We recently had an opportunity to test the new Sea Chaser 220 from Carolina Skiff in the Chandeleur Islands off the coast of Louisiana. Actually, our base of operations was Biloxi, Mississippi, which meant we had to travel across about 20 miles of open water to reach the Chandeleurs to the south. We fished the boat hard in the shallow Gulf waters around the islands, then ran the long series of buoys that mark the Biloxi shipping channel, looking for cobia on the way in. The 220 did a great job in a wide variety of fishing situations.
The versatile bay-boat design of the Sea Chaser has a freeboard that falls between that of a true flats skiff and an offshore boat, and the 220 has a deep-vee hull that rides dry and soft. We ran it hard through a short and stiff chop, and it did quite well, only pounding when we pushed it too hard. In the Chandeleurs we drifted across miles of very skinny water, casting for redfish. When it was time to jump on plane and move, the 220 did so with little bow rise.
Our test boat was powered by a 90-hp Suzuki DF90 four-stroke outboard, an impressive combination. The four-stroke provided super-quiet operation combined with outstanding efficiency, and it pushed the 220 at a 25.1 mph cruise speed at 4000 rpm with a very full load. The boat topped out at 5100 rpm and 32.5 mph.
Carolina Skiff has designed a lot of storage space into this center console, and it's all set up for maximum fishing efficiency. In the bow, for example, a wide vee-shaped casting deck provides a lot of fishing room. Three boxes beneath the deck provide excellent storage, with a fishbox to starboard and a rod-storage compartment to port. There's also a forward anchor compartment and a trolling-motor control panel at the bow. An in-deck box in the sole between the two raised boxes is great for storing loose gear.
More storage comes in the form of a built-in cooler beneath the seat on the front of the console. The console itself can hold six rods vertically, three per side, and comes with a handy stainless-steel hand rail and smoked acrylic windshield. The helm seat doubles as a second cooler with a fore-and-aft backrest, enabling you to face forward or backward as the situation dictates.
A raised casting platform in the stern lets you fish easily over the engine and contains two live wells. The battery sits under this rear deck, and can be accessed through a hatch in the forward end of the deck.
Carolina Skiff builds the 220 using proven construction techniques, including hand-laminated woven roving and tri-directional fiberglass. The fiberglass stringer system is injected with closed-cell foam, and the deck is cored with high-density foam blocks. The transom is also foam-cored. The 220 is built without any wood, and is covered by a five-year limited warranty.
The new Sea Chaser offers tremendous versatility for those who need one boat to do a lot of different kinds of fishing, and it is also a great value. If you haven't checked out the Sea Chaser line for yourself, you should. Odds are, you'll like what you see.
Carolina Skiff, Inc., Waycross, GA; (800) 422-7282; www.carolina-skiff.com