Saturday, July 20, 2024
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Capt. Billy Pipkin’s Fishing Line

by Capt. Billy Pipkin

Fuel your fishing…raising fish while reducing costs

Fishing is a pastime, a sport and for some like myself, a livelihood. Fishing is universal among all people. It bridges all nationalities, races, genders and education levels. What could possibly dissuade anyone from fishing?

I remember when boats were so abundant on the Chesapeake Bay and it’s rivers, they were like ornaments on a Christmas tree. Today, activity on the water is a fraction of what it was a decade ago. The decline can be attributed to a handful of issues, but in the forefront is the increasingly high cost of fuel. Anglers didn’t worry when fuel was $2.70/gallon but at over $5/gallon at the marina gas pump, they’re threatening to quit their favorite pastime.

While swapping fish stories at the tackle shop I hear grumblings of how it’s too expensive to fish anymore. Well, to that argument I have an answer. 

Let’s put this in perspective: the average angler may use 20 gallons of fuel in a day of fishing. Over the past year-and-a-half, the cost of fuel has roughly doubled. That equates to $46 more per day—not very much in the big picture.

The following tips can also be useful in saving money throughout the fishing season.

Residual costs

Towing your boat? You could save $50 in fuel spent towing, by storing the boat at a marina.

Bringing coolers full of food and drinks? A few modest sandwiches and a gallon of water will help to offset the fuel costs.

Smarter buying

All marinas are not created equal. Prices vary as much as 45 cents/gallon. You could save big bucks, particularly on large quantities, if you shop around. Make sure that you are comparing similar qualities such as brand and octane levels. Branded fuels are a better “dollar for dollar” value due to their superior additive packages.

A huge benefit of buying your fuel dockside is that Virginia rebates the road tax of 26.2 cents per gallon with an online form available at

BOAT US members realize further savings at participating facilities.

Some credit cards give cash back on fuel purchases, creating more savings.

Share a ride

Instead of individuals heading out alone, gather a few folks from the marina and go together. Rotate boats each week so the cost is shared. This not only saves fuel but also builds friendships.

Lighten the load

Many of us find that our boat becomes a storage unit as the season progresses. The added weight of unnecessary gear will reduce your fuel economy and ultimately cost you money. Depending on the size of your boat, this gear can add up to hundreds of pounds. 

If you’re taking short trips keep your water and fuel tanks at half full. Water weighs just over 8 pounds a gallon and gas exceeds 6 pounds. Depending on the size of your tanks, the benefit may be 1000 pounds or more. A lighter boat is a more efficient boat.

Boat maintenance

Barnacles are a fuel killer. Whether they are on your bottom, shaft, rudder or propeller, you will lose precious speed and efficiency. If your propeller is dinged or out of pitch, your boat will be less efficient as well.

Find your most efficient running speed. At the correct speed, your boat engine(s) will run smoothly and free. For most boats, this is at a speed just over the point when it begins to plane. If you are not on plane, your engine strains and burns fuel inefficiently. After reaching planing speed, higher rpms may get you there faster but your fuel consumption will likely take a hit.

Yes, excessive fuel costs are taking a toll on the consumers’ disposable income, yet smart choices and minor sacrifices can reduce its bite.

June fishing

This has been a cool spring and a slower migration of fish has followed. A slight delay in arrival of many species has anglers anxious to catch fish.

Cobia are rolling north out of North Carolina and should be in the middle bay by opening day on June 15.

Spot will become plentiful this month. We should see an influx of other bottom fish and small bluefish as well.

Red drum should move through the area mid-month and the speckled trout fishery will become hot as the larger fish move in the rivers and creeks.

June is the beginning of a great summer of fishing. Don’t let fuel prices discourage you from your favorite pastime.

Start your engines, catch fish and enjoy this summer season.

Until next time…fair winds.

Capt. Billy Pipkin owns and operates Ingram Bay Marina and Capt. Billy’s Charters at the end of Remo Road in Wicomico Church, 580-7292,

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