I guess I have been getting a bit closer to having a pretty good wake, but I have not tried it with stock ballast only. Here is what I suggest:
Like Chris said, empty rear tank opposite of the side you are riding on. You might try letting some out of the bow also, and see what difference it makes. It seems to me that the more the boat is weighted in the rear, the steeper the wake, but also the shorter the sweet spot. I usually use the wedge, but the other day we put it up, and it seemed to make a good difference (if that makes sense).
Another thing you can try is while driving, make a slight turn on the side the rider is on. I have heard this and usually try as long as other boats are not around. Funny though - the other day I turned the opposite (rider on the outside of the turn) and it was making a really nice wake.
Get all your friends on the back corner, as much as you can.
Man, wakeboarding is SO much easier to get a good wake and speed dialed in. The surfing is much more difficult, and takes a whole lot more trial and error to find what works best. Ballast, speed, type of board, rider skills, etc.
As far as riding w/o the handle, I have heard many persons who can do it on a stock wake. I find that a lot of riders just are not putting enough weight on their front leg. If you just lean a bit more weight on your front leg, AND you are pretty much on the good part of the wake, you will take the slack out of the line and speed up. Also squat down. Bend those knees and get your center of gravity down.
Don't know what else to tell you. Oh yea. One more thing: Get a bunch of fat friends, provide free cheeseburgers and beer, and you have some voice-activated ballast. Should make a HUGE difference.
Just have fun with it.