Dock Talk - How Big Of A Boat Do I Need?




An angler recently asked other bass anglers about fishing a BFL Cowboy Division Bass Tournament in 2021. He was concerned that his boat might not be good enough for his co-angler …

“I am considering fishing the Cowboy division this year. I have never fished these events before, however I have fished several other tournament trails (team trails). I have an older, smaller boat with outdated electronics.

"My question is, if I sign up as a "pro" will I be doing my co-angler a disservice because I don't have the technology or capabilities of 90% of the field.

“I am not a novice angler. I have a couple 2nd place finishes, several top 10s, and have won a regional championship, but it was always with a buddy who knew what he was getting into.”

Our questioning angler is fishing out of an 18.5' fiberglass Triton. The tournaments he has fished have been on Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend. “I am familiar with big water. Sure, it’s not a 21' Ranger, but it ain't a 16' john boat either.”

Another angler responded, “Would you want to draw someone like that after you have paid you hard earned dollars? Just being Devils advocate here, not bashing.”

What would you respond to angler number 1?

Bass Karma: “Fish it. There are plenty of guys with top of the line equipment that can’t fish their way out of a bath tub. BFL is a beginner level tourny anyway. Go do it and just have fun!”

Champion 1, who I bet is a Champion boat owner agreed. “Heck yea fish it. FIrst time I fished an open (as a co-angler) my very first "Pro" showed up drunk and puking from drinking all night. You can’t possibly be any worse than that guy!”

B.Dill commented … “I drew a Z7, in a 30 MPH north wind in about 30 degrees weather on Rayburn once. Wet, cold, hurting, zeroed, and front lasted all day. I considered it part of paying my dues. Ain't gonna lie though, that tournament was likely the catalyst for me entering as a boater moving forward... And buying a good Gore Tex suit.

“An 18.5 is fine. If they don't like it, they can buy a bigger boat than yours, pay a little more entry and enter as a pro.”

Like John Cox recently said, "If your boat is holding you back, you don't love it enough". Sign up and go fish.” Look at Cox or Keith Poche, small boats, older electronics or even no electronics, no spot locks and they do just fine on a much larger scale than a BFL. “Look at it like this. Eighty percent of the field with the best stuff money can buy goes home empty handed.”

Red Raider39 sums it up. “Agree 100%. Don't let a 200+ boat field stacked with $75k+ rigs deter you from entering. I generally cut any field size in half and that is the actual competition. If you are capable of getting on fish and giving your co-angler the opportunity at bites, then don't worry about what you are fishing out of.”

Go fish. The boat doesn’t make the angler. I have seen anglers who had bass rigs with all the latest gadgetry but didn’t know a Texas from a Carolina Rigged worm. From reading your fishing background, I think a non-boater is getting a good trip.




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Lake Fork

Fishing Report from TPWD (Apr. 17)

GOOD. Water Stained; 60 degrees; 0.20 feet above pool. Fork has been good with fish in just about every stage of the spawn. Lots of fish are shallow in 1-4 feet with Texas rigs, yum dingers, chatterbaits, flukes, and swim jigs. Offshore bass are good on humps and points in 5-7 feet of water with Carolina rigs with light weights, mid-running crankbaits, and shaky heads. Report by Marc Mitchell, Lake Fork Guide Service. Changing weather means changing bite. First phase bass spawners are now in a post spawn pattern and aggressive. Frog pattern topwaters are excellent in the grass and brush. Casting into the pockets and letting the frog sit for a few seconds is a good idea. Crappies are shallow, small fish patterns like wooly buggers are a good bet. Bream are beginning to make themselves known in the shallows, wooly buggers and small poppers should bring a strike. Report by Guide Alex Guthrie, Fly Fish Fork Guide Service. Crappie are great with some pre-spawn fish, some fish actively spawning and some post spawn. Fish can be found in a few feet of water to 30 feet of water. All crappie on Lake Fork do not go shallow to spawn and we catch fish in 18-20 feet that are spawning on timber. You can also find some fish on brush, lay downs, bridges and docks. It is a very versatile time to catch crappie with multiple patterns. Minnows will work great right now but any crappie baits will catch fish. Try small hand tied jigs and soft plastics. Catfishing is excellent right now on Lake Fork around timber in 12-20 feet. Still seeing loads of fish around roosting trees. Lots of birds in the shallow areas close to the bank in the early mornings chasing shad spawns. The catfish are also up there feeding on shad as well. Use any prepared catfish baits or cut shad on baited holes in the timber. Use a cork with anything a catfish will bite up shallow. Minnows and cut shad will work great on this shallow fish. Report by Jacky Wiggins, Jacky Wiggins Guide Service.

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