In the past 7 years I have owned 2 tournament bass boats. The first was a Skeeter ZX180 capable of about 67mph and what seemed like natural progression led to my second and current tournament boat, a Stratos 200XL, capable of 80mph. I’ve owned the Stratos for almost 4 years now and in that time, the most significant things that have changed would be the birth of my two children.
At 3 years old, my eldest has only had a handful of fishing outings, mostly from the bank, but even at 3, he is smart enough to know that the boat is there for a reason and he hasn’t seen a great deal of time in it. I don’t know if I’m just over cautious but a bass boat isn’t exactly the most family friendly boat especially when my wife enjoys getting out on the water as well, something she hasn’t done in over 3 years. Throw into the mix my expanding interest in chasing other species, and the knowledge that as the kids get older, they will probably want to jump on a ski biscuit behind the boat, I’ve decided it is time for me to look at a more versatile and family friendly boat.
With literally hundreds of different types of boats to choose from these days, before I could start looking at boats I thought about what I needed from a new boat.
- It’s probably something I would want to keep for at least 5 or 6 years, so it will need to be able to accommodate the family, as the little ones get bigger.
- I still want to be able to fish tournaments, so a shallow draft is important.
- I don’t want to restrict myself to inside the heads and do the occasional inshore fishing.
- I want reduce the cost of using my boat. Essentially that means less fuel and less insurance so in my case probably means smaller motor, slower boat.
- It needs to fit into my garage, especially sinceI modified it just under 12 months ago to fit my Stratos.
- I don’t want to be outlaying a large sum of money to get into another boat.
It looks like I’m asking for a fair bit here but by the time I put all those factors together it was pretty clear the style of boat I was looking at and definitely a path many have gone before me. A centre console ‘sportsfishing’ boat seemed like the answer.
- They have enough room to accommodate the family for social outings.
- They have a shallow draft and capability for an electric motor so that I can still fish bream tournaments.
- From discussions I have had with people, they are more than capable of getting out of the heads.
- Preliminary research is showing that they should use less fuel and cost less to insure.
- With a little modification to the console, I should be able to get the boat to fit into my garage (it seems many people have requested this before).
After a bit of research and a trip to the boat show I came across 4 brands of boat. Now I know that there are many others that fit this profile but being able to see them in the flesh or having a dealer in Sydney makes it a lot easier and as such the Pioneer, Scout and Edgewater all manufactured a 17-18 ft centre console, shallow draft ‘sportsfishing’ boat that caught my eye.
As I have spent a number of years fishing inside the heads, it’s fair to say that apart from looks, I’m not really in a position to judge them on anything other than the aesthetics and accessories. This is where I turned to friends to help point me in the right direction, utilising their previous experiences to assist my decision. In short, without trying to discredit the boats in question the following is my findings and opinions of others.
Pioneer: These boats really caught my attention. The recent edition of the fishing DVD and the Daiwa catalogue feature one of these boats and by all reports they are a fantastic, well laid out boat that ride well. Despite there being a dealer in Sydney, I wasn’t able to view one and I have been told that they have quite shallow gunwales and are probably more suited as a bay boat. Despite these two issues that I couldn’t confirm, their preliminary pricing was more than I could afford.
Scout: The Scout was the pick of the bunch for my wife. She really loved the detailed finish of the boat. Scout has a long-standing reputation for quality and surprisingly I didn’t run when I was given the pricing. I really like the layout of the boat but a 2.3m beam means it will be a tighter fit getting it into my garage. This is something that isn’t a deal breaker but could definitely work against it.
Edgewater: There have been quite a few people I know take ownership of an Edgewater. They have been quite a popular pick for a few of the bream guys that have crossed over. At first I thought it was because of the connection with Josh Batterson from Skeeter Boats who is the importer for Edgewater but through dialogue with friends and strangers as well as owners past and present, this boat received a significant amount of praise. I have seen the proof that these boats can fish bream tournaments successfully when our own Vicki Lear and her husband Scott won the BETS grand final on Sydney Harbour a couple of years ago out of the 170cc. As well as this, Vicki and many others have spoken highly of these boats outside the heads with anglers like Chris Cleaver successfully landing Marlin from the 17ft model.
In the end the decision came down to the Edgewater 170cc. It’s slightly shorter and narrower than the Scout and all the fishing related ‘options’ are standard inclusions with Josh’s packages. Price wise there probably isn’t a great deal of difference, but I have dealt with Josh before when I bought my first bass boat and know that he provides excellent after sales service. To keep the family comfortable and happy, I’ve also optioned for the big bow cushion that covers the front casting area as well as the removable ski pole for when the kids grow up. On top of that, the console screen will be modified at the factory so that the boat should roll straight into my garage. The only downfall is, I have to wait until late November or early December to take delivery.