by Richard Crowder
At its recent 2011 model introduction held at Big Cedar Resort on Table Rock Lake, Missouri, Tracker Marine Group, which specializes in inland fishing rigs to suit almost every purpose and budget, brought along nine professional anglers to help showcase its line-up and to answer the multitudes of questions asked by dealers and media trying to better understand the world of fishing.
Boatdealers.ca was fortunate to spend some delightful and highly informative and revealing time with Gary Parsons, not only because he has been on the pro fishing tournament series probably longer than any current pro, a total of twenty-five years, but also because he lives on Lake Superior in Glidden, Wisconsin and specializes primarily in northern tournaments most appropriate to Canadian fishermen - those in Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, and New York. He also specializes in walleye (pickerel) tournaments. Because of this, he has an enormous amount of experience in similar water and weather conditions that we in Canada experience.
Gary’s credentials include being a host of the television fishing show, “The Next Bite,” seen on the Versus network in the US and on the WFN network in Canada. He is also most personable, patient, and helpful and was totally congenial in helping Boatdealers.ca to better understand what makes a great big-water fishing boat. When Tracker set out to re-design its V-18 Targa for 2011, they asked Gary to use his wealth of experience to help them design a better boat.
“There are several things serious fishermen look for when selecting a boat for big lakes,” said Gary. “First of all, they want a deep interior for safety. Next they want flexibility in the boat’s layout and to have everything at their fingertips – easy access to their equipment. Then, to extend the season, especially in the northern climes and the weather we experience up there, windshield protection – and especially the walk-thru’s where tops can be added.”
Boatdealers.ca asked Gary how these ideals were expressed in Tracker’s new Targa. “We wanted to give the Targa buyer the best features for the best price. Since the Targa’s three models cater not only to the dedicated serious fisherman but also to the whole family to be used as a fun watersports boat, we wanted as much interior room and storage as possible. That’s why we designed it with the maximum trailerable beam as possible. But this big beam, coupled with a good deep-vee, makes a very stable platform and a good smooth ride out in big water.”
“The big wide gunnels really offer this boat a lot,” he continued. “Not only does the topside storage provide quick, easy access to multiple rods, it’s also roomy and becomes like a fisherman’s toolbox – everything right at his fingertips. And the vertical inner walls not only offer a lot more storage, but they are a safety feature too as it gives the fisherman inside support for his legs when leaning out to land the big ones. And the extra gunnel width makes it so easy to install and remove downriggers week to week depending on whether the boat is being used for fishing or family fun. And there’s enough storage on board that all the equipment for both uses can stay on board and not have to be continually moved on and off the boat depending on its use that day. Plus we have a huge livewell system on board just for those big northern lunkers.”
The boat we tested that day was powered by a Mercury 115 Optimax but the boat is rated for up to 150 horsepower. “I would recommend Mercury’s new PRO XS 150 as a better combination package,” advised Gary. “Better for both fishing and family use. Buy the 115 for a good price point but I think you’ll enjoy the boat much better and for a much longer time with a 150.”
In concluding, Gary reiterated, “We wanted to put in as many features as possible for the best possible price, and they succeeded in my estimation. This boat really stands out due to the amount of features for its size.”