One of the first episodes of The Walkers Cay Chronicles that I had the privelege of watching, was a two-part episode featuring Flip Pallot and noted saltwater fly angler Chico Fernandez, fly fishing for Redfish on the Indian River in Central Florida. It was a pivotal point in my fishing career BECAUSE of all things, they were fishing out of a Jon boat! This was a turning point for me, simply because the fact that they were doing this out of a simple flat bottomed aluminum skiff made it seem VERY accessible. I was still in college at this point and could barely afford groceries, much less a high-dollar fly fishing skiff, but a Jon boat...well, I already had one of those! The 14' PolarKraft was less than ideal because even at 42" across the floor it was still a bit tippy to stand up and pole. But that episode of Walker's Cay showed me what was possible without the need for an expensive, high maintainence dedicated poling skiff.
The brand of boat that Flip and Chico were using in this episode was called a MonArk. MonArk was a very well-respected brand of aluminum boat, that had been around a very long time. The boats were manufactured in Monticello Arkansas, hence the name MonArk, and were used for probing the backwater swamps, riverways and bayous by both duck hunters and fishermen alike. Because I knew that my 1442 was too small, I actually wrote down the registration numbers that were visible on Flip's boat and contacted the Florida agency that handled boat registration to get the specs on Flip's MonArk. They sent me a nice letter back indicating it was a 16' length and 48" bottom. Unfortunately, this particular MonArk wasn't in production anymore, so I would have to find a suitable substitute.
After I sold the PolarKraft, I searched for several years for a used MonArk 1648 like I had seen Flip and Chico use. I only stumbled across one down in Rockport Texas that had been left out in the elements for what looked like at least a decade and had been badly abused during it's lifespan. I was in fact not even sure that it would float, so I took a hard pass, and eventually settled on an Alumacraft 1648.
Interestingly enough, if you have ever heard Flip talk about the genesis for the first model produced by Hell's Bay, the Whipray, it was this very MonArk 1648 that inspired that hull. I am providing some links below to both episodes of Walker's Cay that inspired my path to fly fishing. To this day I still watch them regularly, if for no other reason than to take me back to 1995 for just a little while, and remind me that it is not how pretty the boat is, but what you are actually able to do with it that counts.
Hope you're all having a great week,