We all know that fishing and boating are two of the best activities going. Some days we don’t catch ‘em up as much as we’d want to, or other days the rain or chop foils our plans for a smooth boat ride. Those tough days make the other ones even more enjoyable, but so does riding in the vehicles that get us to where we’re going.
Now that fishing is fully underway in my area I’ve noticed another part of fishing and boating that I’ve overlooked: rigs. Fishing and boating rigs add another layer of fun to our favorite pastimes. Some rigs are brand new, others are old and tired, and still others are tricked out beyond belief. In my mind, the old ones are about as cool as it gets.
Jeeps, jeeps and more jeeps. The name jeep comes from an abbreviated GP which stands for General Purpose. While these vehicles were initially designed for military duty, sportsmen found their clearance and four-wheel drive to be a tremendous asset for hauling boats and getting to out-of-the-way fishing spots. Out here in Massachusetts, I’ll commonly see CJ’s, from 3’s, 5’s, and 7’s, but every now and then an old Willy has tackle bags and rods in the back. Take off the top, drop the windshield down, and you’re ready for action. A top-down Jeep is one of the few vehicles you can drive where you’ll also have to wear sunscreen.
Several foreign companies also make jeep-style rigs. Old Land Rovers capture the romance of Jolly Old England as well as the British-settled desert areas. They, too, are ready made for action, with shovels, gas cans, and pick axes enabling them to go very far off road. Four-wheel drive and good ground clearance make them perfect for hauling boats up a ramp, and the canvas tops roll up to create natural air conditioning. Jump seats in the back means you and your crew are set for a great day.
To get through thick mud why not take your jacked up and drop it down into 4×4? Old pick-ups, with high ground clearance are awesome, and when I see old Fords and Chevys I can’t help but smile. You can store a ton of gear in the bed, transport a jonboat or a kayak to a remote pond, or easily pull a boat down the road. Toss in a tent and some camping gear and you’ve got a great fishing and boating weekend in store.
I think of station wagons like old Jeeps or Woodys as the precursors to the modern SUV. Originally designed to transport travelers and their luggage from train stations, they quickly became popular among fishermen and boaters. Add in four-wheel drive and you can climb mountains or run beaches. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, many fishermen would run the beaches with a small boat lashed to the roof top, and these old wagons are perfect for organizing lots of gear.
There is an old saying, “life is too short to drive an ugly rig.” That said, I might need to upgrade mine. And any of these options would more than do!
Tom Keer is an award-winning freelance writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He regularly writes for over a dozen magazines, and is the contributing editor of Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America and a columnist for The Upland Almanac. His book a “Flyfisher’s Guide to the New England Coast” was published by Wilderness Adventures Press in 2010. Visit him at www.tomkeer.com or at www.thekeergroup.com