On the stock-car circuit, the premier event is the Daytona 500. For open racers, the spotlight shifts to Indianapolis. But for bay boats, the popular style that combines minimal draft with coastal performance, the ultimate showcase has to be Boca Grande Pass during tarpon season. That's when thousands of silver kings - and dozens of boats - congregate at the mouth of Florida's Charlotte Harbor. Leaping fish, confused wakes and hair-tight maneuvering creates challenging conditions. Against this backdrop, I tested the new 2410 Bay Ranger this past summer.
I met my host Larry Jett at the nearby Placida ramp, and we quickly motored to the pass to join the fray. There's an unofficial pecking order in Boca that entails power drifting over the many ledges that hold fish. Operation is not for the faint of heart. Other boats routinely come within a rod's length or less of your transom, bow and gunwales, so the skipper has to be on his toes and the boat has to deliver. The 2410 met the challenge head-on.
Three major features distinguish this model from its predecessor, the 2400. More interior depth (18.5 inches) increases the overall freeboard, which was a reassuring comfort in those choppy and shark-infested waters. And instead of a splashwell, the transom is enclosed. Ranger rigs each one with a hydraulic jack plate with a 12-inch setback, and it'll handle up to a 300-horsepower outboard.
The third major difference is the console. The 2410 has an extra-tall version that not only offers more room to mount widescreen electronics and store more gear, but it also incorporates a marine head. While most guys would pass on this option, it is a big selling point for the women. To access it, the forward cooler slides out of the way. The console door opens to reveal a drop-down privacy curtain and the head. Granted, this is not an undertaking you would want to repeat several times a day, but it does add that level of comfort that might sway the ladies. A standard leaning post with internal storage compartment, toe rail, tall Plex windshield and an optional T-top round out the console highlights. A folding transom bench seat can accommodate a larger crew.
The 2410 is designed with hard-core tournament anglers in mind. A 17-gallon livewell is located just aft of the forward casting deck for quick access to the baits. A second 24-gallon recirculating well with high-speed pickup and filter straddles the transom amidships. Cast-netters will appreciate the dedicated in-deck box in the cockpit sole. Besides the four other storage compartments - two each, front and rear - there are a pair of rod storage boxes in the bow. The port box includes a rod organizer while the starboard one is open to accept bigger, stand-up outfits. Outboard racks on either side of the console and aft rod holders round out the tackle storage.
Like the other Rangers in the saltwater lineup, this boat is built like a proverbial battleship. It is a heavy craft constructed with a fiberglass stringer system and serious layup. The company's protrusion process adds glass rods in high-stress areas, such as the chines, transom and trolling motor mount, for extra strength. All compartments are finished with gelcoat and equipped with stainless-steel gas spring lifts. Latches, the pull-up cleats and other deck hardware are also made from heavy-duty stainless.
The electrical system is another noteworthy feature. Factory built, the main harness ties into the sealed circuit-breaker panel inside the console. The Mega-Link system incorporates a computer jack for quick troubleshooting. The battery bank and switches are located behind the transom bench seat for easy access. The bow is prewired with a 6-gauge trolling motor harness and a 50-amp breaker.
When a nasty thunderstorm chased us from the pass and the uncooperative tarpon, I was able to experience yet another attribute: It gobbled a chop as easily as a bull shark mauls a tarpon. The heavy hull has an extremely soft entry, and we stayed bone dry despite the blustery crosswinds.
Fully loaded with a normal complement of tackle, ice and gear, we made a respectable 48.2 miles per hour at wide-open throttle. Pulling back to a typical cruising speed at 5,000 rpm, my GPS recorded 38.4 miles per hour. The F250 Yamaha four-stroke powering our test boat uses 16.4 gallons of gas per hour at that pace. With the standard 80-gallon fuel tank, that's a lot of nautical miles to cover in a day's fishing.
Once inside sheltered water, we eased up on a flat to check out the shallow performance. Hull slap was minimal due to the rounded chines, and the boat draws just under 14 inches. Mount a trolling motor on this bow, and you'll be able to chase redfish or stripers to your heart's content.
The 2410 comes packaged with an aluminum, tandem torsion axle trailer. Matching fenders, sealed LED lights, a spare tire and wheel, and a swing-away tongue are standard.
If your typical float plan fluctuates between green water and blue, check out the 2410. This is one bay boat that will definitely increase the day's options.
MAX HP......300 hp
**w/ 250 hp Yamaha four-stroke outboard
Ranger Boats ? 870.453.2222 ? rangerboats.com