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Fish More With a Fuel Bladder

Why does it seem like some of the best fishing is always far away. Whether it takes a run to an exotic local or just way the heck offshore to fertile waters, we all dream of taking our own boats to these fishy places.

So often one of the main obstacles to living the dream is having enough fuel to get there, or more importantly to get home.

It is no secret that boaters have used many methods to carry that extra fuel, but often the containers are a pain to deal with even after they have been emptied. Plastic drums are the standard solution, but are far from ideal. They are tall and heavy, therefore harder to stabilize on a moving boat. The pump out process is awkward due to the fact that the lids stay open and it’s hard to tell where the level is if you want to split the fuel into different tanks. After they are empty, though lighter, they take up the same footprint on the deck and are a pain to fish around or store.

I have done this and made it work numerous times, but there is a much better way and it is not as costly as you may think. I ran a custom express boat for years and when we wanted to tap into our distant yellowfin tuna fishery, we needed extra fuel above what the boat carried. We wanted to increase our range and safety margin with a fuel bladder. Now some of the standard bladder shapes were not working with our deck hatch configurations. I did not want to block access to the lazzerette in case of rudder issues or any problems that required immediate access. That left me researching for a custom shape that would give me the maximum capacity in a footprint that would work for our boat.

I found Aero Tec Laboratories (ATL), makers of just what I needed. They had been filling this need for the motorsports, aviation, military and marine industries for 45 years. Their informative website and helpful staff made exploring the options painless. I figured the pain would be in the price since it said boat and custom. To my pleasant surprise it was very reasonable and affordable. We immediately ordered a custom 110-gallon fuel bladder. It fit perfectly in our chosen spot on the deck. It lays low on the deck and therefore has a more stable center of gravity. I had my local canvas man whip up a bag with tie downs that was simple, but effective. We bought a diesel rated 12-volt pump that plugged into our electric reel outlets. We built a quick connect system into our crossover line between the fuel tanks and could pump the bladder in about 12 to 15 minutes. Now the best part, we could then roll up the bladder and put it in a storage tub in the engine room. No tripping over it the rest of the day. We planned the quantity to be such that we would have burned enough to pump the entire bladder just before arriving at our tuna grounds. It worked well for trips to the Bahamas too. The less “island-priced” fuel the better, plus we had a greater range and safety factor.

ATL can build fully self-supporting, military-spec rubberized fuel bladders in all types of shapes and sizes. They can safely hold both gasoline and diesel fuel. ATL also stocks 7 standard sizes from 50 to 500 gallons. You can save some money if one of these will fit your needs.

Contact an ATL sales engineer today with any questions or log on to boatbladders.com to learn more about ATL’s custom and standard line of FuelLocker™ range extension fuel bladders.

I fully recommend you try it because “if far is good, further is better!”

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Capt. Scott Goodwin started fishing in the lakes of Kentucky where he grew up. A move to Florida, however, brought him into a whole new realm of fishing. After receiving a bachelor's degree in biology from Eckerd College, he decided that he liked catching fish more than studying them and thus began his career as a captain. Scott began working as a mate on a charter boat and worked his way up to captain. He has been fortunate to fish in some of the top locations on the globe, including Florida, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico and the Bahamas. Scott has learned from some of the best captains in the sport and has more than 27 years experience as a professional fisherman. He openly shares his knowledge and fishing tips on BD. Scott is now the editor of BDOutdoors.