Finding Big Bass Without the Big Bass Boat

A bow pierces the morning fog. Ribbons of water stream from either side, cutting a trail through the south Georgia swamp. They glide silently through pad fields, under canopies of Spanish moss, and then… an explosion.

But this is no Rambo movie. The explosion is a bass—the victim, a buzz bait. And rather than a tank, the battle buggy calling the shots is the Old Town Predator XL Minn Kota. From atop its perch, stealthy bass anglers wield the most bass-centric, ultra-portable fishing platform on the planet. They go places no other bass anglers can reach and deploy advanced technology to zero-in on their prey.

Griffin, Georgia’s Randy Vining is one of those anglers. During the week, Vining is an architect. On the weekend, he fishes and guides shoal bass expeditions on the Peach State’s Flint River near Atlanta. Now and then, he makes it down south into the swamps that harbor giant largemouth and a noticeable lack of big bass boats.

“The rivers I fish,” Vining says. “No jon boat can get there. Certainly, no bass boat can get there. You need to be in a boat that maneuvers.”


And maneuver the Predator XL does. With the flip of a tailgate, Vining can load the 13-foot boat into the back of his pickup truck and takeoff to virtually any water. If he can walk to the shoreline, he can fish the water…and he can fish it just like a 21-foot, 250 horsepower fiberglass behemoth on a trailer.

“I like the Predator XL Minn Kota in those backwater swamps,” explains Vining. “Back there, the river is moving a lot slower, if it’s moving at all, and the motor comes in handy. I can put it on the slowest speed it will go and stand up and fish just like I’m in a bass boat. In the deep swamps, you can’t get a bass boat back there where the fish go.”

Vining didn’t begin bass fishing as a Predator junkie. In another life, he filled bags careening across reservoirs in a fiberglass boat—the kind with 30 rods and “just about everything except the kitchen sink” on board. But fishing machines like the Predator helped change his mind. “I sold my boat,” he adds. “There was no need to drag around a huge trailer and deal with all of that maintenance when I could fit it all in the back of my pickup truck.”

Instead of 30 rods, Vining carries three: one for each depth of the water column. But the minimization stops there. Thanks to an attached Humminbird® HELIX 5 SI GPS unit, Vining can not only see what’s below his boat but what’s submerged off each side, whether it’s cover or fish. “That’s a big deal,” he says. “Side Imaging allows me to find fish as I’m motoring along with the Minn Kota. It’s a total game-changer.”

Vining credits the Predator with making him a better fisherman. In a world where you can’t just take off to another side of the lake when the bite slows down, he says you learn to change your tactics to understand what will make the fish bite where you’re at.

And Vining could be anywhere. He can still tackle large reservoirs, especially with the boat’s 45lb thrust, saltwater-grade Minn Kota motor console on board. He can also glide silently through the Georgia swamps into a world untouched by most anglers—a world full of big bass without the big bass boats.

  • Key specs for the Predator XL Minn Kota include:
  • Length: 13’ 2”
  • Width: 36”
  • Weight: 92 – 117 lbs
  • Carrying Capacity: 600 lbs