Great Lakes Fishing Tugs - RC Groups
Shop our Airplanes Products Drone Products Sales
Thread Tools
Sep 25, 2007, 09:32 PM
Old wreck in Milwaukee
Prins Willem's Avatar

Great Lakes Fishing Tugs

There has been some interest shown in this type of boat on the forum so I thought I would post some of my pictures. WSBA member Chuck Steffen is making a 24" fiberglass fish tug hull and several are in the construction stage while a few are already completed. One even showed up at St. Louis (was I suprised ). The variety in these vessels is unlimited. I made one in 1992 using hull lines from the Midwest Harbor Tug. They can be easily scratch built and detailed as much or little as you decide. Well, here are some 1 foot scale boats to set your mind a thinkin'.

I have included two photos of a fish tug, Linda E, which was lost in a collision with a ITB on Dec. 11, 1998. I forgot I had these photos. When she went missing it was big news around here. It took a year and a half to find the wreck and a new U.S. Navy minesweeper to do it. The cause of the loss was pure speculation until it was found.

I see there is a model of the Andrea Gail coming out.

Fishing is a hard way to make a living.

You can follow along on a fish tug build by Graham mca
Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
Sep 25, 2007, 11:59 PM
Registered User
Nice pictures, Prins... Any thoughts on the difference between the raised deck at the stern vs. the center wheel house? Different rigs?

Re: fishing for a living... we always need to remember where our food comes from and be grateful for the people who take the risk of catching it for us...
Sep 26, 2007, 12:33 AM
CG Bob's Avatar
Center wheelhouse vs stern wheelhouse is partly due to the rig and partly due to which Great Lake is fished. Around 1900, most fish tugs were converted from older wood hull Great Lakes harbor tugs, and had a center wheel house. You can search for more info on fish tugs.
Sep 26, 2007, 08:11 PM
Old wreck in Milwaukee
Prins Willem's Avatar
All the fish tugs I am aware of are gill netters and are rigged similarly. The net lifter in front either port or starboard and a door in the stern to deploy the nets. The species of fish would determine the mesh size of the net. Perch and Chub would probably take about the same sized mesh I would think.

The wheel position may be the preference of the owner. A aft station would open more center deck space for handling the catch, but a center station puts you closer to all the action and I think would be better for boat handling. Most of the old boats used the Kahlenberg diesels and the controls were on the engine. A center wheel puts you near the engine, which was direct drive. Emergency reverse is wishful thinking.

The Hope at Gills Rock had a center wheelhouse and a raised stern cabin. I have seen photos of a few old ones like this. My knowledge of these boats is what I have read over the years and picked up here and there. We have a club member who grew up in a fishing family and i am going to start picking his brain. i think I'll fire off a e-mail to him tonight.

Here are a couple of pictures given to me several years ago by a now deceased WSBA member. I am not sure of the boats name as he didn't give me a good outside shot, but I will forgive him as he took some great interior shots (thanks Al). He did get the builders plate and her original name was Shirley B.
Sep 27, 2007, 05:31 AM
Registered User
Greg Knipp's Avatar
Pilot house location is purely design from what I understand after talking with some of the fisherman. If you look at the picture of the Susie-Q in Grahams' build thread you will notice a central pilot house and she is rigged for trawling. The William G., which he is modeling, also sports a central pilot house and is set-up for gill netting. I would have to agree that an aft pilothouse would not be too condusive to trawling as they lift the nets in through the back and dump the fish right on the deck. Another interesting point which should be noted is that when they are hauling in a gill net through the side, the Captain is actually steering the boat with his head outside the vessel as there are only 2 people aboard most of these boats one of which is the Captain. Again, a central pilot house seems the best in this regards also.
Sep 27, 2007, 02:46 PM
Registered User
I notice in some of the pictures that there is another steering wheel by the front door of these boats... I figured that was so the crew could drive while handling the nets!

"newer" Monterey fishing boats have several steering stations even though they are typically @30'... fishing is a full time effort for the crew!
Dec 21, 2009, 09:13 PM
Commercial fishermen united
first of all you need to take into consideration who built the tugs, many different builders had their own preference on what was a good sea worthy tug. the tugs with the wheel houses in the mid ship where erie/michigan tugs, picking net from lifter and setting them into the boxes then workers would take fish out and reset the gang. more northern ontario tugs had the wheel houses cut out and front bow cut to fit windows, and steering wheel with rope/storge left in the peak bow. these tugs from northern ontario are best suited for us as we set a gang with smaller tugs (40-55 ft) they have the full length table so we lift our nets and slide them down the table in a zig zag pattern and shut her down to pick and then re-set. basically theres 2 different types of commercial fishing, table style( little more easier), and the nets in box style(common for erie and michigan tugs)
Dec 21, 2009, 09:18 PM
Commercial fishermen united
northern ontario has market for lake trout, herring, whitefish, and salmon , Chub nets usually get the good ol rock and davie jones locker treatment

but if anyone has any questions or want pictures just pm me or shoot me a email and im glad to help people get things right on a dying breed and heritage of commercial fishing
Dec 21, 2009, 11:22 PM
Registered User
Great information, tylerjames91! These are interesting boats and an interesting fishery! Not sure a lot of people 'on the coasts' know much about it!
Dec 21, 2009, 11:25 PM
Commercial fishermen united
no not to many, my old man used to live by gaspe and he fished mackeral? if im not mistaken and he said down there they dont even have a clue of how we fish and what it involves. and yes like I have said if there is ANY questions I am happy to answer...
Dec 21, 2009, 11:34 PM
Old wreck in Milwaukee
Prins Willem's Avatar
My understanding is Palmer Johnson, Peterson, and Burger built to customer specs. I had a chance to buy a 40' 1939 PJ for $2500 a few years ago. She was built for the Allie family fishing business out of Algoma. Wood hull was sound, engine was good. Belonged to a local tug skipper/ex-fisherman Didn't know what I'd a done with her and that Kahlenberg diesel is a bit intimidating.
Last edited by Prins Willem; Dec 22, 2009 at 07:00 AM.
Dec 21, 2009, 11:37 PM
Commercial fishermen united
ouuuu!!! comon 2500!! you should have taken her...that is something to hold on to....use her as a vacational boat....or you could take on and continue on the legacy of the great commercial fishermen.....but 2500 thats a steal!!!
Dec 21, 2009, 11:50 PM
Registered User
Keeping a boat like that would be a hobby in itself! Do they still make parts for the Kahlenburgs?
Dec 21, 2009, 11:55 PM
Commercial fishermen united
im not sure but im pretty darn sure you can find a few of them laying around!!!!! is a good site...

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Category Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Sterling Great Lakes Trainer CL JCastle Aircraft - Electric - Airplanes (FS/W) 1 Jan 20, 2003 10:09 PM
Thumbs up to great lakes hobbies The Other Dave Vendor Talk 0 Jan 29, 2002 11:59 AM
Great Lakes Hobbies Al_delaIglesia Electric Plane Talk 1 Jul 07, 2001 09:13 PM