Towing Woes: Avoiding the Worse

Whether you fish close to home or pile the miles, you may be a candidate for travel problems

When it comes to spending hour after countless hours on the road, there’s no doubt in my mind that career fishing-tournament anglers lead the way of all those who avidly fish when it comes to miles traveled with boat and trailer in tow.

But just because you may only travel short distances to and from your favorite fishing waters doesn’t mean you’re immune to the same towing woes as those of us who cross state lines often.

In fact, due to the nature of the road network leading to where you fish most frequently, you may be a better candidate for travel problems more readily than those who pack on the miles. From ruts, potholes, extended rough “washboard” surfaces to every exterior in between, each road condition can and will take its toll on your boat, trailer, motor and tow vehicle.

However, there are several things you can do to keep problems from occurring, as well as money-saving tips and tricks to employ all year long.

I’m tire’d

What are the most important pieces of equipment on both my Lund boat’s trailer and tow vehicle? Why, tires, of course; after all, they are the only thing holding both Chevy and trailer snug to the road, no matter the weather conditions.

I’m sure you’ve heard it before, always be positive the air pressure in all your tires, including the spares, are at the manufacturer’s suggested pressure for the load before hitting the road.

By keeping my tires at the perfect pressure, I am allowing their tread design to perform to their maximum ability; permitting them to move water, dirt, snow and ice out from under them and keeping the most-pure surface-to-surface traction possible. This is a good thing.

Proper tire inflation will also let both vehicle and trailer to move along with the least amount of resistance, thus will increase your tow vehicle’s gas mileage to its greatest.

Another thing most folks forget to do is check their tires for damage. All it takes is one single rub against a curb, a hard ramming into a pothole or just “checking” (splits caused from sun damage) and blowouts can occur. The worst thing about blowouts versus just finding a flat tire in the driveway is it increases your chances of having a bad, even fatal accident tenfold.

Slip sliding away

Proper greasing of wheel bearings is another must. Water and dirt can creep their way into hubs, even if “sealed.” When this happens, it’ll only be a matter of time before you, too, are one of those poor souls that have pulled off to the side of the road and are waiting for a flatbed truck to haul your boat—with bent axle on its trailer—off to the repair shop rather than spending the day on the water. Not fun.

Even trailer bearings that are surrounded by hubs that have zerk fittings for easy filling of grease need to be taken apart and re-packed with fresh lubricant at least once a year. Do it. Save yourself the headache.

And trailer hubs like what is under my Lund Pro-V, which have oil reservoirs instead of being packed with grease, are no exception. They need to be gone over annually to make sure all is in working order. Because I am not the most mechanically inclined person, I take my trailer to professional mechanics—in my case Matteson Marine on Gun Lake in Shelbyville, Michigan—to make sure all is right with them. Thus, I don’t have to spend my time waiting for help along the road.

Cover me… I’m going fishing

Taking a vacation with boat in tow? Looking to increase your gas mileage all the while keeping the interior of your boat in good shape? Then, by all means, cover it.

My Lund came with a custom-fit canvas cover, and I use it when pulling it, especially for long distances.

It’s a proven fact that a boat wrapped in a snug-fitting cover creates less air resistance, thus your tow vehicle will have improved performance than when pulling one that is uncovered. Then, of course, there is the rain, dirt and sun damage that can be thwarted off by enveloping your boat in canvas.

In short, using a cover will save you big money and lots of hard cleaning up later on.

Changing times

You don’t need to have me tell you that gasoline prices have been on the rise. It’s that which has me finding less-expensive ways of travel.

For example, the latest way I have found to save on both is actually quite old school. (Well, a re-conditioned means of travel since 1992, anyways.)

After doing the math, when traveling west from my home in Michigan’s southwest Lower Peninsula, I have found taking the S.S. Badger from Ludington, Michigan, to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, not only saves me the time of driving around Lake Michigan, but even when paying for my vehicle, boat and trailer and two passengers, saves me quite a bit of money in gas and tolls.

And it’s a short, 4-hour ride while the captain of the ferry does all the work of getting me west of the big lake. Heck, even the employees of the S.S. Badger load my Chevy Suburban and Lund onto the vessel for me. All I do is pull up to the dock and let the crew do the rest. It’s a different change of pace for me, to say the least.

Over all, in today’s economy, taking ferries or other means of getting passengers, vehicle and boat in tow to and from one point to another more than likely outweighs the cost of gas and wear and tear on your vehicle. Do the math. It’s well worth the time and expense.

I didn’t see that coming

Be prepared for the unforeseen. This means being properly insured so as to cover my boat, motors and all equipment in case of an accident both on and off the water.

By far the best insurance for anglers I have found is through Worldwide Marine Underwriters.

Great boat-owners insurance is my peace of mind that, no matter what unexpected accident, all my equipment, big or small is covered financially.

Trust me on this. Although boat coverage from homeowners or car-insurance companies may look to be enough, rarely is it ever. Make sure you are covered by a policy written for anglers and all the unique gear they use.

Tow, tow, tow your boat…

Looking to go fishing stress free this coming season? Just make sure you have everything in working order.

Make sure your tires are fully inflated, have no damage and that their hubs are properly lubed. Cover your craft when towing it, find alternative routes that may save you time and money, as well make sure you are properly insured.

Your days on the water will be much more stress free, I promise.     MWO

 

Mark Martin is a professional walleye tournament angler and instructor with the Ice Fishing School/Vacation series. For more information, check out his website at markmartins.net or fishingvacationschool.com.