Give your boat a makeover and reap the fishing rewards it brings.
We all have a bit of boat envy in us. For some it is the sight of a
bedazzled bass boat skimming effortlessly across the water. Others pine for the
spacious platform of the latest walleye rig. But, as we tumble back to reality,
and economics, feasibility, and domestic partnerships prevail, we obligatorily
concede our yearnings and make do with whatever helps get our lure wet.
The basic aluminum boat is a mainstay on our lakes. Although sufficient to
do its chosen chore, simple renovations can dramatically transform your "Plain
Jane" into the pride of the waterways.
All Hands On Deck
As hard as it is for me to believe, my 14-foot Springbok Pro 140 will be celebrating
its 24th birthday this season, but it doesn't look a day over 5! And although
it has aged gracefully due to my meticulous regimen of weekly washes and
vigorous vacuuming, the various upgrades and renovations I have done has kept
its condition current and user friendly.
One of the best additions/updates for an aluminum boat is the construction of a
front casting deck. These elevated platforms ease angler movement, viewing of places to cast, and provide room for casting. Building a
deck is quite simple with a little knowledge of basic carpentry, and it is also relatively inexpensive.
Decks should be built at least 8- to 12-inches below the lip of your gunnel. This will ensure adequate balance, safety and
stability. Measurements are crucial, and if a front bench seat is available,
building your deck on top of this ready-made support is suggested.
Use 2-inch x 2-inch pressure-treated wood for framework. Once measured and
cut (see images to give an idea of a standard layout design), all ends should
be dipped in "end cut preservative" to give protection against early rotting.
Use 2-1/4-inch coated deck screws to attach pieces, and if a wooden floor is
standard in your boat, fasten the entire assembly to this structure. For those
with no wooden floor, extra supports should be constructed so the assembly can
sit securely, but unattached on the metal base.
The new deck is constructed of three-fourth-inch plywood.
Although marine plywood can be used, the less expensive standard variety has
lasted 10-plus-years on my boat.
Make accurate measurements of the boat where the deck is to be positioned,
taking into consideration the sloping construction of your bow. A cardboard
template is a useful tool for this step, because a simple miscalculation with
the real deal can be a costly mistake. In order to look and function
its best, the deck should fit snugly up against the existing casing of the boat
and any structures it will abut to. Allow room for the carpet that will be
covering the deck.
Prior to adhering the carpet, holes should be drilled throughout the deck to
correspond to the top members of the frame. The number of holes is contingent
on the size of deck, but fastening it securely is a priority.
Depending on the layout of your boat, under deck storage can be created by
utilizing the design of your footings. I was also able to incorporate an
enclosed storage compartment by adding a hinge system to an already fixed front
Choose a good-quality marine carpet to finish off your
deck project. Those that are UV (ultraviolet), stain and
water-resistant get the nod. A rubber or plastic-backed style will also
hold up to wear greater, and provide waterproofing capability. Carpet
can be purchased from marine or boat supply stores or on the Internet (including here at sportsmansguide.com), and is often sold in a
standard width and priced by the foot.
Color is a personal choice. My Springbok came standard with a carpeted
floor, so I chose to color-match to keep the entire deck and floor uniform the same color.
Allow a 4- to 6-inch overlap when covering the deck with carpet. Adhere
carpet with marine carpet glue and use a staple gun to affix edges on back.
Once compthe lete, use 2-inch coated deck screws to attach the deck to frame.
Installing a bow-mount trolling motor is a logical
step once your deck is complete. Designed to be controlled by foot or hand,
these positioning motors allow an angler complete control of fishing situations
-- all in a quiet and efficient package.
Obviously, the boat must have a bow-mount platform for the trolling motor, and many boats come standard with it. However, if yours does not, attaching a thick plywood base to the top of the bow point is easy. Ensure that it is sturdy, large enough for the
style of motor mount you choose, and is physically possible.
The type of foot-controlled, bow-mount motor you choose is dictated by the size of
your boat and deck space you have available. Cable-driven models take up far
greater space -- both in the size of mount and bulkiness of cable/foot pedal.
For smaller boats (especially those in the 14-foot range) the more compact
power drive version gets the nod.
For a fine assortment of Boat Accessories, including marine carpeting, carpet adhesive, and bow mount electric trolling motors, click here.