim when the propeller ventilates a tad and sucks air. After you reach this point, bring it down just a tad, and you are good to go.

Trim your engine in a running boat for efficiency

Make sure that the trim tabs work well and check them to ensure your boat is well balanced, thus avoiding the excess gas consumption of an unbalanced boat. Install adjustable trim tabs, which will assist you in adjusting your altitude while the boat is running and help you to level the boat side to side.

They will help you to run your boat on a plane at a lower speed than otherwise possible. This is a direct result of the boat’s bow being raised by the trim and a lesser wetted hull surface.

Do you have the right propeller?

An incorrect propeller for your particular boat and engine combination is like inviting a disaster in terms of fuel economy and efficiency. In addition, you need to keep the propeller in a condition as good as new all the time. Even a little bend or damage will have an adverse effect on the engine’s performance.

A simple check while the engine is working at wide-open throttle will let you know whether or not it is able to perform according to its maximum speed. Check at a different propeller pitch if needed.

This test may reveal that your propeller needs to be changed. This is especially worth considering if you have added a heavy item like a bait tank or a hard top, which may require an improved propeller.

Also, think about whether a four-blade propeller would be better for you than a three-blade propeller. Although these result in a reduced boat speed, you will also see a lesser drag and thus, more efficiency and lesser fuel costs.

Moreover, these also come with the benefit of more life and thus, a less wetted area below the hull.

Make sure your propeller is not bent or out of shape in any way. A dinged propeller is a sure way of inviting more gas consumption, resulting in almost 10 percent increase in fuel costs.

Step into a prop shop to get your prop checked and find out how much out of proportion your propeller is. You may be able to get it repaired, so it works like it is new. Qualified personnel at prop shops may also help you to determine if you need a propeller of different specifications.

Tune Your Motor for Optimum Performance

It is a good idea to keep your motor in good shape. Get your engine checked by a qualified mechanic periodically, say once a year, or whenever there is a little doubt on its performance.

Tune Your Motor for Optimum Performance

Don’t be hesitant to spend a little to change spark plugs every year to get your engine tuned. Make sure there is no obstruction in the engine’s air intakes.

A well-tuned engine will be more efficient and thus, will consume less fuel compared to one that is not very efficient. Consult your engine manual for steps to maintain it and follow the procedure regularly.

Keep your hull as clean as possible

Algae, barnacles, and other marine growths on the hull of your boat including the bottom and sides of the boat’s body will cause harm by creating significant drag and thus, more gas consumption.

If you moor your boat all the time, a little elbow grease with a bristle brush on warmer days would do you good. Employ a good dive service to get the bottom of your boat cleaned periodically.

Get the bottom painted with an anti-fouling paint to prevent marine growth, especially if you dock your boat in the water all the time, more so if it is in salt water. On the other hand, if you trailer your boat, use chamois to dry it whenever it is out of the water.

Many coats of traditional hard paint repeated over the years may result in the formation of craters on the surface, which again is a detriment. Scrape the cratered paint off the bottom of the boat or get it smoothed out by a hired bead-blaster.

You may also use ablative paints that leave a smooth surface when they wear out and thus, do not form craters.

Go Only as Fast as the Optimum Engine Speed of your boat

The fastest speed is not always the optimum speed. More often than not, you would make the most efficient gas consumption at the minimum speed at which your boat stays plane while running on the water.

Fishing boat

Speeds more than that particular speed would result in an increased gas consumption. For some inclusions like stepped hulls, though, the maximum efficiency would be at the maximum speed.

Make an effort to obtain the optimum speed for your boat – engine combination from the engine manufacturer.

Fuel-flow monitors make it much easier to determine the optimum speed for your boat. You can use a mechanical measuring unit from Flo-Scan, Lowrance, or other companies.

Alternatively, you can go for digital set-ups like the Mercury SmartCraft, ICON, or Yamaha Command Link Plus to attain a measure of the optimum gas consumption directly from your motor.

