All my life, I have always tried to seek out the best of the best and this comes especially true when choosing my next flats skiff. This will my my third skiff I own and my third product from Maverick Boat Company as well. Currently, Maverick Boats is building my next skiff… and for the first time, I was able to build one from scratch with every little nit pick detail that I desired. After a 12 year run fishing the shallows from Flamingo to Islamorada, I have finally spec’ed out everything I wanted in a skiff; both for guiding and for fun fishing days.
I learned to run a boat and fish the shallows at age 12 on a Hewes/Maverick Light Tackle 18 flats skiff (currently the Redfisher 18). It had a 2 tone commander blue and white hull with Yamaha 150HP Saltwater Series motor, lots of weight, and a fishy attitude. I tried to get into places where this big flats boat was pushed to it’s limits from big water Dolphin fishing to shallow water Redfishing. This was hardly a skiff, but a big water flats boat, which my buddies and I actually did end up still trying to pole. For many years, I first learned to fish Whitewater Bay before learning how to fish the flats out front in Florida Bay. Along the way, my buddy Capt. Frank had also taught me how to bonefish in Key Largo as well as introduce me to fly fishing. I did a lot of this in either Frank’s Hewes Bayfisher 18 or my Hewes Light Tackle 18. These bigger skiffs were adequate and got me where I needed to be dry and comfortably. I fished the hell out of my 18 Light Tackle from the day I bought it in 1998 until the day I sold it in 2004.
I had sold my Hewes somewhere in my blurry college career and after all the partying and crazy nights out had gotten passed out of my system, it was time to get back to my life long love of inshore fishing. As time wore on, I began to realize that fishing can be more technical then what it was. There had to be a way sneak up on fish weary fish in shallow water and catch them with various methods from DOAs to flies. I searched for the right skiff that would still give me both an incredible ride and be able to do all the various types of technical fishing from Flamingo to the Keys. I joined the Maverick Boats manufacturers forum, read all the fishing reports from various guides on that forum and studying the Tournament Tales blog with Tim Mahaffey (who I never thought I would have the pleasure of fishing with many years later). After having the pleasure of being able to fish on 17 HPX-V skiffs with Capt. Dave Sutton and Capt. Eric Herstedt, I was convinced that this would be my next skiff. In the year 2006, I ended up purchasing the Redfish Tour skiff owned by the Hueston Brothers. This was a 2004 Maverick 17 HPX-V with lots of batteries, trolling motor, and fly line snags. Down the road, I ended up having the crew at Shallow Water Customs and Castaway Customs (SeaDeck) revamp the entire skiff and made it what it was… one bad ass fly fishing machine. Along this same road, I met a ton of people, some I regretted ever meeting, and some who I consider amongst my closest friends now. I later found being a fishing guide to be my outlet to justify being able to spend more time on the water and not feel guilty about it. At this point… something simple became a lot more complicated. One that that never got too complicated though, was how to run in a big chop and sneak up on weary fish in that 17 HPX-V. Somewhere along the line, I met Sam Root and became part of the contributors here at Salty Shores. I tested a number of different skiffs less then a year ago that made me ponder and brought back that “I want more out of this” train of thought. A couple of months ago, I decided to sell that 17 HPX-V and make the leap towards bigger (yes bigger), shallower, and better things… well, maybe not better, but slightly different.
August 2010. The real waiting finally begins as the clock ticks and time winds down towards the next skiff I will get behind the wheel and push pole of. The incubation process has started; here she sits in the mold… with dreams of Tarpon, Bonefish, Permit, Redfish, and Snook, amongst other finned characters, ahead of her… All the many years of skiff building heart and soul, the latest technologies, and dreams have intertwine into fiberglass and carbon/kevlar.
In the next few weeks, I will keep an updated blog on Saltyshores of the entire skiff building process that goes into a Maverick Mirage HPX from start to finish. Until next time…. stay tuned for the “Hatching”!!!