By Ron Presley
Rods, reels and other major pieces of equipment are a given, but what about those other necessities of crappie fishing? Where do you store them? Marker buoys, jigs, swivels, hooks and more need to be conveniently located to maximize fishing efficiency. Aluminum boats are made better than ever, but there never seems to be enough storage where you need it.
B’n’M prostaffer Kent Driscoll has accessorized his War Eagle aluminum boat to protect his smaller but necessary tools while at the same time making them accessible. One accessory is a buoy marker.
“I use a custom buoy marker holder,” said Driscoll. “I locate the holder right beside my front seat so it is at my fingertips. When the brush pile or structure I want to mark shows up on the sonar, I simple pick up a buoy and deploy it. Instead of being randomly scattered around the boat, the markers are always easily accessible.”
Being legal is an important responsibility of any crappie angler. Different bodies of water have different length requirements and anglers need to be ready to make a length check before throwing the fish in a live well or in the cooler.
Driscoll uses a KD Custom Golden Rule crappie checker to make certain his fish is legal. “I screw it down next to the livewell,” explains Driscoll. “That placement reduces fumbling around looking for a crappie length checker. If the fish is legal it goes right into the adjacent livewell.”
Metal tools like pliers and hemostats will stay secure on magnetic holders. “I use a magnetic tool holder by Rapala,” said Driscoll. “I also mount it right by the front seats so I can reach them easily. The magnet keeps the stuff from bouncing out in rough water and saves the time and trouble of getting out of your chair and risk missing a bite and losing a fish while you are looking for tools.”
One of Driscoll’s simplest accessories is a piece of foam pipe insulation zip tied to a Driftmaster Rod Holder. “I place a KD Custom bait holder on the upright of my #1 rod holder,” explains Driscoll. This simple add-on allows me to put all my extra jigs and hooks right at my fingertips. It’s not only convenient, it saves me the time of digging in my tackle box for the jigs I need.”
One of Driscoll’s most used and most efficient tools is built into his War Eagle 861 Predator. The secret is in the placement. “The War Eagle custom net holder is located right behind the front seats on the step,” said Driscoll. “With a 12-foot net the holder will reduce your net to fish contact time by 50 percent vs. a net laying down in the boat.”
TackleWebs is a creative storage solution for just about any small item. The company makes a convenient, stretchy net add-on accessory that comes in several different sizes. They can be screwed down, bungeed or attached with wire ties to various locations in the boat. Some versions come with a peel-and-stick installation for placing on hatch and/or cooler lids. The stretch in the material allows almost any configuration of tackle, drinks, sun protection or maybe mosquito repellant to be stored safely and convenient to the angler.
Crappie pro Dan Dannenmueller is a relentless user of TackleWebs. “I store tools, maps, marker buoys, phones, small cameras, packs of baits, scents, juice and hand warmers,” said Crappie Dan. “You name it and I store it in my TackleWebs.”
Dannenmueller uses all sizes and configurations on his boat. “I’ve got them mounted on hatch lids, along the side of the boat, and under the seats. It is all about convenience and having what you need where you want it.”
It doesn’t stop at the boat with Dannenmueller. “I also use them in the truck cabin and in the cargo area. They are excellent for keeping the small stuff corralled. Best of all, they are easy to mount and use.”
Brad Taylor is another angler that has accessorized his boat to his own liking. He depends on plastic tackle boxes for storing his smaller tackle, but with a creative twist of his own. “I always use Plano Waterproof Boxes,” says Taylor. “They have plenty of storage and keep everything dry. Just to be sure I save those little silicone packets that come in things we buy. I just toss them in each of my tackle boxes. They help dry any moisture if any does gets in there.”
The B’n’M pro emphasizes keeping things dry and visible. “I always buy clear boxes,” explains Taylor. “I use an awesome waterproof dry bag from Bass Pro Shops. They make it in three different sizes. I like to organize my stuff, label it and pack it in the built-in storage on my boat. War Eagle boats make some great dry storage boxes for their boats and they work.”
Driscoll’s War Eagle has a vertical net holder mounted on the step up for easy access when needed. Net to fish time is reduced significantly with this setup.
Taylor is a dedicated live bait angler and wants his minnows lively. “I use a pure oxygen setup. It consists of a 20-pound oxygen cylinder, pediatric regulator, a fine pore stone. This system keeps minnows very active compared to pumped air. When I put my minnow on my hook I can notice a vast difference in the liveliness. Lively minnows are certainly an advantage.”
That cylinder is heavy and could be dangerous if bouncing around in the boat. To secure the oxygen bottle anglers can fabricate a do-it-yourself bracket, buy a commercial bracket or use a fire extinguisher bracket to mount the bottle.
Experts advise anglers to never mount the oxygen bottle in an enclosed area because it can be a fire hazard. Driscoll mounts his on the floor of his War Eagle and runs a line to the livewell. “My unit pumps oxygen into the rear livewell keeping tournament fish alive. It is mounted so I can see the oxygen levels in the tank and the amount of oxygen being run into livewell.”
This article has touched on a few of the many valuable storage ideas available to crappie anglers, but the list is far from exhaustive. Crappie anglers are very good at identifying problems and providing creative solutions. In fact, given that creative nature of anglers in general and crappie anglers specifically, many more effective storage solutions are sure to surface in the future.
Oxygen bottles are a valuable tool for keeping bait and fish alive, but they can be dangerous if not strapped down securely.
Kent Driscoll is sponsored by B’n’M Poles, War Eagle Boats, Lowrance and Driftmaster Rod Holders.
Brad Taylor is sponsored by B’n’M Poles, War Eagle Boats, Driftmaster Rod Holders, TTI Blakemore Road Runners and Mid South Tackle.
Dan Dannenmueller is sponsored by Bobby Garland, BnM Poles, Garmin, Ranger Boats and others.