Hank Shelley

Column: Weighing good ol’ belly boats against pontoons

“Hey, Harry, will you pick me up at the end of that ugly marsh at the far end of this ruddy lake? That damn wind picked up just as I was netting a two-pound rainbow!”

The still waters of Nellie lake at about 33 kilometres on the Seymour Arm logging road shone a deep green against the dense Hemlock nudging the shoreline.

Sliding my 12-ft. aluminum boat down to the lake, I noticed two belly boaters drifting silently along.

Belly boats seemed to catch on for many fly anglers in the mid 1980s. Basically they are an inflatable bladder, or float tube.

The angler dons a dry suit with large flippers, and most have pockets for holding a landing net, fly boxes, etc.

Some newer models have support for the neck, and more attachments for tackle/lunch/fly boxes.

Quite an advancement over the original ol’ float tube. Like a lot of outdoor gear and equipment, bigger always seems better, and so pontoon boats became popular for older anglers that feel the cold after a couple hours angling.

They are faster as you can row and you sit higher for longer casts. You can purchase one that has a pocket behind and below the seat for your battery and electric motor mount.

Another advantage is when deflated they can be tucked into the trunk of a vehicle.

A distinct disadvantage is the wind factor. In mounting the frame on the pontoons on larger boats, one has to move them back as far as possible for balancing the craft as they tend to pitch forward.

There are three things important when enjoying pontoon fly fishing: a long handled net, good rod holders and hook set innovations.

The more expensive boats have two layers of fabric and most boats come with aluminum frames for lightness. Some pontoon boats come with a built-in anchor system.

One must remember that you’re on the water in an inflatable craft, so wear a personal flotation device, and rehearse what you would do if in fact you had a leak and were sinking. Passionate about their outdoor activity, many anglers are leaving the old outboard at home in exchange for pontoons and the more relaxed form of angling and the beauty nature provides, while out on the water.

Archery: It was a buzz of activity again, at the Fish and Game grounds, on May 27 and 28, as the archery division hosted the annual 3-D archery event. Reilly Alcock was overall winner in the men’s open, while Lama Christy, 12, topped all in the youth category.

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