How do you guys do it ?? I have on Lake Superior in a 16' Tuffy with a tiller .. Tied ropes to Keep motor straight ... Now I bought a 23 ft Sylvan Offshore because I am obsessed with this and sick of depending on others to join me and looking at my boat in the yard ..
I've never been that lucky hockeyguy. I keep a box rig rod pre-rigged for when more than two guys are in my narrow boat, or when it's rough and I'm lazy. Usually it's clipped to my rigger ball with a flasher fly on the bottom and a spoon on the top leg. The first pic shows the black swivel with two lines of 15# flouro tucked thru the guides, and at the tip the other sampo swivel next to a rubber band looped to the bight of the longer leg that gets clamped to the ball. If the fish are biting they often hit the upper spoon and occasionally the flasher fly. Because the rod is 8'6" the length of the legs is seven feet. The main line on this one is 30# mono because it shakes fleas better than braid. I won't mention the name of the guide who first showed me this rig but his initials are Lee Haasch (Algoma)!
I fished Lake Michigan solo for many years. My boat (the Rainbow Runner) is a 17' MonArk deep-vee with a 75HP Merc.
You know what my "auto-pilot" is? A bungee cord. Wrap the bungee cord around the steering wheel and around one of the windshield support posts. Bingo, instant auto-pilot.
I never really had any terrible god-awful problems fishing the big lake alone. I never fished more than three lines, one on each downrigger and a long-line (usually with a Shad-Rap) WAY back there behind the boat. I always stayed well away from the crowds and did "reasonably well", at least by my standards. I can't remember being skunked more than a couple of times.
Now that I'm old I think it would be a real challenge getting the boat back on the trailer alone. Particularly because I'm OCD and the boat has to sit "just so" on the roller trailer.
Might be time to move the mighty vessel on to a younger man?
I fished Michigan alone since 1964! Number one rule watch the weather! Fish mainly Grant, and North to towers! Have boat set up for easy reach of everything!Things can get Harry quickly in a instant! Wear life jacket and have radio or now cell phone! Netting a Big King can get interesting,but I have done plenty!I only use 1 down rigger,and generally fish just 2 rods,limits presentation,but switch a lot! Most important thing!Wind,Wind,and Wind!
It's tougher, of course, and the tips like always wearing a life jacket remind me how nice it is to have a witness to help locate the body if you go overboard in this cold water. Setting up with the wind is good advice, even with a group, because I do not have autopilot! When it's rough I shrink my spread by putting two hooks on the down rigger, sometimes with a box rig. I almost never fish the big pond alone....That said, getting out when you can "when the window of opportunity opens", I'll fly solo. Netting a big king solo can be exhausting but it's worth it.
fishing solo is easy if you stay within allotted line limit - and with ipilot even a cave man can do it. Now if you are a rule breaker and trying to run an 8 rod spread solo out of 17ft boat, that I imagine could get a little tricky.
I know this post is old, but wanted to say a few things I have learned. I fish 80% of the time solo. I usually can’t plan things too far in advance to give people a chance to come with.
Absolutely it’s challenging alone. From launching and retrieving to fighting fish as well as netting and setting lines. AUTO PILOT was my best friend. I put the trolling motor down to steer and the kicker for power. I will not ever do it differently. When you hook up, just point the auto pilot and fish. When netting a long handle is a must. Getting a #20 king in a net alone gets interesting.
I also made some rod trees to clean up the gunwals of clutter. More times than most with my spreads I usually don’t have to clear any lines to land a fish down the chute. That’s another thing...a tidy boat. I run a 17’ tiller and it gets small fast, so I get a little OCD about keeping things put away. Last thing u want is a tangle, hook in a hand or even fall in because you tripped on something not put away.
Last and certainly not least wear a PFD. If you feel too restricted with a run of the mill one, get a auto inflate. They are pretty inexpensive now. If you go in, there’s nobody to turn around and come get you. Be safe and smart. Don’t take unnecessary chances.
Couple things. Autopilot Could be a bow mount trolling motor or dedicated one for power steering but that is priceless when your reeling in a fish with boat traffic around and running all 3 lines.
Boat style make a difference as well light weight high sides will get pushed by the wind, but lets you fish with larger waves easier too.
Kids... Sometimes my kids would rather steer the boat so any neighbor kid works for this one.
High Thrust prop with tiller locked. If you have good thrust from the outboard it should hold straight for a bit even w/o bow mount. Can also run both bow mount with kicker which is what I do at times. Bow mount at 3-4 and autopilot turned on. Also gives me with the remote GPS speed and depth w/o needing to see / look at graph.
Make sure your leader length is right for solo netting or net is long enough and tire the fish out before it is to the back of the boat. Green king at the back of the boat is bad enough with 2, but overly crazy with one I would think.
I know exactly how you feel! This is my first year fishing Lake Michigan, 17' Alumacraft Voyageur, and I'm totally hooked! Friday I did my first solo Michigan trip cuz the lake was calm and I just couldn't stand the boat sitting dry! So being a rookie myself I don't have much to offer, but having done a lot of solo Muskie fishing one thing I brought forward from that is a net handle that lets you easily move a big net around with just 1 hand. The one I've got I say something like this. http://robohandle.com/ Got it at a Muskies expo, but I can easily move around my big Frabill with no problems. Just one small tip. Curious to see more suggestions!