Is your Boat Tournament Ready?

Scott Bonnema Gives Us an Insider Look at his Skeeter FX21

Tournament bass fishing is all about efficiency. In order to be consistently successful your boat and all of your equipment needs to be dialed in, accessible and properly utilized. Let’s take a detailed look at how tournament veteran, Scott Bonnema organizes his boat and all of the equipment in it.

Bonnema starts us off in the rod locker. Like many anglers, he uses rod sleeves to prevent tangles and damage to his rods. Scott adds a unique twist to his rod locker by removing both the rod tree and the tubes that the tip of each rod slides into. This creates a wide-open locker and allows him to carry nearly double the number of rods.

Next, we head to the center compartment where all of the tackle is stored. In this section of the boat, Bonnema stores everything from spinnerbaits to drop-shot plastics. Both his hard and soft tackle boxes are labeled and kept in the exact same spot at all times for quick and easy access. Scott makes a conscious effort to keep his heavier boxes that contain items like jigs and tungsten flippin’ weights towards the end of the compartment closest to the rear of the boat for proper weight distribution.

An extra landing net and a livewell net are also kept in his tackle storage compartment. Scott often uses the small livewell net to quickly remove tournament fish from the livewell, which greatly reduces the stress put on each fish while digging with just your hands.

Moving back to the livewells now… When a fish is caught, Scott makes sure to weigh the bass on his Rapala scale and then using his Ardent Cull system, he enters the exact weight of each fish. When a limit is filled out, this allows him to quickly identify the fish that needs to be culled without balance beams.

Staying in the back of the boat, several important items are stored such as lifejackets, jumper cables, extra trolling motor props, Lakemaster GPS chips and throwable floatation devices.

Scott stresses that you make sure you know the boating regulations when and if you travel to another state for a tournament or even a fun day of fishing. Keep a copy of the regulations in your boat! For example, WI requires that you carry a paddle in your boat at all times. Other states require flares and items that Minnesota angler often forget.

A great tip that any fishermen can and should consider is bringing a notepad in the boat. Scott takes the time each and every day to record things like, weather conditions, water levels, lures, structures and everything in between. Key factors that can help an angler in the future are often lost in the shuffle and forgotten if not noted immediately.

Back up to the front of the boat… braid to fluorocarbon leaders have become extremely popular. Scott keeps his leader lines stored in this plexiglass holder that allows him to strip off line super-fast when a new leader is needed. No more tangled spools or digging for the proper pound test.

Also, up front are more lifejackets and the all-important rain gear. Scott keeps his rain gear in a Lew’s waterproof duffel bag to ensure that it stays dry. He also tries to carry two sets of rain gear just in case a fishing partner forgets theirs or his first set happens to get soaked.

To wrap things up, Scott takes us to the portion of the boat where all the action happens. His Skeeter is loaded with the Minn Kota Ultrex, Humminbird HELIX electronics, 360 Imaging, HydroWave and a Minn wireless Kota Talon foot bad. The Skeeter FX21 is a fishing machine and when your gear is properly organized and distributed, it’s just that much better!


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