Pulling the Weight, Sequoia Meets the Challenge

  • The trailer test vehicle was the Sequoia Toyota Limited with 5.7L V8 gasoline engine, 4WD.
  • It handled my 5,000-pound boat flawlessly at the ramp and on the road.
  • While towing, the instant mileage readout varied from 9 to 14 mpg, depending on conditions and speed.

By Mike Schoonveld

The Sequoia is Toyota’s entry into the full-size SUV market.

For us guys with boats that sit on trailers between fishing excursions, the major “toy” between our boat and the lake is the vehicle to which the trailer connects. The size of the boat dictates what size of the tow vehicle is required, of course, but for most Great Lakes work, the vehicles need to be somewhat substantial.

 The Toyota Sequoia that I used to tow my boat from my Indiana home to Kenosha, Wisconsin and then to Put-In-Bay, Ohio last May was substantial, whether I was hauling over gravel-packed two-tracks or six-lane expressways. The Sequoia Toyota for this test was the Limited model, fitted with a 5.7L V8 engine and 4WD, adequate to pull my boat from algae-coated boat ramps. Equipped with a 6-speed automatic transmission, this full-sized SUV ran through the “gears” effortlessly whether going uphill or down, on the highway, or in stop and go traffic on Chicago’s Fullerton Avenue heading for Diversey Harbor (long story why that trip was included).

As are most vehicles these days, the Sequoia is fully equipped with bells and whistles, lane change alarms, driving sensors to detect if you are driving unsafely or the guy in front of you is driving unsafely, Bluetooth connections – in short, more on-board “toys” and other features than I was able to figure out how to use during my trip. I wasn’t so much interested in the bells or whistles, I was more interested in how it handled my 5000-pound boat (and how my 5000-pound boat handled the vehicle) in real-life driving conditions.  Rated to tow more than 7000 pounds, the Sequoia pulled my rig just fine.

I was also more interested in how it handled the gear and luggage I needed for extended trips away from home, especially when traveling with other anglers or a family group and our luggage. The coolers we hoped to fill with salmon and walleye fillets went in the boat. The rest of our duffle easily stored inside with a bit of short planning. The second-row bucket seats added some interior room since we could stow items between the seats as well as in the rear.  Once the luggage was removed, a third-row seat folded out of the floor allowing our whole group of six to head for The Brat Stop in Kenosha for dinner.

The Sequoia model that I tested handled my boat flawlessly at the ramp and on the road.

All in all, the Sequoia is certainly a viable tow vehicle and any on-the-go Great Lakes angler should consider it when it’s time to upgrade. I certainly will. Rated 13 to 17 mpg on the mileage meter, it’s in the same league as other comparable brands and models.

If there was one item to pick at on the Sequoia I tested, it was the gas-gauge/gas tank capacity. For one, the tank capacity is 26 gallons. Pulling the boat, my instant mileage readout on the dash varied from 9 to 14 mpg depending on conditions and speed so about 10 to 12 actual.  Not bad, but with that size tank, regular stops for gas is going to be required. (My regular tow vehicle gets the same mileage, but has a 42-gallon tank.)

On my trip to Ohio, I knew the next travel plaza was just ahead and a few miles before getting there, the low fuel warning light came on. We made it more than easily since the pump kicked off when 20 gallons were added.  I’m sure once more familiar with the accuracy of the fuel level indicator, the smaller tank would be less disconcerting.

You can check out the Sequoia online (in various editions) at www.toyota.com.

Clunn is Ageless, Magic Fishmaster, Wins at St. John’s River

  • Theme of the 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series: “Big Bass. Big Stage. Big Dreams.”
  • Clunn, 72 years young,  wins with 34-14 on Final Day to total 98-14 for tourney!
  • Clunn’s Hot Lures: Luck-E-Strike Hail Mary(3/4-ounce), Luck-E-Strike Trickster Spinnerbait with a shellcracker-colored skirt and a Texas-rigged GatorTail worm.
Rick Clunn repeats at Power-Pole Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River with a 4-day total of 98 pounds-14-ounces. Photo by B.A.S.S./Seigo-Saito

Palatka, Fl. – Feb. 10, 2018: After becoming the oldest angler ever to win a Bassmaster Elite Series event in 2016 on the St. Johns River, Rick Clunn provided what has become one of the most famous quotes in professional bass fishing history when he said, “Never accept that all of your best moments are in your past.”

On Sunday, he walked it like he talks it. Clunn, who turned 72 in July, broke his own record for agelessness, winning the Power-Pole Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River with a four-day total of 98 pounds, 14 ounces. His amazing week was punctuated on Championship Sunday with a tournament-best limit of five bass that weighed 34-14.

It was the 16th career victory for Clunn, whose $100,000 first-place paycheck put him over $2.5 million in career earnings with B.A.S.S.

“I think this just reinforces what I said after I won here in 2016,” Clunn said. “A long time ago, I stopped paying attention to timelines. The terrible twos, the ugly teens, the midlife crisis, retirement time — I don’t pay any attention to any of that. “If you listen to everybody else, you’ll get premature notions about who you really are.” This week, there was no doubt about it. He was “Rick Clunn: Legend.”

