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  • Tuesday, June 29, 2010

    A Good Tool

    Nurtured By Rivermen
    cherished by guides
    ignored by sports

    (click on all images for high resolution views.)
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    .. One of our neighbors just got a new drift boat. It's a significant event in the life of a professional guide. [And cause for a bit of chatter in the pubs of the neighborhood.]
    .. He spends more than 200 days per year on the water. Over the past 11 years, (with the old boat;) that translates into about 2,200 days rowing. OR: 4,400 times on & off the trailer. OR: . . . etc. and that's a bunch of whatever!
    .. The old boat, a good friend and tool, had withstood rivers throughout the West. It endured and excelled.
    .. From the gnarly boulders of the Box Canyon on the Henry's Fork of the Snake River, to the soft pillows & swells, low bridges, and tricky currents of the Madison River, to the big and not so gentle tail-water of the Green River; the old boat had endured.
    .. It was time! Time for a new office. Time for a new tool. Time for a new friend.
    .. These drift boats have a long and storied history, (dating back to the sea dories and McKenzie & Rogue River Boats -- with some attendant controversy as to origin as well.) They are a very good tool for getting fishers to the fish on big water.
    .. Drift boats have to perform a myriad of tasks - and they must be rugged, nimble, and riverworthy. They become friends. The good ones become good friends.
    .. Whether wood, aluminum, or fiberglass, they must do their job and get out of the way of the fisher. They should become a part of the background as the fisher stalks her prey.
    .. Attention to design and detail allow the good boat to augment the task of fishing. The guide will get you there - a good boat will disappear in the process.
    .. When booking a guide, few fishers ask "what boat do you have?" They assume, (rightly so,) that the guide has made the correct choice.
    .. A secure platform for casting and fighting, a svelte shape for maneuvering, a stable ride from hide to hold, and river-worthy for all possible weather and river conditions: these are assumed and taken for granted.
    .. Outfitting a boat is a very personal endeavor. Details like secure/readily-accessible/convenient storage for the guide and guest are assumed by the visitor; but planned by the host.
    .. Positioning and adjusting of oar locks and chair must fit the captain and the situation. Casting pulpits, passenger chairs, and rod storage need be attended to.
    .. Boat designers and builders take care of some of these details, your guide will polish and refine them for their particular waters and customer's needs.
    .. Details like padded rod holders for safe and secure storage of priceless sticks are a nice touch.
    .. Sure grip carpet and flooring is often added so there are no slippery surprises.
    .. There is very little frosting on these substantial and sturdy tools. Not much is needed.
    .. A day on the river is not a pleasure cruise. It will, however, be comfortable, rewarding, and enjoyable if the details are taken care of. That's the job of your guide.
    .. Next time out, notice; and enjoy, the convenience of a well detailed and outfitted boat. Ask about the boat, notice the particulars, and -- by the way, "STAY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BOAT."
    .. The drift boat is an American original. Over 75 years of intense innovation, customization, and refinement is built into these nimble craft.
    .. They are variable in their details and execution. They are "fit" to the waters that they ply. They reflect the personality of their rivers and captains.
    .. Most folks can appreciate the beauty in both the form and function of these boats, (if they bother to notice at all.)
    .. And, the more beautiful the boat, the less it is noticed. Like all good tools, they work, and work well.
    .. Appropriate construction detail can make the difference between a 'drift boat' and a 'professionals office.'
    .. The latter will accommodate a wide and varied series of situations and make the client comfortable with the river and the fishing.
    .. On the trailer, off the trailer, bump the rocks, run the riffles, gallop the rapids, hold position, beach to fight a monster, --- this side, that side, slow for a difficult cast, steer to hides for client casting ability, --- into the wind, with the wind, -- driftwood, drifting logs, floating trees, sweepers, and a thousand other things happen in a day. The construction must be able to withstand it all.
    .. We get in a drift boat three or four times per season. We prefer the hidden places of dinky streams and twinkling fish.
    .. We have, though, been spoiled when we do visit the big waters. We ride with the neighbors.
    .. The neighbors boats are all different. They are all perfect. They disappear about the time we leave shore and only reappear when it's time for lunch or a bit of refreshment.
    .. Our neighborhood is a "tough market." Our rivers draw fishers of all skill levels and from all corners of the globe. Our guides can't afford the luxury of not being prepared. They can't afford a boat that is just adequate. They have fish to catch, rivers to run, and clients to please. Yes, we've been spoiled: we love it.

    .. The guide boats that fish our neighborhood waters are exemplary. From the South Fork of the Snake River, to the Henry's Fork, to the Madison River, Gallatin River, Yellowstone River, and beyond; you'll be able to tell a professionals boat - you just won't know it's there.