When choosing an engine for your boat, it is always best to choose one with a larger power than your speed needs. A 250 HP engine running at half throttle will be much more efficient than a 125 HP engine running at the maximum RPM.

Determine the average speed you would like to run your boat most of the time and choose an engine accordingly. Changing your speed from full to two-thirds throttle alone can result in up to fifty percent saving in fuel costs.

Use Suitable Unclogged fuel filters

It is recommended that you change your fuel filter every fifty hours or, as soon as you find a lag in its performance.

If your filter is clogged, it gets difficult for fuel to reach the engine through it, hence resulting in more work done by the engine to draw fuel and thus, more gas consumption. The recommended filter size for an outboard engine is a 10-micron mesh.

Use Terrestrial Pumps To Fill Your Engine When you can

If you have the option, like, if you trailer your boat, it is always better to choose to fill your engine with gasoline or diesel at terrestrial pumps rather than at marina fuel docks.

Use Terrestrial Pumps To Fill Your Engine

It is seen that the fuel prices at the gas docks are at least a dollar higher per gallon than at the land pumps. So, you could straight away save 20 percent on the fuel costs and perhaps, afford for an extra fishing trip.

Try not to spend idle time at the dock

Try not to indulge in wasting away your time idling and warming up at the docks. You can rather utilize that time and fuel in a better way by reaching your fishing spot and avoid unnecessary fuel consumption.

Hunt for locations near you

Try to look out for fishing locations that are near you rather than venturing out too far in search of a fishing spot. If you own a handheld GPS or a fish finder with features that allow you to mark your favorite spots, make good use of them.

Whenever you find a suitable location near you that gives you a successful catch, simply mark it so that you can revisit that spot the next time, without wasting gas and time searching for a spot.

You may end up with many such spots with time, and create a waypoint map that you can follow every time you venture out.

Another Way to use your GPS

One more way you can use your GPS to save fuel involves a little documentation and calculation.

Note down the miles traveled, which you can easily track using your GPS. Also note down the gallons of fuel you have used. Take a note of the average speed and other driving habits during each trip.

Fisherman Way to use your GPS

Over time, you will have a record of the most economical and most fuel-efficient trips. Replicate the trim settings and motor RPM that results in the most fuel economical trip, and enjoy an efficient trip every time you venture out.

Go Topless

This one may be a little surprising, but you need to execute it to see how much fuel you can save by taking a small step. A high bimini top, T-top, hardtop or another canvas-enclosed top, catches wind like a parachute.

This causes an aerodynamic drag that requires more fuel for your engine to keep your boat running at a reasonable speed.

Keep your top down like when you trailer it, whenever you can. Do not get into the habit of keeping your top up even when the day is quite sunny. Go topless, enjoy the sun, and have the bonus of saving fuel.

Some T-tops are found to increase fuel efficiently as they act like wings instead; this is, however, only until the canvas is down. The moment you pull up the canvas, the effect is reversed.

Opening or closing a split windshield can also affect the fuel efficiency. Often, a closed windshield results in greater fuel efficiency, but sometimes, the opposite is true. Test your boat both ways to find out which way works better for your particular boat.

Say No to Excessive Octane

If you have a gasoline engine in your boat, you would be making a mistake by purchasing more octane than the engine calls for. If your manual says that the octane requirement for your engine is 78, filling it with 80 will not enhance its performance.

Say No to Excessive Octane

Rather, more octane results in a carbon build-up in the engine cylinders in the long run. So, by filling only as much octane as required, you can save up on dollars as well as gas.

Use Boat Ramps

Whenever there is a possibility, trailer your boat to the boat ramp nearest to the area of water you want to fish. This way, you can make use of the greater fuel economy provided by your truck in comparison to your boat.

