When I began saltwater fishing seriously (or as seriously as I can be) I read any book I could get my hands on pertaining to the subject. Over 25 years ago there were not as many books on the subject as today. Furthermore the Internet was still a dream for the most of us.
This is the first book review entry to the reviews section that will hopefully turn into a library in the future. Someone asked me a week or two ago “What are your credentials”? Please keep in mind, I am not a professional writer or reviewer. I’m just a guy that loves time on the water and wants to help anyone enjoy this passion, pastime, hobby, or life.
The fist book review I decided to do was “Skinny: How to Fish in Shallow Saltwater” by Capt. Mel Berman with Gary Poyssick.
The cover of the book speaks “skinny fishing” to me with a beautiful picture of tailing reds taken by our own Sam Root. The 217 pages are broken up into three major sections.
The first section is “Fishing where the fish are” and goes into finding structure, planning your trip,positioning your boat and what to look for which gives clues on how to read the water and what the activity of various birds mean.
The second section pertains to preparation for the trip, namely packing for your trip which includes rigging, various lures and their applications, a couple of pages sharing the importance of sun protection and the products that help with that. Finally there is a fairly detailed section on choosing a suitable rod or reel. Since this is such a varied topic this section gives the attributes of various rods and reels as opposed to just saying buy this rod or that rod. It requires the reader to sit down and actually think about what they want giving them the tools to make an informed decision.
The last major part of the book is our favorite – time on the water – and includes using live bait, which has an instructional for tossing a cast net along with the various attributes of those nets plus how to rig live baits.
There are about 24 pages on recognizing the various species we target with photographs some explanation of their characteristics. Snook, reds, trout, tarpon pompano and permit, cobia, ladyfish along with many others are listed. Instructions on how to hook a target fish and what to do in fighting a fish are very helpful reminders even to the advanced angler.
The last 40 or so pages include recipes, a few letters to Capt. Mel asking various fishing questions, current (at print) Florida Fishing Regulations and instructions on how to use Google Earth to find locations where fish my be found.
I found the book to be easy to read and understand and the pictures and diagrams most helpful. I think this is a “must read” for a beginner or even intermediate angler and yet it has the reminders (“I knew that”) that we often forget and some valuable tips for the advanced angler. It can take years off the learning curve. I wish I would have had this book so many years ago. I might would have become a “respectable” fisherman, if such a thing exists.
If you would like to read a chapter of the book you can click here to a link where you could do that and you can even purchase your own copy for your library (or one for a fishing buddy) thru this link. The price of the book is a reasonable $19.99 + tax and if you type in the promotional code SaltyShores you will get the book shipped to you free of shipping charges. If you prefer to go to your local tackle shop for your copy, They are available at The Back Country in Vero Beach,FL., Andy Thornal’s in Winter Haven,FL., Stones’ Outhouse and Big Fish Bait & Tackle in Lakeland, FL. If you are in Tampa or St. Pete most of the better tackle shops are carrying them plus the better shops in Bradenton and Sarasota that also includes Gibsonton and Ruskin and quite a few other locations. If your store doesn’t have it, ask for it.
For whatever reason the link I had no longer work.
To buy the book or have any questions please email the admin:
Mavericks’ New Mirage 18 HPX-V
Maverick Boats introduced the new 18 HPX-V at the 2009 Miami Boat Show. The skiff is a new design from the ground up, based on the popular 17 HPX-V. Designed with input from several well-known guides including Mark Crocker. It incorporates angler friendly features such as an integrated removable cooler in front of the console. Recessed deck cap lip against aft bulkhead so passenger can use the lip for a handhold when running. Then allows for the seat cushion to fold down completely out of the way giving full access to the rear deck. A 28-gallon livewell located on centerline with recessed drain system, that allows water height adjustment and evacuates water at all levels in the well. Perfect for large finfish baits, enough whitebait for chumming or as a tournament release well.
The 18 HPX-V was developed as a Tournament boat, covering large amounts of water in short time. To accomplish this a larger more stable platform than the 17 HPX V, but not so large as to be considered a Bay Boat was designed. Thus the 18 HPX V was born. Length Over all is 18’4” with a beam of 6’8” and a maximum horsepower rating of 150. The new skiff is a serious backcountry bullet. Rigged and loaded with 3 persons we achieved a top speed of 57.7mph. In tournament dress with skilled hands at the helm, the skiff has pushed 62.5mph.
