Our BerkshireTimes Magazine, Celebrate Summer 2019

Page 8

Summer Fun Adrift THE JOY OF PONTOON BOATS By Michael Romano


hen I would go to bed at night as a young boy, I would sometimes imagine that my mattress was a houseboat or a raft drifting down a river taking me on a grand adventure as I drifted off to sleep.

I have always been partial to the water. Fishing, boating, and swimming are a part of who I am. I have owned canoes, kayaks, and rowboats, but there is something about the size and comfort of those motorized docks called pontoon boats that I love. Perhaps my current affection for them has something to do with the houseboat and raft fantasies left over from my youth. Or maybe it’s the fact that they are covered with a Bimini-style canvas canopy and have comfortable sofa-like chairs. It could be because there is room to walk around and visit with friends and family on them while listening to music on an awesome sound system. In reality it’s probably all of the above – pontoon boats are a terrific way to enjoy the water and the great outdoors. I’ve lived in the Berkshires for many years now, but I was born and raised in Litchfield County, CT, and fished the surrounding area as a young man. As soon as I got my drivers permit I was off looking for new places to fish. My wandering took me to the northwestern part of the state and to my very first pontoon boat rental from O’Hara’s Landing on Twin Lakes . . . and it was a beauty. O’Hara’s is a family-owned and run business for more than 50 years and they know what they’re doing. They have a nice, well-kept fleet of boats and offer boat rentals and sales (new and used), service with a mechanic onsite, dock space, supplies, and more. You can also eat breakfast or lunch on their lakefront restaurant patio. I’ve found their staff to be friendly, helpful, and professional.

I went with three friends to O’Hara’s that day – Steve, Dave, and Dan – and we split the boat rental fee. They are all pretty big guys, and I was no lightweight myself, so we chose a pontoon that could hold eight people. We also needed the extra room to store the vast collection of fishing gear and ample teen-size sandwiches and snacks that we brought along. We received a tour and lesson about the boat and how to be safe, and after putting on the life vests the staff provided we started out on my very first pontoon adventure. 8

Celebrate Summer 2019 | www.OurBerkshireTimes.com

We were unsure of ourselves so we started off slowly and had only traveled about a hundred feet from shore when a gold trout jumped out the water in front of us. The state of Connecticut had been stocking some hybrid golden and tiger trout back then but none of us had ever seen one. We shut the boat off and made ready our fishing poles. That’s when we noticed a large number of fish swimming past us and we quickly threw our lines in the water and almost immediately hooked up with trout. We each landed one and put them in a cooler filled with water and ice and then immediately rebaited our hooks and cast out again with the same result. What luck! We were ecstatic as we baited up for the third time. It was then we heard a loud whistle. My friends and I turned to see who it was and to our surprise saw the Connecticut Department of Fish and Wildlife stocking truck parked on shore in the process of putting fish in the water. The two forest ranger types were watching us with their hands on their hips and disapproving looks on their faces. It seemed that although we didn’t break any laws we were guilty of being unintentionally bad sports for catching fish fresh from the truck. We sheepishly threw back some of the trout that were still healthy and took the boat out to deeper water out of sight of the rangers. We went on to fish for the next few hours but did not catch much. When our rental time was up we returned to the dock and got our deposit back. No mention was made by anybody about our fishing in a barrel trick – we had a great time on the pontoon and did manage to take three trout home for dinner. I have also rented pontoon boats from Onota Boat Livery in Pittsfield, MA, on more than a few occasions. One of the first times I remember was when I worked at the Kolburne School in New Marlborough to take a group of special needs kids on an outing. We packed a lunch and beverages, enlisted a life guard and staff, and spent the day fishing on Onota Lake. Everybody got a life vest, a fishing pole, and a sandwich and we were off on our journey. One of the students lost his fishing pole overboard in the first few minutes. The water was too cold to go in after it, but somehow we managed to hook it with another pole as we drove over it. The student got to fish again and actually caught the biggest fish that day – a two-pound pickerel. A good time was had by all and all fish were released.

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