July 2005 Issue
By Dave Mull


Cat Fishing

Sometimes, two hulls are better than one.

The know-it-all in the shuttle van at the Bob Uecker Invitational tournament in Racine, Wisconsin irked me and a fellow passenger.

The driver had asked if catamarans worked well on the Great Lakes. “You don’t see many of ’em around here, do ya?” the guy pontificated, answering the driver’s question.

I had just spent the first day of the tournament in a World Cat 250 Dual Console model; unbeknownst to me, the young lady in the back seat had fished out of 26-foot Glacier Bay. Neither one of us liked the guy’s uninformed response and we came to the defense of power catamarans almost simultaneously.

“I’ve never had a smoother ride in big waves,” the lady started. “I’ve never gone faster more comfortably or felt more secure in rough water in a 25-footer,” I added.

Yes, power catamarans are different. No, you don’t see a lot of them on the Great Lakes. But —and this is a resounding yes —cats are terrific for our sweetwater seas. First, they extend the boating season because of their easily-maintained twin outboards. Second, with modern four-strokes, they make fishing and cruising extremely economical.

Frank Martin of Calumet Marine in Calumet City, Illinois, sells World Cats and explained how they produce such a smooth ride. “They channel water down the tunnel and mix it with air —sort of the way that air mixes in hydraulic brakes,” Martin said.

I have fished with Frank in the 250 DC he recently sold, and I’ve also fished with my friend Jim Hinkle, who runs a 26 Glacier Bay out of Cheboygan, Michigan. One time on the way out to the fishing grounds to prepare for a tournament on Lake Huron, the Glacier Bay smoothed out the seas so much that we didn’t realize how rough it was until we slowed down to fish.

The World Cat, with more of a planning hull, is faster than the comparably sized Glacier Bay, although the Glacier, with a full cabin, has a weight disadvantage over the dual-console World Cat, sport a pair of 130-hp Hondas; the Glacier topped out at 33 mph, while the World Cat achieved 42 mph.

But both boats fished equally well. Anglers must make some adjustments as with the outboards far to the outside, most presentations are to the side of the boat —it is easy to run a rod such as a leadcore or wire down the chute, but that ’s also the best place to land a fish. Hinkle even added a platform that extended out between the motors to facilitate landing fish. Two downriggers work fine, and you can run plenty of Dipsies and planer board lines in front of the riggers. The only discomfort I experienced came trying to troll broadside to the waves —these boats go over waves one sponson at a time, creating quite a rocking motion.

Why doesn’t one see more cats on the Great Lakes now? Well, perhaps Midwestern and Eastern anglers are resistant to change —it’s taken awhile to get out of the I/O mindset and embrace more versatile outboards. But as more people take rides in these innovative crafts and as tournaments grow more popular on the Great Lakes, it’s almost assured that trailerable, smooth-riding and fast power catamarans will become a common sight. GLA



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