Fly-fishermen are taking to bigger water everywhere. Whether working the rips of the Northeast for stripers and blues, off the sandy beaches of Florida for cobia and big jacks or along the Gulf shores for tarpon, these adventurous anglers have one thing in common: They’re fishing more water than can be a good idea for a traditional flats boat.
That’s where the bay boat comes in, offering a little more heft and range and allowing anglers seek different game. The Sea Chaser 230 LX Bay Runner is a good example.
|LOA:||22 ft. 9 in.|
|BEAM||8ft. 6 in.|
|WEIGHT||2,450 Lb(w/o OB)|
|MAX HP||250-hp OB|
|MSRP||$22,123 (w/o OB)|
Running and Fishing
I had a chance to test the 230 LX Bay Runner on a couple of blustery days on the waters off Key Largo. We did enough running in rough weather for me to tell you this boat will take just about anything an irritated Mother Nature can dish out – short of a hurricane or tropical storm. The Bay Runner offers a dry ride at speed and a stable and comfortable platform at rest.
Our test boat, rated for a 250-hp outboard, was equipped with the new small-block 200 Evinrude E-Tec engine. Seeing the way this package ran, I’m not sure you’d want to go much bigger. Topping out at 46.1 mph, the skiff cruised at just under 31 mph at 4,000 rpm – burning less than 9 gph according to the new Evinrude gauges, which take fuel readings right off of the injector inside the engine.
Two other items of note on this boat: the livewell system and the optional power pole.
I’m known to be a bait horder, especially when gathering live pilchards as chum. You can never have enough, especially when hoping to create your own hatch. That’s not a problem on this boat. Although it did appear to overflow slightly when the wells were packed, I doubt few people would give them the workout we did, carrying 50 pounds or more of liveys in the hopes of overcoming the wind and tangling with some snook and tarpon.
As to the power pole, this was the first opportunity I’d had to use one. I have to admit I was skeptical, but this is an option that will be on every skiff I own from now on. The wireless remote allowed us to easily stop on command while catching bait. We were also able to stake out in water as deep as 8 or 9 feet – either without or in conjunction with our anchor – opening a whole new realm of possibilities when fishing hard-to-anchor-on channels and cuts.
Design and Construction
The 230 LX Bay Runner features the same solid construction as its Carolina Skiff brethren. All composite, no wood means this is a boat that will be around for a while. The stringers are built using the company’s patented Box Beam Construction, creating a solid and nearly unsinkable boat with a totally encapsulated composite transom.
The boat seems to have been designed with the fly-fisher in mind, utilizing snagfree components such as lift-up cleats and a flush-mounted bow lifting ring. Our boat was rigged with two livewells instead of the standard one, and I’d recommend the upgrade if you are going to spend any time creating the hatch. A standard 52-gallon fuel cell should provide ample range for even the widest-ranging anglers with today’s miserly outboard engines. Rod storage to accommodate 9-foot fly rods is found under both the starboard and port gunwales.
If you are in the market for a bay boat, give the Sea Chaser 230 LX a look. Chances are, you’ll like what you see.
-Capt. Ted Lund