Chattanooga Fishing Report

Friday, August 16, 2013 - by Ted Wells
- photo by Ted Wells
The boat has had modifications every day since we last had a chat.  The transom wanted to be stronger, the boat wanted another seat, the trailer wanted the I-Bolt to be on the underside of the boat, and the battery needed a strap to keep it from sliding around and probably detonating.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency sent an officer to put the official "Hull Identification Number" on my boat.  I wondered why they wanted to come over, but didn't want to appear ignorant, so I didn't ask.
  The officer came to my house to do it, which surprised me.  He was a great guy, and I won't put his name here because I didn't ask.  He put one metallic sticker on the starboard transom, and then asked me to go somewhere else while he mounted the other one in a confidential location.  Apparently if it gets stolen, only he and the computer know where the other one is.  He was very helpful in many ways, offering a little advice on how to adjust the trailer to fit this weirdly shaped boat.  He gets to drive around with an M-16.  How fun.  Mine is the first hand-built boat he had dealt with.
The next morning I went to the Courthouse to attempt to register the boat.  I caused a bit of a sensation in the County Clerk's office when I told them I was the manufacturer of the boat.  Mine is the first hand-built boat they had dealt with.  They asked if I had receipts documenting I had paid sales tax on the material I used to build the boat, and I had them all with me.  They took a quick look and stamped my application "Tax Paid," encouraging me to keep them in case the Tennessee Department of Revenue wants to look later.  My total cost of material was less than $400.  They gave me a 30-day registration, and instructions to mail the original application to Nashville quickly as they are behind this time of year.  Something tells me mine will come soon...
I have been running out of things to do on the boat, because it is about ready.  Yesterday I put the I-Bolt on the underside of the boat and lowered the winch so the trailer held the boat down on it securely.  That meant I had to glass the area around the I-Bolt to make it waterproof, as well as to strengthen the area on which it was mounted by adding a layer of 3/8" marine plywood and glassing that all in as well.  I also added one more coat of white Gel-coat.  I noticed the battery kind of got slung around even when driving around the driveway, so I cut two slits in the bulkhead next to it and strapped it in with a tie-down strap for now.  I glassed in a button to attach the navigation lights (it will be a little while before I get my confidence up on this boat for night fishing).  It will never come off.  Never.  I did add the seat, which seemed to make sense.  That was easy.  I finally took the time to charge the battery, and the end result was "100," which I hope means 100%.  I anticipate this thing will just fly down the river with the trolling motor.  I did also strengthen the aft transom with a piece of 3/4" plywood on top of a piece of 3/8" marine plywood (glassed in), which I attached with stainless steel screws.  I probably should have used polyurethane glue or epoxy, but I have come to believe that I could build the entire boat with just fiberglass and no glue or screws.  I didn't want to waste a whole tube of PU glue.  A big thanks to the guys at Kick Shaw, and Randy Devine, who taught me what I know about the wonders of fiberglass.

This is the night before, and tomorrow is the day I take her out fishing for the first time under power and with real bait.  This is like Christmas when you were five.  I may not sleep, but that boat will be ready in the morning!  My plan is to wear out the battery to see how many hours it will really do.  I also intend to fish.  The kind of quiet, peaceful fishing I approve of: catfishing.  Read something (hopefully better than the local newspaper) have some cheese curls, and turn down the radio.
This morning finally came, and of course with it our squirrelly weather.  Just fine with me.  Means less people on the river.  I got the boat hooked up and out of the garage, unusually remembering to get the bait out of the freezer.  I stopped at Odells and got a fried boloney sandwich and then stopped at Sullivan's and bought a little bit bigger cooler and a poncho in case the rain didn't stop.  Be careful if you go there.  The Datsun with the flat tires has yellow jacket nests all throughout, and I am one of those people who has to carry an injection with me for bee stings.  I had two, and already used one of them this month.
It rained a little, but really it was beautiful out there, and amazingly cool for August.  I was mostly testing the electric motor and pretty much ran it hard for every bit of three of the five hours I was out on the water.  The charge level when I got home showed 75%!  I am pleased.  That means no matter what I do I will not likely run out of power.  The boat liked the 5-speed trolling motor, especially speed 4.  I don't know why, but in speed 5, it seemed to strain, so I kept it in 4.  I did fish, but did not catch anything, and that is fine.  I was not in my special place.  I saw 2 cruisers, one with manners and one without, and two kayakers the whole day.  If you look at the picture, you will note there is only the cruiser in the distance.  Otherwise at this spot you can turn around 360 degrees and see nothing man made at all.  I missed this much in the ten long years with no boat.  They call this the river canyon gorge, and when I first came here long ago I just couldn't believe what I saw.  My first reaction was to try and buy part of it.  That is not going to happen, and maybe that is the way it should be.  Some things should not be sold.
Until Sunday, when I intend to go all the way up to my fishing spot, and intend to catch fish this time.  Until then,
Tight Lines.
- Photo2 by Ted Wells

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