Take a Bow: The Season’s Newest & Finest Fishing Machines

BY Kevin C. O Donovan

As the off-season chill fades into the warm promise of spring and our coastal waters shed the dark tint of winter the salty air beckons fishermen from their slumber and back to the docks ready to hit the water and take the fight to the fish no matter where they’re hiding.

From small and environmentally friendly to the most over-the-top super-yachts that gulp fuel by the gallon this year’s finest new fishing machines have something to offer any able-bodied angler.

No matter if you’re tooling around the Intracoastal poking around in creeks heading offshore day tripping to the Gulf Stream and beyond or just making the dockside scene these seven saltwater beauties hold the promise of a great year for fishermen and a really bad year for the fish.

Scout 145 Hybrid

First hybrid comes with an 8-inch draft

With fuel prices soaring ever higher spending a weekend on the water has become quite an expensive proposition and many area fishermen are really feeling the pinch on their wallets.

Summerville South Carolina’s Scout Boats has created a truly unique solution with its new 14-foot model. The Scout 145 Hybrid the industry’s first hybrid fiberglass boat comes equipped with a 20-horsepower Yamaha outboard flanked by dual 36-volt Lenco Marine electric drives. The boat also comes equipped with three 30-amp bank battery chargers for its deep cycle batteries.

Scout’s motto is “Spearheading the Future of Fishing ” and with an outstanding battery life of nearly 8 hours and the ability to recharge the batteries with an optional dock-mounted solar panel the Scout 145 Hybrid might indeed be a glimpse of the future of boating.

With only an 8-inch draft the 145 Hybrid opens up a number of fishing spots that many other boats can’t touch. But despite its small size the 6-foot 6-inch beam still surprisingly leaves plenty of space for assorted fishing accessories. Other options include side rails tempress seats aluminum bimini top and a stainless steel base plate.

Dallas McElheney of Pages Creek Marina says the Scout is “very very green and with the optional solar panel installed on your dock you can ride essentially for free.”

One final feature of the 145 Hybrid is the unique joystick at the helm which replaces the steering wheel when the boat is powered by the electrical drives. With its simple control system McElheney notes “this is a great little boat for grandparents or grandchildren who’d like to spend the day fishing without breaking the bank.”

The Scout 145 Hybrid is available locally from Pages Creek Marina for less than $20 000

Parker 2100 Big Bay

Big boat in a small package

Coastal Carolina’s own Parker Boats in Beaufort has been crafting sturdy fishing boats since the late 1960s and the updated-for-2008 Parker 2100 Big Bay carries on this tradition of excellence priding itself in crafting “overbuilt and underpriced boats.”

This sleek 21-footer is powered by a 200-horsepower four-stroke outboard that propels it toward 40 knots instant-retract trim tabs designed to keep the boat leveled properly and planing at a slower speed for greater efficiency. The boat also boasts a self-bailing cockpit married with a nonskid surface and quite a bit more storage than one would expect for a boat this size. It also features a 30-gallon above-deck live well with pedestal seats above and a 119-quart fish box. Another popular feature of the Parker line is a five-year transferable hull warranty.

Newland Crocker of Crocker’s Marine says the 2100 rides like a larger boat with stability and surefootedness on its modified V-hull and is really a “bigger boat in a smaller package and more importantly for a smaller price.”

He adds that “while it may look smaller compared to some of the larger boats this is the smart fisherman’s boat ” and that an owner can be comfortable in the knowledge that like all Parker boats the 2100 packs solid quality construction a well-deserved reputation for safety and dependability and a workhorse quality that instills confidence that the 2100 Big Bay will safely deliver a fisherman back to port in even the roughest conditions.

The Parker 2100 Big Bay is available locally at Crocker’s Marine for $51 000

Chris-Craft Catalina 29

traditional craftsmanship with remarkable efficiency

bout the time Henry Ford was trying to put a gas engine into an automobile company founder and namesake Christopher Columbus Smith was already working on adding gasoline-powered motors to his handcrafted wooden boats. As the word spread about the legendary speedboats the buying public gave the boats their now-unforgettable moniker. Such was the appreciation of the quality and beauty of the wooden boats wood yards began to call their finest woods “Chris-Craft Quality.”

After a decline in popularity that began in the 1960s Chris-Craft has made a notable resurgence in the last five years. The Sarasota Florida-based boat builder has once more caught up to the rest of the boating world producing a new line of modern boats but keeping true to its tradition of craftsmanship.

