Inside Elite Boats

Inside Mark Zona’s Boat

Mark Zona, host of the <em>Bassmasters</em> television show and <em>Zona's Awesome Fishing Show</em>, walks us through his boat. It’s a slightly different walk, considering Zona doesn’t fish a bunch of tournaments. Instead he uses his boat primarily for taping shows, and like the rest of us, for catching whatever is biting.  <p> <em>All captions: Steve Bowman</em>
Photo: James Overstreet - Mark Zona, host of the Bassmasters television show and Zona's Awesome Fishing Show, walks us through his boat. It’s a slightly different walk, considering Zona doesn’t fish a bunch of tournaments. Instead he uses his boat primarily for taping shows, and like the rest of us, for catching whatever is biting. All captions: Steve Bowman
Zona’s Nitro Z21 is highlighted by his logo, utilizing the letter “Z” surrounded by flames.
Photo: James Overstreet - Zona’s Nitro Z21 is highlighted by his logo, utilizing the letter “Z” surrounded by flames.
His deck is similar to that of many Elite anglers. It is complete with all the electronic gear needed to catch fish, and the logos from his show to make his sponsors happy.
Photo: James Overstreet - His deck is similar to that of many Elite anglers. It is complete with all the electronic gear needed to catch fish, and the logos from his show to make his sponsors happy.
And of course it has his name on the side, in case someone doesn’t know who he is.
Photo: James Overstreet - And of course it has his name on the side, in case someone doesn’t know who he is.
The front of the boat is powered by a MotorGuide X5 105 36-volt trolling motor, with a Grass Ninja aluminum prop and topped off with a T-H Marine G-Force Eliminator Prop Nut. The set up comes in handy in many of the lakes around Zona’s home filled with aquatic vegetation. It will mow through the grass and stay quiet at the same time.
Photo: James Overstreet - The front of the boat is powered by a MotorGuide X5 105 36-volt trolling motor, with a Grass Ninja aluminum prop and topped off with a T-H Marine G-Force Eliminator Prop Nut. The set up comes in handy in many of the lakes around Zona’s home filled with aquatic vegetation. It will mow through the grass and stay quiet at the same time.
On the top end of the trolling motor is a G-Force trolling motor handle, and it all attaches to the front deck with a T-H Marine Troll-Tamer. Zona is known for his love of the Great Lakes, but with that love comes big waves and rough rides. The Troll-Tamer keeps everything in place.
Photo: James Overstreet - On the top end of the trolling motor is a G-Force trolling motor handle, and it all attaches to the front deck with a T-H Marine Troll-Tamer. Zona is known for his love of the Great Lakes, but with that love comes big waves and rough rides. The Troll-Tamer keeps everything in place.
The front of the trailer includes an added step for getting in and out of the boat along with a handle bar for support. As Zona gets older this setup has proved invaluable for getting in and out of his rig.
Photo: James Overstreet - The front of the trailer includes an added step for getting in and out of the boat along with a handle bar for support. As Zona gets older this setup has proved invaluable for getting in and out of his rig.
His electronics are Humminbird Helix 10s with Mega-Imaging all locked to the floor with KVD Kong Mounts.
Photo: James Overstreet - His electronics are Humminbird Helix 10s with Mega-Imaging all locked to the floor with KVD Kong Mounts.
A Hyrdowave is part of the setup and is run consistently. You will notice on the previous photo that the sound box is mounted to the top of the trolling motor head, which allows the sound to glance off the surface and back down in the water column.
Photo: James Overstreet - A Hyrdowave is part of the setup and is run consistently. You will notice on the previous photo that the sound box is mounted to the top of the trolling motor head, which allows the sound to glance off the surface and back down in the water column.
The KVD Kong Mounts are a must for Zona on the Great Lakes.
Photo: James Overstreet - The KVD Kong Mounts are a must for Zona on the Great Lakes.
The Nitro Z21 offers five boxes for storage on the front deck. Zona fishes a lot around his home, but he also travels the country shooting his television show. These boxes allow him to interchange tackle on a daily basis.
Photo: James Overstreet - The Nitro Z21 offers five boxes for storage on the front deck. Zona fishes a lot around his home, but he also travels the country shooting his television show. These boxes allow him to interchange tackle on a daily basis.
The front box includes the tackle he will be using on the lake he’s fishing.
Photo: James Overstreet - The front box includes the tackle he will be using on the lake he’s fishing.
We caught up with Zona during the spawn/postspawn period in Michigan, so the box included a healthy array of jerkbaits, all packed in a Bass Mafia storage system. He carries a lot for two reasons: One for the colors and two because so many places are full of pike. “I could blast through a whole box in no time,’’ Zona said.
