In the previous post I mentioned that the weather hadn’t cooperated when some friends came up during the whitefish gillnetting season. Well, one of those friends returned about a month later and brought three additional friends to try again. There was quite a bit of fresh snow along the Gunflint Trail and Poplar Lake was expected to freeze over within the week. We had heard that a group of gillnetters who had just left a day earlier had caught around 60 whitefish. All we would have to do is run up to Saganaga Lake, grab my boat, launch it at the Poplar Lake boat landing, and set the nets on the far side of the lake. By this point in the journey, we had driven up from Duluth with a leaky gas tank for the outboard motor stinking up the car and it was far too cold to crack a window. We were not looking forward to driving much more with all the gasoline fumes but the possibility of catching a good number of whitefish made it seem worth the health hazard and discomfort. When we finally got to the boat, the first problem we encountered was the cable lock securing the boat was frozen. To aggravate us even further, the key broke off inside the lock. We eventually freed the boat by smashing the locking mechanism with the poll of a hatchet. In the future, I will not buy a cheap cable lock ever again and just stick with the tried and true chain with a padlock, although I’m happy I didn’t in this particular instance. We were able to free the boat but not the trailer so we had to strap the boat to the roof rack. When we got down to the road for the boat landing, it hadn’t been plowed and wasn’t going to be. We trudged precariously through the deep snow to the boat landing only to find the bay was completely frozen over. Our last hope was to ask one of the resort owners on the shore of the big, open water basin if we could use their landing. Thankfully, and after we purchased a few beers at his bar, the owner agreed to let us put in the boat. We loaded the gear and headed across the lake to the shallow bay where the whitefish spawn. We set the nets and headed back to the bar for another round before calling it a night. When we returned the next morning, the whole lake had frozen over and there would be no hope of launching the boat to retrieve the net. We searched along the shore for somewhere we could walk in and pull the net from the ice while wearing waders. Luckily, we found the guy who owned a cabin right in front of the spot we had set the net and he let us use his dock to wade in, break the ice out to the net, and pull the net free. Our efforts were rewarded with only two whitefish. We missed the best gillnetting by only a day or two.
I inherited a 1982 Grumman sport boat from my Grandpa who had used it for duck hunting. It had various coats of rattle-can spray paint applied over the years into something resembling camouflage. After a sand-blasting, the aluminum was fairly pitted and probably far from ever having a mirror finish again but I thought it might hold a coat of tractor enamel pretty well. I bought some paint from an Ag supply store (John Deere green and Massey-Ferguson red), some etching primer, reducer, and enamel hardener. I applied two coats of etching primer and let that dry for a few days. Then, after taping off the sections of the boat I wanted different colors, I mixed up the paint, reducer and hardener and applied the mixture with a spray gun. The glossy finish has held up pretty nicely even when the boat scoots along the gravel when coming ashore. I also added a cedar transom and motor mount with new brass hardware. The cedar has proven too soft to hold up to the screw clamps on the motor’s stern bracket so I’ll either have to find some marine grade plywood, rot resistant hardwood, or some sort of plate to fit between the swivel plates and the cedar. Also, the 2-stroke 8hp motor is a little heavy for trailering the boat with the motor mounted. Side note: the boat bears a likeness to the Greenpeace vessel, the Rainbow Warrior, which was blown up in the Aukland, NZ harbor in 1985 under DGSE’s Opération Satanique. It’s only missing the trademark dove and rainbow on the bow. The current leading contenders for this boat’s name are Rainbow Warriorling, Yule Tide, and Walleye Sleigher (the latter two names are playing off the Christmas color scheme in case you didn’t pick up on that).