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Competitive kingfish boats keep growing in size each year. Tow vehicles have increased in size as well to handle their increasing loads.
"We really don't feel like we are towing a 38-foot Fountain fishing boat with triple Mercury outboards," Team Costa Del Mar's James Dicks said. "Our International CXT diesel powered truck has 895 pounds of torque and tows up to 20 tons, that's a lot of power!" James Dicks of Orlando, Florida fishes the competitive Southern Kingfish Association's kingfish tournament trail while operating a pretty impressive kingfish rig.
"When my fishing partner, Ralph Brunton, and I stop at a service station, boat ramp or tackle store, fishermen are always coming up to our International truck and Mercury powered 38-foot Fountain fishing boat and asking questions," James Dicks said. "Questions are soon followed by taking plenty of pictures of both our boat and big truck. I never get tired of talking with inquisitive fishermen and spectators about our fishing rig, actually I enjoy the conversation and hope to answer all of their questions". Kingfish boats have grown in size each year for the past five SKA tournament seasons. Yellowfin boats now offer a 42-foot kingfish boat that has a 600-gallon fuel cell. With the new fuel efficient outboards, SKA fishing teams could navigate to England during a kingfish tournament and make it back to the weigh-in on time with this monster kingfish rig! Plus, with a 12-foot beam there's plenty of fishing room.
Fountain Powerboats offers a 38-foot Tournament Edition kingfish boat that has a 10.6-foot beam and with triple 275-horsepower Mercury Verado outboards, the top speed is in access of 70 miles per hour! The hull weight is 10,600 pounds. Contender offers a 33-foot Tournament Edition center console fishing boat that weighs 6,600 pounds and is rated for up to 900 horsepower. Triton offers a 35-foot center console tournament fishing boat that also handles up to 900 horsepower, with a hull weight of 8,532 pounds.
Like many seasoned Southern Kingfish Association members, I can remember when center console kingfish boats measured up to 25 feet and weighed less than 5,000 pounds. With twin outboards and a full tank of gas, many of these kingfish boats from the past topped the scales at under 7,000 pounds. With this in mind, most kingfish boats could be towed to and from SKA tournament sites with a regular pickup truck. However, today's monster kingfish boats are a whole new ballgame. Boat hull weights are running over 10,000 pounds. Add motors, fuel and equipment and the gross towing weight could run over 15,000 pounds. New four-stroke outboards often weigh up to 300 pounds and more, while fuel weighs approximately eight pounds per gallon.
The last thing you and your kingfish team members wish to experience is a 15,000-pound kingfish rig pushing you down a steep mountain highway. You suddenly discover that the brakes on your truck are too small to stop, or even slow down, the nightmare that's happening in back of you. Of course, matters often worsen when the oversized load begins to "Fish-Tail." On the other side of the coin, you could possibly burn your truck's transmission up while towing a boat that is too heavy.
Fortunately major truck companies have stepped up their towing vehicles to handle modern day kingfish rigs. "The nice thing about my International CXT truck is that you can still park it in most parking places," James Dicks said. "I have even parked it in some real tight spots and in a crowded parking lot".
James Dicks also has multiple uses for his monster International truck including hauling show cars. "I also have some unique show cars, including a '68 Chevrolet Camaro that I transport to shows," James said. "I really can't afford to have anything happen to my collector cars. My International truck insures that I will get to the show and home again without any failures."
"One thing that you will obviously notice when towing with a new monster truck like my International CXT is that you have a bird's eye view of everything. This includes the boat and highway, and more importantly, when you are backing up you get a much better look at the boat ramp and where your boat is tracking." Other truck manufactures have also designed and are now producing larger tow vehicles. Chevrolet has the new Kodiak C-4500, which tows up to 26,000 pounds. Ford's new diesel powered F-550 tows up to 20,000 pounds. Ford also offers its F-650 with a kick-up frame that tows up to 26,000 pounds.
Obviously, a big concern with many Southern Kingfish Association members is purchasing the right tow vehicle that matches up well with their boat, motors and trailer. You simply can't afford to purchase an expensive kingfish boat, motors and trailer and skimp on purchasing the right tow vehicle. Keep in mind that getting your kingfish rig to the boat ramp and back home again safely is just as important as catching a money kingfish and bringing it to the SKA tournament scales. However it is more common for SKA members to purchase tow vehicles that are well qualified for towing their kingfish boat and equipment. We all like our big trucks!
First, find out the gross weight of your boat, motors, gear and trailer. Then make sure that the tow vehicle's GVW exceeds your gross towing weight of boat, motors and gear. Finally, there is always the question of four-wheel drive and whether you really need it. In most tow vehicles, adding four-wheel drive is and an added $2,000 to $3,000 expense. Four-wheel drive will also cut down on your fuel economy as well. However when it comes time for hauling your kingfish rig up a steep, slippery boat ramp, four-wheel drive is certainly an excellent choice.
In many cases of trailering on a dirt road during a heavy rainstorm, four-wheel drive is almost a must. On occasions I have opted to leave four-wheel drive off of my tow vehicle. During two instances, when my truck tires began to spin on a steep ramp, I had to have another truck hook up to my front end and tow me and my rig up the boat ramp. Very embarrassing! However, I have avoided this situation in present years by purchasing four-wheel drive when needed.
I believe one of the all-time best tow vehicles that I have owned was a GMC Yukon XL. With the locking differential, I seldom spun a tire when towing my 7,000-pound Triton/Mercury kingfish rig up even the steepest of boat ramps. However, my new tow vehicle, a 2007 Chevrolet dual cab truck, does have four-wheel drive. It's simply because I will be doing some trailering on a dirt roads, where there isn't any cell phone service. Another big decision: gas or desiel? In the long run diesel motors will get better fuel economy and more importantly produce more torque for towing heavy kingfish rigs.
Finally, the International CXT sells from $110,000 to $130,000. A Chevrolet 1500 Silverado Crew Cab with four-wheel drive sells for around $35,000. While the Chevrolet 2500 Silverado Crew Cab with diesel power sells for around $45,000