Photo: James Overstreet - We caught up with Zona during the spawn/postspawn period in Michigan, so the box included a healthy array of jerkbaits, all packed in a Bass Mafia storage system. He carries a lot for two reasons: One for the colors and two because so many places are full of pike. “I could blast through a whole box in no time,’’ Zona said.
Because many of the smallmouth in his area were on the bed, he also had his drop-shot bait of choice, a Strike King Half Shell in chartreuse.
Photo: James Overstreet - Because many of the smallmouth in his area were on the bed, he also had his drop-shot bait of choice, a Strike King Half Shell in chartreuse.
But he also had a box filled with other color choices. Once the spawn is over, those boxes are replaced according to the situation that will face him on a particular day or fishery.
Photo: James Overstreet - But he also had a box filled with other color choices. Once the spawn is over, those boxes are replaced according to the situation that will face him on a particular day or fishery.
Zona likes telling a story about getting in a boat and not having the “right box” when he’s on the water. This is the “right box” as noted on the front and it travels virtually everywhere with him.
Photo: James Overstreet - Zona likes telling a story about getting in a boat and not having the “right box” when he’s on the water. This is the “right box” as noted on the front and it travels virtually everywhere with him.
It’s filled with Trokar hooks to fit almost any situation he may run across.
Photo: James Overstreet - It’s filled with Trokar hooks to fit almost any situation he may run across.
The rod box stays filled with Daiwa rods and reels
Photo: James Overstreet - The rod box stays filled with Daiwa rods and reels
Because it was spawning season, you will notice the amount of chartreuse present in the lures and that nearly every rod is a spinning rig. “That’s the only color the smallmouth would bite on Lake Ontario,’’ he said.
Photo: James Overstreet - Because it was spawning season, you will notice the amount of chartreuse present in the lures and that nearly every rod is a spinning rig. “That’s the only color the smallmouth would bite on Lake Ontario,’’ he said.
But he does have a baitcaster present, complete with a jerkbait. These two rods are his mainstay during the spawning period.
Photo: James Overstreet - But he does have a baitcaster present, complete with a jerkbait. These two rods are his mainstay during the spawning period.
His other rod box is filled with bulk items he may need.
Photo: James Overstreet - His other rod box is filled with bulk items he may need.
A self-described soft-plastic fiend, Zona carries his soft plastics in huge quantities with the help of heavy-duty Money Bags from Bass Mafia. He keeps like items together and to date has had no issues with colors mixing or bleeding together. This bag is full of swim baits.
Photo: James Overstreet - A self-described soft-plastic fiend, Zona carries his soft plastics in huge quantities with the help of heavy-duty Money Bags from Bass Mafia. He keeps like items together and to date has had no issues with colors mixing or bleeding together. This bag is full of swim baits.
He always has a rainsuit, because even on a clear day, a rough ride across the Great Lakes requires some cover up.
Photo: James Overstreet - He always has a rainsuit, because even on a clear day, a rough ride across the Great Lakes requires some cover up.
The compartment includes his bulk boxes of weights and sinkers.
Photo: James Overstreet - The compartment includes his bulk boxes of weights and sinkers.
These boxes are packed with a variety of heads that can be used everywhere. Note the markings on the boxes for all the different sizes, so he can find what he needs quickly.
Photo: James Overstreet - These boxes are packed with a variety of heads that can be used everywhere. Note the markings on the boxes for all the different sizes, so he can find what he needs quickly.
Many of those heads and weights are tube jig heads, a favorite of Zona’s, especially during the spawn.
Photo: James Overstreet - Many of those heads and weights are tube jig heads, a favorite of Zona’s, especially during the spawn.
Because he may fish a different scenario every day or multiple times in one day, he keeps one of his front boxes filled with line. He can completely re-gear without ever leaving the boat.
Photo: James Overstreet - Because he may fish a different scenario every day or multiple times in one day, he keeps one of his front boxes filled with line. He can completely re-gear without ever leaving the boat.
He keeps a battery-operated drill in the boat for a lot of reasons, but it’s most often used to take line off a reel. He carries fluorocarbon line from 6 to 25 pound. And braided line 15 to 65 pound in the boat at all times.
Photo: James Overstreet - He keeps a battery-operated drill in the boat for a lot of reasons, but it’s most often used to take line off a reel. He carries fluorocarbon line from 6 to 25 pound. And braided line 15 to 65 pound in the boat at all times.
His other front compartment is filled with all kinds of helpers for a fisherman on the move, including a box of Lake Master navigation chips for virtually every hole of water in the country.
Photo: James Overstreet - His other front compartment is filled with all kinds of helpers for a fisherman on the move, including a box of Lake Master navigation chips for virtually every hole of water in the country.
The box includes a veritable smorgasbord of pieces and parts from extra reels, glue, glasses, baits and 5-Hour Energy.
