A stained, smelly boat is the sign of a seasoned angler, right? Not so fast

Roger George says his perspective on keeping a fishing boat clean has changed over the years.
Roger George says his perspective on keeping a fishing boat clean has changed over the years. Fresno Bee file

I work pretty hard to keep my boat clean and shiny, but it wasn’t like that in my early days. All I was concerned about then was if the fish were biting and the boat floated.

Roger George is The Bee’s fishing expert and guides in the Central San Joaquin Valley. JOHN WALKER THE FRESNO BEE

My early boats were small aluminums. My anchor was a heavy tractor gear tied to 20 feet of frayed and rotting old nylon rope. My rusting metal stringer was tied to the oarlocks. My ancient seat throws had mold all over them and the plastic covering was shredded and hanging – but it beat sitting on the hard wood seats. I had even used bubblegum to seal a few leaks in the rear of the boat. At the end of a trip I would lean the boat up against the shop to dry out and it was ready for the next adventure.

We didn’t have all the many consumer choices and options you have today and we had to make do with what we knew worked and had on hand. Still, there was a threshold: It had to pass the smell test. Old gas cans, rubber worms, oil, bait buckets, dried fish guts and mold from sitting in the warm ranch garage for months on end could really stew up an awful smell.

Back then, I felt that if you had a dirty boat (that worked!) it was a “badge of honor” and meant that you were a serious fisherman. If I saw a guy at the dock meticulously cleaning his boat, I was sure he wasn’t a very good angler. Why would anyone get sidetracked spending their valuable fishing time cleaning their boat? It seemed to me they were more concerned about how things looked than fishing.

Now, I’m making sure I have enough time to clean off my boat. Did I get all the scum and algae off the sides? Do I have enough spray cleaner and microfiber cloths?

What changed?

Well, after spending thousands of dollars on repairs and replacement costs, as well as trying to remove the dried-on scum lines and water spots, I decided that it made sense to start doing the cleaning thing. I find that the fish blood spots, “Bloody Tuna” Smelly Jelly smells and dropped food that’s smeared into the carpet and floor are at best “pains.”

Yeah, I finally saw the light. These days, I bet I spend up to four hours a week just cleaning and getting the boat ready. But there is still a part of me that wants to jettison worrying about the boat every time it hits the water.

Just a couple decades ago I know my younger self would have felt sorry for me if he saw how I am today! I have met the enemy, and he is me. Later … I gotta go clean!

Never give up!

Roger George is The Bee’s fishing expert. He can be reached at rogergeorge8000@sbcglobal.net,

at facebook.com/Rogergeorgeguideservice and @StriperWars on Twitter.