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Published Sep. 9, 2005

Organizing your boat will improve your ability. Uncluttered decks provide ease of movement around any boat.

Most newer boats come with large hatches and compartments designed for easy stowage. Yet I see many fishing boats with buckets, tackle boxes, nets, rods, coolers, and more scattered all over the deck. An inspection of built-in hatches reveals fenders, tarps, cleaning supplies, and other items not needed for the day's outing. A little organization would leave these unnecessary items at the dock, or in the garage, and place the things you need in these compartments.

Stow your equipment when not in use. The only time your cast net should be out is when catching bait. Buckets seem to be a fisherman's best friend until you trip over them while fighting a fish. Rods should be kept in rod holders, and tackle should not be scattered.

Knowing where everything is will help land more fish too. Nothing is worse than hearing, "where's the gaff?" when a big fish is at a boat's side. Little things like pliers, knives, and dip nets should have their place.

Safety gear like life vests, flares, first aid kit, and the EPIRB should be stowed with easy access and everyone on board should have knowledge of where they are kept. An emergency is no time to be scrambling for them.

An organized boat is not only a pleasure to fish aboard; it is an efficient fish catching vessel.

_ Capt. Brent Gaskill charters the Summer Vacation out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 867-1751 or by e-mail at