Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My New Family Member

Well, before everyone congratulates me for having a baby, let me come clean by admitting that it’s not human, it’s a boat.  I recently purchased a used sixteen foot Alumaweld aluminum panfish style boat with stick steering powered by a 60/40 horsepower jet outboard drive motor.  This boat is teamed with an eighty pound thrust Minn Kota Maxxum trolling motor.  The set up of this rig is designed to navigate and fish the shallow rocky rivers of the Mid-Atlantic for smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, musky, and panfish.  Basically, the idea is to navigate where prop boats can’t go without damaging their lower units.
My new son!
After purchasing the boat, I brought it home and ran into my first two challenges.  The first was navigating the sharp ninety degree turn into my driveway, and meanwhile, stressing the transmission trying to push the boat up the steep hill of my driveway in reverse which proved challenging enough.  To make things tougher, I recently had to do it in pitch dark with no lighting on the driveway. 

Even more challenging was the acceptance of a new family member by the rest of my family.  After parking the boat, I entered my house and asked my soon to be twenty year old daughter, who was laying on the couch, why she wasn’t excited to meet her new brother.  Her response was something to the effect of, “It’s not my brother and if you say that again, I’ll slash the trailer tires.”  My reply shot out, “That’s no way to treat your new brother, go to your room!”  I then walked down to the hall to the master bedroom, and made my second mistake, opening the door and waking my wife from her beauty sleep of an afternoon nap, and asked her if she wanted to come out and see her new son.  Needless to say, that didn’t go over very well.  My fishing time was instantly reduced while more tasks were added to my honeydo list.
Sitting in my carport with the jet drive partially visible, waiting to meet his new Sister and Mom!
Why would I pick such a craft to fish from?  There are several ramps on a nearby river within a half hour of where I live, and a dozen more within an hour and a half.  In addition, there are several more similar rivers with excellent fishing within a couple hour drive.  My new jet boat will put me on some of the most famous smallmouth streams in the United States, the Potomac, Susquehanna, Delaware, Juniata, Shenandoah, Rappahannock, New and James are all within my fishing domain now. 

