The De-Evolution of Boats
By Brad Durick
I recently read an article in Dakota Country Magazine that was written by my good friend Jason Mitchell. In the article he talked about the evolution in his boats, as he has gotten older. Reading the article about going from a 14-foot tub to a 20 foot Yar Craft brought back memories of my boat purchases over the years.
As many people know I didn’t begin fishing until I was 22 years old. I spent the first year fishing with friends and then the second year decided that I wanted a boat. I did have a job but was still starting out so I bought a 1989 14 foot Lund and borrowed a motor to get me by until the next year when I had the money to by a 25 horse Johnson to put on the back of it. Just like what Mitchell said in his article I was in heaven. I took that boat to places that it shouldn’t have gone. In fact, it was a certain high wind incident that persuaded me to move up to my next boat.
The second boat was a dream. I bought a brand new 17-foot Crestliner. Now big waves wouldn’t be a problem but I did find a problem with it. As far as lake fishing and tournament fishing everything is great but right after I bought that boat and sold the first one I decided that I wanted to fish ditch channels in the spring and fish the Mighty Red River. The Red fluctuates levels through out the year and in low water a 17 foot Crestliner is not an option.
So here I am I had just traded a 14-foot boat for a 17-foot boat that I love but it limits me to bigger water. So the hunt begins, the only way I was going to get around this predicament was to buy another boat. So after some research I decided that I wanted the most basic and inexpensive boat that will float. It took almost a year to find what I wanted but I finally scored a 1977 Lund Guide Series. This boat has no frills complete with bench seats and no false floor. I wanted to keep it light and easy to move in tight situations, yet be mobile, so I added a 15-horse motor, two seats that were lying in the garage, and some rod holders. For electronics I decided that a battery would take up space and add unwanted weight not to mention that I didn’t want to spend more money on new electronics. To get around this one I installed an Alumaducer for my Vexilar FL-18 that I use in the winter. The FL-18 for winter in portable and has a small self-contained battery. This idea has turned out to be a good one because now I can easily slide the boat down the bank to the water or if I run into a floating log I don’t break the transducer bracket on the boat.
Now that I have my luxury 1977 River Cruiser, it is time to hit the rivers and streams. Granted, I don’t break any speed records but I can get where I want when I want. When the water is high and people are standing on the shore because they can’t get to a ramp I can just push the boat off in the ditch and I am off. Likewise in the late summer when the water is to low for the bigger boats I can just lift the boat off the trailer and pull it to the water. Another benefit in low water is I only need eight inches of water to run so this boat can go in more places during low water than I could have ever dreamt of going with my larger 17 foot boat.
Now I have the best of both worlds I have a larger boat for the bigger water but I also have the small boat for the tight spots. If you were to add up my fishing time for the year you may be surprised that it is about 50 percent in each boat. I love the big water but I also really enjoy the backwaters where nobody else can go.
The moral of the story is like your Chemistry teacher used to tell you in lab with flammable chemicals. “More isn’t always better” If you are fishing big lakes like Devils Lake or Lake of the Woods by all means you need to have a larger boat just for safety and comfort. But if you like to fish in small streams and hard to get places you really should look at it from a logical perspective and look at a small boat. Everyone should have a tub.