It's rare that we get to test a boat for more than several days, but that was the case with Mako's 2101 Inshore bay boat, which Tracker Marine, Mako's parent company, graciously let us play with for the last half of the 2004 season. During the late summer and fall we ran the boat all over the waters of southeastern New England in a variety of conditions and found it to be a stable platform for all kinds of fishing, from chasing after bonito and bluefish to bottom fishing for fluke and sea bass. We also found it to be very fast.
Our test boat was rigged with a 200-hp Mercury OptiMax DFI two-stroke, which had us hurtling us along at over 55 mph at a wide-open 4500 rpm. That kind of speed allowed us to zip between hot spots in unheard-of time, especially if the seas were flat, but the cruise of 35 mph at 3600 rpm isn't exactly slow either. Fuel-burn numbers weren't available, but the 60-gallon tank provided plenty of range for a full day of running and fishing.
As mentioned, the 2101 proved to be a very solid and smooth-riding boat, and the modified-vee hull really ate up the short-spaced, one- to two-foot chop in places such as Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound. The wide bow flare did a good job of deflecting spray, and the boat landed without a shudder when coming off the larger waves we encountered. And we were doubly impressed on the day we accidentally found ourselves in three- to four-foot, whitecapped seas, courtesy of a strong cold front that caught us by surprise! Our test boat was equipped with optional Lenco trim tabs, which helped balance the load and keep us dry, especially in quartering seas. The tabs also made it easy to dial in the ideal running attitude in changing conditions. We consider them to be a must-have.
The expansive casting deck, which comes pre-rigged with a trolling-motor power outlet, makes this boat ideal for sight-casting the shallows, working shoreline structure, or chasing schools of breaking fish, although we would have liked to see a pop-up bow cleat to thwart fly-line snags. The bow area also features a large anchor locker and a covered receptacle for the nav-light post. A large, lockable hatch opens to provide access to a giant dry-storage compartment below the casting deck, a great place for storing all kinds of bulky items such as lifejackets, buckets, tackle boxes, brushes and nets.
More dry storage is available under the two cushioned seats on either side of the bow, just aft of the casting deck. We found these to be ideal for holding loose gear such as binoculars, jackets, lure boxes, cleaning supplies and the like. A third cushioned seat is located in front of the console, and conceals a 20-gallon, recirculating live well with removable standpipe drain. Even more bait can be stored in the 30-gallon live well located in the portside corner of the cockpit. This larger well also features a recirculating system and removable standpipe.
On the other side of the cockpit is a lockable compartment that houses the battery, battery-isolator switch, and removable, plastic oil reservoir. This box is spacious and makes for easy oil fills and battery maintenance.
The self-bailing cockpit provides ample room for rigging gear and fishing, with the gunwales coming to about knee-height. All walking surfaces feature molded-in nonskid, and all interior corners are rounded, which makes for easy cleanup.
The center console, surrounded by a sturdy stainless grab rail, is well laid-out, with all gauges and switches conveniently placed for quick viewing and access. A stainless wheel is standard, and there is room for a flush-mount electronics item or two on the angled console face. Our boat was outfitted with a bracket-mounted Lowrance LCX-401C, a GPS/plotter/depthsounder with a ten-inch screen that had everything we needed in one package and fit nicely on top of the console. The fuse panel is located behind a round, screw-on hatch on the port side of the console, making fuse checks and changes a breeze. More storage for large items is available inside the console, accessible via a large hatch below the helm.
There is no shortage of vertical rod holders on the 2101. You'll find three on each side of the console, four on the face of the aft live well and battery compartment, and two on each gunwale for a total of 14. Perhaps this makes up for the lack of under-gunwale rod racks, which we would have appreciated for fly-rod storage. Even more rod holders are available with the leaning-post option, which we highly recommend. Our test boat featured a cooler/seat with flip-flop backrest, which limited the space between the cooler and console. The leaning post is more comfortable for stand-up steering and still allows for cooler storage. It seems to be a much better option for serious running and fishing.
We found the 2101 to be a great boat for all kinds of nearshore duties. We really liked its solid ride and general layout, and the speed factor opened up new opportunities by allowing us to fish more hot spots during the day. Our biggest complaint? We have to give it back!
Mako Marine, Forest City, NC; (888) 434-7487;