The 2020 fishing season has been atypical for a number of reasons, but from the perspective of the Bass Cat Family one way that it has been exceptionally positive is the continuing development of our pro staff. We’ve always been proud to have an ultra-professional, geographically diverse team that spans all of the major tours, but this year we had the unprecedented opportunity to add three absolute superstars. Bass Pro Tour anglers Kelly Jordon and Shinichi Fukae joined the family, and Mark Davis came back home after a “leave of absence.”
Each of them has experienced a long and prosperous career casting for cash, and each of them could run any boat on the market, but they all chose to rest their careers on the build quality and ride of a Bass Cat.
They haven’t had a “normal” tournament season to put the boats through their paces, but they’ve had enough competition, and plenty of time to dial things in during the “down time” this spring. All of them have continued fishing diligently, and each has become comfortable in his new office. Here are their thoughts on what they’ve experienced so far:
MARK DAVIS – LYNX
In 1995, Mark Davis became the first angler to win the Bassmaster Angler of the Year title and the Bassmaster Classic in the same year, and he did it while piloting a Bass Cat. The Mt. Ida, Ark., pro is a three-time Bassmaster Angler of the Year, has won a total of five B.A.S.S. tournaments, and has appeared in 20 Classics. He also qualified for three Forrest Wood Cups and won an FLW Tour event. He currently fishes the Bass Pro Tour.
“It’s great to be back, without a doubt,” Davis said. He may have been out of a Cat for a few years, but his heart has always remained with his Arkansas roots, and returning to the Bass Cat Family has been a joyous homecoming. He’s running his Lynx with a Mercury 250 Pro XS and in order to adjust to the BPT format, he employs a 23 Fury propeller.
“I could run a 24 or a 25,” he said. “But with the MLF cameraman in the boat, that’s a third person, and it helps with the hole shot. Overall, this boat carries a heavy load better than any boat I’ve ever seen or driven. The hole shot and top end are better than anything else out there. There’s just something about that boat. Weight doesn’t seem to bother it.”
Indeed, one realization that he made is how much he’d missed a Bass Cat’s agility and ability to push the speedometer: “It has a lot more speed than I’ve been accustomed to,” he said. “Even loaded to the max, I can still get it to 73.”
The wide deck of the Lynx was also a huge selling point for Davis. He’s admittedly a large man, and while both running and fishing there’s little tippiness or unnecessary side-to-side movement. Because the Lynx has a non-traditional storage layout, he “had to learn how to put everything up,” but once he got his gear installed, he was shocked to see how easily the boat swallowed it all up. “It holds a ton of tackle and it’s very functional. It was just a matter of getting used to it. That’s what happens any time you change.”
He also greatly appreciates the incredible range provided by the 60 gallon fuel capacity and the fuel-efficient motor. He will now have the ability to make runs he’d never previously considered, or fish multiple days without the need to refuel, and even if he fills the fuel tanks to the brim, the hole shot doesn’t suffer.
He loves the Lynx enough that there’s a good chance he’ll run one again next year, although the Puma and Eyra both tempt him as well. There’s one dream boat that tempts him more than all the rest, however.
“If they were to raise the horsepower limitations above 250, there’s no doubt that I’d run a Jaguar,” he said, referring to the BCB flagship. “It runs well with a 250, probably into the mid-60s, which is fast enough, but I’m going to fill it up.”
SHIN FUKAE – LYNX
Upon his arrival in the United States, Shinichi Fukae made a huge impression on the worldwide bass fishing community by winning the 2004 FLW Tour Angler of the Year title. Over the course of his storied career at FLW, he qualified for 12 Forrest Wood Cups and won three tournaments. While he’s known as a finesse and electronics guru, his continuing success reflects his versatility, as he’s also managed to win using power techniques. Fukae also won a 2014 Bassmaster Open and qualified for one Bassmaster Classic. He currently fishes the Bass Pro Tour
After 20 years with another boat company, Fukae came to the Bass Cat family through SDG (Showa Denki Group) Marine, and reflects the BCB commitment to growing our international footprint. With half a year behind the wheel of his Lynx, he’s been particularly thrilled by the boat’s ability to handle rough water.
“It’s completely different,” he said. “I never get wet in my Bass Cat. I used to always get wet in rough water.” That’s a big advantage for his ability to utilize an entire lake, and to make split second decisions to change his location or his game plan. “I was always thinking about wind direction and the rough parts of the lake when I was deciding to go to my next spot. Now I can just go whenever I want. That’s a big game changer”
While he’s not a speed demon, he’s been pleased with the boat’s ability to easily hit 72 or 73 miles per hour.
It’s when he’s actually fishing that he notices some of the biggest differences. For example, on a BPT tournament on Lake Fork earlier this year he occasionally got stuck on underwater stumps and timber. With boats he’s run in the past, he would’ve had to shake the boat violently to free it, often with the help of his co-angler, judge or a push pole. The Lynx slid off easily. “It was not a problem,” he said. “It’s also much easier to control when I’m fishing. It requires much less time on the trolling motor. I’ve been thrilled with how it works with my new MotorGuide trolling motor.”
He’s found the layout to be intuitive and much prefers the underseat storage to having fuel tanks in that position. He stores gloves, a face mask, sunscreen and a towel under the driver’s side, and a propeller on the passenger side.”
KELLY JORDON – EYRA
Kelly Jordon is a big bass specialist, with perhaps more big bass awards on tour than any of his peers. The longtime Lake Fork guide and expert was a driving force behind the original Toyota Texas Bass Classic, and has surpassed the $2 million mark in career earnings. Along the way he’s won four B.A.S.S. tournaments and qualified for nine Bassmaster Classics, with an additional FLW Tour win and two Forrest Wood Cup appearances on his resume. He currently fishes the Bass Pro Tour.
Kelly Jordon said that he appreciates the fact that his Eyra performs like a sports car, and over the first half of the year he’s done everything within his power to eke every bit of speed and handling possible out of it.
“I love the performance aspect of it,” he said. “I’ve tried throughout my career to squeeze every ounce out of my boats so that they’re firing on all cylinders. The acceleration is incredible with the Mercury four-stroke, it turns on rails and it’s great in rough water. I’ve been working to trick that sucker out.” He’s had it up to 78 miles per hour with no passenger, and he “wasn’t really trying,” and with a full tournament load and full tanks of gas in a tournament earlier this year he got it up to 77.5. “I got there quick and I didn’t even wind her out.”
Like Fukae, he also appreciates the extremely dry nature of the boat’s ride. “Some boats are wet, and some are dry,” he explained. “You can tell which ones are which by the guys who look like drowned rats. There’s something about that Bass Cat, with the outside downward ridges, that push the water down.” At a BPT event on Okeechobee earlier this year, the field experienced 45 mile per hour winds, and Jordon had no doubt that he’d be able to get to any accessible areas – and do it before anyone else.
Jordon loves the coffin-style lids on the Eyra, and noted that he’s not a fan of “gigantic lids on the front deck, especially with kids or a wife or buddy fishing with you.” He hasn’t had a chance to use the livewells in competition because of the MLF format, but noted that “they hold a bunch of crappie.”
He’s also quickly grown fond of the sizeable bilge compartment and the twin doors that are the gateway to that space.
“Easy access to the brains of your boat is at a premium, especially if you rig your boat yourself, like I do, or need to change out a battery,” he said. “The accessibility of the back compartment doors is huge. With the slide hinges you can take them off your boat and you have immediate access to wires, batteries, Power Poles and gas tanks, with plenty of room to move.”