Lewistown man builds boat to honor cancer survivors

Charlie Denison

Brett Nienhuis of Big Fish Boat Works sits in a boat he made dedicated to survivors of breast cancer called “Casting for a Cure.” The boat will be featured in Monday’s 4th of July parade.
Photo by Charlie Denison


Driving down Entrance Road near the intersection of C Street and Boulevard, it’s nearly impossible to miss the pink boat in front of Brett Nienhuis’s house.

Sporting the message “tough enough to row a pink boat,” Nienhuis’s creation is already making an impression, leaving people to ask the question, “are you tough enough?”

Whether tough enough or not, the boat gets peoples’ attention, and that’s exactly what boat builder Nienhuis wants to do: raise awareness for all breast cancer survivors one bewildered stare at a time.

“A person close to me has a daughter who is a cancer survivor, and I also have relatives who are survivors,” Nienhuis said. “I wanted to do something for them and thought a theme boat would be neat.”

Nienhuis, who has lived in Lewistown the last seven years, is passionate about building boats. Recently, he started his own custom drift boat building business, Big Fish Boat Works.

“I build for those who want custom boats and are going to enjoy them,” Nienhuis said.

So far, business is good, he said, as people who express interest in his boats have not been disappointed.

“Everyone who has taken one of my boats out for a day has ordered one,” he said. “That’s pretty good.”

Nienhuis said he puts extra care into his boats, as well as extra length.

“We are the only company to offer a 72-inch bottom in all our models,” he said. “With our unique design and shape of our hull, our boats still draft less water fully loaded with gear and people than any boat of comparable size.”

In addition, Nienhuis said he offers his customers a plethora of custom interior layout options, from coolers and heaters to side trays, seating capacity, walk-around rowers and rod lockers.

“You can do more with a boat than paint it and go fishing,” Nienhuis said. “I’ve had a number of people in Montana – from Butte to Missoula to Stevensville – buy my boats to be different, to be noticed.”

The pink boat, which Nienhuis calls “Casting for a Cure,” is certainly noticeable, and it’s also a community effort, as HCR donated the power coating, Carquest Auto Parts donated paint and the vinyl was done by Ellen of D and D Excavation.

It’s that kind of community outpouring Nienhuis said makes him glad to live in Lewistown.

“I love the people here,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed living here and so has my family. My kids graduated from here.”

People have not only embraced Nienhuis in the community, but they’ve also embraced his boats, as “Casting for a Cure” will be featured in Monday’s Fourth of July parade.

Nienhuis said he is excited for the opportunity to showcase the boat, as it gives a lot of people an opportunity to acknowledge support and awareness for cancer survivors.

“This boat is a tribute to all those who have had any kind of cancer,” Nienhuis said.



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