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Too Much Tubage?

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April 17, 2014

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Does the corner of your garage look like the corner of my garage? With the recent addition of a few new rods that I absolutely had to have, I now have seven rod tubes of various lengths and materials leaning up against a corner.

Earlier this year I threw at least four similar tubes away, so it’s not like I’m hoarding them or anything, but I’m not sure why these particular seven made the cut over the others that were sacrificed to the trash truck. Even if these are the right ones, I’m not sure why seven was the magic number. After all, I can’t remember a time in the last decade when I’ve mailed more than two rods anywhere in a given year. There are occasional warranty issues, and once in a while I’ll sell one, but the chances that I’ll need to burden the UPS man or the FedEx dude with more than three or four of these packages in the coming year are far lower than the chances that I’ll acquire three or four more tubes.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 17 April 2014 07:40
 

More Crayolas in the Box

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April 15, 2014

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021-051-208-297-543-912
Sounds like a winning lottery ticket, right?
In some ways it is. Those are my go-to colors for five-inch Senkos. Once in a while I might substitute 913
for 543, or 318/330 for 297 (if you haven’t memorized the color chart, get cracking, slacker), and it’s
hard to leave out 213 (junebug) but for most purposes I limit it to five or six in the boat.
If you’ll look at the recently-released bulk bag colors, you’ll see that my taste is pretty vanilla – I overlap
with conventional wisdom on four of the all-time best sellers.
The folks at GYCB-central (whose job it is to sell Senkos) may not be too happy with this assessment,
but to be totally honest, you could give me 021 (black with blue flake) and 297 (green pumpkin with
black flake) and I’m confident they could get the job done ninety-plus percent of the time. Accordingly, I
wasn’t looking to add another color to the lineup, but while aimlessly perusing the Yamamoto website’s
list of color choices I found two more that piqued my interest by their names alone: “Gooseberry
Laminate” (963) and “Watermelon Slice Laminate” (964). If anyone had previously made a big deal
about those, I must’ve been home sick that day. While they may sound like components to an odd fruit
salad, upon further review they might have to enter the rotation.
The former was described to me as follows: “Top indigo black with small red flake. Bottom purple black
with small emerald flake.”
The latter has a top coat of watermelon black and a matching bottom, except with small red flake and a
transparent yellow highlight.
They’re not too far away from my standards, but distinct enough that I can see times when that slight
difference might add a boost of confidence to my presentation. I’m not saying that you have to add
them to your floating tackle box to win next Wednesday’s fruit jar open at the Swamp Gas Corners Boat
Dock. All I’m saying is that my eyes are wide open and I’m pretty sure that I’ll have three or four packs
of each in the near future. It’s ok to be confident in your standards, and don’t jump on every Banjo
Minnow trend you see, but there’s no harm in branching out just a bit.

021-051-208-297-543-912

Sounds like a winning lottery ticket, right?

In some ways it is. Those are my go-to colors for five-inch Senkos. Once in a while I might substitute 913 for 543, or 318/330 for 297 (if you haven’t memorized the color chart, get cracking, slacker), and it’s hard to leave out 213 (junebug) but for most purposes I limit it to five or six in the boat. 

If you’ll look at the recently-released bulk bag colors, you’ll see that my taste is pretty vanilla – I overlap with conventional wisdom on four of the all-time best sellers. The folks at GYCB-central (whose job it is to sell Senkos) may not be too happy with this assessment, but to be totally honest, you could give me 021 (black with blue flake) and 297 (green pumpkin with black flake) and I’m confident they could get the job done ninety-plus percent of the time. Accordingly, I wasn’t looking to add another color to the lineup, but while aimlessly perusing the Yamamoto website’s list of color choices I found two more that piqued my interest by their names alone: “Gooseberry Laminate” (963) and “Watermelon Slice Laminate” (964). If anyone had previously made a big deal 
about those, I must’ve been home sick that day. While they may sound like components to an odd fruit salad, upon further review they might have to enter the rotation.

The former was described to me as follows: “Top indigo black with small red flake. Bottom purple black with small emerald flake.”

The latter has a top coat of watermelon black and a matching bottom, except with small red flake and a transparent yellow highlight.

They’re not too far away from my standards, but distinct enough that I can see times when that slight difference might add a boost of confidence to my presentation. I’m not saying that you have to add them to your floating tackle box to win next Wednesday’s fruit jar open at the Swamp Gas Corners Boat Dock. All I’m saying is that my eyes are wide open and I’m pretty sure that I’ll have three or four packs of each in the near future. It’s ok to be confident in your standards, and don’t jump on every Banjo Minnow trend you see, but there’s no harm in branching out just a bit.

