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Posted on May 30, 2014 in Next Cast, Fishing Boats, Boat Reviews
New Boat Project: Pathfinder 2200 TE
by Chris Woodward
Above: The new, 2014 Pathfinder 2200 TE. Below: Our 2007 version of the same bay boat.

I am a major fan of bay boats. At heart, I’m a plain, ordinary inshore angler who enjoys everything from float fishing for trout to fly fishing for tarpon. Oh, I love the blue water, too, but the older I get, the more I appreciate quiet waters and lighter lures.

That’s why I’m buying and outfitting a new Pathfinder 2200 TE this spring, and I plan to blog about the decisions and the process, and share several videos, as this new baby comes to life. (The mold will be prepped June 3!)

First Decision

When I first shopped bay boats about 13 years ago, I really wasn’t sure what I needed or wanted. Only a handful of such skiff designs were even made. Of course, now there are plenty — from 19- to 26-footers — many that I truly love and would own in a heartbeat.

I saw my first Pathfinder docked at an exclusive south Georgia hunting and fishing lodge called Cabin Bluff. That was back in 2001, about three years after Maverick Boat Company owner Scott Deal first designed the brand. I was a new resident of coastal Georgia at the time, so I was impressed that this lodge had purchased a fleet of those skiffs.

It would be a few more years before my husband and I actually purchased a new Pathfinder — a 19-footer — but the memory of those skiffs kept me motivated. Since then, we’ve owned two subsequent Pathfinders — one basic 22-footer and one 22-foot tournament edition. We bought the last boat in 2007; we loved it and babied it from the day it arrived to the day it sold (one week after we placed it on the market).

Why this boat? In all truth, I admit that I have lusted after several other brands — boats I have tested in the past for the magazine or sea-trialed at boat shows. But because I entered the bay-boat market early, and have more experience with Pathfinder, I feel I better know its attributes. And while our initial purchase decision might have relied more on reputation and looks than familiarity, I now have a list of reasons why this particular boat fits the way we fish, who we fish with, and where we live.

  • It crosses our often-choppy open bays and surf zones dryly and comfortably.
  • At 22 feet, it easily fishes four anglers from its broad decks fore and aft, yet it’s compact and light.
  • With a fuel-efficient Yamaha F150, it’s inexpensive to operate yet offers a quick hole shot and ample speed. (Note that we generally fish fairly close to our homeport. The 2200 can handle up to 250 horsepower — including Yamaha’s new F200 — but for our purposes, the lighter, smaller outboard works best.)
  • It floats skinny enough to get us to most places we want to fish. No, we can’t pole it into the marsh after tailing reds, but we can inch up to the grass close enough to cast along the edges — on almost any tide.
  • It comes with a 15-gallon livewell in the bow for shrimp and a 40-gallon well aft for larger bait or for use as a release well. (A third well is plumbed, but we mostly use it for storage.) A bucket with a cast net drops into the deck ahead of the center console.

I could include a number of other nuances — including the finish, the rod-storage capacity, the stable feel of the boat in messy seas, etc. — but suffice it to say, this boat fits our fishing and our wallet. Could other brands do the same? Absolutely. That's why every buying decision is particular to the angler, his or her fishing style, his or her location and the overall budget. Know your habits, and know what you can afford.