J.B. Webb — Best to have deep pockets with a boat

Staff Writer
Herald Democrat

This will ring a bell with all of us boat owners. Rule No. 1 — if it’s got marine on it and you are having to buy it, hold on to your wallet. The word "marine" is the reason why we pay half or one time more for what we need versus a car or truck with the same problem. Rule No. 2 — if you have a problem with your boat it will likely be on the water.

When that happens, you have two problems: what’s broke and how do I get back to my truck and trailer? Through the summer you might flag down another boat to have them pull you in, or call for the rescue boat to come get you; but that’s another wallet-biter. In winter you just might be up the creek without a paddle as there aren’t many boats out.

At times I wonder why I have a bass boat. When anything big breaks you can’t believe what kind of prices you see for one, even a used one, on Google or Amazon.

Last week Charlie and I were fishing. We heard a loud knock; I slowed down and went ahead no problem — then another knock. I drove slowly and we went in. I lost a cylinder on Lake Ray Roberts once and this sounded about the same. Way back then it cost me almost $3,000 for repairs. Today this same job would run around $4,000 or more.

As a proud boat owner, I have spent more on it than what some people probably paid for their cars. After loading I went to Dr. Gary’s boat repair. I had locked up the starter when I turned it over at the house after removing the spark plugs and intending to look at each piston. I hit the starter to turn the motor over and it locked up.

Checking the bank account for money, I backed it in and Gary began to check it out. He told me it wasn’t a Powerhead; those words almost made me happy as when my daughter Julie was born. It was the lower unit. I was still looking at $1,400. A boat is a status symbol to some. It’s fun for others but over a long time it’s going to make you wonder if it’s worth it.

While my fix-it fee seems high, maybe it’s not. If you like to go fishing often, you can buy one of our toys on the seven- year plan or be smart with your money and hire a guide. You can make four or five trips in a year for less than those payments. Get a friend and likely double the number of trips you take. With a guide you have no boat problems to worry about, you don’t have to buy gas, don’t have to register a boat and don’t even have to buy fishing tackle. While their prices sound high, the first time you go out with a guide I assure you it’s cheap compared to what a boat problem can cost you on the lake.

Wednesday was supposed to be rainy. I called Charlie and told him to forget the forecast and go fishing. He was for it and we met at my ramp at 6:30 a.m. Now some of you are going to say, if your boat is in the shop how are you going fishing?. That’s what friends with boats are for. Charlie brought his boat and I got to sit in the back and grin as we ran down the lake. Unknown to us — this was going to be one of those Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner days.

We got to our first stop. I made a cast with my Heddon Spitting Image and was working it back and I could see Charlie looking at rods and talking to himself. Seems like he had left the rod he needed in the back of his truck. I was grinning as he finally gave up looking and cut off a lure on another rod and got out a similar bait to the chugger he had on his rod in the truck.

All at once I heard a thump. Charlie stared to blame my knot I had showed him how to tie. He tied it; when he let it go and picked up his rod to cast the lure fell off in the boat. Now I was laughing. Charlie was running into several problems as he was still trying to get his lure in the water. After one fish I decided to change rods and fish my YUMbrella Rig. I was making cast after cast as Charlie finally got a lure in the water. All at once it was his turn to laugh, my $13 rig was at 50 foot and climbing as it headed out over the water. My knot had also come untied. His turn to jab me. He ran into another problem when he had a mess of rods and reels to untangle. This and other little mishaps I won’t mention kept us laughing.

We caught bass: I caught a sand bass, a war-mouth perch and the biggest fish of the day on a Norman Nutter Butter Crank bait. This fish had Charlie and me both close: he had the net; I was having a heck of a time getting the fish to the boat. In the clear water we could see a golden flash now and then. Smallmouth run through both of our brains. I got the fish up Charlie netted a five-pound Golden colored drum; well it had a small mouth but had managed to get most of the Norman bait in his mouth.

We wound up with 10 or 11 fish before it started raining lightly. Afraid of melting we headed in. As it always does when we got to the ramp and was loading the light rain stopped. Early morning the stripers are still going crazy up toward the Rail Road Bridge and off the North Island. Live Bait, slabs and YUMbrella A rigs trolled are all good baits. Get over your fear of the masked man and Tonto and come to the lake just parking in some quiet place you might be the only one and look at the water; it’s peaceful pretty and beats being cooped up in the house.