Photo: James Overstreet - The box includes a veritable smorgasbord of pieces and parts from extra reels, glue, glasses, baits and 5-Hour Energy.
In the smaller boxes near the floor, Zona always carries a custom-made slate call. During the spawn you never know when a turkey might gobble near the shore. Zona will quickly whip out the call and fire him up. It should be noted that Zona cannot run this call without his tongue sticking out.
Photo: James Overstreet - In the smaller boxes near the floor, Zona always carries a custom-made slate call. During the spawn you never know when a turkey might gobble near the shore. Zona will quickly whip out the call and fire him up. It should be noted that Zona cannot run this call without his tongue sticking out.
The small box also includes a bottle of Nasacort. Zona says his allergies always cause him fits in the spring and he can’t go anywhere without it. Like the turkey call and tongue thing, Zona can’t use this without shutting his eyes.
Photo: James Overstreet - The small box also includes a bottle of Nasacort. Zona says his allergies always cause him fits in the spring and he can’t go anywhere without it. Like the turkey call and tongue thing, Zona can’t use this without shutting his eyes.
The box contains a variety of things from nose inhalers, calls, a culling beam and G-Juice to treat his livewell.
Photo: James Overstreet - The box contains a variety of things from nose inhalers, calls, a culling beam and G-Juice to treat his livewell.
The culling beam was in the boat from a derby Zona and one of his sons had fished the week before and won.
Photo: James Overstreet - The culling beam was in the boat from a derby Zona and one of his sons had fished the week before and won.
Zona can’t pass a Gorilla glue or super glue display without picking one up. “I hate looking for it when I need it,’’ he said. “I always have it and plenty of it.”
Photo: James Overstreet - Zona can’t pass a Gorilla glue or super glue display without picking one up. “I hate looking for it when I need it,’’ he said. “I always have it and plenty of it.”
The rear of the boat includes a Humminbird Helix 10 for navigation. It’s side-mounted, leaving the console open.
Photo: James Overstreet - The rear of the boat includes a Humminbird Helix 10 for navigation. It’s side-mounted, leaving the console open.
While most folks would store a pushpole behind the driver and passenger seat, Zona’s pole holder sports a Go-Pro pole. It’s a necessity for all the production work that takes place in the boat.
Photo: James Overstreet - While most folks would store a pushpole behind the driver and passenger seat, Zona’s pole holder sports a Go-Pro pole. It’s a necessity for all the production work that takes place in the boat.
Equally as necessary is an empty box behind the passenger seat. This is “Wes’ box,” Zona said. It stays empty for Wes Miller, cameraman, to store his gear. Zona said he wouldn’t dare put anything in it for fear Wes would find out.
Photo: James Overstreet - Equally as necessary is an empty box behind the passenger seat. This is “Wes’ box,” Zona said. It stays empty for Wes Miller, cameraman, to store his gear. Zona said he wouldn’t dare put anything in it for fear Wes would find out.
But he does store an extra prop under the box.
Photo: James Overstreet - But he does store an extra prop under the box.
On the opposite sides are two full-body life vests. Zona prefers those in the rough water of the Great Lakes.
Photo: James Overstreet - On the opposite sides are two full-body life vests. Zona prefers those in the rough water of the Great Lakes.
The rear compartment is yet another place where Zona stores a smorgasbord of things he may need.
Photo: James Overstreet - The rear compartment is yet another place where Zona stores a smorgasbord of things he may need.
This box has everything from extra trolling motor props (there’s at least three in this box), a prop wrench for the big motor to toilet paper and zip ties. Everything a man could ever want.
Photo: James Overstreet - This box has everything from extra trolling motor props (there’s at least three in this box), a prop wrench for the big motor to toilet paper and zip ties. Everything a man could ever want.
Next to the driver is an instrument panel for the radio in the boat. “I’ve never touched it,’’ Zona said. “Don’t even know how to use it. But it’s there at the request of my wife.”
Photo: James Overstreet - Next to the driver is an instrument panel for the radio in the boat. “I’ve never touched it,’’ Zona said. “Don’t even know how to use it. But it’s there at the request of my wife.”
The back of the boat is outfitted with a 250 horsepower Mercury Pro and two Power-Poles.
Photo: James Overstreet - The back of the boat is outfitted with a 250 horsepower Mercury Pro and two Power-Poles.
His prop is a Fury.
Photo: James Overstreet - His prop is a Fury.
And his jackplate is an Atlas Hydraulic plate.
Photo: James Overstreet - And his jackplate is an Atlas Hydraulic plate.
Like many Great Lakes anglers he carries Power-Pole drift paddles. “Since they came out, I don’t even own a drift sock anymore,’’ he said.
Photo: James Overstreet - Like many Great Lakes anglers he carries Power-Pole drift paddles. “Since they came out, I don’t even own a drift sock anymore,’’ he said.