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  1. Hope everyone's surviving the deep freeze... I'm planning some modifications to the deck layout of my fiberglass / composite boat and am having a hard time finding a retailer in the Knoxville area who carries resin, fiberglass, core materials (like nida-core or corecell), other composite boat materials like coosa board, etc. Does anyone know of any place that sells to the public other than West Marine? Getting core materials or epoxy resin online carries some crazy shipping charges. Thanks for your help, Todd (technowannabe)
  2. Question about hp rating reminded me of boats I used to see in the 1960’s and ’70s when bass tournament kept getting faster and faster. Here is my fishing craft history. What's your's? First fishing was from the bank, of course. But I always wanted to get farther out, or on the other side, or just beyond where I could reach (the grass is greener on the other side syndrome). If only I could...😗 So finally I bought a 9.9 hp Mercury and would go anywhere I could rent a jon boat. That was pretty common in the ’60s and I mostly fished Texas lakes of a few hundred to a few thousand acres. Finally got a battery and trolling motor plus my sculling paddle, and it was a hassle moving all that stuff in & out of rentals and trying to clamp the trolling motor. So I bought an old original fiberglass Skeeter boat. 13’ long, pointed nose, shallow draft, great. Used that thing a lot but it was a pain to sit on that narrow nose, twist halfway around to fish in front of the boat and scull it with a paddle. No good way to mount the trolling motor on front so I left it on the transom. Next upgrade was first new boat. 1968, 15' Super Skeeter with 40 hp Johnson, two seats, stick steering in the front and a foot controlled Motor Guide on the nose. I even got a "little green box" Lowrance depth finder and I was set. Running lights, trailer and everything I could wish for. Quiet, shallow draft, narrow - it would glide ride between those old stumps and over logs and I could stay in the same seat to run a little, fish a while, run to next spot and be fishing within seconds. Very efficient; my favorite all time boat. Caught tons of bass in that rig, still mostly fishing four county-built lakes between 800 and 1,200 acres. I could go anywhere on those lakes in that boat. Fished after work, nights, weekends, holidays, about as much as I could. And kept getting the fever a little worse all the time. Made a deal with Anne: if she'd just teach school for one year that would give us a stable income and let me try my hand at guiding. And maybe that year would give me time go get my fill and try all the things I was dreaming of and knew I could do. Ok, I need to go where the best bassing is, which was Table Rock, Bull Shoals or Greers Ferry in MO/AR. Or Eufula AL. Or Ross Barnett, MS. Or Sam Rayburn, TX. Since we lived in Texas, that made tge most sense. So we packed everything we had in our two old pickups, quit my job at the Texas Hwy Dept, loaded up our dogs and two month old baby girl and drove east. We knew no one but found a house to rent on a two Mike road that dead-ended into Sam Rayburn Lake. It was just two miles from Jackson Hill Marina and five from the nearest town, Broaddus, the M Motel, Harvey's Lakeview Cabins and Lacey's General Store got lots of inquiries and catered to fishermen so I fished this new lake for about a week, taking some big bass by for photos and to introduce myself as a new and available guide. Finally got a few chances to take folks out and we caught plenty of bass. But right quick I figured out that 15', narrow Skeeter was just not going to work. It was great for me at 160 lbs and my usual buddies about the same size or my 115 lb wife. But guide customers seemed to all be middle aged, plenty heavy and loaded down with more ice chests, tackle boxes and rods than I'd ever seen. So I was really stuck having to be careful where I launched and fish only creek arms where the waves wouldn't get too big. Time for a bigger boat. Guiding was going well and so I swapped rigs. Got a 16’ Raycraft witha rounded bow and much wider than my little Skeeter. 