Why Professional Anglers Are Hooked on Pickups

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By Tim Esterdahl

For the last 10 years, bass fishermen have come from all over the country to land the biggest fish and take the top prize in the Toyota Texas Bass Classic, part of the annual Toyota Texas Fest. For 2016, 38 professional anglers gathered to battle it out for $100,000 and a new Nitro Z20 bass-fishing boat.

During the tournament anglers spent hours in remote locations on Lake Ray Roberts, 60 miles north of Dallas. Many anglers spent hours (and sometimes days) on the road to get there. While the anglers depend on experience and fishing gear to win the top prize, they also rely on the most important tool at their disposal — their pickup truck.

After spending a few days watching the action in May, it was clear how important vehicles are to their success. Here's what we learned about why anglers need pickups.

Towing Diversity

Everyone has to tow; with that said, one of the more surprising things we saw was the diversity of vehicles in the parking lots. There were half-, three-quarter- and one-ton trucks in gasoline and diesel engine flavors. We also saw a variety of bed lengths and several dualie setups.

This diversity in vehicles is due to manufacturer sponsorships as well as personal tastes and lifestyles. Aaron Martens, a perennially ranked top 10 fisherman on the Bassmaster Elite Series tour, uses a Ram 3500 dualie with the Cummins diesel engine for his fishing operation.

"I use the dualie because I have an overhead camper that I take with me on the road," Martens said. "With how much traveling we do, it is definitely nice to tow with the dualie setup for safety."

We're guessing having a familiar, comfortable bed to sleep on isn't so bad either.

Pickups: Another Piece of Gear

Just as with truck owners, professional anglers believe in having the right tool for the job, and one of the most important tools at each fisherman's disposal is a pickup truck. Texas bass fishing guide and professional angler James Caldemeyer put 35,000 miles on his 2016 Toyota Tundra last year, crisscrossing his way to tournaments across the country, from Texas to upstate New York.

"My truck is part of my office, really, when I'm on the road along with my boat," Caldemeyer said. "It's basically a part of my team."

A key aspect of a good pickup is a comfortable interior. After putting in 10 to 12 hours each day fishing, a pickup with a comfortable interior helps make difficult travel schedules a little easier.

"From the professional point of view, having a comfortable interior is important," Caldemeyer said. "You aren't as tired when you arrive and you really don't feel that travel lag."

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Fuel Economy: Minor Factor

Every truckmaker has made great strides in city, highway and combined fuel economy; however, when Caldemeyer was asked about fuel economy, he minimized the topic and brought up reliability.

"Fuel economy isn't that big deal to me," Caldemeyer said, "I want something I can rely on. I'm not going to worry about 1-2 mpg when I think about the long-term reliability and dependability. That's what's really important to me when I'm traveling with the type of schedule I have during the course of year. ... I want the vehicle to get me there on time."

Caldemeyer that put 36,000 miles on his truck last year, and an informal perusal survey of the parking lots revealed that competitors are not worried about maximizing fuel economy. The majority of the trucks we saw were equipped with V-8s, four full-size doors and bigger-than-stock off-road tires.

Martens and Caldemeyer share some observations about truck modifications and their affect on performance. "Most of the fisherman put big tires, lifts and other things on their trucks for looks," Martens said. "That just kills the fuel economy."

However, unlike Caldemeyer, Martens learned to care about fuel economy from other competitors who gave him some good advice. That's why he chose the Ram heavy duty with the Cummins engine.

"I regularly get over 10 mpg out of my Ram with the boat and camper on it," Martens said. "That fuel economy is the best I ever had and I always have used diesel for better fuel economy. When towing just my boat, I get 13 to 17 mpg."

The Right Accessories Make a Difference

Most of the trucks we saw at the Texas Bass Classic were outfitted with extra storage and many had bed covers featuring a variety of storage items such as pullout drawers and pull-down trays.

