Bay skiffs may well be the most utilitarian type of fishing boat available on today’s market. These boats work well in relatively shallow water, yet at the same time (given reasonable sea and weather conditions), they have the ability to run offshore in search of larger game too. For the fly-fisherman in search of versatility in his next boat, this type of craft warrants serious consideration.
One of the pioneers of the bay-skiff movement has been Pathfinder. Built by the same company that makes Hewes and Maverick – two excellent lines of flats skiffs – Pathfinder blends outstanding skinny-water traits with the higher freeboard and revised design of the bay boat. This affords Pathfinder hulls the ability to not only fish in fairly shallow areas but to run across the open mouth of a choppy bay or channel in search of action.
Pathfinder’s latest model is the 2100 Fusion, a midsize bay skiff featuring an oversize cockpit that comfortably handles multiple anglers, wide gunwales that facilitate your walking around the boat while fighting a large fish, and standard hydraulic jack plate and trim tabs, which will deliver you safely into the shallow water – and back out again.
For the hard-core fly-angler, this boat offers clean, flush decks in the bow and stern, along with recessed hardware that will keep your fly lines free of snags. A poling platform is not standard but can easily be added. Of course, with a draft of 11 inches, the Fusion 2100 won’t venture into super-shallow water, but thanks to a 48-gallon fuel tank, the boat offers anglers plenty of range for intense scouting and searching.
Stretching 21 feet in length and with a 7-foot-10-inch beam, the Fusion offers plenty of stability and serves as a fine fishing platform. The boat comes equipped with five vertical rod holders affixed to each side of the console, as well as additional horizontal rod carriages under each gunwale for long fly rods. Other fishing amenities include a base plate for a swivel stool, on the bow deck, for anglers who may need to take occasional breaks from long periods of standing; a backing plate and wiring for a bow-mounted trolling motor; an in-deck cast-net storage locker; and a 25-gallon livewell for keeping baits frisky when either live chumming over reefs or fishing with conventional gear.
You won’t find a group of more rabid fishermen than the folks who work at Pathfinder, which is headquartered in fishy Fort Pierce, Florida. It’s for that reason that they make sure every cleat and running light in their boats are of the pop-up variety. What’s more, they even install completely flush hinges molded into all hatches.
Admittedly, a boat that weighs less than 2,500 pounds, including power, translates into a pretty light 21-footer. But that’s how a 225 or 250 hp outboard can move this boat like lightning – and with standard hydraulic steering, the Fusion glides through serpentine channels with ease and grace.
Weight……2,450 lbs. (w/ power)
(w/ 225 hp four-stroke OB)**
Pathfinder Boats / Fort Pierce, Florida / 772-465-0631 / www.pathfinderboats.com