I made the choice to downsize my skiff this year so in the midst of selling my 18 HPX, I researched several v bottom poling skiffs in the 16ft to 17ft range. It really didn’t take long to make up my mind on which skiff would fit my needs. I spend most of my winters and summers poling for redfish and snook in the shallows; tarpon seasons running big open bodies of water to either sit on a wind chopped ocean or pole down laid up poons in backcountry basins; and some months stalking weary bonefish and permit on the flats when conditions get snotty. This required a skiff that is able to pole in less then a foot of water, move around quietly, and handle like a sports car on the pole while producing the least amount of pressure wake possible; all while being seaworthy enough to get there and back safely and comfortably when conditions get rough. Was there one perfect do it all technical poling skiff to get this job done?
After having tested the new Maverick Mirage 17 HPX-V2, it did not take me long to spec one out. It took an even shorter amount of time to get those ideas on paper and get in line to have one built to my specs. The first concern of mine was power. If I was still guiding, I would have opted for a 4 stroke motor; likely a Suzuki DF90, seeing it was the lightest in it’s class. But along came the opportunity to pick up a sought after Yamaha 90TLR 2 stroke (due to ridiculous tree hugging EPA laws, these simple 2 stroke carb’d motors are no longer brought to the states). This was the lightest 90hp motor I could put on this skiff so it was the choice motor. I needed some decent speed and load carrying capability but also needed the skiff to pole light when I arrived at my destination. With speeds into the mid 40s, the ability to spin a 13.5″ wheel, and less then 300lbs of motor on the transom, the Yamaha 90TLR was the perfect candidate. What I will lack in 4 stroke fuel efficiency, I will gain when the throttle is backed off and the push pole becomes the means of mobility.
The folks at Maverick Boat Co. welcomed my needs to personalize the skiff. I opted for a 2 tone white nonskid deck with whisper grey hull and slicks. The skiff is adorned with black powder-coated aluminum platforms and grab rails, as well as a black Edson steering wheel. To keep the skiff light, I chose to go with a light weight Odyssey PC925 battery for cranking/house and house it in the center console. I went with the old reliable plastic Stiffy push pole holders to hold my Stiffy Guide push pole in place. I preferred the the plastic holders over the popular aluminum ones because the plastic holders have a little bit of give and thus are less stressful to a bouncing push pole or stumbling foot. Personally, I think they give a nice vintage look. Speaking of vintage, I kept my old black aluminum Pro-Trim cage ready casting platform to give a little extra height to the angler on the bow. A Tibor push pole caddy and custom SeaDeck from Castaway Customs (http://castawaycustoms.com) finishes off the last bits of bling on this skiff. The idea is to be as minimalistic as possible, keeping the skiff very light and balanced.
The HPX-VII sits on a dry launch specific AmeraTrail trailer with every option available: port side walk-board, dual rollers on rear crossmember, negative 20 degree torsion axle, upgraded wheels, and the works. I wanted the skiff to sit low into the trailer like a glove.
A long road of shallow flats that lies ahead is filled with endless possibilities. If the fish swim it, I’ll pole it.
Stay tuned for the next chapter…