Boating is our life, and we love connecting with folks who feel similarly, especially anglers who make the water their life. Between his many projects, we recently caught up with Fishing 411’s Mark Romanack for thoughts on boating in cold weather, trolling for walleye, and the magic of antique duck decoys.
Professional Angler Tips for Cold Weather Fishing
Smooth Moves: Hi Mark! It’s so nice to connect with you. First up, as we head into colder weather, what advice do you have for boaters out there?
Mark: Great question. Well, now that we know more about catching certain species in cold water, many folks fish year-round. Here in Michigan, we don’t stop trolling until there’s ice, and we can’t possibly get a boat in the water. But cold-weather fishing requires a bit more attention to detail. Every year, I wind up passing along the same boating advice:
First, if you’re fishing in cold weather, take extra steps to care for your boat before putting it away.
Make sure that there’s no water left in your live-well or on your deck; otherwise, it will freeze and cause problems. Prop your rod locker open for the same reason. If you get water in there, your carpet – or even your vinyl – will freeze together, and it’ll be impossible to open the next day.
The same goes for your bilge pumps. These can get wet, freeze, and ultimately fail.
I always recommend using a boat with an outboard motor in colder conditions. An inboard motor’s coolant can freeze and lead to significant – and expensive – issues.
Before you store your boat, lower your outboard all the way down, letting all of the water drain out.
And finally, if you’re planning to fish during cold weather, store it somewhere that’s heated. I find a heated garage is necessary to keep my boats in good condition.
The Joy of Walleye Season
Smooth Moves: What fish should people look to catch over the next few months?
Mark: Walleye. They’re such a popular species and good on the table. Most people think walleyes are strictly in the Midwest, but they’re actually widely distributed. There are walleyes all the way to the west coast, in New York, even down to Tennessee and Kentucky.
Walleyes are usually abundant because they’re a schooling fish. So, if you find one, it’s very likely you’ll find a bunch more.
Trolling with crankbaits is our favorite way to catch walleye this time of year. For us, it’s common to go to Lake Erie, Green Bay, or Saginaw and catch enough for everyone in the boat!
I like recommending walleye because folks tend to have a lot of success. Catching a bunch gives people a sense of confidence, and there’s some on the table. Everyone’s happy…except for the walleye, I suppose.
Life on the 411
Smooth Moves: When it comes to your day-to-day life, what’s your favorite part of running Fishing 411?
Mark: Everybody these days admires those who love what they do. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household that didn’t force us kids to follow in the family business or go down a specific path. We were allowed to decide what we wanted to become.
I actually ended up writing by accident. Since I enjoyed the outdoors and had decent writing skills, I could write for magazines to supplement my income.
The beauty for me is that it’s not legwork. The first thing I do is boot up my computer and get rolling. I set my schedule and make sure to hit my deadlines for my work, including our blogs and television show.
I love having flexibility and doing something I absolutely love. I don’t see it as work, just enjoyment.
SM: Okay, when you’re not working at Fishing 411, how do you spend your time?
Mark: Fishing. I enjoy fishing and hunting, I have hunting dogs, and I enjoy working with them. I grow my vegetable garden.
My wife and I love to collect antiques. I love to collect sporting antiques, especially decoys. I have an extensive collection of duck decoys.
Most people don’t know this, but at the turn of the century, decoys were made of wood. Many of them didn’t survive – people threw them out.
I started collecting these after college, paid about $20 for my first one. Nowadays, it’s worth much more than that.
Today, I have about 400-500 in my collection. Some are priceless to me, and some are valuable because they’re not widely available anymore. I buy every one I can lay my hands on.
“ At my age, I couldn’t fish as much as I do without the support of Smooth Moves.”
Keepin’ It Smooth With Smooth Moves
Smooth Moves: Let’s talk Smooth Moves. How long have you had Smooth Moves seats in your boats? How has using a shock-absorbing boat seat pedestal affected your fishing and your time on the water?
Mark: I knew you were going to ask me that! We’ve been using Smooth Moves for about 10-12 years. They are a very unique product that performs a service we couldn’t live without. At my age, I couldn’t fish as much as I do without the support of Smooth Moves.
We usually fish in aluminum boats, which just don’t ride as smoothly as fiberglass. And we use both the hydraulic boat seat pedestal – the Ultra, as well as the Air. I can’t even imagine not having them — they make life so much easier for us.
Smooth Moves: We love to hear that. Is there anything you want our readers to know about Fishing 411?
Mark: Well, our Fishing 411 newsletter is relatively new. It’s a great outlet for our content because we choose what we want to talk about and make it timely. Currently, we have lots of content about trolling crankbaits.
I’m also proud to say it’s a family-produced product. There are five of us in the company, and four are family members. In fact, my daughter-in-law puts the newsletter together. She’s not from an outdoor family, so she’s been indoctrinated by fire.
We’re committed to putting out the newsletter every week because we’re already getting great feedback.
Maintaining Your Shock Absorbing Boat Seat Pedestals
See how the pros keep their Smooth Moves seats in top-notch condition. In this video, the Romanacks show you how to maintain your hydraulic boat seat pedestal, so they’ll keep you comfortable out on the water for years to come!