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Do you catch fish close to your boat?

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Most anglers do not realize how much their boat has to with your fishing success rate. I trolled commercially on Canada's west coast for years and I know what I am talking about. I have since retired from that and have been developing and marketing voltage tuned fishing products for the last 6 years. It has always been a mystery to me why one boat fishes better than another, up until a few years ago, that is. To help me to understand this, I advertised "Free Help" for boat owners who had a problem catching fish. This helped me to build a database of scenarios. The respondents had problems with both fiberglass and aluminum boats, in both fresh and salt water, and they are all curable. 

  If you don't think that fish will be effected at a distance, pay attention. If a boat doesn't fish well, will that boat catch fish by going deeper with the lures? It depends on how bad the boat is and the conductivity of the water (mineral content). We fish for salmon beyond 200 ft on a regular basis in BC. When a boat does not fish well, that angler won't catch much fish even beyond that depth. This phenomenon is regulated by the boat's electric signature in water. Here is an example of one chap that I helped.

 He has a 19' aluminum boat with outboard and kicker and fishes Lake Ontario. He could not catch fish within 150 ft of his boat. Some aluminum, by itself, will actually give off a negative signature. Aluminum is basically anodic in nature. What is required, is to change the hull signature to cathodic. In his case, it was simply running a jumper wire from his lower outboard legs to the steering swivel and ensuring that there is electrical continuity from the trim zinc through to the hull. The outboard zincs are now protecting the aluminum hull as well as the outboards. This changes the boat's signature from negative anodic to positive cathodic, or at least neutral, where fish are not being repelled. Adding more sacrificial anodes to the hull will also boost the positive signature. 

 Most newer outboards will already have a factory jumper wire seen at the lower portion of the steering swivel. Some guys (manufacturers) will also use nylon or wood on both sides of the transom where the outboard is clamped. This may cause you to loose electric continuity from the outboard to the hull. The best test is to use an ohm meter and test for continuity between the trim zincs to the bare hull. My preference is to use the 20 ohm setting.

 Oh yeah! The guy with the problem, he is now catching fish under his boat and is simply amazed that one jumper wire cured his problem. He was only one of many boat owners that I helped. Fiberglass boat owners can have just as much of a problem, and from small amounts of underwater metals. Aluminum is not the only problem metal. Absolutely every underwater metal that is by itself, or in a group of interconnected metals, will give off a signature. Saying that, a boat can have several signatures coming from it. This is where "bonding" comes in. Every underwater metal should be interconnected to each other and joined to the engine block and negative ground. This means metal through hull fittings, trim tabs, transducer brackets, bow protectors, everything. Once you do this and have an adequate amount of protective anode attached, you will be giving off one positive signature, and you will catch fish under the boat. You will also catch more fish with lures closer to the boat instead of being 100ft away. For receptive fish, the positive voltage field will put them "in the mood", and if close enough, they will seek you out. I say receptive, because not all species respond to it, but the important ones do.  For the most part, aluminum boats do not require much bonding, as the hull itself is conductive.

 I am still willing to help anyone with issues, no charge, nada, free. Just message me, or reply so it can be seen by all. (c:} 

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Best day coho fishing on my 14' we gave up on running boards and just ran flat lines - one out of each side.  Then that got boring, so we put on Wiggle Warts and held the rods in our hands with 10' of line out.  When a fish would hit, we would not even reel, just pick it up and sling it into the boat like a cane pole.  Got to the point we'd stand up and pull the lures away from fish as they charged, seeing how many times they'd try to hit the plug before the gave up.  This is with a noisy 2 stroke running 5-6' away from the lures.  Gotta love aggressive coho.

Also trolled up a steelhead on the river with a 15' lead to the lure, but 30-35' is more normal.