This year the company debuts a line of serious and seriously beautiful center console fishing boats its first. The top-of-the-line Catalina 29 breathes new life into the grand old company.

This stunning Catalina is powered by twin Yamaha F-250 TXR engines rocketing the slick retro-hull to a cruising speed of 35 mph and a blistering top speed of 53 mph while besting similar sized vessels with remarkable efficiency.

It measures a little more than 10 feet at the beam with a spacious self-bailing non-slip cockpit features standard dual fish boxes on both port and starboard radial outriggers and 28-gallon bait well located at the helm.

Some of the creature comforts include a fiberglass T-top a flip-up seat that reveals a concealed Tecma head and a refrigerator located under the helm seat. The Catalina even comes pre-wired for electric reels and downriggers.

The beauty of the Catalina is beyond dispute. With its stylish remarkable lines and surprising comfort McElheney at Pages Creek jokes that “the Catalina is a serious fishing boat that men want but also a beautiful yacht that their wives will actually let them buy.”

The Chris-Craft Catalina 29 is available from Pages Creek with an MSRP of $164 000

Regulator 30 Express

Upping the ante from bow to stern

denton’s Regulator Marine has targeted the Express market this year introducing the Regulator 30 Express its newest 30-footer pairing a serious fishing boat with “big boat” comfort and features normally found in larger cabin cruisers.

Designed by noted naval architect Lou Codega and in keeping with the Regulator tradition the Express is first and foremost a top-of-the-line fishing machine piling on the features one has come to expect for serious offshore fishing.

Starting from the stern Regulator has upped the ante on horsepower with twin outboard V8 Yamaha 350s controlled from the helm with fully electric controls and power steering. The boat features a 30-gallon live well four rod holders mounted on the gunwales a rigging station and a walk-through transom offering easy access to the transom fish box.

The cockpit is outfitted for cutting edge control and operation including two flush panels to support two 10-inch electronic displays and a captain’s helm position for control and visibility. Notably the cockpit also features numerous spacious options for sitting resting or sunning on the stern or bow.

The nicer-than-normal seating options topside are trumped mightily by the roomy cabin which comes standard with a full galley including Corian countertops microwave refrigerator a convertible dinette and aft berth for overnights and well-designed accents that give the cabin a lived-in feel. Adding to that homey feeling is Regulator’s inclusion of a private head including a shower and vanity.

What really puts the Express 30 over the top is the optional entertainment package which includes a 20-inch LCD television with built-in DVD an AM/FM MP3 and compact disc player.

All together the Regulator 30 marries serious fishing power with serious comfort entertainment for those longer fishing trips whether it’s tournament fishing with a couple of buddies or as Atlantic Marine President David Floyd says “for taking a family of four or more offshore with air conditioning a private bathroom with a shower a DVD player for the wife and kids and a top-of-the-line fishing experience for the captain.”

The Regulator 30 is available from Atlantic Marine with an MSRP of $259 000

Century 3200 Offshore

A serious fishing boat with comfort for everyone

The latest and greatest from Century Yachts for this year is the all-new 32.5-foot Century 3200 Offshore. The biggest center console Century makes she is also the beamiest with 10.5 feet of space from port to starboard. With the newest and most powerful Yamaha F-350s powering the ride the Offshore packs plenty of power that pushes the envelope northward of 55 mph.

For your fishing pleasure the Offshore comes equipped with two lockable port and starboard rod boxes six stainless steel gunwale rod holders a 62-gallon aerated bait well and a deluxe leaning post with backrest and rodholders. The boat also includes two 272-quart insulated storage boxes to hold all the fish you can catch. Rear seating conceals the fresh and saltwater washdown transom sink complete with cutting board.

Below decks the Offshore quite literally shines teeming with glossed wood the Century feels more like a luxury cruising yacht than high-powered fishing machine. The 3200 also boasts a full galley full-screen LCD television DVD and a gaming station for the kids complete with iPod connection headphone jacks and cubby storage for gaming systems. When the fishing’s over the cabin also contains a seating area full-sized bed and ample storage space.

Century has been making yachts since the 1920s but in 1995 Yamaha Motor Corp. bought the company leading to some unique benefits for Century owners. As Dennis Smith of Cape Fear Yacht Sales says “Since Yamaha owns Century you have the advantage of getting your boat and motor from the same company just like you were buying a car. You’re pairing the best with the best. You get a serious offshore fishing boat but don’t sacrifice comfort for the rest of the family.”

