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With their minimal size and lack of the typical amenities, personal watercraft may seem like a strange choice for big-water fishing. But fishing is exactly what an increasing number of enthusiasts are doing with their craft, adding on everything from rod holders to coolers to combination GPS/fishfinders to make their dreams of landing the big one a reality.
One reason they’re doing it is simple economics. For the newcomer, a PWC is far cheaper to purchase than a boat, and once in your possession, is easy to store and transport. They’re also cheaper to use. With today’s gas prices well over the $3 mark, taking the boat out can get expensive…fast. A PWC, on the other hand, burns far less fuel.
And then there’s the X factor in the equation, the pure thrill factor of fishing from a craft so comparatively small. Hooking into a good-size fish is fun regardless, but it takes on a whole new level of excitement when the fish you’re battling just may be capable of pulling you around on a ride of its own.
For those interested in giving PWC fishing a try, the tools necessary are as simple as a rod-and-reel and storage cooler. For the more serious fisherman, however, the options are more diverse…and thanks to a number of aftermarket manufacturers, becoming more readily available.
Reel ‘Em In, Put ‘Em On Ice
Like their kindred spirits in the tow-sports world, PWC fishermen have found that the amenities their favorite pastime requires don’t always stow well aboard a craft with a saddle and footwells. Where to safely stow the two main items, a rod and cooler? One of the best bets is in a combination unit designed just for that purpose, like the Ultimate Rod Holder Newbie Fishing Kit from New Zealand’s JetSkiFishing Store. Designed by avid fisherman Andrew Hill – check out his YouTube videos here – it features a stainless steel cooler rack, Igloo-style cooler, and a rod holder, all in one convenient unit that can affix temporarily to your craft for fishing, and then be removed when your PWC returns to normal duty. The kit also includes a net, bait tray, and reel cover.
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A similar option closer to home for those in the U.S. and Canada are the PWC-specific fishing and cooler racks available from Kool PWC Stuff. These stainless steel racks can also be mounted temporarily to the back of your ski, and feature individually adjustable legs to accommodate varying surfaces and deck angles. They can handle large coolers, and feature anywhere from two to eight rod holders.
For a more permanent installation, check out Fishmaster’s PWC-specific front and rear arches. Fabricated from industry-standard 1.90” stainless steel tubing, these arches offer a mounting point for a number of options, including rod holders, electronic fishfinders, radios, antenna brackets, lights, and cooler mounts. Like a wakeboard tower, these arches can fold down for trailering or storage, or even be removed from their brackets when you want to ride your PWC as originally intended.
Or, Completely “Pimp” Your Ride
Some PWC anglers, however, take things to a whole new level…like Virginia’s “Jet Ski Brian” Lockwood. Already familiar to some fishing fans thanks to his PWC-specific fishing blog, Lockwood turned to conventional T-top fabricators to rig up his fleet of fish-fighting PWC.
Lockwood started with a basic arch forward of the handlebars, equipped with rod holders, and a cooler rack aft to store his catch. To these basics he added a hard-wired VHF radio, a deep-cycle battery, and a GPS/Fishfinder.
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On subsequent craft, those amenities grew. For the colder months, Lockwood added a clear Strataglass vinyl windshield with removable side panels to fend off the oncoming wind and spray. He also added a battery selector switch so that he could start from his primary battery or the secondary deep-cycle battery previously added, and an additional 12-gallon gas tank to increase his range. A transfer pump allows him to transfer fuel between the second and original tank.
Lockwood’s ultimate ski, however, just may be his most recent creation, a Yamaha FX HO outfitted with a Lowrance High-Definition GPS/Fishfinder, a Fusion Marine VHF radio that includes Sirius satellite radio hooked to twin, 500-watt wakeboard-boat-style speakers, and even underwater lights. That boat’s range? An impressive 160 miles.
Guess those offshore battlewagons are going to have some company.
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