Boat and Equipment
I am currently operating a custom built 2008 20' Sea Ark Super Jon with a 90 HP Mercury Optimax Tiller purchased from our friends at Miller's Boating Center here in Ocala, FL. I purchase the hull, motor, trolling motor, and trailer from Miller's and then custom fabricate the boat to accommodate our style of fishing here. The boat is nearly 8' wide and can run in less than a foot of water while carrying up to 20 dozen shiners without missing a beat! I need a boat that can obviously carry up to four clients comfortably, be tough enough to handle Rodman's stump filled waters, and yet be light enough to launch at some very makeshift and remote Ocala National Forest boat ramps. This boat exceeds all these requirements. Take it from someone who has owned every imaginable configuration of fishing boat from a 13' Gheenoe with a 5 HP Mercury to a 22' Ranger Comanche 522DVX with a 250 V-Max Yamaha and everything in between, for sheer toughness, fishing room, and maneuverability this boat is hard to beat. Also being environmentally conscious it was important to me to select a low-emission outboard. The 90 HP Mercury Optimax fits the bill as being a very reliable, low-emission, fuel and oil efficient motor and is just down right tough! I also run Minn-Kota trolling motors as they seem to be considerably more quiet than anything else on the market. The fishing room in this rig is considerably more than the largest bass boat and yet it weighs a fraction of a fiberglass bass boat. This lighter weight allows for use of a smaller displacement outboard and therefore cuts operating expenses and has less energy consumption in a time where I feel compelled to be conscious of this. This style of rig was developed over many years by some of the area's best fishing guides and is just the perfect companion in our quest to pursue these trophy fish!
Our fishing tackle generally consists of Abu-Garcia and Shimano bait-casting reels and custom 7' to 8' medium-heavy to heavy trigger-style rods by a custom rod-maker here in Ocala called Rainshadow, and some name brand specialty rods also. We generally run 15 to 25 lb. mono on these rigs. We need the toughest tackle available to turn and land these large and healthy fish, and the aforementioned gear gives us the best shot!