Pandemic outings power boat sales. Marinas in Grafton, St. Charles bustle | Local

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That’s good news and bad news for Gary Hart of Creve Coeur. The lifelong fisherman is happy that more people are taking up the sport. But it makes him feel a little hemmed in, even on the 92-mile expanse of the Lake of the Ozarks.

“I’m a guy who likes solitude when I fish, and it’s hard to find solitude now,” he said.

The retiree waited out the Memorial Day crush at home and then packed up his grandkids for a vacation at Bull Shoals Lake in Arkansas. His 2016 Ranger is newly outfitted with $20,000 in navigation technology.

“I can find a penny in a hundred feet of water,” he said.

The updates — a trolling motor and three Garmin displays — only took a couple days, but Hart had to wait several weeks for his appointment at Tri-State Trolling Motor in Wentzville.

Tri-State specializes in electronics installation and repair, and sells kayaks and canoes. Bob Douthit opened the business in 1991.

“It has just gone crazy,” he said. “No matter how much stuff you bring in, it’s not enough.”

These days, Douthit spends a quarter of his time on the phone with manufacturers, trying to track down the add-on motors that make sneaking up on fish easier. He’s had to buy more through distributors, which cuts down on his profit margins.

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