Share with a travel buddy

Do you know friends interested in fishing as you are? You can share a boat with others to save up on gas costs as well as other costs such as lodging, etc. on fishing trips. You may want to work something out like car pools.

Travel buddies can make your fishing trip more fun and enjoyable too. And, if there is an emergency, you will definitely help each other.

Save While out of The Water Too!

Sure, you can save gas while running your fishing boat on the water. But, you can also save while towing your fishing boat on road.

Save on fishing trip

Apart from the steps, you can take to improve the fuel efficiency of your truck like smooth acceleration, truck engine maintenance, driving at an optimum speed, maintaining optimum tire pressure, and using air-conditioning only when needed, you can take a few more steps related to your fishing boat too.

Limit the weight both on your truck and on your boat. While trailering, modify anything on your boat that can reduce aerodynamic drag. For example, keep the top of your boat low while towing and remove seats from pedestals.

Enjoy Your Next Fishing Trip with Lesser Gas Consumption

As you have seen in this article, even little things contribute to an effect on the amount of fuel consumed on a fishing trip. The factors that have the maximum effect on fuel efficiency are the optimization of the trim and the use of a correct, well-maintained propeller.

Keep these two under control, and you can save the most fuel.

Take a few more easy steps like maintaining the engine, maintaining a clean boat bottom, and shedding a few pounds of weight, and you are sure to save enough gas to afford a couple of extra fishing trips.

Have you tried any of our tips? Do you have a little tip to share? Please drop us a word in the comments.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Neal Walker
Neal Walker

Neal Walker started fishing when he was 4. His father took him to the fishing trips all over USA and Canada. Later he took Angling Education Program at Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, but most of his knowledge comes from experience. Now he takes his sons with him to share his passion.

  • Gustavo Woltmann

    Saving a bit of gas by following these simple steps mentioned on this article will go a long way. I don’t have my own boat but I always go with my mate when he’s fishing. I just noticed that he checks the trim tab every now and then. The next time we go on fishing again, I’ll make sure to tell him all those important tips.

    • Neal Walker

      Other than routine safety checks, the trim tab should also be checked to avoid any inconveniences during the trip. You can also encourage him to apply what we have discussed in this article to help him save more fuel.

  • Daniel Hardwick

    This is a great article Neal, thank you! Unfortunately, most boat owners whether sail or motor will attest that owning a boat is expensive.

    If you are dead set on owning one but don’t want to face the fuel costs, your options are rather slim, short of moving into a house by a lake and investing in a wooden row boat, you are going to incur expenses.

    More realistically, however, there is actually a line of propane outboard motors called Lehr. My research suggests they can prove cheaper to run and maintain than gasoline, though options are limited and they are small with the largest engine in the line at 25hp.

    • Neal Walker

      I agree with you, Daniel. There are a lot of things to be considered when owning a boat, and one of them of course is the fuel cost. You can always get a small boat, and yes, propane outboard motors suit your budget better considering your pricepoint preference.

  • Alyx Terrance

    Thank you so much for a great article, Neal! and I agree with Neal regarding loading your boat too much. As I was loading my boat too much in the start with all the unnecessary stuff and thanks for filtration techniques as well! I was doing them wrong for a long time! Lol!

    • Neal Walker

      Motors follow the same principle as horses or even humans. When you add to much load, the strain and energy required to keep it moving forward increases. This is why I really recommend to pack light, especially if you’re limited on fuel.

  • George Lewis

    I own a boat but I rarely use it because my sons take it and leave me at home alone. I’m not much of a fisherman and I’m too old for them. I guess that’s the reason they don’t want to hang out with me. I really hate fishing alone and because of that I usually find someone old as me who wants to take me on his boat. We share all the expenses and if we agree with each other, everything usually works great.

    • Neal Walker

      While we have our “traditions” and routines that often lead to conflict with other fishing enthusiasts, you should always remember the importance of enjoying the experience. Compromise is often required to make ends meet because we all want to have a good time.

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