Amazingly though, with a beefy F150 Yamaha 4 Stroke hung off the back, the skiff does not suffer from overly pronounced squat while at rest. While it draws more than it’s smaller sibling the 17 HPX V, the skiff does not become unusable when propulsion is shifted to push pole. The large front deck offers the angler a wide stable platform to cast from.
Admittedly I was smitten by the pure power and speed of the new HPX V with the F150 Yamaha, but it’s usability once off plane that captured my attention. If the need for speed does not course through one’s veins then the option of a lighter 115 or even 90 hp engines would fit the bill. Top end and hole shot performance would be less than the larger motor, but poling draft would greatly improve.
Rod storage is ample with 13 rod tubes fore and aft facing. Cockpit is spacious and deeper than it’s sibling the 17 HPX V. The removable cooler/seat is comfortable and functional. Fore and aft storage compartments are ample for everything from the weekender to the full out tournament guide.
Most notable is the redesigned center console. Controls are ergonomically designed so the operator rarely needs to remove their eyes from where they are going to activate trim or jack plate controls. Tilt helm improves ergonomics while operating the skiff from a standing position. The center console also features a large flat surface to flush mount today’s most popular mid sized electronics. The console also has a locking removable door that gives access to an interior shelf and battery switch with main breakers.
Hull construction starts with Mavericks’ proprietary VARIS (Vacuum Assisted Resin Infusion System) with a specially blended vinylester resin formulated for the application. The hull is built using a combination of e-glass, Kevlar, Carbon Kevlar and rigid core material varying in thickness and density depending upon location and requisite structural needs. The finished hull weight, including stringers and reinforced transom, is only 275 lbs. Then premium grade wiring harnesses made in-house, custom to each boat, with Duestch connectors are installed. Lastly the skiff is assembled using premium grade hardware, including lockable compression latches, then dunk tank tested at the factory before being delivered to the customer. Final dry weight before engine is 965 lbs.
Is there room for improvement? The recessed lip on the rear cockpit bulkhead was a nice feature but after about 50 mph I prefer a more traditional grab rail mounted on the console or gunnels. Storage was spacious but having tested other skiffs from MBC I liked the non-drop in liners used on the HPX Micro and HPX 15T.
Overall MBC has developed a solid tournament skiff for the angler looking for a larger backcountry boat with speed and range. Yet does not become cumbersome when the fish push skinny.
3207 Industrial 29 Street
Fort Pierce, FL 34946
web site: www.maverickboats.com
SPECIFICATIONS AS SUPPLIED BY MANUFACTURER
LOA – 18′ 04″
Beam – 6′ 08″
Deadrise – 13 deg.
Draft – 9″ w/ F150
Fuel capacity – 26 gal.
Maximum capacities – 4 persons or 600 lbs
Maximum HP – 150 hp
Weight (approx. w/ engine) – 1,400 lbs. w/ F150
Trim tabs (recessed)
Yamaha multi-function gauges
Aluminum motor-bolt reinforcement plates
Freeboard carpet (redfish & tarpon)
No wood, no rot foam & core w/ premium resin
Premium fade-resistant gelcoat
Recessed hardware for snag-free fishing
Stainless steel thru-hulls w/ seacocks below water line
VARIS – Vacuum Assisted Resin Infusion System
VARIS carbon fiber/Kevlar laminate
Cushion package (1 aft deck)
Completely flush forward & aft casting decks
Muliple below-deck conduits, both fore & aft
Push pole holder (3 deck-mount, shipped loose)
Rod tubes for tip protection (4 bow port, 5 bow stbd, 3 aft port, 3 aft stbd)
Wide gunnels for walk around fishing
Automatic bilge pump
Livewell/Releasewell (28 gal, aft center)
Foam insulated box (2)
Large guttered, gasketed, lock-down dry storage compartments (3)
Lockable center console
Flush-mount bow cleat (6 in)
Full closed-foam flotation throughout
12-volt accessory jack
Battery switch, 4-position
Console courtesy lights, LED (2)
Livewell light (aft center)
Navigation lights, LED (console)
Nickel-tinned fused wiring harness
Under-gunnel courtesy lights, LED (2)
Chittum Skiff, photos and specifications by Jan:
With current economic trends to downsize and “do more with less”, cautious souls might be inclined to hunker down and wait ‘till things improve a bit before exploring new ventures. Not Hal Chittum, world-renowned guide and founder of Hells Bay Boats. Nope, Hal does a 360 from conventional wisdom and starts a new boat business with an ultra high-end skiff – the Islamorada 18 — that, according to Chittum, raises the bar for flats skiff manufacturing technology and on-water performance.
