Vince Cacciotolli sends his appreciation for the Whitehall Spirit 17’s trolling capabilities. Located in Northern Oregon, Vince is an avid fisherman who believed he saw the best boat for his needs and is enjoying finding out how right he was.
How’s the fishing you ask? (I thought you’d never ask.) How about a 25 lb, 46” Tiger Muskie? I told you that hull was going to “suck’em up off the bottom.” Truly an awesome beast. And the first muskie I’ve ever caught. And only about an hour and a half from my home. Unfortunatly, no pictures. If you need to see what a Tiger Muskie looks like, click on DNR State
(that’s about the size of the one I caught).
Catching this fish taught me two things about the 17’ Spirit:
1. It really tracks well at trolling speeds which is important for following the depth contours when you’re structure trolling. I’m no marine architect, but I think that deep keel at that stern and the extra length at the waterline give it a lot of directional stability (I’m guessing more than the Tyee); and
2. The low freeboard and good secondary stability make it easy to lean over the gunwales (even in a good chop) to unhook, revive and release the fish. (I do catch and release, so I don’t bring the fish into the boat to minimize the trauma and injury to fish from being out of the water and banging around on the floorboards.)
It took a while to get it in. They don’t call them premier North American freshwater gamefish for nothing. I was fast trolling and initially thought I had hung up. The rod just went down and stayed down and line was peeling off. I was wondering how I managed to snag a tree in 102’ of water. Then the “tree” started moving and the rod started bucking. At first, the fish fought deep and felt similar to a Chinook. When I got it near the boat, however, that’s when it really got mad. It behaved less like a salmon and more like an alligator, wildly thrashing on the surface and rolling over and over. Then it did its impression of a freshwater tarpon, taking a run that ended in it going vertical, completely out of the water and falling back tail first. Quite a show.
I released it successfully, but it did leave me a souvenir; a good-sized tooth embedded in the lure.
As for how they taste, I’ve heard they’re quite tasty, somewhat similar to walleye. I’ve never eaten one and probably never will, however. Most muskie fisherman practice catch and release. These fish are just too precious a resource to use only once.
Before I forget, you can add this to the list of reasons the Spirit’s hull is “fishing friendly:” It motors well in reverse. That tapered shape almost makes it a “double ender,” so it’s easy to control going astern. This lets you back troll accurately when you want to follow a contour line. My Minn Kota has a back troll feature that pivots the power head 180 degrees while the tiller stays pointing forward in its normal position. This makes it very easy to put the boat precisely where you want it to be and an important feature when you’re trolling $20.+ muskie lures around downed trees when the inevitable happens. You can back down over your hung up lure (and stay there) while you work to get it free. Haven’t lost one yet!
I realize I’m probably spouting heresy here – talking about how well your rowboats handle under motor – so I sign off now before you burn me at the stake.