By David H. Martin
I once traded a hand-painted camo jon boat for a canoe. In my younger years, I liked the floating dock-like stability of the jon boat for stand-up sight fishing bedding bass among the cattails of shallow dishpan ponds. Then I discovered a remote chain-of-lakes in central Florida. Soon I learned that I was unable to row the motorless jon boat through thick cattail stands separating my put-in spot from the fishing spots I’d plotted on the map. My square bow jammed into the thick growth like hourglass sand choking out at the narrow bottleneck and stopping time.
Seemed to me the canoe was the solution. Facing forward, paddling through the lake, and punching into a cattail wall, I dropped my wooden paddle, walked the centerline forward and plunked down in the bow seat. Grabbing a double handful of the tall green stalks, I pulled myself through the worst of it, shaking loose clouds of mosquitoes. I was learning two lessons (as always, the hard way): One, every boat is a compromise; two, there is no law that says you can’t own more than one boat for different days in different places.
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