As I write this article, Stillhouse Hollow Lake is over 11 feet down and Belton Lake is over 13 feet down.

It has now been several weeks since the courtesy floating docks of these two local reservoirs were usable for loading and unloading passengers after launch, or for mooring a boat while sailing solo.

With no floating courtesy docks available, those who still choose to cruise our area lakes and tow their boats have no choice but to beach their boats on the undeveloped shoreline or on the boat ramps. concrete launch.

In any case, a boat’s aluminum or fiberglass hull will come into contact with the abrasive rocks, shell fragments, gravel and sand that lie alongside boat ramps. our region.

Without some form of hull protection, hulls – especially fiberglass hulls – can be quickly damaged.

Even aluminum boats, especially painted aluminum boats, will quickly show signs of wear after being frequently beached on such substrates.

This raises the topic of sacrificial hull protection – placing some sort of liner or cover over the part of the boat’s underside most likely to come into contact with the bottom when grounding in order to protect the material from the original shell.

Having professionally guided for over 17 years on our area lakes, I have seen a number of drought cycles. So, I first tried to protect my hull with a stick-on keel protector.

Granted, I put a lot more wear and tear on my gear than the average weekend angler, however, I was disappointed with the performance of the first adhesive keel protector I tried as the adhesive was quite aggressive that held it to my fiberglass hull failed in less than a year.

To their credit, the manufacturer honored their warranty and sent me a new keel protector, however, the work required to remove the remnants of the original keel protector and clean all adhesive residue from the hull for the preparing for the replacement, was excessive.

The second adhesive keel protector from this manufacturer also failed. Again, I had a replacement under warranty, but never installed it. Instead, I sold it, still in the packaging, on eBay and used the product to try another brand of stick-on keel protector.

He too failed in less than a year. Once again, this second company has honored its guarantee. This time I sold this replacement still in the package and invested in spray keel protection.

Mary and Barry Stout are the owners of local business Line-X located at Farm-to-Market 2410 on the Killeen-Harker Heights border, just behind Texas Boat World.

The Keel-X product they sprayed on using a durable black polymer material similar to the material used for spray-on truck bed liners worked well and was in good condition when I sold the boat with this product still in place several years later.

When, in January 2016, I started fishing from my current boat, it went to Line-X before it was even launched. This Keel-X product is still working well over six years later, even after beaching my boat five to six times a week every week through all the low water we’ve had for the past six years.

Unfortunately, this product cannot be applied to aluminum.

So far I have covered the exterior of the boat. The low water is also choppy inside the boat.

Instead of stepping off a fairly clean floating aluminum courtesy dock and into my boat, I now load my passengers onto the bow of the boat with a step board so they don’t get their feet wet before their trip.

As they move from land to saddles and boat, they bring sand, gravel, and fragments of zebra mussel shells, all of which are abrasive and take away from the clean, professional look of the floor and from the forward casting deck of my boat.

A while ago I invested time in researching the best aftermarket flooring for my boat and fishing applications. The boat’s original light gray gel coat was a bit too slippery for my liking, and it showed dirt easily.

My research led me to a product called Safe-Floor. After becoming interested in the product, I sought out a bowfishing guide who had applied the product to the floor of his boat several years previously. I was impressed with the performance of the product in that it held up well to the constant layer of water, blood and fish slime it exposed it to.

Then there was a visit to a fishing guide working at the Galveston Yacht Basin who was also using the Safe-Floor product. He had also been using the product for years and in a harsh saltwater environment.

I decided that the Safe-Floor product was for me. I made an appointment to have the crumb rubber product, which is mixed with a resin and troweled to an even thickness, applied to my boat while I waited at the Dickinson factory between Houston and Galveston, just off Interstate 45.

After arriving at their facility early that morning, I returned home mid-afternoon the same day with work done.

Now, years later, I’m still happy with the Safe-Floor product. For cleaning, I throw a bucket of hot, soapy water on the deck as a pre-soak, then pressure wash the deck with a 3,500 psi pressure washer using a 15 or 25 degree tip. Withstanding this kind of force repeatedly is proof enough of the durability of this product.

The Keel-X and Safe-Floor products are not the only products of this type, but they are the only ones that I have personally tried that have met my high expectations and in a more demanding environment than most anglers.

I must add that I am in no way affiliated with these companies and have gained nothing by speaking favorably about them. They are simply good products applied by hard working people, and it all works together to help me protect my investment at a time when such protection is especially desirable.