Boat: 1986 Pantera
The local team of Pete Dubois and Ty Bowman claimed the crown in the Fourth Annual Bass Cat National Team Championship. It was a grueling two-day, five-lake test of endurance in which they came from behind to win an all expenses paid trip to Lake Picachos, Mexico, in which they logged 18 hours of fishing and substantial time behind the windshield to claim the 2016 test of the best.
The pair earned the title out of Bowman’s 1986 Pantera, a boat he has owned for seven years: “I grew up wanting to own a Bass Cat,” he said “It was meant to be.”
Indeed, they’re more than familiar with the company’s construction methods and attention to detail because Dubois worked for Bass Cat for 11 years, in the warehouse, and in parts, service and warranty. He moved to Mountain Home in 2003 from western Colorado, despite never having been to the town, expressly for the fishing opportunities. He subsequently left the company to work for Denali Rods and the Outdoorzman tackle shop, but he remains in the same town as the boat company.
The pair spent their entire practice day at Table Rock, checking out specific deep drops that had the boat parked in 50 to 80 feet of water. That enabled them to complete the first round in third place, a little more than two pounds behind three-time qualifiers Brad Kell and John Morris, the KABCOT qualifiers. They caught their fish with homemade ¾ ounce football jigs in green pumpkin and PB&J patterns, fished – of course – on Denali Rods.
The whirlwind format, Bowman said, meant that “by the time we figured things out it was time to move.” After a solid start at Table Rock, they struggled at Taneycomo and Bull Shoals, then caught the best bags at both Norfork and the White River, despite the fact that they had not previously fished the latter water. At the White River, several key fish came on a Lucky Craft Sammy in the Bumblebee pattern.
“We knew that Rick was going to throw a curveball at us,” Dubois said. “We’ve spent a lot of time on Norfork, but the way fishing has been we figured that the local advantage would go out the window. No one else except the Kentucky team had been to Taneycomo. They knew the lake. But then at Nofromk we stuck with our pattern, running five or six deep midlake points with the jig, and we managed one keeper at each stop. We never culled. What we weighed in was what we caught.”
Just like Bowman’s 30 year old boat, they kept on grinding, knowing that their equipment wouldn’t let them down. “It’s a great riding boat,” Dubois said. “From the time that I spent working there, I know how well made they are and how much effort Rick puts in to work with other manufacturers on boat parts specific to Bass Cat’s needs. There are a lot of special touches that are meaningful to the end user.”
Neither has ever fished in Mexico before, and Bowman admitted that he doesn’t know what to expect, but he’s willing to take on the challenge. Dubois has fished in nearly all of the 50 United States, but has never been out of the country.