Improving on Perfection, or How a Trolling Motor Changed My Life

9 07 2014

My son, John, and I took up salt water fly fishing five years ago. We started with 6 months of casting lessons from an 80+ year old retired Command Sergeant-Major, Green Beret with the patience of Job. Sarge taught us a variety of casts for normal conditions, windy conditions, around docks, etc.

About the same time, John bought a boat. Actually, it was an old and tired 14’ Sears Gamefisher with a 25 hp Mercury tiller motor. After gutting the boat entirely, he fabricated and installed resin infused stringers and ribs, put down a solid deck, mounted a bench seat, a center console and a fishing platform in the bow. He created a jack plate out of an 8” aluminum I-beam and mounted a Honda 40 hp, 4-stroke motor with cable steering from the center console. John affectionately named her “Greeny” after her white deck over green hull custom paint job. A stern mount, tiller trolling motor with 30 lbs. of thrust helped us navigate skinny water, and a Stick-It Anchor Pin held us in place when we stopped.

For the next four years, Greeny reliably delivered us to myriad fishing spots in the Indian River Lagoon from Vero Beach, FL south to the Saint Lucie Inlet in Stuart. We fished the Loxahatchee River, the Saint Lucie River (North and South), Bessy and Taylor Creeks, and occasionally ventured out to Lake Okeechobee.

When John found an immaculate, 19’ Hewes Redfisher with a 150 hp. Johnson motor, he decided it was time to move up. After bringing her home, John’s first addition was a Minn Kota Riptide ST bow-mount trolling motor with 80 lbs. of thrust and i-Pilot® GPS Remote.

Although we have only had two chances to fish with the new gear, the differences are so stark and obvious that it’s really easy to draw a comparison. While I expected the move up to a longer, wider, faster, purpose-built platform would be the biggest difference, in reality the trolling motor is far and away the most amazing, most significant improvement.

First and foremost, I no longer have to feel the pain of John’s almost constant frustration as he tried to put me in position for the “perfect cast.” I don’t have to hear him getting up and down over and over in order to adjust the trolling motor speed or direction. All of that can be accomplished with the remote.

When the ads say that you can, “Lock onto a fishing spot – and stay there,” they don’t give full disclosure to the importance of that feature. One of our favorite spots to fish is under the Roosevelt Bridge in Stuart. The spot is not 50’ from the popular, highly trafficked channel used by boaters on their way to the inlet.

The wave action caused by passing boats was rhythmic and almost hypnotic in Greeny until the anchor line was drawn taught and there was a sudden “snap” as Greeny suddenly changed direction. That direction change couldn’t be anticipated and made standing in the bow a real challenge. The i-Pilot® takes the frustration out of that challenge, as the boat is allowed to ride up and down unimpeded. Once the disturbed water has passed, i-Pilot® simply returns the boat to its former position.

Fishing with John is my favorite pastime. The Minn Kota Riptide ST 80 with i-Pilot® has completely eliminated the least enjoyable part of that experience. Just imagine how much fun we’re having now!

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