A Bass Boat for Christmas

by John Kruse, December 02, 2021

Call it an early Christmas or a mid-life crisis dream come true. Rusty Johnston is my best friend and fishing partner of 45 years. The two of us have dreamed of fishing out of a tournament ready bass or walleye boat for much of that time. We have fished several bass tournaments and we know how to catch fish but the small size of his 1994 aluminum Starcraft with a top speed of 29 MPH has limited our ability to compete against much faster and better outfitted boats.

This year we got serious about an upgrade and I began the process of looking for a boat that would fit into a garage (limiting us to under 18 feet) with an out the door price of $18K to $25K. The first thing I found out was that demand for boats was at a historic high during this pandemic and inventory, due to both demand and supply chain difficulties, was at an all time low. A case in point, one local boat dealer in Ellensburg literally has only one boat and one outboard motor in its inventory for sale right now.

With that in mind I started looking to order straight from a manufacturer. Unfortunately, I soon found out I would have to wait awhile if I wanted to go this route. Kent Brown, the West Coast Regional Sales Manager for the White River Marine Group, which includes Tracker, Ranger, Nitro and Triton boats, told me a fiberglass boat could be had within two or three months but aluminum boats would be difficult to come by for some time. This was not because of aluminum production but because certain components like the seats and the foam in these boats are hard to acquire during the current supply chain crisis. In fact, a representative from Xpress Boats, makers of aluminum bass boats in Arkansas, told me in June I would have to wait eight months for a new boat from them.

Another person I spoke to was Steve Rogers, a well-known outdoors media personality, angler and boat owner. As far as getting a tournament bass boat, he recommended getting a boat with at least a 20- gallon live well, the maximum horsepower I could afford for an outboard and a bow mounted electric trolling motor that would be strong enough to keep the boat on track in a stiff current or strong winds.

With those parameters in mind the search began in earnest for a new or late model boat. Unfortunately, most of the boats I found in my price range were aluminum boats that were only powered by 40 to 60 HP engines, giving them a top speed of 30 to 35 MPH. Eventually though, I got lucky and found what I was looking for.

The boat in question was on consignment at Bob Feil Motors in East Wenatchee. It is a 2018 fiberglass Nitro Z17 bass boat that measured just over 17-feet long, had a 90 hp Mercury four stroke engine that will get the boat up to 46 MPH, a nice Humminbird 7 fish finder with GPS mapping and a MotorGuide 70 lb. thrust bow-mounted electric trolling motor. With a 23-gallon livewell, tons of storage and only 17 hours of engine use, the boat is virtually brand new! Better still, the owner was willing to come down off of his sale price, in part because the exact same model year boat became available at the same time for a lower price in Oregon.

Dave Ritter, the salesman at Bob Feil Boats and Motors, gave us a detailed walk through of the boat and guided us through the purchasing process. Boeing Employee Credit Union took care of the financing and gave us a great rate. This week, I’ll be picking up our dream boat and taking it to Rusty’s house. We’ll store it in his shop, located less than a mile away from the boat launch at Potholes State Park.

We are thrilled about getting the boat out on the lake a lot and fishing several tournaments in 2022 and beyond. It’s also fair to say we just got ourselves the best Christmas present two middle-aged bass anglers could every hope for. Here’s hoping your Christmas is as merry as ours is shaping up to be!

John Kruse – www.northwesternoutdoors.com and www.americaoutdoorsradio.com

1. Rusty Johnston and John Kruse with their new boat


1/31/2022 1:18:00 PM
Hey John,

Congratulations on your new rig. The test of your friendship with Rusty takes on a new chapter! (Just kidding)

And thanks for your wide-ranging articles on this site.
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