Fishing on a sailboat: tips for cruisers

Fishing on a sailboat

Fishing on a sailboat, why bother? In Liz’s “tips for cruisers” she explains why everyone should be doing it and dispels some of the myths.

So why is fishing on a sailboat such good news for cruisers?

The short answer is because you can put food on the table for FREE! And we all know how much cruisers love a freebie.

If you catch a good size fish and learn how to cook it you can feed the crew for a week.

For tips on how to depatch, gut and cook all kinds of fish, I recommend The Cruising Chef Cookbook by Michael Greenwald, a well-thumbed food bible which has maintained its right to remain on board SY Esper since 2007.

Fishing on a sailboat: tips for cruisers

From $1 a month to a $100 gift, there are three ways to support us…

On long passages, when the sails are set and we’re on one tack for days on end, fishing is a great way to occupy the mind and body. Yes, there are always boaty things to do like general maintenance and safety checks, but put the line out early on and go back to it once your chores are over to keep the excitement and anticipation alive when the sailing is easy.

Why did we start fishing on a sailboat?

My interest was fuelled by a wish to feed Millie, our cat and constant companion of 12 years. She spent hours watching fish from the deck of SY Esper.

fishing on a sailboat

Millie on fish patrol

So we started scooping up tiddlers in a fishing net, then moved on to catching them in a fish trap, giving them to her to catch herself in a washing up bowl. That morphed into dropping a line over the side at anchor, and finally became trolling when underway.

In the Red Sea catching fish became a passion…

Passion not fashion

Don’t just do it because everybody does it, and you don’t want to be the odd one out. Do it because you want to. Do it because it interests you.

Passion is crucial for a better catch rate.

It’s no good just chucking out a line and hoping a tasty fish will impale itself on your line. Liz Cleere

For best results you need to be actively “fishing”. That means checking and changing lures, maintaining your rig, trying new options and being aware of your line at all times.

Fishing on a sailboat: tips for cruisers

New Rapala plug doing its job

When I started I sat with The Cruiser’s Handbook of Fishing by Scott Bannerman and Wendy Bannerman on my knee as I tried to build a rig. With no fishing knowledge at all, it was a long and painful process that I learned as I went along.

Now we have YouTube and Google, quicker ways to gain information. So if you are a newby, you’ve started at the right time.

You gotta love the sport, the chase, a fish supper – that motivation will make you a better fisher-person. Liz Cleere

In Episode 264 of our sailing and travel vlog, I discuss in detail two basic trolling set-ups for cruisers: a handline on a yo-yo and a stand-up rod and reel.

Fishing on a sailboat: tips for cruisers

Favourite plug lure on yo-yo handline

You’ll see these yo-yo handlines on almost every cruising sailboat. They are small and easy to store.

Once set up, there is no faffing around other than the option to change the lure.

The biggest drawback is that they do not allow the fish to run, and that lack of decent elasticity means a higher loss rate than with a rod and reel.

Fishing on a sailboat: tips for cruisers

Penn Squall 30LW

It took me a few years to finally get hold of a stand-up rod and reel and once I had it rigged (it took a few iterations to find the system that works for me) I couldn’t believe I had waited so long.

One word of advice? Learn your knots… Liz Cleere

In the video I talk about some important lessons I have learned, and list my three top tips.

Watch the full video here…

Thanks for popping along.

Please let me know if you have any advice in the comments here on on YouTube.

Find your passion!
Liz and Jamie

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