These storage systems are essential, Caldemeyer said, in keeping his nearly $100,000 truck and trailer organized. His Tundra features a Leer pickup shell and a Decked bed storage system with two pullout drawers made out of polyethylene and steel; it's capable of carrying up to 2,000 pounds of gear. He uses the pullout drawers to hold plastic boxes with several separators for different lures. He has other pull-down trays for hats, shoes and other clothing items.

Anglers without a bed cover or cap rely on camper trailers instead. Martens says his camper has quite a bit of storage inside and has plenty of room to bring everything he needs to each competition.

Professional anglers happily share Information about storing or loading gear — that's obvious from looking at their trucks, which are similarly equipped.

However, lure choice and bait preferences are guarded like military secrets.

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Basic Towing Skills Key to Launching a Boat

Watching pro fishermen launch their boats in the dark morning hours was like watching efficient, supersmart robots executing a task. Each fisherman took less than five minutes to launch a boat without getting in the way of next truck and boat in the queue. And from what we could tell, they weren't using any of the new towing-assist technology such as Ford's Pro Trailer Backup Assist or Chevrolet's trailering camera system.

Many of the anglers relied on the basics such as using their mirrors when backing up (instead of turning their heads) as well as setting the parking brake on slippery ramps when launching a boat.

"I can't tell you how many guys I've seen put their whole rig in the water by not using the parking brake," Caldemeyer said. "The transmission slips or they forget to put it into park and the whole rig goes right down into the water."

Plus, even though it seems fast, the anglers do take their time to make sure everything is done correctly before climbing out of their vehicles to launch their boat.

Here are some tips to help keep your next boating (and launching) experience safe and fun:

  • Make sure all your mirrors are properly adjusted, then use them. Jackknifes are more likely if you twist and turn your neck to look behind you.
  • Always put the transmission in Park and set your parking brake when stopped on a boat launch.
  • Relax and take your time. If it takes a few minutes to think your way through, take the time. You may have spectators but don't let that put pressure on you to launch your boat quickly.

After a weekend of watching the professionals at work, it reminded us how important it is to have the right gear, take your time when executing a boat hookup or release, and have fun.

No word yet on dates for the 2017 Toyota Texas Bass Classic, but click here for more info. The Bassmaster Elite Series tour is currently ongoing along with the Fishing League Worldwide's Bass Fishing League tour.

Cars.com photos by Tim Esterdahl

 

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Comments

Every one of those pickups with a bed cover could have been replaced by a Suburban, Expedition or Durango carrying custom storage in the same manner. I wonder how many of you noticed that the Rapala-sponsored truck was NOT a pickup?

Might want to delete this sentence "Anglers without a bed cover or cap rely on camper trailers instead" I do not think these guys pull a trailer and their boat too...

Plus, I do not see any "off-road" tires. Maybe some all-terrain but not off-road tires.

Things change over the years. I use to go to and knew a few people who fished the BASS tourney's, most of them had surburbans.

I hate those guys. They are some of the rudest group of people at the boat docks. They will have someone back their trailer up between 2 docked boats and powerload their boat onto the trailer. All the while everyone that follows the rules gets their boats rammed into the dock by those idiot's powerloading. They think they own the waterway too. You can get rid of that Hobby for all I care. Keep those morons off the water.

I wonder how many of these "professional anglers" get those trucks for free from their sponsors?

@LMAO, theres nothing wrong with power loading its actually quite common.....not that I am one of these guys, but I will say this, we do notice that most people have no clue what they are doing at the docks, dock at the ramp are not for long term docking, they are there for for singles to unload until they park, also make note that these guys are doing this for a living, and that is their life.....not saying they are in the right, there are some that are bad, but trust me not near all of them as you say....

Nitro there is a big difference between normal powerloading and squeezing between two docked boats and powerloading. The only time there are any issues at the docks is when a tournament is going on. Nothing but rude behavior from thise guys. I really don't care if they do it for a living. They are causing damage to other people's boats they those people pay for themselves. Maybe not all of them are bad but I seen enough of those people at the docks to know as a group I cannot stand them.

Now I agree that the dock is not meant for longterm parking but it is perfectly acceptable to dock, go get your truck and fast lane to the dock. There are specific lanes for pickup only. They can wait their turn like everyone else.

