I had no intention of buying a boat. I have been looking, but I’ve been stumped on a crossover boat. The ideal boat would be a deep-v, walleye boat. The big great lakes boats, that can handle big rough water. That is the boat I had in my mind. I want to fish the mighty Pacific Ocean. It stares me in the face all day long, and I know there are lots of good bass, halibut, and tuna to be had out there. The ocean fishing has been, and continues to be off the hook. However, crossover boats that fish in freshwater and aren’t gigantic are not exactly easy to find. I’ve been spinning my wheels honestly.
My longtime friend, Cameron Smith won a new Triton Boat last October, on Lake Hartwell. That being said, his 2001 Champion 196 Elite came up for sale, recently. So, figure I’ve already fished 20-30 days out of this boat, I’ve written an article on this exact model before, and yeah, it’s like “the boat” ‘the model’ and rigged out by my boy Cammie and given to me at a killer homie deal. I had no choice but to write him a check. Paid in full already. And boy, just like the best things in life, things fall in place, the universe knows what you need, and when patient and mindful, things have a way of happening.
I’ve received the boat, had a weekend to look her over. I’m super stoked. A little TLC she is gonna be sick. The trailer needs love. I need to try and saltwater proof the trailer, the electrical connections, hardware, etc….I have no intention of hitting the big water, but shoot, I’ll put her in for the inshore stuff on calm days. She for sure is a 110% kickass freshwater bass boat. Hull is in gorgeous shape. Fast, fuel efficient and a great fishing platform.
Why the Champion 196 Elite
You won’t know by looking. There are very few 19 foot boats out there. Bass boats. They are either 18 or 20 foot. The 19 foot zone is way underserved. The Champion 196 fishes big, and is pretty much a 20 footer, but the beauty is…..she runs on a 200 HP Engine. Most 20 foot boats require a 250 HP engine. There are huge deltas in fuel and oil consumption at the 250 vs 200 HP range. The Champion 196 is about as big as you can get out of a 200 HP Outboard. She is beautifully balanced. And as far as bass boat, has a hull that can handle rough water.
Imagine MP as Jr. High or High School kid drooling over sparkly bass boats. I would literally feel sick or nauseous around super tricked out boats at the time. I wanted one bad. I wanted to be able to charge, get out there, get on the fish, try stuff out. Champion Boats (and Ranger) have HUGE footprints in the Western Market. In the 80s,90s, and 2000s lots and lots of Champion Boats went thru Anglers Marine. All the guys I can remember ran Champions: Cary Serklew, Bob Coulter, Bob Simmons, the Yamamoto crew, John Murray, etc.