The Ava, Mo., angler started modestly with a limit of 17-5 on Day 1. But he inched his way up the standings with 23-11 on Day 2 and then caught 23-0 on Day 3 to make Sunday’s Top 10 cut in eighth place with a three-day total of 64-0.

He joked after Saturday’s semifinal weigh-in that he might need a 10-pounder and a 12-pounder on Sunday to have any chance of winning. While he didn’t quite make those marks, he came close by weighing in two fish over 9 pounds, including a 9-14 that ranked as the biggest bass of the day.

His three key baits all week were a big lipless crankbait from Luck-E-Strike called a Hail Mary, a 3/4-ounce Luck-E-Strike Trickster Spinnerbait with a shellcracker-colored skirt and a Texas-rigged gatortail worm.

“I thought the bream pattern was important for the spinnerbait this week,” Clunn said. “The bass are bedding here, and I know how much the bass really don’t like the bream around their beds.”

The spinnerbait bite improved steadily throughout the week, thanks to a cold front that brought wind and cloud cover to the region. After catching bass on the deeper ends of boat docks in practice, Clunn said the fish had moved so shallow they were under the walkways of the docks by the weekend — and that made for a perfect spinnerbait situation.

In the event that he missed a strike on the spinnerbait, he would follow up quickly with the worm. That was the key to landing his biggest bass Sunday.

“That’s what won it for me today,” he said. “Early in the day, they were eating that spinnerbait really well. I caught a 6 1/2 on it and another one about 4. But then in the middle of the day, I missed three fish on it — and I could tell the third one was a really nice fish. “I went back with the worm, and it was the 9-14.” Even with all that he’s accomplished, Clunn admitted the two giant bass on Sunday got his blood pumping.

“I swung every fish into the boat today except those two 9s,” he said. “When you have to sit there and think about all of the possibilities and it takes forever to get them in the boat…it gets your heart moving.”

The two anglers closest in the standings to Clunn were first-year Canadian pro Chris Johnston with 95-2 and veteran Kentucky pro Mark Menendez with 95-1. Johnston said it was an honor to share the stage with Clunn.
“To lose to somebody that you watched fishing for the past 20 years — just to be on the same stage with him — it’s a privilege,” Johnston said. “If I was gonna see anyone else win, I would want it would be Rick. He earned it. He deserves it. He put his time in. “I can’t complain about second place at my first event.”

Canada’s Chris Johnston catches 28-13 and holds on to the lead going into Championship Sunday with a three-day total of 75-13. BASS Photo

Clunn said the question of when he’ll finally give up fishing is “a dirty question.” He’s looking forward to next week’s Toyota Bassmaster Elite at Lake Lanier in Georgia and has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.

“A lot of stuff off the water is old to me,” Clunn said. “But when I go on the water, it’s brand new, just like it was when I started. I love it just as much as I ever have. “It’s an incredible thing to go out every single day and know that you’ve gotta figure them out. This amazing study of natural rhythms and how all things are connected — I can’t see myself ever getting tired of that.”

During a tournament when giant fish were weighed in all four days, the Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the week was caught during Thursday’s opening round. The honor went to Virginia pro John Crews for the 11-2 largemouth he caught on Day 1.

Rookie pro and former college fishing champion Patrick Walters of South Carolina was fourth with 91-14, and Crews was fifth with 89-11.

When the Bassmaster Elite Series last visited the St. Johns River, three years ago, four-time Bassmaster Classic champion Rick Clunn (right) won with 81-15, including this one-day limit of 31-7. Helping him show off the catch are Trip Weldon (left), tournament director, and River Clunn. BASS Photo

The Elite anglers hit the St. Johns River fishery at its peak. The 75 anglers caught 158 five-bass limits and weighed in 893 bass totaling 2,927 pounds, 8 ounces of bass. With an average weight of 3 1/4 pounds and the largest weigh-in crowds in the history of St. Johns Bassmaster tournaments, the event more than lived up to the theme of the 2019 Elite Series: “Big Bass. Big Stage. Big Dreams.”

-2019 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota
-2019 Bassmaster Elite Series at St. Johns River Title Sponsor: Power-Pole

-2019 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Abu Garcia, Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Skeeter Boats, Talon, Triton Boats, Yamaha
-2019 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops, Carhartt, Lowrance, Mossy Oak Fishing, T-H Marine
-Power-Pole Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River Host Sponsor: Putnam County Chamber of Commerce

About B.A.S.S: B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport. With more than 510,000 members internationally, B.A.S.S. is not only home to the nation’s premier fishing tournament trails, but it also boasts the most expansive and comprehensive media network in the fishing industry. Its media include The Bassmasters on the ESPN networks, more than 130 hours of tournament programming on the Pursuit Channel, 250 hours of on-the-water streaming coverage on Bassmaster LIVE and 1 million monthly visitors to the flagship website on bass fishing – Bassmaster.com. B.A.S.S. also provides more than 4.4 million readers with the best in bass fishing coverage through Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times, and its radio and social media programs and events reach hundreds of thousands each month.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, culminating in the ultimate event on the biggest stage for competitive anglers, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. The trail also includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, BassPro.com Bassmaster Open Series, B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series, and the Bassmaster Team Championship.