I wonder how many of these "professional anglers" get those trucks for free from their sponsors?


Posted by: doc | Jul 7, 2016 8:52:01 AM

If you ever see some of their trucks there are a lot of sponsored trucks there.

"However, lure choice and bait preferences are guarded like military secrets."

I personally use earthworms I dig up in my front yard, and sometimes crickets and grasshoppers. And the occasional larvae from wasp nets, provided I don't get stung. And I also use a nice bamboo pole that I can get from the nearby creek bed. I do my fishing at the pond behind my house, so there's no need to deal with powerboats and obnoxious jerks polluting the waters.

First off, you're not supposed to dock on the loading side of the loading dock. There's nothing more fricken annoying then idiots docking on the loading side. That side of the dock is for loading and unloading. Pull your boat to the other side and you won't have to see people try to squeeze between your boat just to load up.

@LMAO, I am at tournaments all the time, and dont see what you describe, I have seen it, but very rarely, I am at one at the thousand islands in August, which has huge crowds, and just dont see what you describe as all the time.....during tournaments as you say, then again like I said I"m at those all the time and just dont see what you are talking about, usually the non tourny folks are hangin out with us and talking to us. Maybe you mean the local tourny guys

And to note, the trucks are owned by the guys who drive them, the sponsors do other things like help with entry fees and equipment related to the boats, this is not like professional sports with millions of dollars of sponsorship deals.

. Maybe you mean the local tourny guys


Posted by: Nitro | Jul 7, 2016 10:14:00 AM

That I do not know. I may just assume it is one group of anglers in bass boats. There have a few cases where the park law enforcement had to be called out because of a damaged boat due to a bass boater. It was almost going to get really ugly. People with 45' fountains don't like their boats getting knocked into a dock very much. Never seen the damage but that guy was angry.

What needed to be done is the local park law enforcement to designate specific areas for the bass boaters and the rest of us. Let them do whatever they want to do next to each other's boats.

Sounds like your experiences are much better than mine but they have left a bad taste in my mouth from my experience. I did not bother to ask what type of contest it was, it just looked like a regular fishing contest with blinged out trucks and bass boats.

I tow my boat with a Honda Civic.

A public loading ramp at any lake is full of ediots!

its seems here that campers think loading and unloading docks with 15 min tie up signs are there for their personal use during their stay. they leave boats tied up at docks all day. more than once I have seen unattended boats get loose. once I saw someone so mad they waded in and pulled the plug out on a boat.

Forget all these wanna-be trucks, just get the real thing - this will be my next toy;

http://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/autos-trucks/heres-what-each-of-the-2017-ford-raptors-six-drive-modes-does/ar-BBu3ge4?li=BBisPVf&ocid=spartandhp

@Lionel the "real truck" you speak of has the towing capacity of a Chevy Colorado.

This portion of the article is what I get from people that buy pickup trucks for a lifestyle or work:
"Fuel economy isn't that big deal to me," Caldemeyer said, "I want something I can rely on. I'm not going to worry about 1-2 mpg when I think about the long-term reliability and dependability. That's what's really important to me when I'm traveling with the type of schedule I have during the course of year. ... I want the vehicle to get me there on time."

Dependability and long-term reliability are the two biggest things, unless you trade your truck once it is out of the 3 year/36k mile warranty it's something that is more important than a few MPGS.

@Lionel the "real truck" you speak of has the towing capacity of a Chevy Colorado.

This portion of the article is what I get from people that buy pickup trucks for a lifestyle or work:
"Fuel economy isn't that big deal to me," Caldemeyer said, "I want something I can rely on. I'm not going to worry about 1-2 mpg when I think about the long-term reliability and dependability. That's what's really important to me when I'm traveling with the type of schedule I have during the course of year. ... I want the vehicle to get me there on time."

Dependability and long-term reliability are the two biggest things, unless you trade your truck once it is out of the 3 year/36k mile warranty it's something that is more important than a few MPGS.

