Fish Tugs of the Greatest Lake
Wooden tug, built in Oconto, Wis., approximately 34 x 12 feet, belonging to Clayton "Moonie" Mullen. Clayton's son Dennis writes:
(My dad) bought it in Oconto about 1941 after his aunt left him a home. He sold the home and bought the boat and nets to start fishing. He had been working at a fish house earning little money and hired his stepdad and stepbrother as crew members. He sold the boat to his stepbrother around 1950 and bought a cab company. My brother Mike and I spent many hours working with Dad fishing. The boat came with a Ford Model A engine, then a Buick engine and then a Ford six engine.
We had one pair of jeans for school and Mom would only wash on Saturday. Many times after school we would have to pick fish if they "bunched the nets" because of high seas and wind. Needless to say our jeans smelled of fish the next days that we went to school. Classmates called us "Fishguts" Yeah, there were some fistfights.
The boat provided a living and many adventures for us over the years. Whitefish were the summer fish, watching the nets come in the lifter door filled with whitefish meant cleaning them on the way in to the dock and whitefish livers to take home and pan fry in a cast iron skillet. They were very good to eat. On the way out to the nets we had to steer, watch a compass and a clock, and hit the buoys right on. Never got seasick in rough weather.
On the way to Korea in 1957 on a troop ship we hit into a big storm and I did not get seasick then, either. Guess the Margie Jane gave me my sea legs.
In the winter we first had a horse named Toby to pull the sail sled and shanty out to the nets. Used a running board to set the nets first time. Later dad got an early Model T with steel wheels. Had to weld lugs on or they would just run the cracks if you got caught in one. We had three fish houses in town and would haul the fish whole or dressed depending on price to the one who paid more. Lots of memories.
The drawing below depicts the boat's paint scheme.
Photo and illustration courtesy Dennis Mullen
contents copyright 2002-2016, Harvey Hadland and Bob Mackreth