Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Bass Boats: What you want vs. what you need....
I've been fishing tournaments, club or money, for over 20+ years, and this has allowed me to fish from some of the finest bass boats the industry has to offer. Some of my favorites include Ranger Boats, Triton Boats, and Champion boats. There are other models and brands including, Nitro, Bumble Bee, Bass Cat, and Tracker boats, which all have both positive and negative attributes. However, in my modest opinion, Ranger, Triton, and Champion boats have been supplying quality bass boats year after year. With that being said, fishing from a fully loaded Triton Tr-20X with dual power poles, 250 Mercury Optimax, Minnkota trolling motor, and Lowrance electronics can set the bar very high and spoil a person for the next time they get in their grandfathers flatbottom with a 25 hp Evinrude, a plywood front deck and a hand controlled 30lb thrust trolling motor. Which finally brings me to the point of this article. Buying what we "need" versus what we "want" can still help us reach the practical goal of getting to the fish, quietly finding the fish, and keeping the fish alive and safe until weigh in. At the practical level, which I consider most tournament trails to be anymore, there are no extra ounces added to the weigh in slip for style points. Being seen at the ramp launching a brand new 20' Ranger from a brand new Chevy Silverado, is no different from the 1987 Ford F-150 driving down the ramp launching a 1990 Champion bass boat. Both individuals or teams still need to find and catch a tournament winning bag of fish. Sure, the new more advanced rig will be faster, have better fuel economy, more advanced electronics, coupled with a few more bells and whistles designed to make time on the water more comfortable. However, if that team didn't put the time and effort in to finding the patterns and locations of the fish, their boats make little difference in the outcome.
In years past, I have competed in club tournaments from a 14' flat bottom Alumacraft with a 25 hp Mercury outboard with a Minnkota trolling motor and actually won a few small tournaments. Now, buying what you "need" doesn't mean you have settle for a 14' flatbottom or utility boat. However, boats today, such as the Tracker Grizzly 1648 aluminum are better suited to accomplish all that a bass fisherman needs for a small local tournament. V-front hull design, tilt and trim motors, steering wheels, and manufactured casting decks. If you are interested in simply getting time on the water chasing large mouth and smallmouth, these boats can serve every purpose needed for this sport. As a matter of fact, just last season, more than one flatbottom cashed a check in some of the smaller money tournaments I fished.
With that being said, the want versus need debate can be simplified by asking yourself some of these questions. What do I want to accomplish with my fishing boat? Do I want to be the one getting passed at the start of the tournament, are do I want to be the one passing people. Do I want a larger boat for the room and the stability, or do I want a smaller boat to save on gas, and sacrifice comfort during those long runs in choppy water? Simply put, most fisherman will tell you an 18.6' bass boat with a 150 hp motor will serve almost every practical purpose a tournament bass fisherman will need. But I continue to wrestle with this concept. Do I spent the extra money and get the bass boat I want, and possibly be the guy who owns a great looking rig, but cant afford to put the gas in to tow it and drive it. Or, do I cover the necessities I need in a quality used bass boat paying attention to price and the practical applications in which i will be using it. Do I listen to the devil on my left shoulder or the angel on my right shoulder...... :-)