 

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 April 2014 12:42
 

The Deal On Dealers

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April 14, 2014

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If you want to buy a Honda Civic or a Ford F150 close to home, you’re in luck. No matter where you live in the United States, there’s probably a dealer or three nearby. When I purchased my last few Chevrolets, I’ve been able to comparison shop among quite a few of them within 20 miles of my home, all without leaving my desk. If I move across the country, I have no fear that there will be no one to service them, either.

The bass boat world doesn’t lay out like that. If the boat of your dreams is a Gambler or a Bumble Bee or a Cajun Ricky Green Fishin’ Machine and you live in Butte or Bangor or Bakersfield, you might have to drive a long way to get one. It’s something to consider when you make your purchase – all else being equal, or even tilting a little bit in favor of Brand A, do you go for Brand B simply because they have better and more convenient infrastructure in place to serve you?

Fortunately, I haven’t had to make that choice. I’ve taken delivery of all three new bass boats I’ve owned through MARE Marine’s Richard Addy. If there are more than two or three people on earth who’ve sold more Cats than Richard, it would shock me. He probably speaks to company owner Rick Pierce more regularly than even anyone in the Pierce family. Brian Lancaster, the owner of MARE, has been in the business forever, too. They’re not going anywhere, nor are they changing boat lines any time soon.

Compare that to my experiences in 1996, when I bought my first bass boat. A friend had me convinced that I should look at Skeeter’s new 18-footer and a new dealership near home had one in stock. They gave me the hard sell, showing off their sparkly facility, but in the end it wasn’t the right purchase for me for a number of reasons. Looking back I don’t know if that new Skeeter would have served me better (in the wallet and on the water) than the used 18-foot Ranger that I ended up buying, but I do know that the dealership was gone within a year and I don’t believe the owner is in the industry any more. Continuity and longevity are not in and of themselves a reason to buy a particular brand of boat from a particular shop, but to me they’re big difference-makers. I’m fortunate that MARE’s shop is just about 40 miles from my house and just a few miles from the river. It makes all of my transactions more fluid and less cumbersome. I’m also glad that the faces remain the same. The smell of new fiberglass is an intoxicant, but you have to have the right group of people to get the blend right.

 

 

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Last Updated on Monday, 14 April 2014 08:00
 

Hello Ruby Tuesday

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April 10, 2014

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I have owned five bass boats. Four of them have been Bass Cats. I purchased three of them new. All three of the new ones had “Raspberry” as their primary color.

Bass Cat currently offers a choice of 40 different hull colors. You’d think that with variety being the spice of life, and all of that other David Copperfield crap, I might want to try something different. Maybe something exotic like Sapphire, Mocha or Coral. Or maybe something more typical like White, Blueberry or Charcoal. Nope. I’m happy with Raspberry.

To quote my friend Bill Roberts, who has had about 3,241 navy blue Rangers, half that many navy blue Suburbans and a handful of navy blue Blazers in case the Suburban develops a serious case of the blues a day or two before a tournament: “Is there any other color?”

I seriously considered trying something else this time around. After all, it’s not like I won’t be getting another boat at some point down the road, so if the new choice proved problematic I could always go back to Raspberry. But I just think it looks sharp. Couldn’t find a color combination that I liked better. Furthermore, it matches the last two tow vehicles I’ve had, which were a color that Chevy currently calls “Crystal Red Metallic” (there’s an upcharge for this particular color, natch). I flirted with buying a silver boat with Raspberry highlights, to keep it all in the family, but ultimately I couldn’t even stray that far. Maybe in three or four years I’ll go all Skeet Reese on you and bring home a school bus yellow floater, but for now I’m gonna dance with the one that brung me.

 

 

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Last Updated on Thursday, 10 April 2014 09:11
 

The Wheels on the Boat Go Round and Round

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April 8, 2014

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I’m about the most glitzophobic angler on the planet. To paraphrase Chris Rock, there are some people who would put rims on a toaster oven (“Yo man, I’ve got some raisin toast sittin’ on twenty-twos.”), but historically I haven’t been one of them.

Most weekend anglers want their rides to follow in the footsteps of Jason Quinn’s. Mine typically more closely resembles one favored by Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman.

The tide may be turning, though. With this year’s new boat and trailer I decided to go a little flashier. Check out the BCB wheels pictured above. I’m pretty pleased with them. In fact, this turning point has been so satisfying that it inspired me to go a little further down Bling Boulevard. I can’t say exactly what I’ll be doing to the ride, but in about a month or so I should have some additional “look at me” function-slash-fashion options to blog about.

 

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 07:34
 

Why Eyra?

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April 7, 2014

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Heading into this year’s boat purchase, I was inclined to get another Bass Cat Puma FTD. My 2010 model had treated me well – a perfect fishing platform, more storage than I could ever use, great rough water ride, no problems to speak of. Why kick a winning horse? At the same time, I felt an urge to get something different, if nothing else just for the sake of not going down the same road twice. Bass Cat presented that option to me in the Eyra, which wasn’t available back when I bought my last one.