From the surface, the Islamorada 18 looks like a typical flats skiff: length 18’, beam 80”, and 12 degrees of deadrise at the transom. It’s when we looked under the surface that we began to realize something is drastically different about this boat.
For example, the dry weight of the complete hull is around 400-pounds. This isn’t an empty shell weight, this is every laminated component bonded to the hull. This includes the hull, deck, top cap, hatch covers and console. To obtain these numbers required a radical change in the typical process of building a skiff. Hal and George Sawley looked to racing sailboats and offshore powerboats for the technology to build their skiff.
To take the skiff from concept to mold Hal hired a team of naval architects from Vectorworks Marine. With their experience designing everything from luxury yachts to sophisticated Special Forces crafts, a flats skiff should be a no brainier. Yet with their design prowess, 5 axis mills and experience with advanced composites, Hal put them on task for months of trial and improvement. Every linear foot of the hull was sliced and modeled in the computer, greatly streamlining the plug/prototype/tooling process.
Most skiffs start life in the mold as a layer of gel coat, then layers of glass and core materials with vinylester or polyester resin wetting out the sandwich. Modeling their build from racing Unlike traditional pleasure boats that frequently use a variation of a vinylester/polyester mat/woven construction, the Islamorada 18’s layup schedule reads like a Who’s Who of high-tech composites: E-Glass, S-Glass, Kevlar, Carbon Fiber, Core Cell, S-Core, Airex, Nomex, pre-preg epoxy laminates that are vacuum-bagged to reduce excess resin before the hull spends the day in a low-temp oven to ensure an even cure.
Why use aerospace grade epoxy resin? According to George, a quality epoxy resin is stronger than vinylester by a factor of almost 5 to 1. The result is a much stronger skiff using less resin, resulting in a lighter stronger product. Epoxy is also nearly impervious to moisture absorption, an added plus for boats. However, working with epoxy resins requires highly skilled technicians thus costs much more. An added side benefit epoxy resins have lower VOC output than vinylesters, making it a greener build.
The boat is then sanded, faired, and shot with DuPont Imron for a memorable finish. The entire build process takes up to three times longer to complete. According to George, “Only about 10 builders in the US work with these materials and most of them build sailboats”.
After paint the skiff is moved to rigging and finishing. One interesting feature added during rigging is the fuel cell, a 30 gallon rubberized ballistic grade nylon fuel container with an open core foam insert to completely eliminate fuel from sloshing around. Easy to install and service, this fuel cell is lighter than a comparable aluminum gas tank.
With all the work, technology and pedigree, does it live up to all the hype? I got two separate opportunities to test the skiff. Both times were impressive. Ride quality is surprising superb, especially in a chop. Extraordinarily deep spray rails keep the occupants dry. More amazing is how such a light boat rides when the conditions go foul. Conventional wisdom says that heavier boats ride better. I have espoused this wisdom from time to time. A ride on this skiff requires rethought of said traditional wisdom. The combination of hull design and lightweight allows the boat to slice from crest to crest in a chop. What makes the skiff ride so well? I got a polite smile and “no comment” from George.
Performance with a Yamaha 60hp four stroke was good. Top end was recorded a few tenths of a MPH under 41. Recent testing with the new Honda 60HP four stroke recorded 43.5 MPH. Both tests were with two persons and 15 gallons of fuel. One unique test I performed was a time to plane at 3400 RPM. To do this test I trimmed the motor all the way down but retracted the trim tabs all the way up. From a dead stop to plane took less than six seconds with the motor never exceeding 3400 RPM.
The overall layout of the skiff is good. The center console with cooler was very comfortable for either standing or sitting operation. A nice plus is the toe kick area built into the console. LED lighting is standard along with quality helm controls. Mil-Spec aircraft switches, which are waterproof, sealed in epoxy with sealed breakers and rubber boots finish off the console. Storage space is open and usable. Six forward and two aft rod tubes per side allow for up to 16 rods total. Lastly, access the all pumps, electrical and other maintenance items is open and well thought out.
