Wesley Strader sets up his Lowrance electronics prior to Stage One of the Bass Pro Tour. Photo courtesy of Wesley Strader

Saturday, 10 p.m., Feb. 1

I’m fresh off a two-day stint talking fishing in Jefferson City, Tennessee.

Somehow, I’ve made the arduous drive to an undisclosed location in north Alabama – picking up an old buddy along the way – to get my much-anticipated 2020 Ranger 521 (which by the way, I haven’t even seen yet).

Good thing: it’s at the shop getting wrapped. Bad thing: I haven’t had the chance to get this boat ready yet.

You see, I’m the guy that enjoys and takes great pride in rigging my own boat. So this boat is naked: motor only, no Power-Poles, no graphs and not even a trolling motor. Oh and FYI, I have to get all this done and be ready to compete by Tuesday at the latest! That’s three days if you’re counting.

So, you might say that me getting this boat back so late in the year has me madder than a long tail cat in a room full of rockers.  

Sunday, 4 a.m., Feb. 2

Welp, the wrapping/sealing/finishing up took longer we had hoped for. The boat looks good but it’s missing a trolling motor (I’ll get into that later).

Sunday 11 a.m., Feb. 2

Frisco sandwich, check.

I’ve chosen a high-powered Dewalt drill to be my faithful companion today as I’m rigging this beautiful Ranger boat. I have a plan, but I’m gettin’ ready to be busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kickin’ contest!

I’ve been on this trajectory before, so let’s get this groove on: starting at the back of the boat and working forward is my best-laid plan and the Strader way!

First thing is to check my new Atlas jack plate and the connection to this super-powered Evinrude G2 250. Man this thing is gorgeous. I can’t wait to hear her growl!

Wesley Strader attaches his Lowrance Ghost trolling motor to his deck for the 2020 season. Photo courtesy of Wesley Strader

The time blurs together now …

  • Power-Poles on and checked. Eyeballed from the front, making sure they’re straight before I tightened all the bolts. Ever see a dude with his Poles all bent to the side? Yep, he forgot to bring ‘em up before he took off. 
  • Optima blue tops in place along with my T-H Marine custom battery holders. 
  • On to the helm, twin Lowrance HD Live 12-inchers are mounted on my Bass Boat Technologies Bracket. Man, that’s the berries. This bracket is so custom and gets my graphs situated exactly the way I need ’em. Man, these Lowrance HDS Live units are sweet! 
  • Ok, makin’ good time, but here’s the hard part: Boat came with no trolling motor. It is what it is, but I’m runnin’ the new Lowrance Ghost this year. Good thing when you get one of these jewels it mounts to the same holes as your Minn Kota. The bad thing is the raw boat means I’ll have to drill holes for the Ghost mount.  
  • No template…what do I do? You only get one shot to get this thing right. Don’t want to go drillin’ a bunch of holes in a new boat. Ish Monroe has a good installation tutorial on YouTube. Thanks, Ish, it really helped me a lot with proper alignment!
  • Ghost mounted solid and zooming properly; foot pedal in place. After a quick trip to Lowe’s for some connectors, I’m on to my front Bass Boat Technology mount for the HDS 12 on at the bow. Complete.
  • Hydrowave on. Yes, I’m ready!
  • It’s Monday afternoon and only our days until showtime. Let’s drop this baby in the water!
  • Maiden voyage: All checks good, and I find a good luck fish! Ready to head to Alabama on Tuesday. Now it’s showtime baby!!

Major League Fishing Lake Eufaula, let the 2020 season begin! Let’s rock!