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Hook and Bullet Club

You can judge when spring arrives however you want. Some use a calendar, others look for leaves on the trees and some say it’s when the ice goes out. My spring arrives when the boats and motors start piling up at Joe’s Marine in Ely. When you hear outboards running in the alley behind the shop, you know spring is here.Outdoorsmen are a procrastinating bunch and they’ll wait until the last minute to get their boat and motors ready for spring. That’s when it gets busy at Joe’s Marine.There’s usually a lull between when the last snowmobiles are serviced and the first boats are dropped off. Luckily that time period coincided this year with the annual Johnson motors mechanics’ school in Chicago.Kevin, Rico and Chris went to school and even had to do homework on the new high-tech outboards that can now be hooked up to a computer for diagnosis.Yep, instead of a wrench, you could see Rico with a laptop plugging into a new four-stroke 25 horse, downloading how many hours the motor has run, at what speed and other technical data. That info can even be sent over the internet to Johnson’s tech guys for further analysis. And you thought your new pick-up was high tech. With Alfie turning wrenches and Joe helping out, Joe’s takes in, fixes and sends back out more motors than you can shake a stick at over the course of a summer. Some of the work is basic service, some may be more. There always seems to be a good share of motors brought in a bit shorter than when Joe’s rang up the sale to start with.Submerged rocks and reefs in area lakes take off lower units on a regular basis and this creates more work for the mechanics. So I always keep my eyes peeled for what’s going on at Joe’s to see what season we’re in. Seeing a room full of outboards and boats lined up reminds me of a crowded waiting room at the clinic with each owner hoping their rig is going to be worked on next.This operation is really a necessary component of our economy. Whether it’s Joe’s or anybody else, those boats and motors are an indication of all the people who come here and spend their money in the summer.Our local hardware stores and lumber yard benefit greatly from summer people as well, especially those with cabins or lake places. Similar to snowmobilers, these people drop a ton of money in Ely. Not to say those who come to ply the waters by paddling don’t add to the pot as well, but replacing a broken paddle or a lower unit are two very different expenses. Being a fan of two stroke smoke, the sound and smell of the motors running in the tanks get me thinking about trolling for walleyes or jigging for crappies this summer. That’s when I remember that my boat and motor need to be given a once over before the opener and the rest of the 2005 fishing season jumps up and bites us in a couple of weeks. Better change the grease in the lower unit and make sure the gas didn’t turn to slime in the carbs. Plus I’m sure the trailer hubs could use a shot of grease and the boat should be checked for missing rivets, oars or whatever else is no longer where it should be.This is the prep time for summer fishermen, although a few have already gone out on the water for a pre-season ride down the lake. Knowing I fall into that certain class of prognosticators, my pre-season ride will likely come the night before opener. Maybe I better give Joe’s a call right now.

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