Also, there is an outstanding electric only lake only ten minutes from my house, and a bunch more within an hour drive where that Minn Kota will move me quite nicely from one fishing hole to another.  I can also easily put in some of the many ponds on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, or easily fish the Upper Tidal Potomac or larger lakes in Maryland, Virginia, or Pennsylvania like Deep Creek, Raystown, Anna, or Smith Mountain Lake.  It’s not a boat that can do everything, but it’s one that gives me the most options.
My fishing pal Howard achieves the honor of catching the first fish out of this boat under the new ownership, a dink smallie photographed magazine style!
The jet drive loses thirty percent of the motor's horsepower when drawing water through the intake and shooting it out the back, hence the 60/40 horsepower rating, but the loss of power is offset by the ability of the craft to go places that would tear a prop and/or lower unit instantly into scrap metal.  It’s akin to a four wheel drive truck designed for mud bogging compared to a BMW doing the same job.  Plus, the boat is small and light, and that much horsepower gives it plenty of speed for me, about 26 mph boating against the current, and 28 to 30 mph motoring with the current.
My first fish out of the boat was a dink smallie also, but this was my second fish which reached the fine honor of being the first keeper sized bass caught out of the "new" boat.
Howard with the honor of catching the first keeper largemouth out of my new boat.
Why the panfish style with stick steering?  The seating arrangement places me up to the front, providing a great view ahead allowing me to spot rocks and current seams while the stick steering provides improved ability to maneuver around such aluminum crushing obstacles as boulders and rocky ledges beneath the surface.  Also, the weight is more evenly distributed, maximizing speed while allowing the rig to get on a plane much more easily.
The seating arrangement allows the driver to easily see obstructions while navigating on plane while evenly distributing weight to maximize speed and enable optimal drafting while drift fishing rocky shallow Mid-Atlantic rivers.
I have quite a history with this particular boat.  I purchased it from a buddy of mine, Bob.  I’ve actually fished out of the back of the boat for years while catching many big fish, some of which were personal bests for me during those times and remain so today.  Bob and I had some awesome times and I have many fine memories those trips over the years.  Thanks Bob!
My personal best musky was caught out of the back of "Bob's" boat...now my boat.  I'll break that PB  some day soon I hope.
I’ve made many trips, some long distance vacation type fishing trips and fished out of the back of this boat, including trips to Canada and the Adirondacks in New York, along with countless local trips. 
I caught this nice catfish on a trip to Canada chasing muskies out of the back of  this boat!  Notice the similarities of the characters here...shape of the belly, whiskers.
I’ve caught some of the biggest freshwater or brackish water fish of my life out of this boat.  Several years ago, I was able to boat a forty five and a half inch striper that weighed a tad over thirty eight pounds that remains my personal best striped bass catch.  Unfortunately, I didn’t snap a picture of that massive fish because we used up all of our film earlier on smaller fish.  We also didn’t realize that they reached that size where we were fishing, only discovering the “fishery” a few days earlier.  This was before any of us had digital cameras, which were just out on the market at the time and very expensive.  
Although this striper is quite a bit smaller than my personal best, it's another nice one caught off the back of my new boat, another moment in it's history.
A thirty inch fish at that time seemed huge to us, but a 38 pounder?  It was unthinkable until it happened.  I caught it casting a Bomber Magnum Long A minnow style crankbait after seeing a huge striper try and eat an eighteen inch small striper that my buddy caught at boat side.  When I saw that, I dug into my tackle box for the biggest lure that I could find, and it paid off big time.  My biggest four stripers that day went 45 ½” and 38.1 lbs., 37” and 21 lbs., 34” and 15.2 lbs., 31” and 11 lbs, and I caught several more in the eight to ten pound range that evening.
Bob with a beauty of a striper, a.k.a. rockfish in Maryland, caught at the helm of the boat under his ownership.
I’ve also caught, photographed and released my largest musky, my personal best walleye, and countless big smallmouth and largemouth bass.  Oh yeah, there’s a lot of history and memories on this boat, not to mention solidifying a great friendship with Bob, and making other fishing friends through him.  Now instead of fishing out of the back, I’ll be at the helm and hopefully, there will be more personal bests for me and my fishing pals.
Thanks to Bob taking me fishing out of his boat, I've been able to get some personal best on several species including this fine walleye taken on the last day of 2011.

A double on the Susky, Bob with his smallie and me holding mine near to the camera a couple years ago.  We spent a lot of time chasing smallies together on the Susquehanna over the years out of this boat.
Meanwhile, what about Bob?  He's a bit sentimental and emotional about transferring ownership to me, but at the same time, he's excited.  He would only part with such a boat if he had a suitable replacement.  "Suitable" hardly describes his replacement though.  He just brought home his new RiverPro 186 LoPro built by Kevin Turner in Missouri.  This, my friends, is my dream boat.  But alas, I can't afford one as yet.  Congratulations to Bob for his magnificent purchase.  I'll save the details on this boat for a future post after I ride and fish from the back of this fine machine.  Bob will have a ton of fun on his new ride, and will soon forget about his old boat before long.
Bob's sleek new RiverPro 186 LoPro with the 200 hp Mercury SportJet will pictured here on it's way home, soon allow Bob to be less sentimental about the sale of his old boat to me!
Actually, my new purchase is my dream boat.  Hey, it puts me on the water and I can fish just about anywhere I want to go.  What more could I ask for?  At least until I hit the lotto!!!!

Only one question remains…  

What should I name my new boat?  Any suggestions?


Anonymous said...

While it was hard to part ways with my old boat, it is rewarding to know that it will continue to be well maintained and used by the best fisherman I know! - Bob

Fat Boy said...

Thanks Bob for the more than generous compliment. I could say the same thing about you. I'll take good care of it (as long as I don't run too fast up any creeks). LOL

Douglass Blanchard said...

Oh, it’s nice to know you and Bob are friends. Aren’t you? :] When buying a boat or anything amounting significantly, I think friends’ connections would always be reliable. So, what do you plan this coming July? It would be your son’s first birthday! I’m sure a pressure washing treat would be great!