Here it is with boat shows and new and improved boating and fishing products all over as is normal for this time of year and one of the new innovations I have seen that keeps growing in complexity is in trolling motors.
I started out fishing from a boat sitting still, trolling, or me and another person trading off times using a paddle to slowly maneuver around. When I was by myself a light stroke or two, one handed with a paddle would set the boat off where I wanted to go. Then after the man-made reservoirs began popping up in East Texas more folks got bitten by the fishing bug along with other water sports.
Shortly after the reservoirs, trolling motors started showing up and they were an electric motor that one lowered into the water to do the job of a paddle. It is my understanding that Minn Kota was the first to produce an electric trolling motor back in the 1930s, but as far as I can remember they didn’t get popular around east Texas until sometime in the 1960s. Of course they required the addition of a battery to power them and at that time most outboard motors still started with a pull rope, but electric starters we gaining popularity. Today from what I see a trolling motor will do about anything but make bread.
There are too many features available in the trolling motor industry for me to try and list here but I can highlight some of the features that are currently available and are being seen.
Some of the modern innovations are in the self-deploy motors. In keeping with our almost complete dependence on high tech, electrically powered, everything, this feature offers the ability to remotely deploy and stow your trolling motor with a remote control about the size of a cell phone.
When you think about it you can come up with things you can do with the self-deploy feature while on your fishing trips. One would be the capability to back your boat into the water at the boat launch facility and floating it off of your trailer and then deploying your trolling motor and remotely bring your boat right up to you at the dock where you tie it off and be ready to go fishing as soon as you move your truck and trailer. I can see an advantage to that if you are alone and launching your boat, but I wonder how much of a breeze can make that a tricky operation. That feature is supposed to have a range of about 150 feet of the boat…and if you have good batteries.
Once you are out fishing you can raise and lower you trolling motor to different depths and maneuver your boat to the ideal spot without having to touch it. When you don’t need it anymore push a button and it will store itself.
Another feature available today on many upper end trolling motors is the GPS anchor or whatever you wish to call it. Just push a button and your motor uses GPS to lock your boat onto your fishing spot generally touted to be more accurately than anything else on the water, but I suggest they never compared it to an anchor. Anyway, most will keep the boat within a five foot radius of your selected spot. That is true as long as the wind stays within the ability of the power of your motor.
Some of the upper echelon trolling motors offers a jog feature and a new heading sensor link that lets you move your spot five feet forward, backwards, left or right - just by pushing a button. Also available on some motors is a "Distance to Spot" reading on the remote that tells you how close you are to your set spot.
I know with some Minn Kota motors you can get their i-Pilot features and link your Humminbird fish finder to your trolling motor allowing you to enable even more facets like: Follow the Contour and Contour Offset: i-Pilot Link can automatically steer your boat to follow underwater depth contours using LakeMaster or AutoChart maps, as well as steer a fixed distance away from a contour.
Once you link your trolling motor to your new fish finder you can glean total boat control with a color touch display providing data on boat speed, direction, depth, and temperature. Oh, and there is also quick key manual button for popular controls.
Many units will allow you to store up to double digit numbers of your favorite fishing routes, each up to a couple miles in length, and retrace them at the push of a button as well as a circle mode. Yep you can set a distance from your spot and your motor will automatically circle around that point continuously. And, I don’t have room to get started on batteries to power all of this, but would you believe a five thousand dollar battery is available for the purpose?
So folks if you have the skill, knowledge, and experience gained over years of fishing, these features can be considered advantageous tools. Even with these high tech toys let’s not lose the basic concept of fishing and respect for good old Mother Nature’s critters.