We pulled up to the local lake and tossed her in. Ah yes, low and behold it had a slow leak. It wasn’t the perfect Craigslist boat without one!
Ever since I was young the idea of having a small tin boat always fascinated me. I always wanted to have one of those small Jon boats used for putting around on my local lakes. In my younger age I guess it was the idea of owning a boat that thrilled me. Even though this boat I wanted was the size of a large bathtub. That dream was never fulfilled. I got into other types of fishing and did most of my casting from shorebound locations.
More recently when I got back into the freshwater fishing that Long Island offers I started my search again for that little tin gem. Boy, I didn’t realize how hard they were to come by. Either these little boats would sell within minutes of the posting on the local marketplaces or the seller would want an astronomical price for these leaky pieces of tin. It’s like they thought they were made of gold. Now that’s not the meaning behind the title of this article either. That’s geared more towards how useful and convenient these little boats can be.
So again my search continued. Recently getting back into sweetwater fueled my search for this boat. Now everyone has their idea of the perfect tin boat, but for me this was something small enough that I could slide into the bed of my truck and pickup myself. This gives me the option to fish by myself if I want without having to trailer something. Yes, I’m limited with what or who I can bring with me but it suits my run and gun fishing lifestyle. It almost became a daily routine to me.
At some point every day I would type in small boat or tin boat in the search column and see what popped up. My search was always met with overpriced boats, boats that were way too far away or something that just wasn’t what I was looking for. At one point I thought I found my boat and made plans to go pick it up just to have the person say “you know I’m 5 hours away from you” not realizing a town upstate had the same name as a local town by me. One day unexpectedly while doing my daily scroll my eyes saw something that could be it. A 10-foot flat bottom Jon boat with a small electric motor for $200 within 10 minutes of my house. The only downside was the ugly camo that it was painted although that grew on me eventually. So of course I called the gentleman and asked if it was for sale still and he confirmed that it was. I let him know I’d be over in 30 minutes.
When I pulled up the boat was already out on the lawn with the motor attached and ready to get tested. The old Minn Kota still worked well. Everything checked out and I counted out $200 in twenties. He even gave me a title for it. Wow could it get any better! The boat was extremely light. I was able to handle it myself although I brought my pop with me just in case. Immediately I wanted to put it in water because these old tin boats are notoriously known for having pinhole leaks. We pulled up to the local lake and tossed her in. Ah yes, low and behold it had a slow leak, it wasn’t the perfect Craigslist boat without one! Easy fix, nothing a little 5200 couldn’t take care of.
Took the boat home and cleaned it up. I kept the camo for whoever knows why. Camo on boats never sat well with me but the decision was made to keep it on this one. The leak spot was roughed up and the 5200 was applied. After letting it dry overnight it was ready for the second sea trial. Once again I slid the boat in and this time leaks no leaks. The caulk job wasn’t pretty but it was successful. I put my weight in the boat and it still held. Time to put some fish in the boat.
Ready To Roll
Even though the ancient Minn Kota worked I still upgraded to a 45-pound thrust, newer version. The motor is much more efficient and pushes the boat a lot better. Two batteries also so that I could extend my time on the water. The addition of a bolt down removable bucket seat made my time on the boat a lot better. I remember the days when I would sit on the hard metal seats wishing I had a comfy seat. If you do purchase one of these boats definitely invest in a nice seat for it. They make a world of difference. My boat is mainly bare bones besides these things. The lakes I fish are shallow enough where I don’t have to add anything fancy.
My total list of equipment includes…
- Motor (45-pound thrust Minn Kota)
- Batteries x 2
- Removable Seat
- Life jacket
Of course you can add more like a fancy fishfinder/GPS but for what I do with this tin boat I haven’t desperately needed it yet. Adding carpet to these boats makes them a little more comfy too. That outdoor green carpet you can buy at the hardware store is cheap and easy enough to put in. Plus it improves the looks of bare tin and makes it less of an ice box in cold water.
Easy Does It
Now of course I bought this boat to fish by myself but sometimes that turns into bringing along a passenger. On a boat that’s only 10 feet this can be quite interesting. My main fishing buddy luckily isn’t a big person so it can be done pretty easily. My father on the other hand is 6-feet, 5 inches and of course he likes to fish too. Well this is where things get interesting. Of course I brought him out because how could I say no to my pop when he asks me to go. I had to carefully place him in the boat and instructed him not to make any sudden movement unless told to do so. It was one of those trips were we had to give each other a heads up before moving any which way. Yes, not ideal at all. I don’t recommend using a small boat this way. It can get very sketchy very quickly. We did catch fish on all of our trips and nobody went for a swim so I’d say it was somewhat of a success. This does bring up the important point to always bring a life jacket and if the water is cold it should always be worn at all times. You never know what will happen on the water. Being prepared is very important.
One of the reasons I did buy the tin boat was to make my fishing efforts all year more successful. Some of the locations I fish are pretty slow in the winter unless you have a small boat to reach better water. This small boat gives me the ability to reach those spots easily without much extra effort. I can make it to deeper portions of lakes and I can travel up creeks and rivers to find fish. The amount of water I can cover now has expanded tenfold. Covering more water usually equals more fish. At least most of the time. I have had instances where fishing a small area of water has been much more productive for me. You can do these things in the summer too but usually I’m after other species during this time of the year so the boat gets a little rest.
I’m a year-round angler. Having this boat helps me excel as one. For the small investment it was well worth it. With a little bit of work (a tube of 5200) she’s a lake/river worthy vessel. If you’re in search of your own little tin boat, I suggest you take the same path I did. Of course you can just lay out the dough and buy something brand new but what’s the fun in that. I think part of the excitement for me was looking for the perfect little boat with enough potential to fulfill my fishing needs. Plus I saved a bunch of money in the process that went towards buying other fishing rods, reels, etc.