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OUTDOORS

Don’t lose your boat to a thief

By: George deVilbiss/Guest Columnist
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Reading through the classifieds in a mailbox delivery advertisement paper recently, I saw it again: an area resident was requesting information for an offered reward about his stolen boat.

I can’t remember too many years when I haven’t been without a boat of some kind. I can’t imagine too many things more devastating than walking out the door only to discover my boat missing from its familiar parking space, especially when preparing for another outing on some waterway.

Yet, it happens all the time, year round. Boat thefts are almost as common as vehicle thefts. And yet, theft of a boat is so easily preventable.

You have a sizable financial investment in that boat. Whether it’s an aluminum boat or a big fiberglass boat; whether it’s used strictly for fishing or it is the “family” boat used for a combination of purposes. You don’t want to wake up and find it missing from where you had it parked.

Thieves don’t really care if it’s in an open driveway and easily accessible or behind a fence. Boats have come up missing under some surprising circumstances.

Here’s some of the things you can do to deter theft of your boat:

* Surprisingly, many thieves simply back up to the trailer, latch it up to the hitch, and quickly drive off. It only takes a couple minutes at most.

* Many of the larger boat trailers now come with a swing-away hitch. This is not only a space saving factor, but once you pull the pin and swing the hitch away there's a nice big hole for you to attach a large padlock. It's really difficult towing a boat away without benefit of a fixed hitch.

Another quick deterrent is the locking unit that will fit onto the tongue latch of the boat trailer requiring a key for removal.

This unit, although not totally foolproof, inhibits thievery by not allowing the tongue receiver to fit onto the towing vehicle’s ball. The thief can tie the trailer tongue to the vehicle until the locking unit can be successfully removed elsewhere.

This locking unit can be found at any boat dealership and many discount-type stores that have a sporting goods section.

* Fulton Performance Products puts out a better product that will greatly reduce the chance of your trailered boat from being towed off without your knowledge called the “Trailer Keeper.”

This is a rugged, steel locking device that attaches to lug latches on a case-hardened steel rod, which is threaded through the wheel and tire. The lug latches are secured to the wheel lock bar with a special brass padlock.

The unit installs in seconds, but would take a considerable amount of time for a thief to disable in order to tow the vehicle, as the wheel is disabled from turning.

The unit is fully adjustable to fit wheels up to 15-inches and will fit almost all trailers, including boat, jet-ski, snowmobile, RV or camping and utility-type trailers.

If you can’t find it locally, write to Fulton at P.O. Box 8, Mosinee, WI 54455.

* Just like autos have been protected for a number of years with alarm units, ThermeX has developed a unit for watercraft, basically for the boat that maintains batteries on the boat at all times.

The unit will alert owners to craft tampering with both noise and flashing lights, and will also prevent a boat engine from being started.

It includes a control unit, which operates off the boat’s 12-volt power source and regulated with a microprocessor driver with four separate alarm sections. The four magnet contacts can be mounted in different parts of the craft to signal intrusion in a specific protected area.

When activated, a siren sounds for 40 seconds. Next, either the running lights or a separate flashing light will blink for four minutes. An interlock connected to the craft’s ignition and starter solenoid prevents the engine from being started after the alarm is activated.

The unit is controlled by either a key or an optional remote control unit. It comes with 60 feet of cable in order to connect the control unit to alarm circuits.

Again, if you can’t find it locally, contact ThermeX at 59 Dagmar Rd, Stamford, CT 06905 or telephone free at (800) 337-1664.

Yes, perhaps you do have theft insurance on your boat. Does that mean you’ll have an adequate replacement when you’re prepared and wanting to make your next waterway outing?

Don't think for a minute it won't happen to you. It happened to me now some years ago. I was lucky and got my boat back within a week. I was happy, but the insurance company wasn't due to the damage the thieves caused.

Don’t lose your boat. Protect it!

CURRENT FISHING

It's back to a "normal" fishing week now that the Easter holiday is over. There is anticipated some unstable weather forecast for the week, but between any possible rain showers and winds, there can be some great fishing.

Crappie are fun to fish for and a great fish to eat. This specie has a number of nicknames such as papermouths or slabsides. Whatever you call them, this fishery is one of the least talked about fisheries. When the bite cuts loose nobody says a word.

But, it's the time of year right now when the crappie are schooling up and moving into the shallows for their annual spawn. You'll find 'em primarily around any structure, especially brushy-type structure.

And to be the most successful, you've got to fish right in that structure.

Camp Far West: Not only are the bass biting, but it's the time you'll get into a good crappie bite. We do most of ours up in Rock Creek, but just about anywhere you find structure you could find crappie. The big cove on the back side of South Shore has little coves within the big cove and they all can produce well. We even picked up an 11-pound striper dunking crappie-sized minnows there.

Lake Amador: They're still planting big numbers of trout and that fishery is still being well attended as the catching remains constant. However, the early morning and late afternoon crappie fishing is also going on.

You can dunk a minnow right off the boat docks and pick up some great slabs. Bass are in spawn mode and will attack just about anything dragged near them.

Folsom Lake: The lake is in great shape, for now, and the bass fishing is good. The lake is still rising slowly and the bass are following the rising shoreline. You can find bass where there's a grassy bottom.

Plastics, minnow imitators, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, they're all working. If you go trolling for trout, the bite can be good once you locate the school. And, once you locate a school, stay with them.

Ocean Salmon: The bite has been decent. Not great, but decent overall for all the fleets. They've managed on the average a fish per rod on the better days.

That means on some boats, some people didn't get a fish while other anglers may have limited. And the average has been from Half Moon Bay, the S.F. Bay fleet, Bodega Bay, and even the boats out of Fort Bragg all managed a good catch. One of the better regions for a bite has been off Point Reyes.

Ice House Reservoir: The lake is in great shape, water-wise, at just over 90 percent right now with virtual ease in launching. The rainbow bite is simply red hot and limits are the rule rather than the exception.

Haul a crawler behind small blades or a dodger and you'll downright hammer the 'bows up to 14 inches.

Lake Oroville: There are a lot of bare walls around the lake attesting to the fact the lake is just a tad over half full. However, you can hook-up bass until your arms ache, it's that good.

Spawners are in the shallows and just about anything you throw in the water is getting bit. Early mornings are going to be your best catching time.

Rollins Lake: The lake is all but full enough to call it full.

Both the trout fishery and the warm-water fish – bass and crappie – are all in the mood to bite. While some trout can be caught from shore, the better fishery is by hauling a threaded crawler behind blades.

Find a nice cove and you're going to get into spotted bass hugging their spawning nests. Jigs, small tubes and even worms off a darthead will get you bit.

Find structure and you could find crappie. Work jigs at various depths around that structure until you get bit.

Any questions, comments or concerns, contact George at GeorgesColumn@AOL.COM