By Captain Scott “Fraz” Murie
I’ve been asked questions about towers several times lately. The question I’m getting most is, “Do I need a tower?”
I’ve spoken with several crews and owners about this topic. Some say they never use their tower and others say they use it all the time. The answers I’m getting to the tower question are all over the place.
I believe there is an advantage to having a tower, but that having a tower today is not nearly as advantageous as it was back in the days before electronics. The advantages back then included things like spotting fish on a rip, sight fishing cobia, or spotting birds and bait.
Nowadays, when you’re dredge fishing and you have a designated spotter (or tower man) he can see the dredge in the water (and a fish approaching it) from the tower way better than he could by being on the bridge or in the cockpit. I must admit, however, that I personally don’t climb the tower nearly as much as I did when I was a young man. That said, I do like having someone up there scanning the waters as much as possible.
Another question when talking to the crews and owners is, “Do tower boats catch more fish?” That’s a trick question because it depends on what you’re fishing for. I can tell you this, I see plenty of boats without towers that consistently find themselves in the winner’s circle and they can be hard to compete with.
Back in the day, towers were a huge advantage when fishing for bluefin tuna off Cat Cay in the Bahamas and when running the flats reading the water.
With today’s electronics things have changed. This is especially true when it comes to the use of sonar. When using the sonar, your head is glued to the screen—adjusting and readjusting.
With that said, now I can use the sonar to see what’s ahead on the rip or what’s below near an object like an oil rig. I can see bait on the surface and below the surface. I can see birds miles away with my radar. So, the question was, “Do I need a tower?”
The short answer is no. It’s all in what you want. Some owners want them because they think they look good; others think they’re ugly. The fact of the matter is that if you’re not going to use it, save the tens of thousands of dollars it costs to outfit your boat with one—not to mention the knot or two you gain at sea without one.
I do however believe that towers are a must for enclosed bridge boats. Enclosed bridges should have towers just for visibility if for nothing else. Beyond that, towers are a matter of personal preference. With today’s technology and electronics, times have changed. The advantages of a tower are not near what they used to be.
There was a time when I personally couldn’t imagine a boat without one. I could hook a fish in the tower and climb down with the rod in one hand. Those days are gone. I’m perfectly content with my cushioned helm chair right on the flying bridge.
– That’s my two-minute warning. Fraz