Derek Horner was just 15 years old when he won his first tournament – the second one he ever fished – as a member of the Tyrone Bassmasters, a local Bass Federation club in Pennsylvania.
Three years later as a college freshman he joined the Penn State University Bass Fishing Club and purchased his first boat – a 20-foot 1992 Ranger Comanche with a 200hp Johnson outboard. Over the next four years, Horner said, he fished from that boat in 15 states against some of the best college anglers in the nation, competed in three national championships, won the Pennsylvania Bass Federation state title, and compiled a stack of other accolades.
“But I always knew that reaching the next level would require something more reliable than that 200hp Johnson,” said Horner. “Whether it was replacing the lower unit, replacing the powerhead, or fixing a carburetor, I was constantly working on my motor.
“When I reached a point where my motor was doing me more harm than good, I cut back on my competitive fishing and started fishing team tournaments with a buddy who had a more reliable rig. My Ranger sat in the garage as I fished local events and saved money. When I had saved enough, I made a purchase I knew I would never regret.”
A month ago Horner selected a Mercury 4.6L V8 200hp Pro XS to power his cherished Ranger bass boat, then participated in the repower operation that got his boat back on the water. That multi-day process started with running tests on his old outboard and ended with the same tests with his new Pro XS for comparison. In between, Horner documented every effort taken to transform his boat into a boat-and-engine package befitting a competitive angler.
Those steps included removing steering cables, fuel line, dash, deck, seats and more before attaching new rigging, fuel lines, gauges and eventually the Pro XS.
The three-day process turned into four as they encountered more opportunities to breathe greater life into the Ranger. But by the time they were finished rigging the engine, putting the boat back together, dropping the boat into a nearby lake and running tests, the results were obvious.
“The Mercury Pro XS was absolutely awesome, beating the Johnson in every test category,” said Horner. “We improved our top speed, acceleration, fuel efficiency, and hole shot. The Pro XS exceeded my expectations.”