Something Fishy

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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Chad Smith travels the country to fishing tourneys, but does't fish; he keeps Yamaha motors running

Chad Smith loves to hunt and fish, but when he travels to fishing tournaments, he doesn't fish. He makes sure competitors are on the water.

        Chad Smith has been traveling the country to fishing tournaments for nearly 20 years. He travels 35,000 miles or more a year to be with the top national anglers, but Smith isn’t there to fish. He’s there to make sure their Yamaha outboard boat motors are working well.
More than a decade ago, I met Chad, who was headed out on the bass tournament trail with a new mobile workshop, and then our paths crossed again a few weeks ago at Indiana’s Lake Monroe.
He criss-crosses the county pulling a 36-foot trailer stocked with tools and parts, and is ready for any Yamaha motor breakdown during the highly competitive fishing tournaments.  Originally, he traveled the pro bass circuit, but now he and two other mechanics also follow walleye and other fishing trails as well as supportand college fishing events.
“They joke about me,” says Chad. “They call me the Maytag man because there are so few problems with the Yamaha motors...seventy-five percent of the problems are self-inflicted impact damage.” He explained that most problems are is caused by competitors hitting stumps, rocks or some other structure.
“When you are a tournament fisherman, you have to fish in all kinds of weather. That’s when most of the damage occurs. They may fish in three-foot waves, in the rain, and in conditions where there is poor visibility,” he added.
His number one priority is keeping the anglers using Yamaha engines in action, but from time-to-time will help other anglers, if time permits.
He said he carries spare parts for Yamaha’s larger outboard engines, and nearly all the engines he services still are within warranty period, so most repair costs are absorbed by the company.
The back end of the trailer opens into a complete workshop. It has a hoist to pull a motor and move it inside for repair work, if necessary. He carries everything needed to completely rebuild a motor.
He arrives at the tournament site early, and stays until everyone is off the water the final day, and then it is on to the next tournament. Most repairs he makes are minor and take only about five minutes. “If I have to change a gear case and a prop, it takes about 15 minutes,” he said.
When ask which group of anglers maintains their engines best, he is quick to acknowledge the saltwater tournament fishermen.  “You have to maintain them well if you fish saltwater, if you go 50 miles off shore. It’s not like the freshwater guys who can go to the bank, and call someone to bring their trailer.”
He said the two most important factors about engines and saltwater is to maintain them well, and flush them regularly. However, he says simple maintenance is important for all boaters whether tournament anglers to or just folks who like to fish and boat.
“When a family arrives at a boat ramp and the engine won’t start, the kids are broken hearted,” said Chad. A few things can make a big difference in keeping a boat operational, according to Chad.: They include: keeping battery terminals clean, the battery charged, oil changed, parts lubricated, and clean fuel filters.
The biggest change in engine problems--or lack thereof, he has seen is the improvement brought about by four-stroke engine technology. There is much less maintenance, and today most diagnostic work is done on engines with a laptop computer.
Smith enjoys the tournament trail, but really appreciates his time at home with family. And when not on the road, he also loves to hunt and fish when he has the opportunity

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