The Century 3200 Offshore is available from Cape Fear Yacht Sales with an MSRP of $309 000

Boston Whaler 345 Conquest

Unsinkable Luxury

The Boston Whaler brand has long meant a line of smaller open-air unsinkable center console fishing boats until now. This venerable boat builder has just announced its most ambitious model yet the all-new 345 Conquest billed by the company as “the largest most comfortable and capable Unibond cabin boat in Whaler history.”

New and unique features that set the Conquest apart include an integrated triple-pane windshield and hard top a centerline helm and a fully enclosed interior far cushier than the usual Whaler. The well-appointed interior features an Island bed with a motorized headrest for watching television a convertible settee and wall space for hanging four rods. The 345 also features an amidships seating area that converts to another berth complete with privacy curtains.

The standard entertainment package in the cabin includes a 20-inch flat screen TV DVD player Clarion stereo with MP3 player input (and helm remote control) and installed satellite radio. The galley features a flat cooktop with touch controls a space-saving microwave and coffee maker combination and a 3.9-cubic-foot refrigerator.

Topside the self-bailing cockpit is equipped with an optional food prep area grill and an underseat beverage cooler.

At the console there is space for 10- and 15-inch screens and engine remote ignition key switches with pushbutton start.

The 345 is impressive in the mechanical department as well drawing 300 CXL DTS Dual Mercury Verado FourStroke with tilt power-assisted steering and Mercury’s trademarked SmartCraftVessel View Display.

Options for additional upgrades are many in the GPS fish finder and additional display areas including Northstar NS3300 autopilot.

Mike McElhone of MarineMax sums up the 345 Conquest: “You get all the luxury and still get everything you expect from a normal Whaler. Just like the smaller models the Unibody construction means you can cut the boat in half and sail away on either half.”

The Boston Whaler 345 Conquest is available from MarineMax from $325 000

Viking 60 Convertible

Ultimate fishing vessel with versatility

Almost more a ship than a boat and so for those with the wherewithal to afford it probably the ultimate fishing vessel is Viking Yachts’ new enormous 60-foot Convertible which made its jaw-dropping debut at last October’s Fort Lauderdale Boat Show.

At 170 square feet the cockpit alone on this beautiful behemoth is larger than some studio apartments and includes an observation mezzanine. A popular feature on Vikings the mezzanine allows guests to remain out of the way of the angler and crew when a fish nears the boat yet watch and stay close to the action in the lower cockpit.

The salon of the 60C dwarfs the size of the cockpit thanks to nearly 19 feet of beam. Inside the salon an L-shaped sofa to starboard is fronted by a teak cocktail table with a burl top. The sofa lifts easily on gas struts to expose a substantial stowage area suitable for fishing rods tackle and other sundry items. Below the concave teak counter is a Bose entertainment system with surround sound capability plus bottle and general stowage. To complement the sound system there is a 42-inch Sharp LCD HD television installed over the dinette. The galley is U-shaped and according to Viking this is by far the most practical design for prepping and cooking meals at sea. Granite countertops fill the galley including a casual dining spot with a pair of bar stools. The 60C offers layouts with three and four staterooms and includes three heads with shower stalls.

On the mechanical side John Riggs of Bluewater Yacht Sales explains that due to Viking’s exploration into new building materials and despite its enormous size the 60C can move. “This is the hottest thing around ” Riggs says. “The 60C is the fastest production yacht in the world with a 32-knot cruise speed and a top speed around 37. At 32 knots the 60C maintains 117-gallon-per-hour fuel usage.” Considering this boat weighs more than 90 000 pounds that’s fuel efficiency to spare.

The Viking’s power plant is made up of a pair of MAN CRM 1 550-horsepower common rail diesels and the estimated range at cruise with the Caterpillars is 435 nautical miles or about 12.3 hours of run time. Also the 60C’s custom-made five-bladed propellers run in shallow pockets reducing the draft to just more than 5 feet opening up a lot of cruising and fishing destinations in the Bahamas and other shallow areas.

As Riggs explains “The mixture of size speed and range makes the 60 Convertible the most versatile in its class.”

The Viking 60 Convertible is available through Bluewater Yacht Sales and as the saying goes “If you have to ask …”