Mike Ouellette of Auburn hooks up his Spread-Em portable outrigging system on a friend’s boat at Lake Auburn a few weeks ago. He has applied for a patent for his invention. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

AUBURN — Trolling around Lake Auburn recently with a new spin on a tried-and-true piece of fishing equipment, Mike Ouellette of Auburn sat back and watched six lines evenly spread out behind a friend’s boat to test the latest prototype of his patent-pending Spread-Em Portable Outrigging System.

Mike Ouellette of Auburn assembles his Spread-Em portable outrigging system on a friend’s boat at Lake Auburn during a test run of the prototype trolling equipment he invented and has started marketing. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Unlike other outriggers that require drilling holes into a boat and becoming a permanent fixture, his product securely clamps onto railings, gunwales, benches or wherever a boat owner chooses.

The telescoping rod made of carbon fiber material consists of eight sections that can be configured into a 10-, 15- or 18-foot setup that is easily installed and quickly broken down. It fits neatly in an airtight 4-foot lightweight hard case that floats.

He is hoping to reel in customers now that it’s in production.

The advantage of outriggers over other trolling methods is that when a fish bites the line, which is loosely held onto the outriggers, releases so anglers are free to battle the fish and not have the trolling device still attached and interfering.

Outriggers are popular in saltwater and freshwater fishing, but the industry has been dominated by many established national brands that Ouellette acknowledges will be tough to compete with. He’s still confident his product will lure prospective buyers with the multiple lines.

The challenge of perfecting his invention over the past three years has resulted in an application for a patent and taking it to conventions and marketing it online. He recently launched a website: spread-emoutrigging.com.

All of the equipment for Mike Ouellette’s telescoping 18-foot outrigger system comes in a lightweight case that floats. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

An avid fisherman all his life, Ouellette’s passion has turned into an obsession that sometimes wakes him in the middle of the night to write down an idea.

Ouellette has owned or partnered in a variety of businesses since graduating in 1978 from Lewiston High School where he was an outstanding athlete. Over the past few decades, he has built a painting business that “pays the bills” and has allowed him to invest in the research, product development, legal affairs and marketing. The process, he said, was much more difficult and tedious than he anticipated.

“It’s been a huge learning experience and much more work than I ever imagined,” he said. “Now that I have had an initial test run to check the quality and have finished products to show distributors and investors, I am confident it’s going to sell.”

The biggest market for products like his is the United States but there’s interest from Africa and South America, he said.

“The small fishing boats that are kept on beaches have to breach the surf when they go out and come back, so they like the idea of not having their equipment slapping around when crashing through the waves,” Ouellette said. “I am going to concentrate on the U.S. market but with the internet, you never know where you might find a market.”

Mike Ouellette of Auburn hooks up his Spread-Em portable outrigging system on a friend’s boat at Lake Auburn a few weeks ago using some of the first units from his initial order from the manufacturer. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo


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