Time For A New Boat?

By Ted Peck - March 1, 2010
My tax guy tells me I need to buy a new boat every five years. This is the year. My 1860 VSD Lund was ever faithful. But it's time for her to go. With the Bush tax cuts set to expire the end of this year, I suspect many folks who fish for a living are pondering accelerated depreciation schedules on their "offices" too.

Those of you who have shared my 1860 VSD know she was a great boat to fish out of. A wonderful watercraft for covert operations-just a glorified flatbottom with a 75 E-Tech on the stern and a big yellow Lab on watch in the bow.

The livewell on that boat wasn't big enough. Seating was less than comfortable-especially when guiding three anglers. But it was a near perfect platform for working the nether reaches of the Mississippi River.

Evinrude power and a MinnKota electric greatly enhanced the fishability of that Lund 1860 VSD. They remain an integral part of the program as I get ready to put the new Lund 1800 Alaskan through her sea trials.

There are lots of good boats and motors on the market. You should be able to find several which will meet most of your fishing needs. The biggest key to happiness in buying a new boat isn't the boat or the motor-it is the boat dealer. Jerry's Sports Service in Beloit, Wi. has been my boat dealer for over 30 years.

Those who fish for a living know you have to be on the water to git-r-done. Jerry's has kept me in the game. Although rare, there have been times when Ol' Blue acted up or some other component failed. Jerry's number - 608.365.4520-is on the speed dial of my cell phone.

Boats typically don't have that many problems. Many boat problems stem from a loose wire or a blown fuse. This is why automatic circuit breakers have always been part of my fishing platform.

The motor is the most critical component of your fishing package. Like modern car motors, new outboards are electronic wonders. Last summer when I was working out the details for my new office I posted a question on the most reliable outboard-Merc, Evinrude or Yammie.

Results were overwhelmingly in favor of the Evinrude E-Tech. The 90 which will hang on the back of my new Lund Alaskan will be my fourth E-Tech. I've been an Evinrude guy for over 30 years. Part of this is because Jerry's Sports Service has always sold Evinrudes. They sell Merc's and Yammies, too.

Engineering, fuel economy and a three year warranty-and solid dealer support-make this a no-brainer.

Why the Alaskan and not a Pro-Vee? This is a work boat. It must be totally functional and utilitarian. No whistles or bells . A workhorse. The Alaskan comes with marine vinyl rather than carpet. This is a big plus. Pike slime and Mississippi mud are easier to remove from vinyl than carpet.

The fact that my boots seem to find every dog rocket within 50 yards enters into the equation, too.

The trolling motor is a MinnKota Terrova with 80 lbs. of thrust. It has the co-pilot feature which enables remote operation from a small control which can be worn on your wrist or belt. The co-pilot is a guide's best friend.

Folks at Minn-Kota tried to talk me into their new I-Pilot which uses GPS for precise boat positioning. I opted out. Those who have been in my boat know how hard I am on stuff. The Mississippi isn't exactly Lake Placid, either.

With the co-pilot I still have a cabled foot pedal to fall back on in case something goes wrong with the remote. There will also be a paddle in the boat. Redundancy is a good idea on challenging water like the Mississippi.

Electronics on the new Lund will be Humminbird. A basic 325 unit for the trolling motor for precise depth control, A 565i for the console. This unit has GPS to provide information on trolling speed. Trolling speed, depth and water temperature are the three most important considerations in electronics for a river boat.

Some clients ask if they can bring a portable GPS to plug in hotspots. I find this amusing on a body of water which runs essentially north and south and is only a mile wide. Besides, one miniscule change in current, temperature, light penetration-or a host of other variables-can make today's hotspot tomorrow's dead sea. This is one reason why I absolutely love fishing the Mississippi!

The last consideration in boat purchase is the trailer. It doesn't make much sense to put a 900 pound boat/motor on a half-ton rated trailer with dinky little tires, pile on 300 pounds of accessories and anticipate an uneventful road trip.

Experience teaches the value of a heavy duty trailer with good tires and sideloaders to help facilitate loading in wind or heavy current. You can look for a mongo Shoreland'r trailer behind a grey GMC work truck at boat launches over on Pool 9.

The boat it totes is at work.
Author Ted Peck
Ted Peck
Cap'n Ted Peck has over 30 yrs. guiding experience, specializing in multi-species fishing on Pool 9-10 of the Mississippi from Genoa, Wi. to Prairie du Chien. Cap'n Ted is a pro staffer for Lund, Northland Tackle, MinnKota, Bill Lewis Lures, Evinrude, Uncle Josh, HT Enterprises and Custom Jigs & Spins. When not guiding Cap'n Ted communicates the outdoors experience via newspapers, magazines, TV, radio and through seminars. This work has taken him all over the midwest, Canada and beyond... but he always returns to the upper Mississippi which he considers the most diverse fishery in North America. Click here for more info on Ted's guide service. Cap'n Ted's new book Mississippi Musings with the Old Guide is a personal account of his long career as a professional fishing guide on Old Man River.