John Holbrook

My wife, Mary, and I live in the oldest home located on Lake Hubert, which is nearly a 1,300 acre lake north of Brainerd. We acquired this property over 20 years ago. That home ownership also included a beat up 14-foot aluminum fishing boat most likely built in the early ‘60s.

Given the boat’s condition after acquiring this floating “antique,” I vowed to replace it as soon as possible. However, other additions came first because the needs of our many summer visitors took priority. Thus, in just a few years, we had acquired two kayaks, a canoe, a 12’ row boat, a pontoon boat, and a paddleboard. All of these newer floating toys now really made my ancient fishing boat look bad.

How “bad” are we talking about here? Well, last summer while I was fishing in a quiet bay, a brand new pontoon boat came around the point heading straight for me. “Help!” an elderly man shouted, “I ran out of gas and I can’t control this thing. You have to move out of the way quickly or we will collide!” However, there was nothing that I could do because I was not only anchored but also was in the middle of a good fight with a big bass.

His pontoon boat then smacked into my left front bow with a sickening crunch. As we untangled, the old fellow apologized profusely for the collision but then stared a very long time at my boat. “Which dent did my pontoon make, anyway?” he finally said. “Just give me your anchor rope,” I sighed, “and I will tow you home.”

That incident was only one of several indignities my boat and I have suffered together. Once, I was fishing rather close to my home and was surrounded by several brand new boats boasting the latest in fishing electronics and whose owners were also after early season crappies. One of the closer anglers struck up a conversation with me and eventually asked where I was from. “I live in that two story house over there,” I said as I pointed to the direction for my home. “Sure you do,” the angler said sarcastically. “Nobody on this lake would ever have a boat as ugly as yours.” Just then, almost on cue, my daughter walked to the end of our dock and hollered, “Dad, come on in, it’s time for dinner.” After that timely beckoning, I really didn’t need to say anything else.

A few years later, I was again in my favorite crappie hole fishing where there was a gentle ripple to the water as I knew fish often prefer some wave action as a precaution to Osprey and Bald Eagle attacks. Several other fancy boats were in my vicinity but were located in very calm water. Thus, with a great deal of luck, I was catching fish and they weren’t. I could also overhear their chatter and none of it was complimentary of my old boat. Finally, one of the nearby anglers asked the question that the others were likely thinking, “Why are you catching fish and we aren’t? We all are using the same bait and the same depth to our lines.”

I thought long and hard about his comment especially after all of the indignities my boat and I had endured over twenty years of ownership. Then, in order to make my boat finally feel better, especially while thinking about all of the fish I had caught over my long period of ownership, I pulled up my anchor and replied loudly enough for all of the nearby boats to hear,

“It’s the boat, guys. It’s all because of my wonderful boat!”

(John may be reached for comments or ideas at:

John Holbrook is a former teacher, coach and counselor at Onamia High School. He now resides on Lake Hubert near Nisswa and does part-time writing.

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