What do you look for in a fishing boat? There are so many different designs these days it can make for a tricky decision.
I started in a 16-foot Lund. Then came 17-, 18- and 20-footers, all Lunds, and all with tiller steering. Tiller steering is where you control the motor from the stern by holding a handle connected to the motor.
Two years ago, after selling my 20-foot Lund Alaskan, I moved into my first console, or wheel, boat. It was a Triton DV206, a 20-foot-6 inch aluminum boat. It worked quite well and was a dryer ride than my Alaskan. I wasn't sure if I would like the steering wheel, but with an electric motor on the transom it didn't matter because that's where I spent most of my time anyway.
Many walleye fishermen prefer tiller boats because it's easier to stay on structure and keep your baits where they need to be. There were times when it was so windy I wished I had a tiller so I could stay on fish a little easier. But when it got that windy I used the big motor and backtrolled with the wheel in hand. That works, but not quite as well as when your hands are on the tiller.
Overall, I liked my first wheel boat and so did my clients. It was nice not getting wet when it was time to head to the next spot.
Last year I ran another wheel boat; a Triton 215X with a 250-hp Mercury Verado 4-stroke. It's Triton's top-of-the-line walleye boat and it's one smooth machine. The main difference between the DV206 and the 215X is that the latter is fiberglass and the engine had 100 more horses. It was a nice boat and my clients (most of them) liked it. Fiberglass boats ride much smoother than aluminum boats. I'd heard that for years from other fishermen.
This year I'm going with another fiberglass boat, but this one is a little outside the box from the stereotypical walleye boat. It's a Boston Whaler, known as "the unsinkable legend." I've seen them for years and thought the same thing most people around here think - ocean boat.
So why are Boston Whalers so popular in the south but not up here?
Probably because we're so accustomed to Deep-V fishing boats. That's what everyone who's anyone in the walleye fishing world has ever had. But like I said in last week's column, if you know how to fish and control a boat you should be able to make any boat work. I adapted to a wheel from a tiller, so I should be able to adapt from a side-console wheel to a center-console wheel.
My new 20-foot, 6-inch Boston Whaler Dauntless has some features that will come in handy. It needs just 12 inches of water to float. If we don't get some rain around here that will come in handy when water at the ramps gets low. The Dauntless is a big-water boat that can handle the ocean, so I'm not worried if it will handle Whitefish or Mille Lacs. There's lots of room, a livewell and baitwell, a potty and a T-top, which will be perfect for when people want to get out of the weather. It will have a 175-hp Mercury Verado 4-stroke engine, so it will have serious get up and go. And it will be quiet, so we can sneak up on carp in the shallows. I can picture myself on the T-top, shooting carp with my bow and arrows.
The Dauntless has plenty of seating and I'll mount Wave Wackers on the stern and place a bowmount electric trolling motor up front. I'll mount a Lowrance graph and underwater camera somewhere. Marine band radio? Maybe. Stereo? Maybe.
What else does a fisherman need?
WALLEYEDAN Eigen can be reached at (218) 839-5598, email@example.com or www.walleyedan.com
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.