Light-tackle anglers often find that they need a specific type of vessel to chase their favorite target species. But as we've all learned over time, there are certain situations where a specific boat won't quite do; a flats skiff isn't the best platform for chasing late-summer dolphin off south Florida, and a center-console skiff isn't a good match for chasing redfish in the skinny water over oyster mounds in the Carolina Low Country. But that's where crossover skiffs or bay boats really come into their own. Pick your days, and these craft let you target snook and redfish in the mangrove backcountry, tarpon in coastal passes and inlets, or king mackerel and sailfish offshore with equal aplomb. They truly are one of the few "compromise" vessels, and the 2401 Bay by Trophy is a fine example of this chameleon class of skiffs.
I had the opportunity to put the 2401 Bay through its paces in my home waters off the Florida Keys on a brisk November day. The tide in Hawk's Channel was stacking up against the wind - a perfect scenario for seeing how the flagship of the Trophy bay-boat range would handle tough conditions.
Although the 2401 is rated for a maximum of 300 hp, our test boat was rigged with a 225 hp Mercury Verado turning a 15 1/2 x 17-inch Mirage prop. The package provided an impressive hole-shot and neck-snapping performance. With a test load of 650 pounds, plus 40 gallons of fuel and a full-featured T-top, the 2401 leapt on plane in three and a half seconds, reaching 30 mph in just under seven seconds. The skiff cruises at 32.5 mph at 4,000 rpm, topping out at 49.4 mph and 6,000 rpm. With a full fuel load of 86 gallons, the 2401 Bay has a range of 330 miles while burning a little less than 7 gallons per hour at cruise. All Verado installations include Mercury's SmartCraft gauges and hydraulic steering.
The 2401 Bay handles well at speed and also maneuvers well in tight quarters. The hull features 15 degrees of deadrise and runs well in both head and quartering seas. The heaviest chop we encountered during testing was 2 feet, and the boat ran dry and stable while taking it on.
Serious anglers and family boaters will appreciate the well-thought-out deck layout of the 2401 Bay. The 8-foot, 6-inch beam provides a wide, stable platform for anglers. A 28-gallon, centerline aft livewell carries plenty of bait for an entire day's fishing for even the greediest bait-slinger. And if that's not enough, there's also a 15-gallon well in the console.
Storing all those fish you plan on catching isn't an issue, either. The 2401 Bay sports a 52-gallon insulated fish box in the sole of the bow casting platform, as well as 15- and 23-gallon insulated boxes in the stern. Lockable rod storage in the starboard bow is sure to be a hit, with enough room to securely stow up to a half-dozen, 7-foot spinning or conventional outfits. When running, the console features six vertical rod holders; two gunwale mounted holders serve as a base of operations when fishing or trolling.
The wide fore and aft casting platforms offer plenty of space for anglers to fish, throw cast nets or just enjoy taking in a few rays on a family outing.
Our test boat featured a bow-mounted Motorguide 24-volt trolling motor system with an onboard battery charger, and that's definitely an upgrade that anglers will want to consider.
DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
The 2401 Bay features the same quality construction as all of the other skiffs in the Trophy family. The company uses a fiberglass grid stringer system to lend rigidity to the hull, which is hand-laid fiberglass with a full inner liner as well as full foam floatation. The exterior of the boat is finished with the optional choices of gelcoat colors, and a vinylester resin barrier prevents blistering from extended in-water storage.
One of my favorite attributes of this boat is its aggressive nonskid deck texture. Although severe enough to prevent you from slipping and sliding, it's not aggressive enough to flay the skin from your flesh when kneeling in the cockpit to land or release a fish.
Trophy's Drainage Response System makes sure the self-bailing cockpit won't leave you standing up to your ankles in water, with channels directing water away from your feet, toward the main scuppers and overboard.
For the most part, Trophy's bay boats come with everything you'll need to enjoy years of excitement on the water. There are a couple of noteworthy options, however. These include a third livewell aft, a bow casting chair, a fiberglass swim platform, pull-up cleats and under-gunwale rod storage. If you're planning to trailer your boat, Trophy finishes off the package with an optional single-axle, torsion suspension aluminum trailer with LED waterproof lighting.
A 10-year, transferable hull warranty ensures years of worry-free enjoyment for the owner. All other parts and components are covered by a one-year warranty.
Trophy has long been known for the hallmarks of performance, value and reliability. If you're looking for a crossover skiff that offers the best of both worlds for fishermen and family boaters, you'll need to look no further than Trophy's 2401 Bay.
LOA......23 ft. 8 in.
BEAM......8 ft. 6 in.
HULL DRAFT......18 in.
WEIGHT......2,400 lb. [w/o power]
MAX HP......300 hp OB
MSRP......$39,300 (w/225 hp OB)
Trophy Sportfishing Boats / Everett, Washington / 360-435-5571 / www.trophyfishing.com