Is That a Cleaning Table?
According to Stu Apte, Jimmy Albright is believed to have been the first to pole a boat from the stern. Yet it was Bill Curtis’ idea to do it from a poling platform over the engine.
As the first person to buy a Hewes Bonefisher, Curtis spotted another guide using a step ladder in the center of his boat to spot fish from. That gave Curtis an idea, and he asked Hewes if he could build something like a card table over the engine that he could climb up on. By now Hewes had learned not to question an idea without testing it, so without saying yea or nay, he spent the next week consulting with a well-known Fort Lauderdale tuna tower builder and came up with several prototype poling platforms. His favorite was a model that fit on the outside of the transom with two braces that took up no interior fishing room. But the darn thing rattled. Hewes tried inserting a second tube. In the end he found all that was needed to create the cantilever design was thicker-walled aluminum piping attached with a thru-hull fitting to an aluminum plate. That’s how the first transom-mounted poling platform was born.
Like the first aluminum tuna tower, it was a curiosity. Said Curtis: “People would ask me if that was my table for cleaning fish.” Others surmised it was a way to protect the engine. Among serious fishermen, however, the concept was so simple and practical that it seemed obvious. Today it’s the signature of any true flats boat.