By John Phillips
I recently talked with avid angler
Bill Plantan of Rochester, Minn., who had asked himself a couple
of years ago why he should continue to drive his boat by 75
percent of some of the best fishing waters in the nation just
because he couldn't launch his boat in those waters.
can easily facilitate two anglers.
Today, Plantan uses a canoe he's
designed to fish streams and rivers that few other anglers ever
fish and guides clients to trout, smallmouth bass and muskie in
parts of Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. His canoes enable
Plantan's clients to fish in areas most boat fishermen and wade
fishermen can't reach.
These canoes came about because
Plantan said to himself, "I think I can build a better canoe
than I can buy. When you fish in a river by yourself, you must
deal with both the current and the wind, a combination that can
keep you from maneuvering the canoe into your selected fishing
spot. Often the canoe will helicopter around in a circle."
Plantan decided he needed a
shorter, more maneuverable canoe that offered much less wind
resistance than the standard canoe did. Instead of concentrating
all the weight of the angler, the trolling motor and the battery
in the rear of the canoe, Plantan moved the battery to the front
of the boat to more evenly distribute the weight.
charger and rod holder are just a few options
Plantan also didn't like the
squared-off backs designed for trolling motors on many canoes.
"I always had much more
trouble maneuvering a square-backed canoe in the wind and heavy
current than I did a more traditional canoe," Plantan
explained. "I felt that a better fishing canoe should have a
square steer plate and a full keel like a standard canoe.
"I wanted my canoe to feel as
comfortable as a bass boat. I made a bench-type seat that could
support a swivel seat similar to that of a bass boat. I also put
drink holders in the canoe to hold my soft drinks."
Squared-off backs for trolling motors.
Plantan also mounted his tackle
boxes in the interior of his canoe to keep his tackle handy and
built a device to hang up his scissors, his forceps and his pliers
in an out-of-the-way place. Plantan also built rod holders that
kept the fishing rods out of the way.
Plantan knew the importance of the
angler having protection from the sun and the rain. He found a
wide umbrella that would keep him dry and cool while he fished and
mounted it on a fiberglass pole that wouldn't act as a lightning
rod. The height of the umbrella allowed Plantan to cast from
As Plantan has developed the ideas
for his canoe, the demand for his custom canoes has grown.
"Our company designs every
canoe that we build especially for one customer. We don't build
the canoe until a customer gives us an order and tells us what
features and accessories he wants in his canoe.
The canoe is currently available with
the following interior
colors: Med Brown, Hunter Bronze, Buckskin
Tan and Custom Camo
"One of our Florida clients
designed a floor rack to keep his feet and equipment dry when rain
water filled the bottom of the canoe. We also developed a bilge
pump to drain the water out of the bottom of the canoe."
When one customer started using his
canoe to duck hunt, Plantan developed a blind to fit on the canoe.
"Instead of making a 15- or a
16-foot canoe, we've built these customized water-fowling canoes
that weigh only 85 pounds each just 12-feet long. These canoes
won't sink because we've built flotation into the hull."