By Ryan “Padillac” Jones
I love catching fish from a kayak, but “do it yourself” boat mods are something I love just as much about the sport of kayak fishing. I started with a Pelican almost 15 years ago, and have transitioned through the gamut of different kayaks. The most recent being the Wilderness Systems ATAK 140, but after I rigged the ATAK, it was time to move to the next project.
That project would encompass drilling lots of holes so I decided to find a used kayak. I searched the local used kayak pages and typical websites, and then reached out to a few individuals who had the models I wanted.
A couple of the sellers were out of state, but the deals were worth the drive. I drove five of the eight hours to pick up the first kayak. When I called the seller to let them know I was a few hours away, I was told the boat was sold already. What???? We talked about this all week.
I was more than a little put off by a pointless 10 hour drive, but money talks I suppose, and I drove home empty handed. I reached out to the next seller, and same thing. We worked a plan for a weekend pick up since I had to drive a good distance. I learned my lesson from the first trip and decided to contact this seller before I left my house and sure enough, the kayak was sold that morning.
Apparently, people’s words don’t matter anymore. Frustrated with the used kayak pool in my region, I decided to venture to something new and maybe make a little money. This is where the canoe comes in.
My plan was to get a used canoe, refurbish it and sell it for profit to support buying a new kayak. After lots of searching I found a local guy selling a 17-foot aluminum canoe that was wasting away in his back yard. We negotiated for a bit, but finally on a stormy night we came to an agreement and met to finalize the deal.
I pulled up in the rain, and inspected the boat. It was in rough shape. He informed me the canoe was his grandfather’s, but was now passed to him. The grandfather was an engineer for the state of Mississippi waterway, and used the canoe for work and pleasure. It still had the Mississippi state stickers on it.
With two generations of history, I asked him why he was selling the canoe. The seller told me his fiancé thought it was an eye sore and wanted it out of the yard. Completely out of my place, I told him that he needed a new fiancé. After an awkward laugh, we parted ways and I headed home with the canoe.
Before tearing down the canoe I tested it on the water for a day with my 5-year old daughter. We found leaks, rot, and lots of other problems, but more importantly we found a passion for being on the water together. After that day the project became a family affair. The remodel took forty hours from start to finish. It may not sound like much, but finding forty hours in my life equated to spanning almost six months to complete. Luckily my family, and a very handy friend, were willing to help.
My kids helped scrubbed years of grime off of the canoe, and fought the good fight against a colony of fire ants taking refuge in the bow and stern. The old rotten seats practically removed themselves. I sanded and sanded and sanded when Will McGowan stepped in and offered up a compressor, sander, and polisher that made “short” work of the body repair. Short was still 20 hours of polishing. We spent many evenings in his garage covered in clay and aluminum dust. In exchange, I installed fishing lights on his Hobie Pro Angler. It started to look like the kayak community I remembered, one about camaraderie and not money. Will has a remodeled canoe of his own and he provided good insight along the way.
The more time I spent working on the canoe, the more ideas I had. Over time my logo and name began to appear on the boat. I was always frustrated with my fly fishing line getting tangled on kayaks, but the vast expanse of the 17 foot canoe provided ample space for casting, which gave the idea for the fly fishing design down the side.
The custom stained seats were Will’s idea, and all the hardware were modern versions of the original. I decided to place wood decking fore and aft to tie in the wood throughout. Even when I thought I was done, I came up with a plan for wooden carry toggles on rope to complete the design. During the whole process I kept thinking about the history of the canoe and how it was passed down through a family, so I left the teal on the inside to pay homage to the original. We may not have been able to pull every dent or completely straighten it out, but I think it came out pretty good and if I had to redo the redo, I would not change a thing.
I’m not sure at what point we decided not to sell the canoe, or when it changed from a quick money maker to an “art piece,” but my wife decided it was not for sale after our family took it on its maiden voyage. It will now be passed down through my family…so fiancés be warned.
Lone Star Chronicles – Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Fish
Scroll down to see more of Padillac’s canoe redo photos…
About the Author
Ryan “Padillac” Jones is not a PRO or a Staffer. He is just a member of the kayak fishing community known for his kayak mods and electronics installations. Padillac does most of the work for free and considers getting more people on the water the benefit. He is also an avid supporter of Heroes on the Water (a founding member of the Fort Hood Chapter), and he is the assignments editor for Kayak Bass Fishing Magazine.