Remembering Boats and Motors
Now you may have picked up on the fact that I like fishing, which means I’ve also been around boats and motors for a while…… I began my fishing “career” on Lake Bemidji, in the late 1940’s…actually I was still in (cloth) diapers at the time…but it was in the mid-50’s I began learning how to operate outboard motors. And the to journey to Minnesota, WOW, we left Dyer, Indiana at 2 AM to arrive at the Blue Ox Resort after midnight. Two lane roads, sandwiches packed in pick-nick baskets, bathroom stops were outhouses at roadside stops. “ARE WE THERE YET?”
We fished out of the Blue Ox Resort, (sadly, no longer in existence). The owner, Johnny, had a “fleet” (six) Core-Craft boats made right there in Bemidji. Cedar, lap-sided boats. We could rent a motor from Johnny, (whose rental fees would pay for a new motor every two weeks) or bring our own. My father purchased a 5 hp, Sea King, it was brown and silver. In those days outboard motors were started by pulling a rope….this would probably have been a “second generation” motor, because the rope was connected to a recoil, which pulled it back ~ unlike the 1st generation motors where you pulled on a free rope and any passengers in the front were likely to be “whipped” with the knotted end!!!
On the “face” of the motor, there was a throttle-a lever that moved from left to right, a knob that turned clockwise from “lean to prime” which adjusted the richness of the fuel…….and oh, yes, there was only ONE gear, —– forward……. Particular care needed to be taken when starting the motor, with the throttle speed, for once started, you went forward…..there was a reverse mode–sort of–the motor shaft was long enough to “clear” the bottom of the boat, you could rotate the motor 180 degrees, hence reverse. I can still see my parents, grandparents and 5 year old me, motoring across Lake Bemidji being pushed by the 5 hp Sea King..oooh, what I REALLY remember, is that fishing trips required planning….no potty stops once you were out there!!!!
Fishing equipment was different then also….none of this sonar, underwater TV, water temp gauges, spinning reels and graphite rods, star drags, and anti-reverse mechanisims…….no sir, if you wanted to fish a certain depth, you put the anchor out…you determined how much rope you had, how much slack if any and that was your depth…. You determined the bottom by “sensing” the feel on the rope, if the anchor hits rocks….or if you brought up mud/weeds/sand on it… Our fishing reels used cloth/cotton line, black, on a steel rod. The reels were a 1:1 direct drive….and the drag was your THUMB putting pressure on the line!!! Casting these direct drive reels was a challenge…..back lash city, KEEP your hand away from the handle…it spun wildly as the lure flew through the air….
Yes, those were days….good old days?? I don’t know if it was so good, different yes, it was more of a “hunt” for the fish, less scientific….I believe fish had more of a chance…….. 🙂
But no matter what, it’s just as true today as then:
“Fishing”—the art of casting, trolling, jigging or spinning, while freezing, sweating, swatting or swearing….