What­ever boat you float, it’s fun fish­ing

Only here can you learn all about the Wet Weiner fish­ing boat ex­traor­di­naire

The Hamilton Spectator - - COMMENT - Paul Benedetti lives in Hamil­ton.

It is mid-July and Cana­di­ans ev­ery­where are en­gag­ing in one of the great tra­di­tional sum­mer ac­tiv­i­ties that has been prac­tised for cen­turies and that de­fines us as a na­tion — beer drink­ing.

Sorry, I meant to type: fish­ing. I was just think­ing of beer drink­ing be­cause it’s the sum­mer and I’m Canadian.

Nonethe­less, the cor­rect an­swer is fish­ing.

Now, when you think of fish­ing you may imag­ine a man smoothly pad­dling across a glassy lake, his vest fes­tooned with handtied flies, gen­tly arc­ing his line to a beck­on­ing trout. Later, you might won­der what fes­tooned means, but that will pass. Or you may see a guy stand­ing on a sleek bass boat, a huge black Merc on the back, a tiny trolling mo­tor on the front, ex­pertly cast­ing into the reeds in search of bass.

If you are see­ing those scenes, what I can as­sure you is that you are not see­ing me.

I am up at the Thou­sand Is­lands on the beau­ti­ful and ma­jes­tic St. Lawrence River stand­ing on the “Wet Weiner.” The Wet Weiner is a boat my brother-in-law John gen­er­ously lets me use to go out fish­ing in the morn­ing. It is a cu­ri­ous cross be­tween a metal pon­toon boat and a small garbage scow. To com­plete the look, it has a steel half roof un­der which sit sev­eral white plas­tic deck chairs. John drove it up from his home in Florida to help shut­tle peo­ple and sup­plies back and forth to his is­land cot­tage.

By now, you are prob­a­bly ask­ing your­self, “What kind of nut takes a metal pon­toon plat­form boat out fish­ing?”

We’ll get to that, but you are even more likely ask­ing why is this boat called the Wet Weiner? And do I re­ally want to know?

The boat was orig­i­nally the brain­child of John’s two boys, who en­vi­sioned the greatest sum­mer job of all time and, per­haps, the seeds of a world­wide fran­chise. They clev­erly thought that if they put a bar­be­cue on the deck of this pon­toon boat, they could travel up and down the beaches and canals of Florida, sell­ing boaters and tourists freshly grilled hot­dogs and cold beer. Hence, the name, the Wet Weiner. Un­for­tu­nately, short-sighted reg­u­la­tors de­cided that hav­ing a flam­ing bar­be­cue fu­elled by sev­eral propane tanks on a mov­ing ves­sel amid swim­ming tourists was per­haps not the safest idea in the world. Non­sense, I say. With­out this kind of Amer­i­can in­ge­nu­ity, we would never have had high-risk break­throughs like the space pro­gram or jalapeno-flavoured na­chos.

In any case, Florida’s loss was my gain. Not only can I take the boat out, but the Weiner is per­fectly de­signed for my par­tic­u­lar set of boat­ing skills. And by “par­tic­u­lar,” I mean “re­ally bad.” Af­ter watch­ing me try to dock a boat, no sane per­son would lend me their fi­bre­glass mo­tor­boat un­less what they wanted to come back was some­thing that could later be used as a large, leaky planter. But John is OK with let­ting me “skip­per the Weiner” or “take out the Hot­dog” or any num­ber of ex­pres­sions my wife hates, be­cause not only is it made out of metal, but it has a thick rub­ber lip that goes around the whole boat, pretty much mak­ing it a float­ing car­ni­val bumper car. This means that when I ex­pertly guide the Weiner straight into wooden docks or the oc­ca­sional rocky ledge, I can re­turn it pre­tend­ing noth­ing hap­pened and it’s none the worse for wear.

That’s why most morn­ings I get up early and head out onto the glassy river to try and catch some bass. I ad­mit that I am not the most skilled fish­er­man nor do I look the part.

So, if you are out early on the river, what you might see is a man dressed in py­jama bot­toms (weather de­pend­ing), a ratty golf shirt, and a base­ball cap on back­wards, bal­anc­ing him­self on a bob­bing pon­toon raft, try­ing to get a worm on his line with­out im­pal­ing him­self with a hook and end­ing up in the ER. You will also see a guy hav­ing a ton of fun. And, some­times, I even catch a bass.

If you are see­ing those scenes, what I can as­sure you is that you are not see­ing me.

PAUL BENEDETTI

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