Boston Whaler’s Dauntless series, which spans six models ranging from 17 to 27 feet in length, built its reputation with stable, smooth-riding hulls and center console layouts that lend themselves to a wide range of on-water activities, from watersports to day cruising, as well as fishing. In a word, they’re versatile.
Yet, as I stepped aboard the new 240 Dauntless Pro, I quickly sensed an emphasis on angling.
The biggest tip-off was the half tower, a standard feature on this model that includes a second helm station and leaning pad. You won’t find this on any other Dauntless.
Whaler completely re-engineered the center console on this Pro edition. As a result, the powder-coated aluminum tower frame for the hardtop and tower melds seamlessly with the console. Steps on the port side offer easy access for ascending the tower, and a SeaDek pad atop the center console provides cushioned nonskid footing for the occupant.
Fishing Takes a Priority
“The Dauntless has traditionally been a jack-of-all-trades,” says Spencer Traynom, program manager for Boston Whaler, who oversaw the team effort to create this fishing-centric 2018 model, which, by the way, helps commemorate Boston Whaler’s 60th anniversary. “The 240 Dauntless Pro is definitely the ‘fishiest’ model in the Dauntless line,” Traynom points out.
To see just how fishy this model can be, Traynom and I headed out on a mid-August morning into Florida’s Sarasota Bay from the marina at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota. Joining us was local guide Capt. James Goodwin, of Go Florida Fishing, to help us target redfish and seatrout, and Sport Fishing videographer Christopher Balogh.
Before we started fishing, however, we jetted out into the Gulf through New Pass to cast-net for pilchards along the beaches of Longboat Key. The expansive, stable forward casting platform — measuring 86 inches long by 65 inches wide — proved invaluable as Goodwin scanned for bait schools from the bow while cradling the net.
“This is primarily a bay boat,” Traynom said, pointing to the 1-foot-2-inch draft, as well as the optional jack plate, trolling motor and Power-Pole as examples of key inshore-fishing features.
In the next breath, Traynom alluded to the fact that he has taken his own 240 Dauntless as far as 40 miles into the Atlantic Ocean off New Smyrna Beach, Florida, in pursuit of mahi and tuna. While Traynom’s 240 is not the new Pro edition, both boats ride on the same 24-foot-8-inch hull. Our tester sliced smoothly through the 2-foot rollers at the inlet — about the roughest water we encountered on this Fish Trial.
Back to bait catching. Goodwin quickly spotted a dense school of pilchards in the clear shallows and unfurled the cast net. With one haul, he was able to plug the 38-gallon livewell under the aft casting platform. He stowed his net in a five-gallon bucket in the huge central locker under the foredeck, flanked by two equally cavernous lockers. A secondary livewell is located under the forward console seat.
Redesigned Aft Deck for 240 Dauntless Pro
The aft deck represents another distinctive feature of the 240 Dauntless Pro. It dispenses with the aft ridge found on the regular 240, effectively expanding the deck and eliminating a possible tripping point while fishing. Trays on both sides provide places to stash loose tackle items like hooks and sinkers. Seat cushions and backrests can fit on the aft deck to create a pair of seats.
We headed back into the bay and north to fish a spot known as Long Bar that Goodwin believed would hold redfish and trout. The single Mercury 350 Verado outboard loped along at 4,000 rpm, pushing the Dauntless to 29 mph in the 1-foot following seas.
Driving the Boat
I loved driving this boat from the tower. The cutout in the hardtop and leaning pad are both contoured to wrap around the helmsman. A bench seat lets you sit down and use a cross brace on the hardtop as a footrest. From the elevated position, you can readily spot schools of redfish but also see shallow areas to avoid. Handling proved outstanding as I weaved through the channels. The Verado power steering made turning fingertip-easy.
An optional flush-mounted Raymarine 7-inch Axiom Pro offered access to sonar and chart plotting in the tower to help guide the way. I also found secondary controls for the trim tabs and jack plate. A pair of forward angled rod holders flank the helm so you can participate in the fishing action from on high, while a pair of drink holders ensures you stay hydrated while aloft.
The main helm on the redesigned console featured an optional flush-mounted 9-inch Axiom Pro and a pair of Merc SmartCraft multifunction gauges. There’s a tempered-glass windshield, and you can order an optional clear vinyl enclosure for complete protection on chilly days.
A helm bench seat with a backrest features two flip-up bolsters and a foldout footrest on the powder-coated aluminum frame. A Yeti Tundra 65 cooler stows underneath. A second footrest at the base of the console lets you brace yourself while seated.
Inside the console, accessible from a companionway on the starboard side, is a step-down compartment with a port light and plenty of room for a portable marine toilet.
Fishing for Redfish
Once we reached the spot, Goodwin deployed the MotorGuide trolling motor to move stealthily along the edge of the bar. “There they are,” he said. The dark silhouettes of redfish cruised 75 feet off the starboard bow in the 2 feet of water that covered the bar.
Goodwin used the remote control for the Power-Pole to set the shallow-water anchor, then filled his bait launcher (a fat plastic baseball bat with the end cut off at an angle) with pilchards and flung them in the direction of the redfish.
A quick cast into the middle of the chummers produced an instant hookup for Goodwin. As he battled the red toward the stern, I noted the short step on both the foredeck and aft deck, the 21-inch-high gunwales in the main cockpit, and wide walkways beside the console — all of which make it easy to work a fish around the boat. Within minutes, the fish was boatside, and we released it after a few photos.
Goodwin’s battle with the redfish seemed to spook the schoolmates, but a school of seatrout quickly moved in to pick up the slack. As we cast and caught and released trout from the foredeck, Traynom pointed out that the 240 Dauntless Pro is not without family comfort. “For example, with optional pads and backrests, this foredeck can be converted into a lounge area,” he explained.
Fuel Tank, Speed, Power, and Livewells
Eventually the tide slacked, signaling the time to rack the sticks in the hardtop rod holders and run performance numbers. With four adult males, 80 gallons of fuel and 38 gallons of livewell water, the Verado 350, turning an Enertia 18-inch-pitch three-blade stainless-steel propeller, vaulted the boat to plane in five seconds, reaching 30 mph in 12 seconds.
The 240 Dauntless Pro posted a top speed of 48 mph at 6,200 rpm, where the engine consumed 31 gph for 1.55 mpg. The optimal cruising speed occurred at 4,000 rpm and 25.5 mph, where the 350 burned 11.5 gph for 2.2 mpg.
Today, an increasing number of serious fishing machines are leaning toward a softer side to add appeal for nonangling family members. But it’s nice to see the Whaler 240 Dauntless Pro go the opposite direction by adding serious fishing features to a hull that’s already a favorite among families everywhere.
Power: Mercury 350 Verado
Load: 80 gal. fuel, four crew
Top Speed: 48 mph at 6,200 rpm
Time to 30 mph: 12 sec.
Best MPG: 2.2 @ 25.5 mph (4,000 rpm)
LOA: 24 ft. 8 in.
Beam: 8 ft. 6 in.
Deadrise: 16 degrees
Dry Weight: 3,300 lb. (w/o engine)
Draft: 1 ft. 2 in.
Fuel: 90 gal.
Max Power: 350 hp
MSRP: $113,433 base boat (w/ Mercury Verado 225)