The vision of a release boat has been reborn and will make its maiden voyage at one of the Golden State’s big bass fisheries, next weekend when the California Live Release Boat hits the water at Clear Lake.
With donations and volunteers, Stoltz has put has put his heart and soul, not to mention a ton of elbow grease and a bucket of money into the refurbishment of the once dilapidated boat and brought it back to life, in order to bring it back to the bass industry.
Originally, one of three of the Catch-n-Release boats brought to life in the mid-90’s with the help of Ranger Boats, Larry Viviano of West Coast Bass and Dennis Lee of the California Department of Fish and Game, the Delta CnR boat had seen it’s better days.
The trio of boats had long since been separated. The lone boat on the Delta was still being
operated by the BBAC through this season. The old Ranger Pontoon was still finding its way through the waters outside of Russo’s Marina to help extend the life of the fish caught in the competitive tournament on the tidal waters of the West.
After a final voyage in the Spring, the CnR boat wasn’t at its best; but in an attempt at refurbishment and the thoughts of bass mortality and Catch n Release at heart, the Western Bass Editor-in-Chief Tony Stoltz became the leader of the boat’s extreme makeover. “It has become what I lovingly refer to as Project Cuckoo Boat, stated Stoltz.
“I’m working, as I usually do, strictly with bass anglers in the restoration of this boat,” explained Stoltz. He credited tournament director Steve Moduno for lending a hand in all the grunt work, Garry Wilson for laying the carpet and helping firm up the deck and Chuck Russo from Russo’s Marina for allowing
the boat remain on the property for storage and work, as well as allowing Russo’s to be identified on the boat as the boat’s official host and home. The wheel and tires will be keep the trailer rolling throughout the state courtesy of Craig Brandon of Brandon Tires in Stockton.
Blood, sweat, dollars and donations bring an old Delta release boat back to its prime as the vision of Stoltz comes to life with its debut at the WON Bass Pro/Am on Clear Lake. Stoltz relived the makeover project below.
The framing was stripped down and the work began cleaning the pontoons. Tomorrow, the hope is to have the gas tank, batteries and battery box, driver seat removed to allow for new carpeting. Rails have been primed and painted. They are ready to go; but will have to be significantly altered to accommodate the modifications to the release systems on the tanks, as will the deck itself.
The first sponsor deal for the boat was secured. Inland Marine will provide service, help maintain the boat and trailer and will help to lower the cost of much of the restoration.
While the first sponsor deal was a step in the right direction, financial support for the CnR boat will be critical for its success. Everyone involved in the release boat restoration is aware of this and the Project Cuckoo Boat will actively pursue and welcome angler donations and advertising sponsors for both
cash and product.
Another Week Passes
The deck was cleared except for the tank and the steering console. The tank had to be removed before the carpet went on. Many parts have been ordered and are slated for arrival. The wood on the deck turned out to be sound. Consideration is given to elevating the tanks or adding more. The release mechanism for the fish is evaluated.
A modification to the front deck needed to be done. The carpet was installed. The deck rails and the upper rails are bolted reattached. Still waiting for the arrival of the new risers and nav lights, which left time to consider the holding tanks.
A Month Whizzes By
Hard work pays off as the tanks go back on the boat, the pipes are plumbed and the release tubes rest in the on the deck where they should. The phone rings; it is a call to action. The next big bass tournament
requests the boat. A deadline now looms and an on-the-water test is scheduled.
The End Nears
The wiring is complete, the gas tank is reconnected and the rails are all reattached. The boat float
is scheduled. The nav lights are donated and installed. A bimini top is donated and scheduled to arrive, shortly.
“I’m stoked by the progress and a bit winded from all the work.”
Motor fired; but launch revealed minor leaks. Tweaked the leaks, all is good. Boat now sports a new, hand-release 100 gallon tank for added room.
Got some ‘semi-expected’ curve balls thrown at me on the trailer. Both axles needed to be replaced and all leaf springs. Found out it needs new bearings and of course, tires and wheels.
The California Live Release Boat is ready for hire and proud to boast available sponsorships, for those that want to aid in preserving the health of the fish.
Even angler donations to keep the release boat in operation are welcomed and greatly appreciated.
Help preserve the sport, email for event rental rates, sponsorship costs or arrangements for