Tender to Fishing Boat – How to Guide – Boating Reviews & Marine Articles

Tender fishing

Reviewed: May 2009

Author: Daniel Tillack

Turing your tender into a fishing boat – Boat Review:

Tenders are handy for many jobs, but none more fun than catching a few fish to cook on board of an evening. Fishing from an anchored vessel is restrictive and boats such as sailing craft are not very user-friendly for most styles of fishing. So, if you’re travelling with a tender on board or in tow anyway, some simple alterations and additions can turn your auxiliary transport into a dedicated sportfisher. A good layout makes your fishing more enjoyable and handy accessories can improve your catch rates.

The trick is to make every addition removable so your tender can still perform its other functions unimpeded. Here are some ideas I used to convert my little Walker Bay 8 into a fish magnet. It’s an injection-moulded poly hull that has been fishing with me for almost a decade now and has progressed from a basic electric-motor-driven seat from which to cast lures, into a mini sportfishing machine.

A small 3.3hp Mercury petrol outboard was purchased to increase the range of the tub, which necessitated relocating the electric motor to the bow, for stealth. A live-bait tank and a portable sounder were easier additions.

Every accessory is removable, so it can be added or subtracted depending on what the boat is being used for. This is important, because space is precious in such a small craft—you don’t want any excess gear on board. It also spends time on my car’s roof racks driving dodgy bush tracks. Because all accessories can be stowed in the car, I don’t have to worry about things rattling loose and falling off the boat in transit.

One of the joys and main principles of fishing from portable crafts is the small cost relative to a ‘regular’ fishing boat. Part of those savings are in customising it yourself. Head to the hardware store, grab some basic tools and supplies and try some of these ideas:

Turning your Tender into a Fishing Boat


Zoom enlarge on AA  To attach a removable electric-motor bracket to my Walker Bay, I have fixed an eye bolt through the plastic hull (1) with nuts and washers. I use this in conjunction with a 316 stainless steel turnbuckle with hook and eye to secure the bracket to the boat.

Each turnbuckle’s eye bolt (2) slides through a hole drilled through the bracket, and is then threaded back into the turnbuckle (3), allowing enough slack for the hook at the other end (4) to grip the boat’s fixed eye bolt. The turnbuckle is tensioned to hold the bracket in place.

I use turnbuckles with an eye on the top bolt because this can be used for hand-tightening—no tools needed. This set-up holds everything in place under full power from a 40lb-thrust electric motor. However, there have been long fishing days where i have re-tightened everything for peace of mind.

A simple electric-motor bracket can be made with a sandwich construction of two pieces of hardwood through-bolted either side of a flat piece of metal. Varnish the timber and paint the metal to prolong the life of the bracket. (I cheated and bought a bracket made for a canoe, then modified it.)

Fix a safety line from the electric motor to the boat. I have a rope tied permanently to the motor, with zip ties to further secure knots, and a 316 stainless steel snap hook tied to the other end for easy attachment to and release from the bow ring.

By hanging the small folding anchor (6) over the bow and running the 6mm rope (of which I carry 15m) under the bow seat and back to the amidships seat, I can lower and raise the ground tackle without having to move forward.

A rope safety line (7) secures the motor bracket to the bow seat for insurance against accidents. A separate safety line (8) attaches the electric motor directly to the bow ring.

If you plan on setting up your electric motor on the bow, remember that the throttle head of standard units will be facing the wrong way, so you’ll have to reverse the head position.

Zoom enlarge on CB The thwart seats can be tough on the toosh after a long day, so i’ve attached a waterproof cushion (5) with quality foam for comfort.

A Rising’s LippaRig set clips into the oarlock mount to reduce floor clutter. The crocodile pliers (black handle) are used for trimming leaders and removing hooks from fish mouths.

The other tool is a Lippa4Life fish jaw grip (red handle). It has a spring-loaded action and rounded corners. Its best feature is the 3mm gap in the jaws, which is designed to avoid tearing the membrane in fish mouths—a concern I have about fish grips that close completely. It also has a lanyard hooked to its sheath in case i drop it. I use it to land fish so there’s no need for a space-consuming landing net in the little boat.

C A section of PVC pipe (13) slides over the tiller of the 3.3hp Mercury, allowing me to steer while sitting amidships for even weight distribution. I prefer the central position, everything is within reach. The tiller extension is easily removed if i’m fishing with a passenger and sitting at the transom.

For live bait i use a 20L bucket with a hole drilled through the lid (9) to allow an aerator tube to run in; and another hole drilled into the side, just below the rim, for a 316 stainless steel ‘S’ hook (10) from which i hang the aerator case.

The aerator case is simply a small lunch box packed with soft foam (11) to reduce vibration and noise from the aerator. The case also prevents any of the bucket’s water from splashing onto the aerator. This increases the life of the aerator. I spray the internals of the aerator with Wd-40 to help prevent rust.

I have drilled a hole just big enough for the tube to run through the top of the lunch box, and a hole big enough for the other end of the ‘S’ hook to hang from the bucket.

I bend the bait scoop net (12) near the base of the handle so it hooks to the rim of the bucket.

Sounds like fish

A portable sounder with remote transducer is a useful addition that can help you catch more fish. You don’t need anything fancy—a low cost unit will tell you the depth, which is all you need to find structure and drop-offs.


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