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Hi SLICKWATER. If you don't have a multimeter, you should have one, and learn how to use it. Here is a quickie video I made up a while back. Simply make sure that you have continuity between the outboard/leg zincs and the hull.This includes a kicker motor. Sometimes they are insulated by the materials of the mounting bracket. Do a walkaround of the boat and look for any metals that are on an insulated pad or gasket and check them. The same applies to fiberglass boats. Also look for any spots where there looks like paint is flaking off abnormally. This could be the result of leaking voltage from your electrical system, or voltage from anodes in some cases. Also check all sections of the sterndrive to make sure that they are really connected to the trim zincs and hull. Pay particular attention to the tilt rams. Mercruiser legs and outboards for sure was a problem spot there. They are on rubber (?) bushings and may be insulated from being in contact. Some at least are painted brass tubes and I have seen them corrode and pinhole in 1 season in salt water. You might have to get creative and try to run a wire to a bare spot(s). Also check the stainless tilt ram shafts with the meter when they are extended a bit. As a note: when a boat is bonded right and has a bare stainless prop as opposed to an aluminum one, that will boost the hull voltage. Simply because stainless is higher on the galvanic scale relative to the anodes (zincs). I use the word zincs as a broad term for anodes which can be magnesium, aluminum or zinc. Don't confuse aluminum anodes with hull aluminum material. Those anodes are a special alloy and are more sacrificial than zinc. but not as much as magnesium. The more sacrificial the anode, the higher the hull voltage. 

 Another question I would have is; Does your battery stay charged when left with everything still connected? There are tests that you can do when in the water, to see if there is any evidence of leaking current.

I hope the administrators don't boot me off for spamming, because my business name is on the video.

 

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This is very interesting.

 

Help me here,  an anode transfers metal to a cathode.  An anode is negative charged, (Ben Franklin guessed wrong)

Does a boat with a positive charge attract fish?  Or does a boat need to be completely neutral to not repel fish.  Do cohos count?  Those goofy fish would hit a small stainless prop on a little kicker.

I recall the USN keeping a cathodic charge on the vessels hull of some 2 1/2 volts.

 

 

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An anode as far as ac voltage is classed as a positive, yet in a galvanic cell it is the negative. I have never studied why.

My commercial trollers all had good bonding systems as well as a "black box" to power positive voltage down the wires in order to attract fish. As an example: I sold one of my portable black boxes to a California salmon troller who says that he hardly ever catches fish on his starboard side. He recently went out and had the portable black box on his starboard side and caught the first two fish on that side within 1/2 hr. I just sent him 3 more as he runs 4 lines. 

A neutral boat will catch some fish. A University of BC student did his masters thesis on board a troller in the summer of 79. The end result was that spring salmon (chinook) were atracted to .5 volts, sockeye were attracted to 1 volt. Any time a negative value was applied to the wires, no fish were caught. Here is a link if you have the stomach for 137 pages. UBC_1979_A6_7 N65.pdf

Coho are receptive to voltage. Any voltage referred to are mostly for salt water. Fresh water voltages do the same thing, but at a lower rating. Where I catch fish in salt water at .6 volts or above, I will catch fresh water fish at just over half of that. Fresh water voltages vary greatly with mineral content. Once I found where the fish liked it, I tried to find where I could spook the fish away with higher voltages. I never found that level.

 I worked in the Arctic in 1971 + 72. Our ship had the electric anode system because any zincs would get ripped off in the ice.

If you studied up on a galvanic cell, which is what your boat metals should achieve, you would find the following. All metals have a voltage value. This value is rated by how many electrons leave that metal (rust or corrode) when immersed in an electrolyte, i.e. water (salt or fresh). This is termed REDOX (reduction and oxidation). The ratings are all basically a negative (-) except gold which is zero. To protect a certain metal, you connect it with a sacrificial metal that has a substantially lower rating. The sacrificial metal bombards the more proud metal with more electrons than the proud metal is loosing. The proud metal is now protected and the leftover electrons dissipate in the electrolyte giving off a positive voltage.

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If you run a positive voltage to your rigging, then you must need to keep your sacrificial anodes in top shape.  Of course on a saltwater boat this is a no brainer,  fresh water vessels not so.  I trailer an aluminum hull and never spend much time or effort with the anodes, they just appear the same year to year.

I do fish  on Lake Superior far from industrial sights.  I would expect the water conductivity is quite low.

