I've spent the last 50 years fishing every creek and puddle I could find in Missouri between Table Rock and Mark Twain Lakes, fishing from everything from a 12' jon boat to pontoons to my friends' big Ranger and Nitro bass boats. Even the best, most expensive boats I regarded only as tools to help me do what I really wanted to do on the water: fish!
Even this past year and a half since my responsibilities shifted to include managing a Tracker Dealership I only assigned emotional value to the boats in how the sum of their features related to the fishing potential. All that changed the week of July 4th at Lake of the Ozarks. Most folks would resent having to take work with them on vacation, but I had to put a 150 Mercury OptiMax Pro XS on a Nitro Z7 through its break-in procedures so we could use it for an upcoming event; so I sucked it up and took one for the team.
Now, as anyone who has ever purchased a new boat knows, during your first few hours of use you have to be pretty careful watching rpm's and not pushing the engine while it's still unseasoned. Even so, as we got past the no-wake buoy I was shocked at how the Z7 popped up on plane with the throttle barely half-way forward! I had some great experiences on my buddy's 2002 Nitro, but getting out of the hole was never one of them. In that boat we would plow water as the seconds ticked by and we leaned as far forward as we could to help the nose finally dip and we would be on our way. I can tell you it wasn't just hype when our designers called the Z7's hull design "Rapid Planing System!" I found later that even a livewell full of water and two 225 pound guys didn't keep this baby from popping right out of the hole.
If you've ever been on Lake of the Ozarks over the 4th you'll remember there's a lot of boat traffic and a lot of big wakes. You'd know I was kidding you if I said the Z7 made the lake feel as smooth as glass, but the foam filled stringer system and the modular construction ties everything together to make this boat as tough as they come without giving up any speed. After I got 5 or 6 hours on the 150 ProXS I opened her up coming out of the Little Niangua and my passenger's eyes were wide as we cut across the chop and the speedometer rose to meet the 60 mark!
To say I was impressed with these and all the other performance features of the Nitro Z7 is a huge understatement. There are bigger and faster boats out there, especially at Lake of the Ozarks; but I can honestly say the two days I spent breaking in the Z7 with its 150 Mercury Pro XS OptiMax were the most fun I've ever had on the water... and I didn't even have a fishing rod in the boat!!!