pros spend their days jettisoning around America's lakes and reservoirs
aboard sleek 20-foot-plus fiberglass boats and powerful 250-hp Mercury
outboards — a far cry from their fishing roots.
CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion Michael Iaconelli, it was a 12-foot
polyurethane Coleman boat with a trolling motor. In Edwin Evers' case,
it was a one-man kick boat that he propelled with swim fins before later
adding a 2-hp motor. Although they have moved up considerably in class
and power, both still fondly remember their primitive, small boat years.
had a lot of good times in that little boat and learned an awful lot
about fishing," says New Jersey pro, Iaconelli. "It was perfect for all
the small electric-motors-only lakes back home. I fished out of that
boat until I was 21 or 22 years old and won a boat as an amateur in a
Bassmaster Top 100 tournament."
Growing up in Texas, Evers
spent every free hour honing his skills from atop his little kick boat
in lakes like Fork, Worth, Bridgeport and Possum Kingdom. "Later, when I
was in the eighth grade, dad bought a Bass Tracker," the 29-year-old
pro recalls. "We'd put my little kick boat on the back deck of the
Tracker and when we got to a spot, I'd put that boat out in the water
and start fishing around. I had a bigger boat at that time, but I still
chose to fish out of that Fishin' Pal because I felt I fished better out
pros understand the beauty of small boat fishing. And there are
thousands like them, including famed big bass hunter Doug Hannon. The
vast majority of Hannon's more than 500 10-pound-plus bass were caught
from a 14-foot highly personalized camouflaged johnboat.
small boat is something that I consider in a large way responsible for
all of the fish I have caught," Hannon says. "I think the small boat
fisherman has an advantage over big boat fishermen when it comes to
catching big bass.
In praise of aluminum boats
fiberglass boats have long dominated the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament
Trail, a few pros have done well running aluminum boats in past seasons.
David Ashcraft qualified for the 1995 Bassmaster Classic in the midst
of two seasons of utilizing a 19-foot Xpress aluminum powered by a
Although he sacrificed some speed,
Ashcraft didn't feel disadvantaged by running an aluminum in a sea of
more expensive fiberglass boats.
"In my opinion, it is the
best big, rough water boat that I've ever been in," he notes. "I'm
talking about from 5- to 10-foot waves.
"It also allowed
me to get back into some shallow places because it only drafts about 6
inches of water and it would run really high in the water. It would also
go into really shallow water with the trolling motor. Six to 8 inches
of water is all you needed to float it."
Ricky Green, a 14 time Classic qualifier from Arkansas, ran an Xpress boat during the 1998 Bassmaster season.
was a little more gutsy when I was running around stumpfields, timber
and stuff like that because I knew I couldn't knock a hole in it," Green
recalls. "I could dent it, but I couldn't knock a hole in it, so I did
take more chances."
"With the pressured lakes of today,
the biggest problem you face with a big fish is not having it realize
that there is a fisherman in the area. A small boat allows you to not
only reach fish in remote areas where the bass are less molested; it
also is subtle enough that you are not so apparent when you approach a
big fish. It presents much less of a presence in the water because it's
small and light, which also means that it takes less power to move the
boat around. That means less disturbance in the water. Everything has to
be right to catch a 10-pound bass, but it begins with being as
inconspicuous as possible."
The charm of small boat
fishing has survived and flourished since the sport's infant days.
Despite the popularity of the fiberglass big rigs, small boats
(particularly aluminum) continue to dominate the annual sales figures.
is the reason small boat clubs have popped up all over the country
(like the Fort Worth Mini-Boat Club, Longhorn Mini-Boat Club, Small Boat
Bass Club in Omaha and the Florida Pond Jumpers), where big boats and
motors are not allowed. Attend one of their tournaments and you will
likely see aluminums, inflatables, hard plastic miniboats, canoes,
kayaks, paddle boats and even tubes.
These little boats
are perfect for situations like Florida's extensive network of canals,
farm ponds in Georgia, floating Tennessee smallmouth creek streams, and
shallow water tidal conditions all along the marshy coastal areas.
is plenty to like about small boats, particularly their cost, ease of
transportation to the lake and stealthy maneuverability on the water.
Not to mention the lessons they teach.
"One of the things
it will teach you is to figure out how to catch fish because you don't
have the luxury of running all over the lake," says Evers, a four time
Bassmaster Classic qualifier now living in Oklahoma. "A small boat makes
you a better angler because you have to develop a way to catch them
wherever you are. That's where you're stuck for the day, so you've got
to figure out a way to get them to bite.
"It taught me a
lot about patience and fishing slow. There are a lot more fish in an
area than you realize. A lot of times people go through an area in a big
boat and catch one or two and just keep going. In that small boat, you
kind of work that area all day long, and you find that there is a whole
lot more fish in any given spot than most fishermen realize."
credits his Fishin' Pal boat with enabling him to catch numerous
trophy-class bass that he never would have reached in a full-size boat.
Haynes can relate to that. A member of the Longhorn Mini-Boat Club, the
electrical contractor from Mesquite, Texas, often carries his little
boat aboard his 20-foot fiberglass craft and then launches it to
penetrate the heavily timbered sections of various Lone Star State
A growing number of knowledgeable fishermen now
take a two boat approach to their favorite lake or reservoir. They use a
larger, faster fiberglass boat to get to the more remote upriver
sections of the impoundment and then switch to an aluminum boat to
penetrate the smaller sections where most anglers fear to tread.
maneuverability has become more evident in recent years on the CITGO
Bassmaster Tournament Trail, where aluminum jetboats are showing up more
often in river tournaments. Last April, Randy Howell won the inaugural
CITGO Bassmaster Elite 50 event on Lake Dardanelle by using a Triton
1860 aluminum and an 80-hp Mercury jet-powered outboard to reach an
inaccessible pond loaded with spotted bass.
"I learned an
important lesson in that tournament," the Alabama pro notes. "I plan on
keeping this boat as a backup for tough, shallow water tournaments. It
amazes me how these boats can get you to water that you never dreamed
So... Last week Steve added this to his
boats. lol I have done this for 40 years so i didn't need the article to
tell me this but I thought it was interesting.