Running to the fishing grounds is one thing. Stalking them is another. Once I settled into my office on the poling platform, it was time to really put the skiff to the test. The skiff with a light load, two anglers and 15 gallons of fuel draws 8”, a respectable amount for a skiff with 12 degrees of dead rise. The boat poles and tracks very well for an 18’ skiff. Turning the skiff it rotates as close to center as any quality skiff. Hull slap is virtually non-existent. Even on the stern, which is one of the Achilles heels of many skiffs, Hal designed the skiff with a slight roundness to the transom to reduce the square on slap.
If stalking fish with fly rod in hand is not on the agenda for the day the skiff supports the live bait enthusiast with a 30 gallon live well. Adjustable valves allow the water height to be set for everything from shrimp and crabs to pilchards. Or in tournament mode it will keep your catch alive and kicking for the weigh in.
Is this the absolute perfect skiff? Not exactly. A flaw I noticed was the water line beam is significantly less than the top deck beam. This causes a bit of a cantilever when standing on the extreme edge of the skiff. While it’s I would not characterize it as “tippy”. I would say the stability is not as pronounced as other 18’ skiffs. There were also some aspects of the build like switch layout I would change if the boat were mine, but these alterations are simply part of the customizing process for each client’s tastes.
Hal and George set out to raise the bar for what defines a quality poling skiff. Have they succeeded? The Islamorada 18 is a very capable quality skiff with quality components and innovative features and well thought out amenities. Fit and finish is on par with highend yachts. From a build standpoint, they have certainly proven that there are possibilities untapped in the skiff market with epoxy resins. The bar has been raised.
phone: (386) 589-7224 or (954)224-1740
web site: chittumskiffs.com
SPECIFICATIONS AS SUPPLIED BY MANUFACTURER
* Weight: 400 Pounds Includes Hull, Deck, Cap, Hatches, Stringers and Console unrigged
* Draft: With Engine + Fuel: 6 Inches
* Length: 18 Feet Over All
* Chine Beam: 56 Inches
* Overall Beam 80 Inches
* Dead rise: At Transom 12 Degrees
* Maximum Horse Power: 90 / Less than 325 Pounds
* Fuel Capacity: 30 Gallons
* Bait Well Capacity: 30 Gallons
* All engines come with stainless steel prop, premium shifter and tachometer
* New Patent-Pending hull design with massive high volume built in spray rail, a staggered split chine below waterline for silent polling and radius transom. No sponsons.
* Custom Trailer- Stainless Steel and Aluminum with walk boards, 3 aluminum mag wheels with Good Year radial trailer tires and LCD lights.
* All surfaces painted with Dupont Imron Aircraft Paint, Choice of any standard Imron color.
* All Stainless Steel 316 grade + Electro Polished
* Center Console / Ice Chest / Seat Forward: with storage up to 4 – 12 volt batteries
* Over sized hatch gutters with rubber gaskets
* Sea Star Hydraulic Steering: High Speed 2.5 Lock to Lock / Flush mounted pump under console
* Stainless steel 13” yacht steering wheel with ball bearing suicide knob
* 2 – Large dry storage boxes out board and aft with easy access hatches from boat or trailer
* 1 – Anchor / Dry Storage / Trash Compartment, center aft.
* 1 – Large dry storage unit under forward deck
* All Hatches fitted with Gemlux Stainless steel flush mounted positive tension latches, Gemlux stainless steel hinges and stainless steel gas shocks
* High capacity rod racks under gunnels with 16 large diameter, flush fly rod tubes running forward and aft. With under gunnels and rod racks covered in water resistant carpet
* Fuel Cell: 30 Gallons rubberized ballistic nylon, forward of the forward bulkhead
* Bait Well / Release Well / Dry Storage: 30 gallons, plumed for three levels, custom thru hull pick up with Rule Pump
* Aluminum Polling Platform: Carbon fiber cored deck with Sea deck pad
* LCD Lights in all compartments lockers / hatches / console / bait wells / gunnels
* LCD Navigation lights: Billet aluminum shark eyes from Livorsi.
* Stiffy Push Poll Holders
* Racor Fuel Filter / water separator
* Mil-Spec Switches: water proof / sealed in epoxy / sealed breakers / rubber boots
* 1 – 12 volt Odyssey Battery
* Rule 1100 gph bilge pump
* All hatch undersides carbon fiber, clear-coated epoxy for straight and esthetics
* Lectrotab high speed trim tabs 12” X 12” / 316 Stainless Steel
* Seat cushions custom formed from 1 ½” Ensulite foam / UV protected vinyl with laminated in nylon