Fishing in shallow water is one of the most enjoyable ways to catch numerous fish. But you have to be careful, as you can become stuck in shallow sand or mud. Plus, rocks, logs, or reefs can damage your boat. View these seven shallow water boating tips to navigate safely!
Whenever you’re boating through unfamiliar shallow water, you need to take it slow. Speeding through shallow water—even shallow water that you are familiar with—is a quick way to ruin your propellor, lower unit, and hull. Take it slow and you won’t have to worry about causing damage to your craft.
Check the Depth Finder Constantly
Depth finders aren’t just for fishing. They are also important for maintaining safety while boating over shallow water. As you slowly cruise along, keep an eye on the depth finder. If your technology allows, mark obstacles and save depth information for later use.
Use a Spotter
It can be hard to spot shallow-water obstacles from the driver’s seat of a boat. Whenever possible, use a spotter at the front to make sure you are not heading for sunken logs, rocks, weeds, reefs, wrecks, and other debris that could damage your craft.
Don’t Fully Lift the Outboard
This may seem counterintuitive, but one of the best strategies for boating in unfamiliar shallow water is to keep the motor down a few inches below the bottom of the hull. If you get hung up on the motor, you can lift it and release yourself. If you run aground on the hull, it’s a lot harder to get loose.
Color Changes Indicate Depth Changes
Generally speaking, deep blue and dark-colored water is an indication of depth, while lighter colors indicate shallow water. However, color changes can indicate seaweed beds and other structures that can catch your motor. Basically, stick to consistent colors in the water and avoid drastic changes to keep boating along comfortably.
Use a Pole and Poling Deck
Fishing in shallow water often requires the stealth and accuracy of “poling.” This is a technique where one person sits on a lifted platform towards the rear and pushes the boat through shallow water using a long pole. An angler at the front then does the fishing. This is a primitive but highly effective practice for shallow water boating, and having a pole in the boat can also help if you become stuck in shallow sands.
Small Boats are Easily Effected Heavy Loads
A large boat may only have minimal changes to the draft when loaded with people, gear, food, and everything else you need for a fishing trip. A smaller boat, however, is more susceptible to the weight. If you plan on boating over shallow water, be aware of how much equipment you are loading into the boat.
A Shallow Water Boat that Fits Your Needs
We hope you enjoyed these seven shallow water boating tips. If you’re looking for a boat that is perfect for shallow water, check out the full selection from Scout Boats. With many options for light, nimble crafts, we have the right options for your shallow-water boating needs. Plus, you can customize your craft with features that fit your exact needs with our Build Your Scout tool. Create your dream boat today!