Upshaw's Classic ride

The new boat smell was unmistakable.  The wrap was rather impressive, too.

Hank Weldon, who runs the College B.A.S.S. circuit, had just visited Bass Pro Shops Tracker Marine to pick up the boat that Andrew Upshaw will use in the 2012 Bassmaster Classic. The first collegiate angler to make a Classic will run a rig just like some of the best pros in the business.

“Tracker likes to get them together and wrap them all at once,” said Weldon, noting there’s a bit of a rush to get the Classic anglers their boats well before the Feb. 24-26 event.

Weldon said Kevin VanDam’s Nitro Z9 had just left the lot that included boats for Edwin Evers and Rick Clunn, just to name a few. “They had just sent Matt Reed’s and Ott DeFoe’s boats out.”

Upshaw’s Nitro Z9 was equipped with a Mercury 250 Optimax ProXS, Humminbird electronics, a 36-volt Motor Guide trolling motor and a Power-Pole.

Weldon stopped at the Little Rock offices of B.A.S.S. to put on the finishing touches, namely deck decals of Bass Pro Shops and College B.A.S.S. He also installed rod straps and was adding some more factory oil before heading out on the water to break in the engine.

“It’s only got a half hour on it,” Weldon said. “It needs 3 hours of run time, varying the RPM between 4,000 and 5,300. Just let the motor chug through at about 40 mph and change the RPMs every two minutes.”

Even though it’s not ready to run wide open, the wrap should draw some attention. It has splashes of yellow from the Bass Pro Shops logo, but its main hues are eye-catching purple and red, the school colors of Stephen F. Austin.

To view more photos of Andrew's boat.