In between boats

For the last few weeks I've been in between boats, and it's occurred to me that one of the most important decisions you can make is what boat you buy and where you buy it from. I mean, let's face it: A boat is a critical piece of equipment regardless of whether you're a pro or a weekend warrior.

My boats are Rangers. I purchase them through Dixie Marine in Fairfield, Ohio, between Columbus and Cincinnati. I couldn't be happier. Until I get my new one I've been fishing out of the owner's boat. He's one heck of a guy and his boat is beyond belief. I can't wait to get mine.

There is one drawback, however. You know I'm a little whacky — OK, a lot whacky — about taking care of things and keeping them in perfect condition. Knowing how I am about my stuff, you can only imagine what I'm like with someone else's stuff. It's been a chore, even for me. When I come in at the end of the day I have to load the rails with bumpers, drape cloths over everything and stay far away from the other boats. Then, once the rig is out of the water, I have to wipe it down before I wash it properly.

Nevertheless, it's been a thrill to be treated the way I have been and a privilege to fish out of a boat like this. I'll tell you straight out that you should give a lot of thought to what boat you buy and where you buy it. Make the wrong choice and you could end up in a mess; make the right choice and you'll end up like me — a happy man.

Now that that's off my chest it's time to take a close look at the Open next week on the Detroit River. Stand by is all I have to say about it. It's likely to be wild. There's no telling what'll happen. Over the past few weeks it's taken well over 20 pounds to win a one-day event. I know of a Friday night tournament — three hours — in which it took 24 pounds to win, and 20 pounds didn't make a check.

Can you imagine what next week's fishing will look like? The only thing I see that could mess things up is the wind. It's easy to make a 60-mile run to big fish when the seas are calm. That's another matter, however, when the wind is blowing 20 knots. It can't be done. If the wind blows we'll all learn the importance of having a second and third spot and pattern. There's more to say about the Detroit River, but for now I have to go. I need to get my borrowed boat washed and polished and then get my tackle ready for tomorrow. I'm fishing the PAA tournament on Lake Norman.