@John: if I needed to tow, I'll get a 1-ton w/diesel.

Of course everyone has their personal needs & life style; this is perfect for me - a vehicle that can do all your usual family recreation stuff in comfort & style & at the same time have the extra comfort & security knowing your truck can take on most off-road needs/river crossings, floods etc & at the same time good enough to take your wife out for dinner.

Forget all these wanna-be trucks, just get the real thing - this will be my next toy;

http://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/autos-trucks/heres-what-each-of-the-2017-ford-raptors-six-drive-modes-does/ar-BBu3ge4?li=BBisPVf&ocid=spartandhp

Posted by: Lionel | Jul 7, 2016 3:22:48 PM

Sounds awful on the outside. I wonder what engine sound Ford selected for the occupants to hear. LOL.

"Some people have no clue on a complete driving experience..."
Posted by: LMAO | Jul 7, 2016 6:04:31 PM

LMAO is right some people have no clue...I mean why settle for the chevy shake when you can have the Ford Death Wobble?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EuQ6f8rgT4

Who cares about off road the vibrations when you can have leaking brakes?

http://www.autoblog.com/2016/05/25/ford-f150-brake-master-cylinder-recall/

Think of the hot F150 driving experience....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czyaZmYz9FQ

I would rather have a V6 run rings around a V8 any day...hahaha

Posted by: Lionel | Jul 7, 2016 4:49:38 PM

I guess you have no choice when you only buy Fords. I got a V8 in my truck that destroys the eco-boost. Sounds fantastic and there is no vibration, at least not up to the speed limiter. And it takes no time getting there. HAHAHA!

@ GMSRGREAT

What are you talking about? Ford offers a 5.0L V-8 in their F-150 and 2 V-8's in the Super Duty - 6.2L and 6.7L.

If you're going to post, at least have a clue of what you're talking about.

Posted by: Dan G. | Jul 7, 2016 8:08:32 PM

No V6 offered in Superduty. So clearly Lionel was referring to half ton pick-ups and that leaves only the 5.0 liter in which he can run circles around with his V6. (eco) You should have figured that out for yourself?????

"Maybe your daddies 75 chivy truck was fast too..."
Posted by: LMAO | Jul 7, 2016 8:26:15 PM

I see LMAO's "grammer" is as good as ever...lol

http://www.nwitimes.com/business/local/ford-recalls-explorers-made-in-hegewisch/article_dd74ee57-a3db-5fb7-bc4f-1b91b1318ea9.html

I wonder if those guys bicker about outboard engines like what goes on here.

@LMAO, you are 100% correct, my bassboat has a 200HP Mercury and we all complain about Evinrudes and Yamaha's, so yes same as here.....HAHA and the boat manufacture #1 claims all the same, my Nitro bassboat is the best,hahaha

LMAO, you are 100% correct, my bassboat has a 200HP Mercury and we all complain about Evinrudes and Yamaha's, so yes same as here.....HAHA and the boat manufacture #1 claims all the same, my Nitro bassboat is the best,hahaha


Posted by: Nitro | Jul 8, 2016 8:00:26 AM

Funny. Mercury does make great power plants on boats though. Technology is getting awsome in outboard engines. Nothing is better than hearing a triple set or quad set of outboards running at full song. I have seen a triple outboard Baja??? maybe drag race a boat with a set of 502s. Not sure the top end on either one but thise outboards killed the v8s on acceleration. I mean not even close. 200 HP on a Bass boat for sure would be pretty fast. I suspect 65mph range on yours?

Don't these guys mostly just 'catch and release'? Well I catch and eat.

PUTC

May I suggest to run a story about the problems so many people are having with the plastic chrome fading out on their trucks?
After a few years the plastic chrome fades out and there's nothing you can do to bring it back to life and it looks horrible.
When you ask for a warranty the dealers laugh at you.

The Tundra is an uggly truck. But that modification shown with the after market all metal front bumper doesn't look that bad. The uggly grille and lights still the same, but the all metal front bumper is 1000 times much better than the original half plastic one.



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