I have decided to work on construction of a shark fishing platform for my truck. I have a kayak rack/pole holder that I currently use. It is a basic set up that has worked well getting the kayak packed up and a place to get a couple of poles up a bit higher. I have, however, gotten the itch to create something bigger and better. Now that I am in the shark fishing tackle business I figure I ought to have a pretty sweet setup. At least that’s what I am telling myself. The truth really is that I seem to always need some project going on and this seems like a really cool one.

The current set up

In my experiences at the beach I have learned a few things and I am still figuring out a few things. One thing that I have seen the need for is more organization in packing. You have to cram so many things in the truck to go camp out and fish for a few days that it can take hours to pack back up if you need to move locations. That is a major issue at times and one I would like to minimize if possible. The platform that I am constructing will not only be a platform, it will also be an organizational tool. As I daydream about the finished product I envision several things. Some will definitely be part of the design, some will be added later, and some may never see reality, but it is fun to dream. Some of the ideas are as follows:

  1. raised platform with collapsible railings on front and back
  2. rod holders on railing
  3. integrated sun shade to chill under
  4. rod/reel storage
  5. water tank under deck to hold at least 20 gallons for showers and rinsing off hands.
  6. ladder to get up top
  7. indoor/outdoor carpet on floor
  8. kayak storage up top
  9. rig up a way to lock up stuff in back like a camper top
  10. extendable rail to hang lantern on
  11. everything will be easily removable from truck when not fishing
  12. lastly –  a fighting chair!

These are some of my ideas and most I think are doable. I have a trip scheduled in a month. I would like to have the basic platform up and functional for that with the sun screen for shade. We plan on fishing Sharkathon later in the fall. I would like to have the water system up and going by then. We will see how things progress.

My first thought on incorporating all this into some type of rig was to build a trailer. My wife, who is most often the voice of reason in our family, put the nix on that idea pretty quick. Something about money, time and space. Anyway, after further thought I figured that a trailer rig would have one major draw back. You could not tow it through deep sand. It would greatly decrease your options for fishing locations. The best way to get out of a crowd is use your 4WD and go where they can’t. If you are towing a trailer you cannot do that. I thought more and realized that it could still be done with a truck platform, but without sacrificing mobility.

The platform would greatly help in the organization and packing. Currently I am taking several 5 gallon coolers for water. With an integrated water tank that will eliminate the coolers and allow more space for other things. I plan on rigging up several 6″ pvc tubes attached to the bottom of the deck to store rods and hopefully reels as well. Currently I have a couple of 4″ tubes that I keep my rods in. The reels don’t fit, so I have to reassemble each stop. It would be great to have them rigged up and ready to go when we get there. I also carry a number of pvc rod holders as well. With the rod holders on the platform I will not need to carry as many others. The sun shade will eliminate the need to carry a pop-up canopy. We have tried them a number of times and they have always proved to be a royal pain. It is almost always windy at the beach in Texas. We need something that will not blow away.

Part 1 – the beginning

I sketched out the basic design and figured how much metal I would need. I would make the deck just under 8 feet long and the width of my headache rack on my truck. I had a few scraps left over from other projects, but most would need to be purchased. I decided to go with square, tubular steel. I ended up spending about $90 on the steel and a few hinges for the collapsible railing. I got fairly thin-walled tubing to save on weight. After I started working with it I started wondering if it might be too thin. There will be significant stresses on it when off-roading at the beach. Metal fatigue may become a problem later. Too late now. I will give it a go. I can go back and reinforce later if necessary.

I started out constructing the deck. I don’t have fancy metal working tools, just a grinder and a 25-year-old stick welder. My welder is basic, but it was some of the best money I ever spent. Anyway, I got to cutting pieces with my grinder using cutting discs and made the parts for the deck framework. I then got to work welding them together. It didn’t take long to see it was going to be a challenge to weld the thin-walled tubing with my welder. Stick welders are great for thicker metals, but they don’t work real well for the fine stuff. It creates too hot of an arc and melts through very quickly. I also must admit I am probably not that great of a welder since I don’t do it on a regular basis. I will be a bit more difficult that planned, but it will be made to work. After a while the basic frame was done and I felt good that the project was up and running.

After the basic framework was done I focused my efforts on the railing. I wanted something easily collapsible and not too heavy. I also needed something rigid that we would be sure would hold. I don’t want anyone falling off and landing on their head. That would probably cut into the fishing time and we can’t have that. Coming up with the railing was the easy part. It wasn’t too complicated and it worked great with the hinges I picked up at the metal yard. The difficult part was the braces to hold up the railings.

I spent more time trying to figure out the braces than everything else combined. In the end I came up with something different for both sides. For the rod holder side I rigged up one tube that slides inside another. One tube is bolted to the railing and the other to the base. When you raise the railing one slides out of the other and when in position you simply drop a bolt through the hole I drilled through both of them. That holds the rail rigidly in place. I like this design because there are no parts to keep up with other than the bolts. It is quick and easy. On the other side things were a bit more difficult because of space constraints. I needed to have space to climb onto the platform from one end so I did not want to have high rails on the sides. I ended up going with two bolt on braces. I would rather not have parts to have to bolt on, but it is only two and it would have been a lot of time and effort to come up with something more complicated than that to take its place. In the end it turned out great and is very sturdy.

I then cut up some fence posts that my buddy Nathan donated to the cause. They made great rod holders for the side that will face the water. I welded six on the water side and two on the end of each side of the back rail. That should give me a max capacity of 8 rods. That should be plenty I figure.

To be continued…………

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