Our boat holds 59 years of fishing memories, but now it has to go
Our little fishing boat has been in the family for nearly 60 years now, guiding generations of anglers to successful days on the water. But it’s time to trade.
It won’t be a sad occasion, especially given its current condition, but the old MirroCraft will always hold a special place in my fishing memories.
The aluminum boat was purchased new in 1964. It is a 14 footer and in its heyday was aqua in color. The color and decals are long gone.
The boat doesn’t have much freeboard, but it handled three adults fishing in pretty good wind and waves at Sebago Lake, where conditions can go from tolerable to downright scary in the span of 10 minutes.
We never really had another fishing boat. Well, aside from the heavy but super stable three-hull fiberglass rig my dad bought in the 80s. The shitty Chrysler outboard died a few years later and became a lawn ornament before finally being transported as garbage.
While this boat needed to be moored, we just dragged the MirroCraft through the sand, through the rocks and into the water and back again. It was easy and reliable. If I had a dollar for every hour I was in that boat, I could probably buy a replacement boat, engine, and trailer.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been scouring lawns and driveways in the area and scouring social media for a new (for me) fishing boat. It was a frustrating exercise trying to figure out what type or size of boat to get, while considering the age and condition of the watercraft, outboard and trailer.
Ideally I would probably take a fish ‘n’ ski type boat, maybe 17 or 18 feet. That way I could use it for trolling the traditional fishing grounds of Sebago Lake, or hopscotch among the horde of high-octane powerboats that invade the lake during the summer. and maybe pull someone on an inflatable tube.
The more I think about it, however, there is something about the simplicity and maneuverability of a smaller, lighter aluminum boat. It will comfortably fit three anglers and can be towed behind our Subaru Forester.
This way I can even visit a bunch of other lakes and ponds and finally expand my fishing horizons considerably.
In the meantime, I must pay homage to the ’64 MirroCraft.
Honestly, I don’t remember my first boat fishing. No doubt it was with my dad, Bill Warner, and involved either dragging an F-7 Flatfish around the shore targeting small mouths, or maybe anchoring somewhere near Barnard’s Point on a mission yellow perch nocturnal.
We’ve done both of these many times over the years and caught plenty of fish. Perhaps the most memorable anchoring experience came on a balmy summer night in the 70s.
We caught a handful of perch and an eel or two. At one point I hooked a fish and started spinning. All of a sudden, it was as if I had been hooked to the bottom.
I tugged and tugged and tugged and tugged until the fish came to the surface. As I lifted the tip of the rod, my dad quickly maneuvered the net into position – much like a big pike loosened its grip on the tail of a small perch.
The two fish ended up in the net and sparked a celebration worthy of what remains a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The pike weighed over four pounds and earned me a place in the Maine Sportsman’s The One That Didn’t Get Away Club.
I still have a tracing of the fish on a piece of paper on the camp wall which provides some detail and the patch.
Trips in the MirroCraft yielded the first fish ever caught by my sons William and Paul, my wife Annia and my niece Sophie.
I was also something of a fishing guru for a handful of my cousins, including Lissy Savage, a brother-in-law, Tito Mena, and many friends. Former BDN colleague and outdoor columnist John Holyoke and I spent some of the most productive fishing days of our lives in the MirroCraft, walking in the scorching summer sun and occasionally cruising the togues one after the other.
In my youth, when I first got permission to use the boat on my own, I could have gone out in windy conditions and opened the throttle to see how much air I could squeeze out of the waves . It was fun. Not very bright, but fun.
The MirroCraft handled it all and survived those 59 years without any major issues. It’s on at least his third outboard, a mid-’80s 6hp Evinrude that still gets the job done.
My only complaint about the boat is that since it’s not a deep V layout, you can sometimes get your feet wet when a wave crashes over the transom.
Of course, in recent years the rivets have started to loosen and have allowed water to seep into the boat in a few places. Taking the easy way out, I caulked around the area and slowed the leaks to an occasional trickle.
Then, two years ago, the years of dating finally took their toll. A boulder cut a slice through the metal, which had been worn away from decades of grinding on the rocks.
We applied some sealant to the area and stopped the leak, but the writing was on the wall. His days were numbered.
The ’64 MirroCraft has been there my entire fishing life. It almost never let me down (I’ll spare you the stories of trying to battle high winds in a small, underpowered boat while fishing solo).
Without a doubt, my fondest memories in the boat go back to my childhood and adolescence, when I went fishing with my father and my uncle, Ken Warner. These trips usually took place at the beginning of May, when everyone was heading to camp to hook up the water and do some spring cleaning.
The bitter taste of a small sip of Colt 45 and the sweet smell of Burley and Bright “half and half” tobacco wafting from their pipes are as fresh in my mind as any memories I hold dear.
It is possible that a family member wants to continue the disparate repair project and keep the boat afloat and operational. If so, I’ll be happy to contribute and help make it happen.
But, as with everything in life, the time finally comes when it’s over with the old, with the new (or at least the most recent). Soon I hope to start making new memories in another boat, which hopefully will do its job just as well while standing the test of time.