Lessons from Fishermen

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Fishing may seem like an easy sport, but from my perspective—as a person who has never had much luck bringing keepers into the cockpit—success requires certain characteristics. Among them: determination and patience, traits that also have enabled some fishermen to build solid fishing boats.

I’m thinking of Steve Potts, who founded Scout Boats in South Carolina in the 1980s. The company had a humble beginning: Steve, his wife, and a helper in a brick barn, and about $50,000 in seed money, which Potts had saved over the years while working side jobs and raising a family. He started out building a small saltwater fishing boat. It was simple, but it was well made. Soon, the craftsmanship attracted a handful of dealers. Potts would build the boats during the week and, on weekends, put them on a trailer behind his pickup truck for delivery. He was living his dream, making ends meet and devoting time to developing larger models.

Since then, the company has thrived, even with some big obstacles—including Hurricane Hugo, which leveled the Scout production facility in 1989, and the Great Recession, which the company came through with over a dozen new models in its lineup. Growth like that takes determination and patience, as well as another character trait common among avid anglers: a sense of adventure.

A good fisherman will tell you that success depends on the ability to avoid getting caught in a slump. He’ll say: Don’t be afraid to try something new. After all, you can’t fish the same body of water with the same lure and expect to catch something special. The same appears to be true for builders of fish boats.

That much is evident in the story “Fresh Catch”, which highlights some of the newest center consoles running offshore this spring. If anything, the story by Senior Editor Gary Reich makes you realize how much this iconic boat design has evolved over the years. New models are built with high-tech composites so hulls are tougher and lighter than ever, and the boats shoulder serious horsepower on their transoms to make short work of long runs offshore. There are creature comforts too, many conceived to keep fishermen and their families happy, from gyrostabilizers and cockpit sunshades to curvy lounges and outdoor galleys.

And then there are the over-the-top features, such as the cabin on the Scout 530 LXF. Stevie Potts, who is Steve’s son and also head of R&D at the company, designed it. The cabin, which includes a full galley and master stateroom, is inside the center console. This boat, the flagship of the builder’s line, is indicative of just how far the center console has come. Because when you think about it, it wasn’t too long ago that the console was set up to hold not much more than a few extra rods and a bucket that doubled as the head. That’s what determination, patience and a sense of adventure have done for fish boat design.

Jeanne Craig

JCraig@aimmedia.com

This article originally appeared in the May 2019 issue.