It’s not one of my best traits, but I’m very good at wrecking outboard motor props. The exact moment this dawned on me isn’t clear, but it certainly began to happen around the time larger motors came into my life.
My first real fishing craft was a 17-foot canoe with a 4.5 hp. outboard motor. This set-up went up and down the Nipigon and Albany Rivers with nary a scratch on the prop. In fact, I can barely remember hitting anything in the Albany despite running rapids that were downright scary. No props were bent.
However, my very first Lund Pro V was the first recipient of my talents. My buddy James Smedley and I were taking part in the Sioux Narrows Bassin’ for Bucks tournament in 2001. We were on a bay on Lake of the Woods fishing largemouth when a nasty lightning storm rolled in.
There was a small bridge under a creek so Smedley and I decided to duck under it and wait out the bolts. I trimmed up the motor and got up the creek cleanly. We sat for awhile under the bridge in the 18-foot boat but a big wind started to blow us out.
Bent like a banana
I decided to trim down the motor to hold us in place. Horrible idea. One prop blade bent like a banana. The bent blade made the motor vibrate horribly. The next hour was spent removing the prop and banging the blade with whatever we could find. We got it back somewhat to where it should be but that prop was never the same and had to be replaced.
In Dryden a couple of years later, my family and I were staying at Bonny Bay Camp and enjoying a fishing vacation.
We decided to try for walleye in a back lake off Wabigoon that required a long creek trip to access. I’d been told to “watch for the rock” near the lake mouth. Everything went without a hitch until the lake came into view. I trimmed up the motor and looked for rocks.
Despite my best effort, I could see no boulder to hit. “Must have already passed it,” said I. The motor slowly lowered and the throttle engaged. Whack. The rock appeared. That prop lost a whole blade. We limped back to the lodge at a very slow pace.
Itching to get out
The all time worst one was the day before one of the very first Shebandowan Smallmouth Showdown tournaments near Thunder Bay. My tournament boat had arrived and I was itching to get it out for a spin before the actual event.
My son Devin, buddy Gene Balec, and I put it in at the harbour at Thunder Bay’s waterfront. Everything was running fine, but the draw of checking out the mouth of the Current River was too much. I decided to do a slow drive in towards it and suddenly was on a reef.
My brand new stainless steel prop ground into the rocks with a sickening sound. I could barely stand to look, and when I trimmed up the motor it was worse than imagined. Once again, we limped back to the dock and loaded up the boat. The replacement prop was a cool $900.
This past spring, a brand new prop was placed on my workhorse 50 hp. outboard. I’d managed a few dings on the old one and thought it best to start fresh this summer.
The Sunday after, while helping to land a lake trout in the Nipigon River, my knee hit the kill switch at the top of the rapids. By the time the motor was fired up, we were into the rocks.
You guessed it. My brand new prop was totaled.
And so it goes.