Take eight folks with little to no largemouth bass fishing experience and put them on a lake full of fish — will they still catch anything? Debatable, but if you put them in vessels rigged with Humminbird electronics and Minn Kota products — all connected by the One-Boat Network — the odds definitely swing to their favor.
That’s the premise for a new reality TV style project called the One-Boat Challenge, available for viewing on OneBoatChallenge.com and Minn Kota’s YouTube channel. Officially announced during the 2020 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk, the four-part series, based at Anglers Inn on Mexico’s famed Lake El Salto, saw four, two-person teams competing in various challenges intended to demonstrate the One-Boat Network’s user-friendly ease of operation.
“Fishing is supposed to be fun; we all have fun when we do it and it’s fun when you get to share your success with (family and friends), said Johnson Outdoors Brand Manager - Fishing Jeff Kolodzinski. “The other part is that fishing should actually be easier.
“It’s one thing to have one piece of technology talk to another and they do things independently, but our focus was to take two things that do things independently and make them do things together that they couldn’t do otherwise.”
This, Kolodzinski said, is what makes the One-Boat Network unique. It’s not just a Humminbird fish finder or an Ultrex trolling motor doing its intended task; it’s when the items talk to one another that good things happen.
“It takes a long time to get boat control under your belt, so for our perspective, anything that we could do to make boat control easy — like Spot Lock, like going to your next waypoint and having the trolling motor steer you there — that was our focus,” Kolodzinski said. “We knew we would help anglers get in and enjoy the sport more.”
- Blue Team — Bass Fishing YouTuber Tyler Anderson and Striped Bass Guide Michael Roy
- Green Team — Salmon/steelhead guides Ashley Nicole Lewis and Cameron Black
- Red Team — Inshore fly fisherman Charlie Breitenbach and pelagic angler Seth Funt
- White Team — Olympic snowboarder Louis Vito and NFL defensive end Willie Young
Each team fished in Vexus boats towed by Toyota USA trucks and SUVs and rigged with Humminbird SOLIX units, MEGA Imaging, LakeMaster mapping, Talon shallow water anchors and Minn Kota Ultrex trolling motors. Anglers also used gear from AFTCO, Abu Garcia, Berkley, Gerber, Old Town Kayak, Rapala, Plano, Shimano, St. Croix Rods, StrikeKing and VMC.
Elimination format competition awarded the winning team bragging rights, plus $10,000 to the fishing charity of their choice.
“Technology is getting almost Smartphone-esque with touch buttons,” Breitenbach said of the minimal learning curve for One-Boat Network proficiency. “Even if we fumbled around, it didn’t take us long at all to figure out how, ‘Hey, Side Imaging; it says it right here on the screen — touch it. We actually found fish on it. With 360 Imaging, we were finding stuff all around us. I had no clue (initially), but you’ll see on the show, I’m running the trolling motor most of the time and I could see the fish right there.
“The Ultrex trolling motor is easy to run and there’s nothing to Spot Lock; it’s a button on the Solix or on the foot control. We would just find fish, Spot Lock or Talon down. It’s super easy and it showed how someone like me who’s never used any of those products, can use all three from the front of the boat.”
Acknowledging the serious competition that did take place among the four teams, Breitenbach said he left El Salto with a new-found appreciation for how One-Boat Network has facilitated on-the-water productivity.
“What Minn Kota and Humminbird has done is making fishing simple, easy and fun,” Breitenbach said.
Of the good-natured smack talk and often humorous happenings viewers will see on One-Boat Challenge, Kolodzinski said: “We wanted to capture the essence of fishing — fishing is supposed to be fun.”
For more on One-Boat Challenge, visit www.oneboatchallenge.com.