The Perfect Fishing Boat
by Gary Vander Hart

Excerpted from a discussion on the
Lewisboats Yahoo discussion group

I want to add my 2 bits to the discussion of the perfect solo fishing boat. I hope you do not mind if I start with a little history before I actually answer the basic question. I should also mention that I live in Minnesota where we have a few nice fishing lakes.

click to enlargeWhen my son was about 8 years old he got interested in fishing. I have always been a fisherman, but I did not have much time for it while my kids were in diapers. Now that they had matured a bit, I got re-interested in fishing and bonding with my young son. I bought a 14 foot aluminum planing fishing boat with a 9.9 horse Mercury outboard. The first thing I did was customize the boat by adding a level plywood floor, comfortable swivel seats mounted on the bench seats, and a casting platform/trolling motor mount up front. This worked pretty good for two fishermen and we had a lot of fun until my son got into high school and lost interest in fishing and in spending time with dad. I was now a solo fisherman in a planing boat that was too heavy due to my treated plywood modifications, and that had a cranky old outboard that seemed to need more attention each year. I also found the boat very difficult to get in and out of the water. I was looking for something smaller, lighter, and that didn't make so much noise.

click to enlargeAbout this time I got interested in boat building. I built a wood strip canoe to use in the Boundary Waters and I started thinking about a small wood boat to indulge another new interest, fly fishing. I built an 8' x 4' dinghy and sold the aluminum monster. I have been very pleased with the smaller boat. I intended to cartop the dinghy just like a canoe, but I found that I built the boat too heavily (again). In addition, it is just about impossible to pick up a boat that has a four foot beam the way one can pick up a canoe that has a three foot beam. So I built a small 8 foot utility trailer to carry the boat. I find that getting this boat on and off the trailer is a snap compared to the difficulties I had with the aluminum monster.

click to enlargeI put a 35 pound trolling motor on the transom. I find that I can zip around for about two days on a good marine deep cycle battery. This size boat is perfect for standing up and fly fishing or casting to shore. Standing aft of the middle seat, I can just reach the trolling motor to control my position as I cast to shore. If I find a good spot, I toss out an anchor. If I want to troll, that works well also since I normally sit on the middle seat facing aft in order to be able to reach the motor. The best thing about a really small boat like this is how well it handles rough water. It really just bobs like a cork. I do not hesitate to go out in winds and waves that would have caused my aluminum planing boat to rock me nearly out of the boat. I do not use a depth finder, but I see no reason why a transducer could not be mounted on the transom, or maybe even snugged up on a skeg. As you can tell I am very happy with my 8' x 4' solo fishing machine. This summer I added a sail, lee boards, and a rudder, so now I really have it all.

Gary Vander Hart