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Au Sable river boat, next project

Au Sable river boat, next project
September 04, 2017 01:21PM
I'm a ways off from making this, but might start drawing it up this winter. Get the materials sourced and scarf the ply wood

These are AuSable river boats, loggers used these to transport tools , supplies, etc. Now they are the perfect fishing vessel for the upper AuSable.

22-24 feet long, 28"-30" wide at the floor. Low sided, fish sitting down in a comfortable chair. these are mostly flat bottomed until you get to the minimally rockered ends.

Peculiar looking at first because of how long and thin they are, but beautiful boats.

Guides use a pole to steer these, but will paddle when they want to scoot through areas that aren't any good for fishing

So! I want to do this in all plywood and cover it in some glass. At this long length, what thickness would be smart for the bottom and sides? Such a long boat creates alot of leverage I assume, how would you guys reinforce it if it needs it?.

Actually looks like a simple build since its do straight and flat.

Re: Au Sable river boat, next project
September 04, 2017 01:22PM
Another pic

Re: Au Sable river boat, next project
September 05, 2017 01:00PM
Should be a fun project. I don't see oars. Do you paddle those boats when not polling them? Ah ok. Yes.

Re: Au Sable river boat, next project
September 05, 2017 06:49PM
Here's a Sami river boat from Finland Sweden or Norway. Somewhere up that way.

Re: Au Sable river boat, next project
September 11, 2017 07:01PM
I’ve built one. Guided out of it on the Manistee and Au Sable before I left Michigan. Much simpler build than a drift boat.

Sides and bottom are typically ¼” ply. The “normal” way to do it is a 24” wide bottom and 12” sides. This way you can build the entire hull from of 3 sheets of plywood. After scarfing and bending the overall length will be just under 23’. I believe the boat pictured has a 30” wide bottom, which obviously requires more plywood but, has some advantages, especially if a guide will be regularly fishing two clients.

Typically only the outside is glassed on plywood boats. The structure is the front seat/live well, the ribs (which on the boat pictured are notched to hold rods), a chine strip, and the gunnels. It’s rigid when assembled.

Every boat is a little different depending on the builder. The rake of the sides and profile of the sterns vary considerably. I never found the square stern all that useful. If I had it to do over I’d build pointed at both ends, which was the traditional way before outboards.

You may find this interesting.


Operation will sound strange to a Montana guy. The big fish are nocturnal. We mostly fish after dark, putting in a dusk and fishing until well after midnight. No lights so you go real slow because you can’t see too good. You drag a substantial chain or widow weights to slow the boat in the current. The paddle/pole is more steering than propulsion. All this would lead to disaster on the Yellowstone.

We will also sometimes pole the boats upstream a few miles instead of ferrying cars. The narrower 24” bottom boats are better for poling upstream. Motors are only used in the deeper lower sections of the rivers above dams.

Re: Au Sable river boat, next project
September 12, 2017 06:52PM
RDF, thanks so much, good info!!
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