60 Evinrude and Silvertrol motor on the back, three seats and more room. It worked well but was awful rough riding and I got tired of the pounding. By '71 Skeeter had introduced the Hawk, a 16' bass boat design shaped much like the first Rangers but costing a whole lot less. Got one with 80 Merc and three seats, trolling motor on the transom and wore that thing out. '73 got another one new to replace the first Skeeter Hawk, all rigged the same. By 1974 much of the original timber flooded when Rayburn filled in the mid-late sixties had broken off and as the lake opened up, the waves got bigger and the flooded forests gave fewer places to get relief. With 114,000 surface acres, miles across the open water main lake and only five marinas, even the 16' Hawk was not big enough. My regular customers George and Noma Newman owned Newman boat company in Miami Oklahoma and offered me a consignment deal - use a Newman boat for a year, no charge, then get a new one and keep or sell the first one. Great deal, so my wife and I loaded up the now four year old daughter and went on a big venture. Drove to Dallas and spent the night getting wined and dined by a high-roller customer there. Then on to Tulsa for two nights hosted by four other great customers in Tulsa. Then on to Miami (on the OK/MO border) to the Newman boat factory and a couple of days there while the Newman crew rigged the oat exactly like I wanted. 17' high-sided, gull wing hull, three seats, side storage along both sides and under the nose, steering wheel at the front with foot controlled Motor Guide and new Humminbird on the nose. 115 Evinrude pushing it, built in 12 gal tank, cool. Big, nice, safe and very soft riding - this was a great boat. Couldn't wait the 500 miles home to launch it, and I loved trying new lakes, so we spent one day at Broken Bow Reservoir and the next at Pine Creek (both new lakes in the eastern Oklahoma mountains). Then home to Sam Rayburn and really enjoyed fishing that boat. A year later and everyday pounding on waves and over all the broken off stumps had taken a toll. So back to Miami (Ok) and got another Newman. Same layout, same 115 was plenty, rigged and ready. By '76 the "one year" guiding my wife had agreed to had stretched to six. I had done what I wanted to, and more. Time for little girl to start school and we wanted better school. Anne got on as graduate assistant teaching at McNeese State University in Lake Charles Louisiana. Okay, daughter Elise could start first grade and I moved there in Dec after finishing all my previously booked guide trips that went thru Thanksgiving. That high, soft Newman was nice for the new waters in Louisiana. Calcasieu Bay and the river, salt and brackish with big wide stretches for waves to build up. Learned to catch redfish, flounder, drum, speckled trout and crabs. Delicious fresh; that's good cause we couldn't afford much whole I did some odd jobs. After a few months, it was either fish the B.A.S.S. Tournament trail which was now big time (or get a real job). They had started having classics and I had guided several too B,A.S.S. Tournament guys before events on Rayburn, and had fished with others in the Qzarks, Florida and around so I knew I could compete. Customer Don Butler won the '74 Classic at Percy Priest. Fellow Rayburn guide turned tournament pro Tommy Martin won the '76 Classic on Joe Wheeler. Best buddy and frequent fishing partner David Wharton started then and did good (wound up winning several big BASS events & fishing twelve Bassmaster Classics). Other Rayburn guide friends Jay Donathon and Marvin Baker proved they had the skills - Marvin was 2nd in the 1975 Classic at Currituck Sound.my guide customers Tom Mann and Billy Westmorelnd both won multiple times on the tournament trail and I knew exactly how they fished, having spent time on Rayburn with them. After much discussion with wife Anne, best decision was to get a "real" job and forgo my tournament ideas. So I did just that and wound up with 38 good years in the medical field. Was a better decision for tge family, and I had gotten my six years of full time fishing. Anyway, with the new job, we moved north to Denton Texas and we had more money than ever. So I bought another boat - brand new Ranger, 15' with 85 Evinrude, rigged out. I had always admired Ranger quality and wanted a boat with extra strong hull and truly dry storage. Liked it, ran it, fished two International Bass Association tournaments and some others in it. Won trips to Cuba to fish Treasure Lake and Zaza Lake, the hottest lakes for truly big bass then. Won a 17' silver metal fake sparkly new Venture in another tournament but it was too pretty, shiny and fancy for me. I kept both boats and would fish big lakes with one and haul my innertube to the wooded creeks in the other. Moved to Gulf Coast in '79 and knew I'd have to try the