I learned how to save money during my college years. It was then that I realized how fast money goes, so I tried to pinch pennies as much as possible.
It’s kind of hard to be frugal in fishing, but here are a few ways that I have learned to save money.
1. Build it yourself
After watching Paul Elias whack ‘em at Guntersville with the Alabama rig, I started thinking that I could build something like that. I rummaged through my room and found an old wire clothes hanger. I got my pliers and started bending it around to try to mimic the pictures of the A-rig on the internet. After I was finished, I had one ugly contraption of wire. But, to my surprise, it worked! I took it out this past weekend and caught several good ones on it. Fishing with a clothes hanger … who would have thought?
2. Watch your mpg
I always try to plan out the specific areas that I will fish in a given day so I can trailer my boat to the nearest ramp. In most cases, trucks get twice to three times the fuel economy that boats do, so it pays off to put more miles on the road instead of the water. Sometimes I will actually trailer up during the middle of a fishing day and drive to a different part of the lake and launch again.
3. Plan your meals
Food is expensive; and during a week of fishing, the cost of food can be outrageous if you don’t watch it. My goal is to eat healthy foods as cheaply as possible. Lunch is peanut butter sandwiches, bananas, apples, and granola. Dinner is usually a can of soup and can of beans cooked over a little propane grill. If I’m catching them really good, I will splurge and hit up the local buffet.
4. Old rods and reels still cast
If you take care of your equipment, you can get a long life out of them. I have been accumulating rods and reels since I was a little kid, and my favorite reel is one that I have had since age 12. It still casts like the day I got it. I take all of my reels apart once a year and make sure that everything is running properly. It usually takes me a day or so, but it is time well-spent if I can get an extra year out of them.
5. Reuse soft plastics
I probably use more soft plastics that any other type of bait. A bag of worms is not really that expensive, but it adds up quickly if you buy hundreds a year like me. You can get twice the life out of soft baits if you repair them after a day of fishing. It’s pretty easy and it doesn’t take that long. All you do is hold a lighter to the ripped spots in the plastic and melt it back together.
6. Bigger isn’t always better
Twenty-one-foot bass boats are nice but are not always necessary. You can save a whole lot of money by buying a smaller boat. For the past seven years, I have been running an 18-foot bass boat. It has been a great boat for me, and I haven’t felt that it has put me at a disadvantage competing in tournaments. I have only had a handful of really rough days where I wished for a bigger boat. Buying that smaller boat was the only option for me during college because of the low monthly payments.
7. Buy a boat cover
Boat covers can be expensive but are a necessity for the resale value of your bass boat. I have been though several different boat covers through the years, and none of them compare to the Empire Covers boat cover that I just started using. It is a very high quality cover at a very competitive price. Check them out at www.empirecovers.com.
I hope you will be able to use some of these tips to save money -- they will definitely help me as I fish the Elite Series next year. Fishing full time will be an expensive adventure, so a dollar saved here and there will add up quickly.
I do understand that I will be competing against the best in the world and don’t want to be at a disadvantage, so I will have to make a few upgrades. A new 21-HP Triton bass boat and new Pinnacle rods and reels will be essential.
Don’t worry; peanut butter sandwiches for lunch will still be on the daily menu. And, by the way, I have five legit Alabama rigs on order.
Remember to chase your dreams!