Better Angling Access In 2006

When it comes to catching fish, getting out to your quarry is the first order of business. These new models should make the boating easier this year.

There's nothing like the first warming days of spring to get an angler fired up -- and thinking about boats. It is, after all, kind of tough to catch fish without one. Unfortunately, make the wrong choice of craft, and angling days become less pleasant.

It's been suggested that the two happiest days in a boat owner's life are the day he acquires it and the day he gets rid of it. Another wag once noted a boat is a wooden hole in the water into which the owner pours money. And after 20 years as a Coast Guard-licensed charter captain, I can attest that if you make the wrong decision in picking the boat that best fits your needs, an element of truth will be found in both statements.

Every boat -- any boat -- is a compromise. All do some things magnificently, a few pretty well, others only marginally. A 24-foot bay boat is great for prowling coastal waters, but seems a poor choice when you're trying to launch it from a shirttail ramp at a small inland lake. A 16-foot johnboat would be a better fit for the latter, but a dangerous misstep for the former.

That's why boat makers offer such a dazzling array of products. No one boat is all things to all people, but if you know the uses you'll be putting it to, it's possible to pick your perfect boat.

Here's a look at some of the offerings available this year. They're diverse enough to handle virtually any angler's needs.

ALUMACRAFT

At 17 feet, 5 inches with a 93-inch beam, the new Dominator 175 CS is a versatile fishing machine. Rated for engines up to 150 horsepower, it's available with either a single side console or a twin walk-through with full instrumentation. A 40-gallon fuel tank provides ample cruising range.

Two 7-foot locking rod-storage boxes can accommodate up to 16 rigs, while aerated bow and stern livewells with 43-gallon total capacity can hold your catch and your bait. Battery compartments hold two forward and one aft. Pedestal seats are standard. Prewired for 12/24 volt, the boat can be factory-ordered with a Minn Kota trolling motor and a Lowrance liquid crystal graph depthfinder.
www.alumacraft.com

Alumacraft

BASS CAT

Designed for the serious bass angler, the new Puma is 20 feet, 4 inches in length with a 94-inch beam. Rated for engines up to 300 hp, it comes standard with a 52-gallon fuel tank.

Six storage compartments provide plenty of secure space for gear. Standard features include a built-in triple battery charger, six-bolt jack plate, hydraulic steering with a tilt steering wheel, dual aerated livewells, pop-up cleats, Euro-style bucket seats, net and measuring board storage, front power trim buttons, 6-gauge trolling-motor wiring, a master power switch, and just about every other item a serious bass angler would require.

The Puma is available as a single- or dual-console package with full instrumentation; tandem axle trailers with a swing-away tongue are standard.
www.basscat.com

The Bass Cat

BLAZER BOATS

The saltwater tournament market is booming, and the Blazer 2220 Pro was designed for it. This 22-foot, 6-inch bay boat features a 102-inch beam, carries 60 gallons of fuel, and is rated for outboards to 300 hp, yet draws only 12 inches of water fully loaded. The 13-degree transom deadrise enables it to hit speeds in the range of those achieved by bass boats. A jack plate is standard equipment, which provides the interior room of many 24-footers.

The front deck has two rod boxes, an integrated anchor locker, and two massive storage boxes, one of which is insulated, has its own drain, and can serve as a fish box. Standard features include a 35-gallon livewell, 20-gallon baitwell, and a 15-gallon console baitwell, flush-mounted cleats, console rod racks, a leaning post with 94-quart cooler, a raw-water washdown system, center console with windshield and grab rail, and 6-volt trolling-motor wiring with bow plug.
www.blazerboats.com

CAROLINA SKIFF

The Pre Rig/DLX-2390, a new addition to the extra-wide series of DLX model boats, is designed to provide additional fishing space in a larger skiff. With a length of 23 feet, 9 inches and a beam of 103 inches, it comfortably fits up to 18 passengers while drafting less than 9 inches. It's rated for motors up to 175 hp.

All DLX-2390 models come equipped with a front deck, deluxe console, short rear deck, bow and stern lights, remote steering system, console instrumentation, bilge pumps, 18-gallon fuel tank and flip-top cooler seat. Upgrades offered are a livewell, leaning post with tackle storage, rod holders, backrest, T-top, and a larger fuel tank.
www.carolinaskiff.com

Carolina Skiff

CHAMPION

The new 186 Fish Hunter DC is designed as a multispecies fishing platform. The 18-foot, 6-inch length and 99-inch beam provide a stable ride. Rated for up to 200 hp, with a 32-gallon fuel capacity, it'll get you there quickly.