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OUTSTANDING POST.  I lived on the west coast and fished for decades outta Bodega Bay (north of San Francisco), for salmon and rock-fish, and also inland lakes for kokanee and Chinooks.  I understand the electrolysis issues your are talking about and found the electrolysis situation on every boat I fished to be super critical. 

My boats were always either neutral or positive, and I always ran a Scotty Black Box "just in case" I had unforeseen problems.  Keeping that black box on  the right voltage was my secret weapon. 

Whenever  I have discussed the issue of electrolysis with other fisherman, they look at me like I was speaking some off world language. 99% are convinced that I'm full of shit with the electrolysis thing and it has nothing to do with their boat.  Even when I check their boat with my voltmeter and tell them that they have a problem, they ignore it a continue to slog away hoping for the best instead of fixing the issue. Some guys don't even know that they have anodes and need to clean them. 

I ran into one guy on L. Michigan that had a ginormous 20 ft aluminum boat.  His boat was set up so well electrically, that fish would be instantly attracted to the boat, and we would get hits from coho as soon as we dropped the lures over the side!  Lakers would hit his coho lures right in the propwash. Never have seen anything like it in my life except in the Gulf of Mexico where Remora's would attack our lures and baits as soon as we dropped them into the water.

Thank you for your post.

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Thanks YOUP50. I grew up in Nipigon Ont. and spent a ton of time commercial fishing with my dad. He had a 45 ft steel boat built in 1945, that never had a zinc anode on it until I brought him one back from BC. Corrosion in fresh water is a non issue for the most part, BUT, the fish are still influenced by the boat's voltage. I cannot stress that enough. Anybody that ignores what I am saying may be at a disadvantage. Let me tell a story.

 Six years ago I sent some of my anodes to a friend in Nipigon for him to try while ice fishing for perch. Him and 5 friends went out. My friend ended up confused as how to do the hookup and thought that the anode should be separated from the hook assembly. He installed it up the line 2 feet above his minnow and hook, like a split shot (same size). For the first half of the day he caught nothing. The 2 guys closest to him caught very little, while the 3 guys furthest away had decent catches. At about mid day he removed the anode completely and all 6 anglers had equal catches for the remainder of the day. This played on my mind for 5 years. Last winter I made up my mini inline tuners to see if perch would be attracted or not. I sent some to the Thunder Bay Fishing Club and one to a customer near Georgian Bay. The Georgian Bay angler went out with 3 friends. He caught 1 1/2 times as much as the other 3, even after swapping holes with all of them throughout the day. The one chap from T.Bay and his son had a hut with 2 holes drilled beside it. The hole with the Mini Inline Tuner caught 15 keepers and the hole without one caught zero.

 So there you have 2 different setups and the results. The results from my friend's outing was what prompted me to try to understand and pursue  the "WHY" of what makes a boat fishy, and I placed the add offering to help people. My conclusion so far is that certain metals that are on their own will repel fish. This goes for my anode (zinc alloy) as well as some aluminum hulls and one fiberglass boat in particular.

 My zinc alloy anode obviously has a Jekyll & Hyde personality. If it does not contact a goodly amount of more proud metal, it can repel some fish. The Mini Tuner used last winter was the exact same anode but cast into a rod that is of a proud metal alloy, making a galvanic cell which some fish respond to. In salt water, the corrosion happens quite quickly and can create an insulating coating. The Alaska trollers don't have a problem as their tackle is in the water many hours and the anode is self cleaning with constant movement against the lure metals.

Thanks THE GREEK

It is refreshing to have someone understand what I do. Sorry if this hurts your feelings, but electrolysis is not the correct term. That is applied or stray voltage coming from a separate source. The correct term for boats, metals and anodes is actually a Galvanic Corrosion Cell. But up until I started this business, I always thought that electrolysis was the correct term. Even with all my years of commercial fishing.

 You are right. Anytime the subject comes up, skeptics seem to abound. I just tell them; "Have you ever heard someone say something like "My last boat fished way better than my new one?" Can you give me a better reason?".

More later on overzincing.

