Each month I field a question from a reader and answer it as best I can, focusing on those inquiries and responses that I believe will be of general benefit or interest. I recently received this email from Saul (who recently relocated from Kansas to south Florida), who asks: “Do you recommend a pole or a trolling motor for my new shallow-water skiff? I plan to do a lot of sight fishing.”
If you earnestly intend to do a lot of hardcore sight fishing — and you have a hardy buddy who will take turns on the platform — then there’s simply no more effective means of sneaking up on fish than to pole your boat.
Trolling motor companies make claims about stealth and “quiet power”, but trolling motors produce considerably more noise and vibration than a push pole. That said, strongly consider the fact that your dependable fishing bud will occasionally bail out of trips, leaving you without a means of silent propulsion. While they clutter up casting decks and put a dent in a skiff’s appealing old-school appearance, trolling motors are worth their weight in platinum for anglers who must — or prefer — to go solo. In fact, they’re of great value regardless of how many folks fish from your skiff, since they allow two or three anglers to work a hotspot at the same time. An added benefit: they provide a convenient means of getting back to the dock — or at least closer to it — if your outboard dies. So I recommend both, if you can afford it. See this previous post for a tip on rendering trolling motors snag free.