In fact, plan A on our mid-February test day included high-speed trolling for wahoo offshore. But the sloppy 3- to 5-foot seas we encountered could hardly be considered reasonable conditions. So instead, our captain—Jon Hamilton, from Black Creek Marina and Bait Shop near Jacksonville, Florida—opted for inshore fishing near the mouth of the St. Johns River.
Hamilton and Brad Knight, from Yamaha Marine Center of Jacksonville, launched the 24XO just after dawn, and we started a chilly ride east. Hamilton invited me to sit on the leaning post behind the console, which features a full-height wraparound windscreen, and I was instantly about 10 degrees warmer.
That windscreen, the 51-inch-high console and the broad helm face struck me as the most obvious big-boat characteristics on this 24-footer. Regulator also curved the leaning-post backrest toward the console at both ends, creating a safer cradle for passengers.
The transom features a deep splashwell so the engine can tilt forward. But ahead of the splashwell, a combination folding bench seat and hatch meets four different purposes: Its design creates a full-beam-width bulkhead to keep the cockpit dry; it finishes the aft casting deck when folded completely down; raise the seatback, and you find a cushioned bench for two; or lift the entire seat (on rams, mind you), and you find a cavernous bilge area, where it’s easy to adjust or replace pumps and fixtures.
The 24XO also feels a little more secure than the average bay boat with a full 19 inches of interior gunwale height in the cockpit.
For fishing, the 24XO comes with a 26-gallon aft starboard livewell, and an optional aft port well can be plumbed for 52-gallons total capacity.
Beneath the bow bench seating to port and starboard, Regulator tucked 48-gallon boxes that serve as dry storage or for ice and fish. These lockable hatches also come with rod tubes. A third fish box of equal size, this one macerated, lies in the deck, ahead of the console seat.
East of downtown Jacksonville, Hamilton turned north into Sisters Creek and ran to Fort George River. Random shoaling in the river meant feeling our way through. When the 12-inch Garmin display registered a depth of 1.1 feet, we began bumping bottom. Hamilton raised the Yamaha F300 on the optional jack plate, and we nudged to deeper water.
The forward deck proved plenty broad for two of us to fish comfortably. I measured a 13-inch drop from the top of the anchor locker to the U-shaped bow platform. Both surfaces feature enough square footage for a captain to throw and retrieve a castnet.
When it’s time for a boat lunch or just to relax, the bow converts to a comfy lounging zone. Those twin bench seats that double as fish box/rod lockers also feature distinctive backrests. They lift up from their respective hatch lids on two sturdy rams so passengers can stretch out while facing forward.
USB charging ports and a 13-gallon insulated cooler under the forward console seat mean the party can go on in the bow while fishing continues astern.
Tackle-storage below the leaning post hold lures or rigs while you maintain the troll, using rod holders in the gunwales, aft of the leaning post, and in the optional rocket launcher along the hardtop edge.
By midday, the river roiled with wind-driven chop. I took the helm as we headed home and immediately appreciated the Optimus EPS power steering that came with this engine package. The 24XO banked smoothly into tight turns and landed softly after negotiating significant boat wakes at speed.
The 24XO planed in less than 6 seconds and reached 30 mph in 10.5 seconds. With tabs up and the engine trimmed out, we found the boat’s top speed at 49.6 mph, turning 5,700 rpm. (Yamaha testing showed an even 50-mph top end at 5,900 rpm). At a cruising speed of 28 mph, turning 3,500 rpm, the 3.1 mpg fuel burn gives this boat a range of about 240 to 250 miles.
True to its reputation, Regulator seems to have thought of everything you might need for a day inshore or offshore with the 24XO.
Length: 24′4″ | Beam: 8′5″ | Draft: 16″ | Deadrise: 17 degrees | Fuel: 86 gal. | Weight: 5,250 lb. | Max HP: 300 | Price: $118,995 w/ single Yamaha F250 | Regulator Marine: regulatormarine.com
Weather: Cloudy, cool | Location: Jacksonville, Florida | Wind: Light | Sea State: Calm| Test Load: Three adults, 80 gallons of fuel