January 13

Why the heck did I buy a bass boat?

Let me clear the air on something that seems sort of oddball for saltwater fishing!

The End of GnarTooth

During 2017 it was becoming pretty clear that I needed a new boat, because the Blog was growing and I needed a boat to match that growth.

I suppose any excuse is a good one to get a new boat, but if I really wanted to take my fishing to another level then I needed something to match those needs.

Sure, my flatboat, affectionately known as "GnarTooth", was great for the marsh and, even though she had caught a lot of fish, had her limitations that kept me from serving inshore anglers.

GnarTooth the Flatboat

Picture from the early 90's.

As a young kid my father took me fishing in that boat, so there is certainly the sentimental value, but even more since I rebuilt her in 2015.

We had been through a lot together! We fished everywhere from Slidell, to Venice to Dularge. Everywhere!

As you can imagine, replacing her wasn't an easy decision.

What replaced GnarTooth?

The Tracker 195 TXW

Courtesy Tracker Marine

What the hell is that?

It's a bass boat.

Why in the hell did you buy a bass boat?! This is saltwater fishing!

Because it perfectly matches my needs and, with those needs in mind, outperforms similar-sized bay boats.

The Tracker is faster, floats shallower and handles chop just as well.

Plus, I've already fished out of them and they've met my needs.

But to be clear, let me gloss over those:

Speed

I gotta be fast.

This boat needs to quickly get from point A to point B because time is of the essence, especially seeing this isn't something I do for fun, it's how I make my living.

Low Wind Profile

T-tops are not for me. Neither are large consoles or freeboard.

They increase the surface area wind can grab onto, making boat positioning difficult and requiring a larger drift sock.

Fuel Efficiency

Can't be a gas hog.

I had a boat that was a gas hog and really disliked it, for obvious reasons.

Storage

To put things where they are out the way.

Rod Storage

Rods should be stored out of the way, keeping them out of the way and freeing up casting space.

More Storage

Because more storage.

Livewell

No live shrimp for me. I just don't use them anymore because I don't need them.

But it's still good to have a live well for tagging trout or the occasional tournament.

Recessed Foot-Pedal

The days of remote-controlled trolling motors are over.

Doing it right means keeping your hands free and having a foot pedal is awesome for that.

A recessed one is even more Gucci.

Seating

My back is pretty shot for a 32 year old.

Years of humping rucks in the Marines did a number and it's nice to be able to sit down in an actual seat, not a leaning post or cushion.

Oh my goodness is it nice.

Open Deck

Most inshore anglers cast overhead because it's easy and well....it works.

But advanced casting like roll casting, pitching and flipping require an open deck with small gunnels.

Shallow Draft

This is relative, but getting in and out of redfish ponds is a must.

Garage

Its gotta fit in my garage. No slips or storage units.

I trailer to different locations and don't want to be relegated to one.

What boat matches those needs?

A bass boat. All. Day. Long.

Not only does it do those things I listed, but it does them better than similar-length bay boats.

Yeah, I know.

I won't be able to fish Breton Sound.

It's just too much for a boat under 19ft in length!

But with that said, even when I did rock a big bay boat, the only days we went were the days you could sneak out with a smaller boat.

We fished inside on the days two and three foot seas were predicted, or even one to twos.

Besides, you've passed up a lot a fish by the time you make it to Breton Sound!

A bass boat fits where I am fishing...

When I fish the marsh I am usually targeting redfish or speckled trout, and sometimes bass, especially since they are becoming more prolific and retain the title of "America's Fish".

Everyone's needs are unique and the boat that best fits mine is a bass boat.

After that, a flats boat.

After that, a bay boat.

If you're still skeptical, then just wait and see. :)


Tags

boating


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  • Hey JT, thanks for commenting!

    I hear you, and it’s good to point out that professional bass anglers also use bass boats to traverse and fish coasts just like Louisiana, or Louisiana itself, and places far more challenging than Louisiana.

    At the end of the day a boat’s design and layout depend on your and your needs, right?