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OVERZINCING. An aluminum boat can be your best friend, or your worst enemy. That has basically been covered. Now look at a 16' fiberglass boat as an example, with a single outboard with an aluminum prop. Take a good look at the outboard all around. How much exposed metal do you see? Mostly you see zinc, and very little exposed metals. Sure, there is a certain amount of internal exposed metal, but there are also internal zincs, or anodes. So, lets go back to the perch incident where my friend is using it like a split shot. There is a strong possibility that your outboard is not helping your fishing, and that the excess of zincs is repelling fish. There are ways to eliminate this threat, but first I want to talk about acceptable proportions. I tune my lures based on the anode representing between 5 and 20% of the mass of exposed metal of the cell. The lure body is the cathode and has the remaining 80 to 95% of the mass. I use stainless and nickel plating, and with my anodes I end up with .6 to .8 volts coming off of the lure in salt water. Fresh water is a "hotter" anode alloy and I try to get .3 to .5 volts in fresh water. This varies in fresh water as the mineral content (conductivity) varies so much. I can usually see increased catch rates about .18 volts and up. 

 So, back to the outboard. Manufacturers like to overprotect their engines, but they are not looking at the fishing aspect at all. The proportion of zinc is way out of whack. How do we fix this? An outboard with a stainless prop should be fishier than one with a painted aluminum prop, and will have a higher voltage than an unpainted aluminum prop because of the ratings on the galvanic scale. Other options might include, installing a stainless (?) prop guard, trim plate, brake plate, adding stainless or aluminum plate to your transom or hull and wiring it to the engine. Basically increasing the mass of exposed metal to be protected by the zincs. It may also be possible to remove and reduce the proportion of zinc from the outboard. This is providing that all outboard metals continue to be protected by the remaining zincs.

 This is another boat story, but without an ending yet. I was contacted by a fiberglass boat owner/angler who used to do fishing charters. He had to quit because he was unable to catch fish for his clients. He has a 20' boat with i/o and kicker. He purchased some of my tuned lures to see if they would help during a 10 day fall fishing derby. He phoned me up afterwards and said that they caught nothing. That blew me away. So, I asked him to stick with me and to tell me about his boat. I explained the procedures for bonding all the underwater metals as well as the boat's electrical ground. He did this and incorporated the stainless trim tabs and through hull fittings. By the end of 2017, he was starting to catch fish. At this point he told me that they also had a metal swim platform added to the stern and that it was partially wet all of the time and should he include that in the bonding system. Of course my answer was yes. Also to add one or two small zincs (anodes) to that.

After a busy work summer, he is just starting to fish again. He called after his first outing and said that they had several strikes and boated one nice laker. I suggested that he go over the boat again if possible and to check his mercruiser tilt rams for continuity as well as the kicker again. That is where we sit.

 So, what happened there was, he had a boat that was giving off more than one signature, and at least one of them was nasty. So bad that my voltage tuned spoons could not overcome the "nasty".

 The following doesn't apply to fresh water, but may still make you think. My trollers were all wood or fiberglass. I will use my 40' wood one as an example (pictured above). Underwater metal components included: steel keel plate, monel shaft (like stainless), bronze 34" prop, copper keel coolers for engine cooling, 40" tall steel rudder, various through hulls and cutlass bearing housing. We use copper based paint that allows the water to absorb through, which in turn, allows the zincs to react with and protect those metals. I would haul my boat out every spring and paint as well as replace my zincs. I probably had over 50 lbs of zinc. In order to have a fishy boat, I only used as much zinc so that it was depleted down to about 1/8 remaining. A by-product of this anode corrosion is voltage. I liked my boats to have a hull reading of around .6 volts.  Like I said, this doesn't apply to fresh water in the same way, but your boats still have a substantial voltage, but without the obvious loss of anode material.

Just so you know what I am referring to, here are pictures of my salt water anode, Mini Inline Tuner, as well as my fresh water anode. It doesn't take much to make a difference.

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Keep in mind that the anodes are half of the cell and the spoon metals are the second half. If you use any copper or brass  components or swivels, the voltage will be reduced. If you use tinned or zinc coated hooks, the effect will be lost. I prefer nickel or stainless components and spoon bodies that are not clear coated. Saying that, everything can be found at the Lurecharge website.

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