The mild winter morning was still dark when I met Joe Minutolo at the dock behind his house on Tierra Verde Island near St. Pete Beach, Florida. The glow of the spreader lights on the new Stamas 392 Tarpon led the way.
“We’ve got a long run offshore today, so I’m glad you’re here early,” Minutolo said in high spirits as I boarded the 392. He had just finished loading waypoints into the twin Raymarine gS165 multifunction displays and showed me that one of the spots was 47 miles out into the Gulf.
Within a few minutes, our other four crew members joined us, including Mark LaPrade and Chris Stamas, both from Stamas Yacht, as well as Minutolo’s longtime fishing buddies Joe Fett and Paul Vargas.
Stamas 392 Tarpon Features
As we loaded ice and drinks in the built-in transom cooler, I marveled at the quality fit and finish. Stamas also makes sure its boats are easy to service, with features such as the 392’s huge one-piece dash panel, which hinges forward for access to the rigging behind the helm.
Minutolo’s regular boat, Reely Blessed, is a Stamas 326 Tarpon, and he loves it for his style of fishing structure spots in the Gulf waters off St. Pete for grouper, snapper and other species. Yet he jumped at the opportunity to captain the new 392 for my Fish Trial, in case he ever wants to upgrade.
We all stowed our gear in the expanded console cabin, accessible via a companionway and pocket door on the starboard side of the helm deck.
Three steps lead inside, where I flipped on the interior LED and found 6 feet 8 inches of headroom and a queen berth with stowage for up to 7-foot rods beneath. The cabin also includes a removable dinette, a microwave, a fridge, a sink with a freshwater faucet and a marine head. Molded-in windows help illuminate the space during daylight hours.
I returned topside as we pulled away from the dock. Minutolo said we needed to make one stop before heading out through Pass-a-Grille Inlet. A few minutes later, we arrived at a pair of buoys bobbing in the bay. “Those are my pinfish traps,” said Minutolo. Vargas pulled each one in and quickly transferred the contents of 40 or more wriggling pinfish from each trap to the 48-gallon livewell in the port quarter.
The Stamas 65-Year Heritage
As we headed offshore, LaPrade reminded me of the long-standing heritage of the Tarpon Springs, Florida-based Stamas brand. “Few people realize that Stamas is the oldest continuously operating boat company in the United States,” said LaPrade. “Stamas has been in business and owned by the Stamas family since 1952.”
The hull displays a solid feel, another indicator of quality construction. The 392 uses the same proven hull as its predecessor model, the 390 Tarpon. The heft of the 13,400-pound boat (dry with power) helped smooth the 3- to 4-foot seas. Handling proved superb while dodging the numerous crab pots that festoon the inshore waters.
I perched in one the three comfortable helm chairs. Occasionally, I’d stand to stretch and use the flip-up bolster for support. Faux-teak decking on the sole at the helm and on the angled footrests adds a touch of color and warmth. There’s also a lounge with fold-down armrests, spacious enough for two people, on the forward console, as well as wraparound seating in the bow. Moving astern, you’ll find a fold-out bench seat that spans the transom interior. A transom door in the starboard quarter makes it easy to access the swim platforms on each side of the outboard motors.
A new tempered-glass, full-height windshield and side windows integrate stylishly with the hardtop and frame. An electrically operated vent at the top of the windshield ushers in a breeze on sultry days.
The triple Yamaha F300 outboards propelled the 392 to 45 mph at 5,000 rpm, at which point the outboards burned 64 gph for 0.7 mpg. At that speed, we reached our fishing spot in less than an hour. “When you’re fishing nearly 50 miles offshore on a half-day trip, you want to get there in a hurry,” Minutolo joked.
Using the Raymarine chirp sounder, Minutolo quickly found his spot, a wreck in 150 feet of water. He motored upwind, and Vargas dropped the anchor using the stainless roller on the integral bow pulpit and the Quick vertical windlass.
To tie up leaders and hooks, we used the rigging station abaft the helm seats, which features a faux-granite countertop with a sink and freshwater faucet and an electric grill, with storage drawers and a fridge below. A second 75-gallon livewell can be optioned to replace the grill.
Catching Amberjacks and African Pompano
It didn’t take long for fish to bite. Those fishing in the stern were catching amberjacks practically at will. In the midst of the bite, Stamas hooked a fish that was so powerful it pinned him to the side as the rod bent deep and line peeled off the reel. Seconds later, the line parted. “Probably a goliath grouper,” Minutolo guessed.
In the meantime, Vargas, who was fishing in the bow, hooked what turned out to be another species of jack — a 26-pound African pompano. After a few photos and high-fives, he cast out again, and soon hooked and landed another, bigger African pompano — a 32-pounder.
As the crew stayed busy battling fish after fish, I noted the excellent traction afforded by the diamond nonskid sole, as well as the padded coaming bolsters that encircle the boat, cushioning the anglers’ legs. Also, the walkways aside the console offer plenty of room to follow a hot fish along the side.
Minutolo came to deeply appreciate all of this after he hooked a big blacktip shark, which tied him up for the better part of 20 minutes. Minutolo finally prevailed, but not until the shark took him back and forth across the transom four times.
After two hours of nonstop action, everyone’s arms were aching. So Minutolo decided to give the crew a rest while he and Vargas weighed anchor. Minutolo then put the 392 on a course to a spot inside the 20-fathom curve, where it’s legal to fish for select grouper species, before heading back to port.
After a brief run on an easterly heading, the skipper zeroed in on a spot that he named Bella (Italian for beautiful) in honor of his daughter. This limestone ridge in 115 feet lit up the sonar with fish marks.
Despite the sore arms, everyone rushed to rebait and drop lines to the bottom. Within seconds, we were hooking fish, including a nice red grouper. We iced all of the fish that we kept in one of the two 6-foot-long 87-gallon fish lockers under the bow deck.
Stamas 392 Tarpon Boat Power and Speed
On the run home in a 2- to 3-foot chop, the 392 Tarpon achieved a top speed of 54 mph at 5,500 rpm, where the triple F300s burned 80 gph for 0.67 mpg. The most economical cruising speed occurred at 30 mph at 3,500 rpm, with a fuel-burn rate of 27 gph, which resulted in 1.1 mpg. That equates to a cruising range of more than 400 miles, based on the 410-gallon fuel capacity.
If you are looking for a center console in the 40-foot range that offers rock-solid construction, strong performance, abundant room to fish and amenities that allow you to overnight in comfort, put the Stamas 392 Tarpon on your short list.
Stamas 392 Tarpon Performance Specifications
Power: Triple Yamaha F300s
Load: 200 gal. fuel, six crew
Top Speed: 54 mph @ 5,500 rpm
Time to 30 mph: 7.5 sec.
Best mpg: 1.1 @ 30 mph (3,500 rpm)
Stamas 392 Tarpon Hull Specifications
LOA: 41 ft. 2 in.
Beam: 12 ft. 6 in.
Deadrise: 19 deg.
Dry Weight: 13,400 lb. (w/ engines)
Draft: 2 ft. 4 in.
Fuel: 410 gal.
Max Power: 1,050 hp
MSRP: $468,000 (as tested)
Tarpon Springs, Florida
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