Youngest rookie in Elite Series history will run a 2024 Puma STS
MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. – Illinois bass pro Trey McKinney, who will become the youngest rookie in Bassmaster Elite Series history at 18 years old, has joined the Bass Cat Boats pro staff. He’ll join a host of other talented and accomplished anglers on the team, including fellow rookie and media star Ben Milliken, which means that the venerable boat company will have both the oldest and youngest first-year Elites representing the brand.
While McKinney may be young, he’s hardly inexperienced and has a track record a mile long. Before he qualified for the Elites via a 3rd place finish in the 2023 Bassmaster Opens, he’d won a wide range of both junior and adult events, including multiple B.A.S.S. Nation Junior Championships and Illinois Bass Federation Junior Championships. Then he won Angler of the Year in a division of the BFLs as a 16-year-old, and for good measure repeated the feat the following season.
“Everybody knows about the quality of the Bass Cat platform,” said McKinney, who will run a Puma STS powered by a Yamaha. “The main thing I saw when I visited the factory was how family-oriented the whole company is, and also the fact that just about every part on the boat is made in-house. I like knowing the people who built my boat and that it’s American made. Also, I’m young, so I like that sporty feel. The boat is definitely fast but also very stable, meaning that you feel the rush every time you drive.”
McKinney related to the family-oriented nature of Bass Cat because he comes from a deeply competitive and tight-knit family.
“The family support is tremendous and his mentor, Rick Cheatham, has been an exceptional influence,” said Bass Cat’s Rick Pierce. “They have competed in events since Trey was young and Rick has a vested interest in good decisions for this young man. And it runs in the family, as Trey’s older sister is also a very accomplished barrel racer. She has also taken things to another level with a similar amount of support from their parents, Kim and Rick McKinney.”
Pierce also noted that McKinney’s home state has traditionally been underrepresented on the pro tours. His rapid ascent not only demonstrates the quality of the talent arising throughout the country, but also allows the company to appeal to different demographics in terms of both age and geography.
McKinney and Pierce first met when the young angler qualified for multiple Bassmaster BBZ Junior Championships and kept in touch over the ensuing seasons. “He never pushed to make the deal,” McKinney said. “But the more time I spent around him and around the boats, the more I knew that I wanted to join the family. I’m particularly proud to come on at the same time as Ben Milliken. Ben and Rick are both the same in that they are straight to the point. They don’t sugarcoat anything. I want to be known as someone who respectfully tells you how it is.”
About Bass Cat: Bass Cat, owned by Correct Craft, manufactures the industry’s premier bass fishing boats from its headquarters in Mountain Home, Arkansas. Family operated since its founding in 1971, Bass Cat is the longest continuously operating tournament bass boat company in the United States. For more information visit www.basscat.com.
About Correct Craft: Celebrating 98 years of excellence in the marine industry, Correct Craft is a Florida-based company with global operations. Focused on “Making Life Better,” the Correct Craft family includes Nautique, Centurion, Supreme, Bass Cat, Yar-Craft, SeaArk, Parker, and Ingenity boat companies, Pleasurecraft Engine Group, Indmar Marine Engines, Velvet Drive Transmissions, Mach Connections, Merritt Precision, Osmosis, Watershed Innovation, and Aktion Parks. For more information, please visit www.correctcraft.com