Boats equipped with surface drive engines were not long ago seen as an oddity in anything but duck-hunting situations.
Andy Johnston of Boat Doctor Inc. verified the trend.
“Every year since surface drives came out in 2003, more and more people are coming to me to buy a green flatboat and a surface drive engine to fish from,” Johnston said. “Some of them are selling their $40,000 to $50,000 bay boats.
“Everything is less than on a bay boat — less cost; less maintenance; less gas.”
Junior Mendoza is even more enthusiastic about surface drives on fishing boats, and he doesn’t even sell them. Since fully retiring in 2010, he has been guiding fishermen and duck hunters from a base in Myrtle Grove.
Although he gladly guides fishermen targeting bass and speckled trout, his real specialty is sight-fishing for redfish. He poles fly fishermen and uses a trolling motor for spinning and casting, but to get around he runs a surface-drive motor.
“I use surface-drive engines 90 percent of the time. I also have a shallow-water bay boat. It puts me where the fish are. That’s why my guide service is named Shallow Water Charters,” he shrugged, beaming a big “waddayathink” grin.
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