Unlike Bass Cat’s Cougar, which is a very similar platform to the Puma, the Eyra is a completely different animal – with sleeker lines and a totally different layout. They’re both 20 footers, but that’s where much of the similarity ends.

I was leaning heavily toward another Puma until last summer. One of the things that led me in that direction was the fact that the Eyra has less floor space than the Puma. I figured that if I had a partner with a magnum tackle bag – the kind that holds a hundred Plano 3700 boxes, two lunches, a rainsuit and 3,000 bags of soft plastics – we’d have to practice our long-jumping and ballet ahead of time in order to get around in the boat. On the other hand, since I fish very few tournaments these days, and have the wife in the boat much of the time (she doesn’t carry a tackle bag – just bogarts my stuff), that wasn’t such a huge concern.

The tide turned last summer in Michigan when we rode in Kevin Short’s Eyra. After a few hours in the pink Cat, the redheaded wife definitively stated, “This is the boat we should get.”

I was intrigued, confused, curious. “Why?” I asked.

“Because I can rest my legs against the front deck to brace myself in rough water.” Apparently, what I had thought of a disadvantage was a huge advantage in her eyes. After four years of bouncing around untethered in the Puma, she was looking forward to being able to lock down when the water got choppy. You see, she’s about five-foot-nothing, and while Randy Newman may have sang otherwise, in our house short people rule the roost.

So far, I’m thrilled with the boat. It looks great, handles well and provides more speed than I can utilize (had it up to 79.1 after break-in, before I chickened out and pulled back on the hot foot). Despite some minor pre-decisional misgivings, I’m sold on it now, and completely satisfied with the choice. At the same time, I’m holding my breath on the final judgment until next week, when Red gets her first ride, feet planted and a smile on her face.

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Going to Graceland

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April 2, 2014

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Elvis has left the building.

Depending on who’s chewing your ear off at the current time, various reports indicate that he may be in a donut shop in Tempe or balancing tires in Bangor. More likely, though, he’s at the bottom of some tour level pro’s tackle box.

A decade or so ago, when I first started writing about the sport, Elvis was all the rage. In this case the name referred not to the bloated crooner and lover of peanut butter, bacon and banana sammiches. We’re talking about a spinnerbait.

A friend of mine once asked Kenyon Hill why the bait was called Elvis. “Because it’s the king,” the Oklahoman barked back.

As far as I can tell, this particular spinnerbait gained steam not in Tupelo or Memphis, but rather around Lake Fork, where guides tried to keep it quiet until they couldn’t anymore. In a 2008 Bassmaster.com article by Jeff Samsel about Edwin Evers, the author referred to a “3/4 ounce black lure with a single size 6 or 7 Colorado blade…shown to him by fellow Tour pro and Fork guide Kelly Jordon.” There aren’t many other online references to it. An article on TheFishingWire.com from 2009, from which the attached grainy pic was taken, is the most in-depth piece I could find. In it, KJ’s words are much like those Kenyon used: “I named the lure Elvis because I think it’s the king of big bass spinnerbaits.”

The lure in the picture looks like what you’d normally use at night in the heat of summer, and that’s why it was developed, but the article was about pre-spawn fishing. It featured “a single size 6 hybrid Colorado/Indiana blade which creates an unusual amount of noise and water movement.” Kelly told the writer that he had been fishing it since 1991 and had caught bass over 12 pounds on The King.

That article came out over five years ago, and since then Elvis seems to have done another disappearing act. I haven’t heard rumblings of it on chat boards, on the water or in the media room. Part of it is that it seems like we haven’t had a tournament dominated by spinnerbaits in years, which in turn is a reflection of the changing lure economy. In 1994, it was possible to fish a set of conditions and have 80 of the top 100 finishers slinging blades. Confronted with those same conditions today, 20 of them would be throwing a spinnerbait, 20 would be throwing a chatterbait, 20 would be heaving a swimbait, 19 would rely on a squarebill, and Tommy Biffle would be grinding a Biffle Bug.

I don’t think Elvis is gone for good. In fact, I hope it makes an unexpected comeback. Would love to see some grizzled old school veteran bring it back for a swan song victory. Even better would be seeing some young twenty-something punk winning a tournament on it and then claiming he was the one who invented it.

Thank you….Thank you very much.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 April 2014 10:31
 

My Boat: The “Why” starts with a “Who”

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March 31, 2014

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The countdown of days to my new boat is well into the single digits. It’ll be my fifth boat boat, the fourth one from Bass Cat Boats, and I’m probably more excited now than I’ve ever been for the smell of new carpet, fresh fiberglass and – eventually – stinky livewells. 