    Anyway, I think any of the spring months are good to fish, what matters is your timing. It doesn’t matter if one month is “best” if you launch the day a cold front hits.

    You need to pay attention to fishing reports and keep a sharp eye on the weather.

    Planning is good and this video does a great job of laying it all out: https://www.lafishblog.com/find-speckled-trout-in-louisiana/

    Thanks for visiting LAFB!

  • Before last fall, the last time I fished the marsh was with my wife and a guide out of Venice 8 years ago. I used to fish Venice often but moved out of state and a long way from the coast. I watched your videos and observed your Tracker as well as some others on YouTube also fishing the marsh from Trackers. So, i bought one last fall and made a trip to Lafitte. My adult son and I could not have been more pleased with the Tracker, how it handled, its shallow draft and all the storage. When we returned home, I thoroughly flushed the motor with a water hose, ran it in a fresh water lake, and backed the trailer in and out of the fresh water over and over. We are eagerly looking forward to another trip to the marsh this spring.

    What is the best spring month for catching reds and specks?

  • I agree completely.
    I’m rockin an older 18′ Xpress w/115 Johnson that can go almost anywhere in the shallow water Lafitte area and halfway to Grand Isle.

  • Hey Ryan, thanks for commenting.

    This boat doesn’t have carpet, it has marine vinyl that hoses off easily, especially with a power washer.

    That and I don’t know how I’d get mud into the boat in the first place, since I’m not really doing anything that would make that happen besides occasionally getting stuck.

    Hope that answers your question. Thanks, Ryan!

  • Hey Richard, thanks for commenting.

    Really couldn’t give you a straight answer on the warranty, so you probably ought to read it.

    The boat and trailer are doing great, but I should point out that it’s nowhere as salty here as it is in Florida.

    In fact, from the high rivers we’ve been having, a good chunk of the LA coast is virtually freshwater.

    Hope that helps, thanks for commenting!

  • How are things holding up on the rib and trailer? I’m a hardcore tournament bass guy and live in SWFL, it kind of a pain to travel to freshwater every time I want to go fishing for fun on the weekends. So much saltwater and brackish water around it hard not to want to explore the closer alternatives and different species. I own an old tracker now and plan on replacing with the exact 195TXW, those boats are so sweet for the money. The trailer on my current tracker is rusting up pretty good from being dipped in the caloosahatchee several times over 2 years. The boat is 33 years old though…nonetheless, seeing any negative effects from the salt? What about warranty? Is it null and void after salt exposure? Thanks for sharing, this gives me confidence to buy another tracker.

  • Yes, the foot pedal rotates on an axis in the middle, rocking back and forth. Pushing down on the front turns the trolling motor to the right and rocking back on the pedal moves it left.

    It’s cable driven, very much like a throttle.

    There is a big button built into it, so you can momentarily switch the trolling motor on and off.

    Working one requires a little more skill and dexterity, but is great because it frees up your hands.

    I hated foot-pedals my entire life, but in 2016 I made the effort to master them, because I’ve seen so many professional tournament anglers use them.

    There are no preparations I’ve had to make with that boat I wouldn’t make with a bay boat, supposedly “built for saltwater.”

    The same maintenance and care I put into this boat is the same I put into any boat I’ve owned previously (both flat and bay).

    Will things break on it? Yes. Things break on all boats.

    Brand new, $70k+ “marsh cadillacs” have things corrode, rust and break, all in the first year of ownership.

    That and the water here isn’t as salty as other places, given our influx of freshwater. After all, we catch redfish in the same places bluegill and bass swim. It’s crazy.

    With that said, this Tracker was $33k after taxes, which is a helluva deal. It’s my first new boat and financing makes it hurt less. lol

    I tried looking for a used model somewhere but couldn’t.

  • That Is a sweet boat. Is a foot peddle just the control mechanism of a trolling motor? Did you have to do anything special to prepare it for the salt water since it’s a bass boat? Afraid to ask how much they cost :)

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