A large center rod locker, four pedestal seat bases, a baitwell with a removable minnow bucket, 35-gallon aerated livewell, 50-quart insulated cooler, rear fold-up bench seat and walk-through windshield provide the needed fishing amenities. Its standard trolling-motor wiring is 6-gauge, with 40-amp breakers, and a built-in 10x2 battery charger will keep the juice flowing.
www.championboats.com

Champion

CRESTLINER

The Fish Hawk series has been the leader for Crestliner in recent years, and for 2006 they've introduced it in a compact 17-foot, 6-inch mode

l that features their new Contender package.

A single side console is standard, but a full-windshield dual console is now an optional feature. Adding to the fishing features on the Contender package are an expansive casting deck, aerated livewell and separate baitwell with a newly designed recirculating system. An in-deck tube-style rod locker, pre-wiring for a trolling motor with a bow deck outlet, a tilt steering wheel, adjustable sliding helm seat, wraparound cargo netting, built-in tackle trays and even a stowable landing net round out the package.
www.crestliner.com

Crestliner

FISHER

This year the popular Fisher Hawk gets a new hull redesign that improves ride and performance. Available in single-console, Walk-Through windshield, or a Sport model for water-skiers, all feature a roomy 98-inch beam over an 82-inch bottom width.

Eight-inch gunwales make plenty of room for rod holders, downriggers and other accessories, with side-mounted rod storage compartments below them. Livewell configurations vary by model, but are all generous. Walk-Through and Sport models feature a built-in AM/FM radio and CD player. The standard packages come with a 60 hp outboard, but the boat is rated for up to 135 hp.
www.fisherboats.com

Fisher

HURRICANE

At 23 feet, 2 inches, the new FunDeck GS 231 Center Console is the largest model in the Hurricane deck boat line. Rated for engines up to 300 hp, with a fuel capacity of 61 gallons, it can accommodate up to 12 passengers. The console hosts a changing room with an optional Porta-Potti.

An optional fishing package includes bow fishing chair, bow and stern livewells, four-rod holder and stern rod carriers, trolling motor wiring with bow plug, and an extra battery tray.
www.hurricaneboats.com

LUND

New this year is the Classic series, with three models. The 1775 is 17 feet, 3 inches, the 1660 measures 16 feet, 3 inches, and the 1625 is 16 feet. All models are available with a dual console/walk-through windshield, single side console, or tiller-steered.

Model 1775 and 1660 come standard with a Minn Kota Powerdrive 55 trolling motor, and either a Lowrance X-47 or Navaman 4430 fishfinder. Built-in fuel tanks, bilge pump, battery storage, bow casting platform with storage, pedestal seats, multiple storage compartments and a host of other features make these ready to fish.
www.lundboats.com

NITRO

The new Nitro 482 is a 17-foot, 9-inch fiberglass bass boat with a 90-inch beam. The new hull construction and lower profile are intended to maximize the performance of today's 4-stroke outboards. The boat comes standard with a 90-hp engine; it's rated for a maximum of 135 hp.

Available in single- or dual-console models, it features a new modular console design that offers multi-functional instrumentation that takes the place of six standard gauges. Additional features include a Motorguide 12-volt foot-controlled trolling motor, Lowrance X-86 depthfinder, two large rod boxes, a large aerated livewell with divider and pump-out feature, and multiple storage compartments.
www.nitro.com

Nitro

POLAR KRAFT

Designed for the serious walleye pro, or the multi-species angler on big water, the Kodiak V1910 Pro is 19 feet, 10 inches of deep-V hull with a generous 98-inch beam. Rated for engines up to 200 hp, it features a 42-gallon fuel tank. It is available in either single- or dual-console versions with quick-release windshields or a full-curve walk-through windshield.

A spacious deck layout offers an in-floor lockable rod box holding up to 18 rigs. Trolling motor batteries are out of the way with bow storage for up to three batteries. Bow and stern livewells of 14.5 and 18.8 gallons, respectively, are equipped with a removable bait bucket, divider, and flow-rite aeration system.
www.polarkraftboats.com

PRINCEKRAFT

The 190V L O/B is the newest addition to Princecraft's Ventura line of aluminum-hulled deck boats. This model features a deep-V reverse-chine hull. Rated for engines up to 150 hp, it carries up to 50 gallons of fuel in a built-in tank. At 19 feet, 2 inches with a 97-inch beam, it can handle up to eight passengers.