I know that I’m not going to convince the die-hards for other brands to switch to BCB based on anything that I write in this blog. In my travels around the country writing and fishing, I’ve ridden in every brand on the market, some of them good, some that didn’t last, and some that I can’t figure out why anyone ever bought one in the first place. I am fortunate that through my two jobs I can afford to own any of them, and this is the horse that I’ve chosen to ride, but I realize that it’s like Ford-and-Chevy or Coke-and-Pepsi – there are brand adherents who are never going to switch, no matter how much evidence you present to them. I can live with that. Thirty one flavors makes the world interesting (and in this case I believe it enables me to get to my fishing spots faster and drier).

Because I’m not going to the change the minds of R-Brand freaks and Bug Bote backers by talking about rough water ride or build quality, I’m going to offer up a little anecdote that explains how I knew this company was different: In 1999 I bought a used Bass Cat Pantera III with a 200 HP Optimax on the back. It came with a particular propeller that was good for certain purposes, but for shallow water river situations I wanted a spare that could get me out of the hole a little bit faster. I called the BCB factory, figuring I would speak to some engineer or sales rep. I asked the receptionist my question, and she said, “I’ll put you right through to Rick Pierce.” I’d never met him at that point, had never done any business directly with the company, but he took his time and discussed the relative merits of different prop options. That’s how he is with every customer. You don’t need to be named Iaconelli or drive a pink Cat to get that kind of attention.

If that doesn’t sway your thinking, go to a boat show that he attends sometime. If you can swing it, make it the Bassmaster Classic, where the never-ending line of well-wishers waiting to see him will make you think that he’s a rock star. That’s impressive enough, but what really sells me is that he remembers the name of every person in line, whether they own a Cat or not. If you bought a Caracal in 1988, he knows the color scheme. If you considered buying a Jaguar in the late 90s but bought something else he’ll greet you by name and tell you how to maximize the performance of whatever rig you have. On top of that, the company is still family-owned and he has a hand in every decision. If most of the other companies want to change a program or an incentive, they probably have to present it to a board, go through a vote and subsequently tweak the proposal a bit. If Rick wants to change something, he sends a post-it to his secretary and it’s done.

None of those things would matter if the build quality sucked. There are certain brands I’d strongly encourage any friend to never buy, regardless of how involved the particular dealer or company president was. This is not that case here, though. If you’re on the fence about what to buy, remember that if there’s ever an issue with a Cat – and given the way we treat them, there’s a fair chance you’ll have an issue at some point – you’ll get a real, live person on the phone. It might even be the President of the company. More importantly, he’ll take the time to explain to you the reason for whatever decision or advice he offers.

Go ahead and buy whatever you want, but all things considered I don’t understand why you’d buy anything else.

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Last Updated on Monday, 31 March 2014 07:28
 

Con Job

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March 28, 2014

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Even if you don’t know Connie Kilpatrick’s face, you probably know her handiwork. She and her husband Tommy are the proprietors of Lake Fork Tackle Repair (www.lakeforktacklerepair.com) and they started repairing and souping up my reels almost 20 years ago.

In addition to fixing reels, they’re also talented at fixing meals. On the first night of last week’s Battistipalooza, Connie and “Killer” brought over enough food to feed an army or two members of the Robbins family – smoked brisket, ribs and bologna (if you haven’t tried it, you should), along with apple pie, cinnamon cake, cherry cobbler and even some brownies requested by Yamamoto’s own Ron Colby. It was good that night as well as for lunch and a mid-afternoon snack the next day.

Someday I hope they’ll adopt me – I may end up weighing 400 pounds but I’ll be happy and all of my reels will work.

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Last Updated on Friday, 28 March 2014 08:04
 

Old Man River

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March 27, 2014

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Happy 50th birthday to Terry “Tater” Battisti, a longtime friend, occasional mentor, and frequent co-conspirator in all plans to take over the world of bass media. He’s also the world’s loudest sneezer.

For those of you who aren’t aware -- which is pretty much all of you – Terry is the one who originally recommended me to the Yamamoto brass, then cajoled, harassed and begged them until they brought me onboard. For that I will be eternally grateful. If you have ever been offended, targeted or unfairly maligned by this blog, you have him to blame.

I’m also proud that he decided to start up the Bass Fishing Archives website (www.bassfishingarchives.com) based partly on my encouragement. In the site’s two years of existence he has done most of the heavy lifting on the project. It’s a labor of love unlike any of the other copycat websites in our world. He continues to expand upon it every week and someday when all of the current icons of our sport are gone, we’ll be glad that he took the time to preserve their histories.

I had the good fortune to go to Texas this past weekend to celebrate his half century of marginally clean living. Stories were told, fish were caught and much food was consumed. As is often the case, Tater did the most of each.
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Last Updated on Thursday, 27 March 2014 07:36
 
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