salt and brackish water. Sold the Ranger and swapped the Venture for a 16' Alumacraft flat bottom with 50 hp Mercury. Rigged for bassing with front & rear decks & all, it was ok but too small for rough water in the saltwater bays and around the jetties, and too heavy for the shallow flats marsh fishing for redfish and flounder. So... ...sold it and got a 12' jon boat with 18 Evinrude to run the flats and duck hunt with. And used my last Newman guide boat for the big water. This was a good deal until I wanted to take more than one man and a dog duck hunting or marsh fishing. So sold the 12 footer and found an old aluminum 15 footer with a 25 Merc and stick steering in the front. It was a fun rig, esp for red fishing the flats and crabbing, and I enjoyed using it for several years, but the builtin seats took up space and the front steering meant couldn't get the nose high enough with big waves. Sooo, time to get exactly what I wanted for an all purpose, flats fishing, duck hunting, crab catching, alligator hauling boat that I could also use to bass fish. Picked out a new 1983 Alumacraft 15 footer, wide with open floor plan and 25 hp Mariner. Great rig - put a removable pedestal seat, hand controlled MinnKota & portable depth finder right up front. Put a foam-filled floor and thin plywood with carpet over the middle, open section. 6 gal tank behind rear bench right at the motor. I could haul four duck hunters, gear and one dog and still get on plane in those mud flats. With just one or two, it would fly. Caught five legal gators in it too; all the permupits I was lucky enough to draw. Ran that Mariner through mud, grass,salt water, oyster shells, logs and junk for years til we moved to east Tennessee. Then it tried Fort Loudon, Tellico, Watts Bar and Chilhowee. At age 30, we put new floor & carpet, new depth finder, new gas tank and battery, new lights and wiring, new wheels, tires and bearings on the trailer, and pretty much overhauled the Mariner. Test ran a few times on Fort Loudon and then hauled it to Houston to give my grandson, who was born the same month I bought the boat new in '83. Thirty years and still a great rig. He has since moved to Arizona and hauled it all the way to Phoenix. I then got a used Tracker. '89 with 45 Merc and that'll last as long as I will. Along the way I acquired a pirogue for solo fishing, hunting, crabbing and trapping and had some great times in it. And a 15' Coleman canoe for the rivers. And used my favorite old truck tire innertube covered with straps and a seat to do sneaky fishing where the conditions are right for big bass in shallow, thick cover. I love boats and have always had one, two or three since I started working. Pictures. Daughter Elise in 12' flat bottom with 18 Evinrude. '78 Three big bass in my first Skeeter Hawk. ’72 17' Venture, tournament prize, International Bass Assoc. '79 Wade fishing salt flats - only need boat to get there and back. 12' pirogue. Great for trapping, duck hunting, stream ventures. Caught these bass in 14' rental jon boat. Won tournament & biggest bass. 1983 Alumacraft, redone in 2013 for grandson at same age (30) Current boat, likely last one. '89 Tracker, 45 Mercury 1963 Skeeter with 18 Evinrude 1974 Nice big soft riding Newman guide boat. 1st of two 15' Coleman canoe, 1993
  3. In about 1972 I had a good friend who also guided on Sam Rayburn. He was a part timer as he taught school. He had a 15' Kingfisher with 55 hp Evinrude, wheel steering from console at the rear. The steering cables broke so he bought new ones and replaced them one afternoon at his home shop. Didn't get done before dark so no test run. He had a half day party to meet him at the dock the next afternoon and fish til dark. Good plan and that's why he had to rush to get those cables on. I was already out with an all-day party and knew about when he'd show up in the big open bay we'd been fishing. Plenty of ridges and humps and plenty of bass to go around. So I wasn't surprised when I heard him coming. What was a surprise was his jerky, left-right-left direction as he came veering down the lake like a drunken sailor. He didn't drink and I had no idea why he was driving crazy like that until they pulled up beside us. Turned out, he had put the cables on backwards! And of course didn't know it til the boat was launched and then no time to change 'em. We had some good giggles watching him that day; no teasing of course 😉; never told the other guides of course 😜. Ha!
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