Use a Kicker Motor or Not!


Capt.Jimmy Samia

This post is about when to use a kicker motor or maybe more appropriately when not too. On our charter boat the “Ace” we use a 20 hp Yamaha 4-stroke kicker motor mounted in the center of the transom. Compared to the main 6.2 l Mercruiser main engine, it uses about 50% less fuel while trolling Lake Ontario. This is usually the main reason why most use a kicker motor on their boats. It’s also a good idea to have a second means of propulsion in case something was to happen with the main engine.

use a kicker motor

Use a kicker motor like this Yamaha 4-stroke

We have caught a lot of fish while trolling using our kicker motor on Lake Ontario. In fact, we use a kicker motor most of the time. But for those of you who use a kicker motor, did you ever notice that there are days that you just can’t seem to catch fish or get bit? We have and after some careful thought and trying to put two and two together, we think we figured out the possible cause.

To figure out the cause, we first had to recognize a pattern of when this “not getting bit” when we use a kicker motor phenomenon was occurring the most. There were two conditions that kept occurring simultaneously when this “not getting bit” did happen! Those two conditions were flat or calm water and the target temperature being less than 60/70 ft. in the column. When we use a kicker motor when trolling in wavy water and less than 60/70 ft. in the column, we got bit. When we troll deeper than 60/70 ft’ in the water column and the surface is flat, we still got bit. But, when these two conditions line up, the flat surface and temperature being up in the column, we do not get bit hardly at all.

In several tournaments and while on charters, we did considerably better when we would not use a kicker motor and instead trolled with the main engine during flat, high temperature conditions. Not to just accept this at face value, we also tried to figure the reason why this was happening. As best we can figure, it has to do with the kicker motor completely exhausting below the surface. This is not an issue when the lake has wave action on the surface because the noise emitted by the kicker is broken up on the uneven surface of the lake and dissipates.  Of course there will still be some noise below the surface, but no where near as much as when the water is flat. When the water is flat, the underlying surface acts like a mirror and reflects most of the noise back towards beneath the boat and scares the fish.

On our charter boat, the main engine exhausts above the water level not below. We have found that on flat days with the temperatures up in the column, we can increase our bites by switching to the main engine and not use a kicker motor. This has worked for us on too many occasions not to be discounted as coincidence. In fact, on a charter last fall the lake went flat and the bite just died. We switched over to the main engine and the fish bit again. We then went back to the kicker and they stopped biting. But guess what! The fish began to bite again as soon as we switched back to the main engine one more time.

After seeing the bite begin again when we quit use of a kicker motor time and time again, this has become standard operating procedure during calm conditions and shallow temperatures. Have there been days when even running on the big engine and the fish wouldn’t bite? Of course there has! But, when fishing in these conditions and others are catching fish and you aren’t, maybe getting off that kicker may be just what’s needed to get the bites going again.

You can check out more info on our info and tips page on our main website!