This new model features a full stern deck, new furniture layout with L-seating in the lounge. Cargo space is plentiful with storage under all lounges, a built-in floor cooler, under-floor storage and an anchor storage compartment. Numerous options are available to allow boaters to customize.
www.princecraft.com

Princecraft

PROCRAFT

New this year is digital switching on Procraft's popular Pro 200 and 210. Complex wiring is eliminated, while wiring connections are made sturdier and more reliable than conventional marine electronics.

Pros are available in single- or dual-console versions. Standard equipment includes a Motorguide 24-volt 70-pound-thrust foot-controlled trolling motor, an onboard two-bank battery charger, hydraulic steering, a Lowrance 1440A depthfinder with surface temperature gauge, and a 45-gallon tournament livewell with aeration and recirculating systems with remote drain control and pump-out system.
www.procraftboats.com

Procraft

RANGER

Ranger's new 188VS is designed to offer tournament-level performance at a value price. With a centerline length of 18 feet, 8 inches and a 92-inch beam, it's rated for engines up

to 175 hp. It carries 38 gallons of fuel.

Standard equipment includes Sea Star Pro hydraulic steering, speedometer, tach, and fuel, trim and water-pressure gauges. Additional equipment is highlighted by an on-board battery charger, 24-volt Minn Kota trolling motor, and a Lowrance X-135 depthfinder. Available in single- or dual-console versions, the 188VS has plenty of storage, as well as port and starboard rod boxes. The stern-positioned livewell features recirculating aeration, a removable divider, and filter screens.
www.rangerboats.com

Ranger

SUNDANCE

Bay boats are some of the hottest sellers, and the new Sundance SV201 is designed for top performance at an affordable price. With a 20-foot, 1-inch centerline and a 100-inch beam, it's rated for engines up to 150 hp and carries 40 gallons of fuel, yet draws about 10 inches of water when fully loaded.

The center-console model features six console rod holders, four gunwale rod holders, fuel separators, master battery switches, brass seacocks, and circuit breakers on all switches. Like all Sundance skiffs, the SV201 uses no-wood construction throughout.
www.sundanceboats.com

Sundance

STRATOS

The all-new 294 Pro XL is designed to provide high-speed performance for the serious bass tournament angler. Centerline length is 19 feet, 6 inches with a 91-inch beam. Fuel capacity is 42 gallons. Rated for engines up to 200 hp, the boat is offered with a 150-hp Yamaha, but Stratos notes that many anglers are opting for the 200-hp model, which makes for a combo producing speeds in the low 70-mph range.

With either engine, the boat comes standard with hydraulic steering, an onboard charger, Lowrance electronics, and a Minn Kota Maxxum 24-volt trolling motor. This is a fully-loaded tournament-ready rig.
www.stratosboats.com

Stratos

TRACKER

A 54-inch bottom, 80-inch beam and a 16-foot, 4-inch length make the new Tracker Pro Team 170TX a steady fishing platform for those looking for a compact fishing boat. Thanks to its oversized bow deck, two anglers can fish side by side. The center storage compartment can accommodate rods up to 7 feet in length.

Rated for engines up to 50 hp, the standard package comes with a fuel-efficient Mercury EL FourStroke. Additional standard features include a Motorguide 12-volt foot-controlled trolling motor, Lowrance X-37 depthfinder, an aerated livewell, and multiple storage compartments.
www.trackermarine.com

Tracker

TRITON

Serious crappie anglers will want to take a look at the new TA-196DC. At 19 feet, 6 inches with a 93-inch beam, it's rated for up to 150 hp, comes standard with hydraulic steering and carries 44 gallons of fuel to handle the biggest lakes.

Triton

Available in single- or dual-console designs, the dropped front deck is perfect for spider-rigging. A fully-aerated 35-gallon livewell is complemented by a 14-gallon baitwell and a 35-gallon rear compartment that can be used for storage or additional livewell space. Other standard features include a Lowrance X-135 depthfinder, 6-gauge trolling motor wiring with plug, and multiple storage compartments.
www.tritonboats.com

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