Modern fishing boats are a marvel

Fishing boats today are modern marvels with enough bells and whistles to make our grandparents’ heads spin.

My maternal grandfather, John Kish, was a tinkerer. He spent countless hours in his workshop fiddling and fussing with gadgets and projects. Never satisfied, he sought ways to make things work better, even drafting my mother to serve as his model for protective goggles as he perfected and adjusted his designs.

Grandpa Kish also built boats, counting on my father for assistance with the Chris Craft kits he assembled in his garage at home. To stay busy in his later years, he noodled up a boat bumper manufacturing business, handcrafting tens of thousands of the fenders and peddling them to marinas and boat dealers from Detroit to Buffalo.

He loved a well-made functional tool. He was long gone before modern fishing boats hit the water, but had Grandpa had the opportunity to check them out, he would have been mightily impressed.

Today’s rigs are equipped like high-performance cars compared to the boats of days gone by. Grandpa couldn’t have imagined – or maybe he could – the features and accessories available these days.

He would have been like a kid in a candy store checking out PowerPoles, electric trolling motors, sonar, GPS, outboard engines, stainless props, overstuffed buckets and pedestal seats, elevated carpeted casting decks, hydraulic steering, aerated recirculating livewells, sleek designs and custom-quality colors and finishes.

Today’s fishing boats are species-specific. We have walleye boats, crappie boats, muskie boats and, of course, bass boats – all adorned with amazing accessories.

The cool thing about that stuff is it isn’t gingerbread. It all helps us anglers catch fish.

Many of us recall the days when a “fishing” boat was a 14-foot aluminum skiff with two or three bench seats and a little outboard pushing out 10 or fewer horses. We kept bait in a bucket that sloshed on the floor. Our rods and net clattered around with the oars and anchor.

I went to the lake this week, and as I walked around the BassCat, I made a mental inventory of the features Grandpa would have admired.

Chief among them would be the PowerPoles and MotorGuide trolling motor. The shallow water anchor PowerPoles combine hydraulics and articulating appendages to instantly grip the lake bottom for stopping power as I ease along with the electric trolling motor. Grandpa would have appreciated the precise boat-positioning benefits they deliver.

He also would have marveled at the electronics. Sonar tells me exactly what is under the boat, while GPS tells me exactly how to find my way on the water – both so important I can hardly imagine fishing without them.

Grandpa could never have imagined a boat and motor capable of running 60 mph to his favorite spots on Berlin Reservoir, but he would have thrilled to feel the wind in his face while sitting secure in a bottom-hugging, spine-cushioning bucket seat.

He most certainly would have appreciated the plumbing job that ensures fresh, aerated water runs through the onboard livewell system to keep his fish fresh and lively instead of dragging them around all day on a stringer tied to a cleat.

As I finished my walk around this week, I gained new appreciation. We are fortunate to live in a time when fishing boats make our precious time on the water more enjoyable.

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