Tilton

Flats and Bay Boat for Western LIS

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I'm on the CT side of the western LIS and almost exclusively fly fish. I was wanting a flats boat, but I'm thinking this may do more double duty than planned. As such, I think my wife will like something with a big more room and I wouldn't mind having a bit more sea keeping ability. 

 

I've been looking at used Jones Bros Cape Fishermans, which I love and seem perfect, but the Tidewater Bay Max seems even better - no encapsulated wood, half the cost, a fair bit more efficient. I also don't think you can really pole the CF, as it's pretty heavy so no loss on the platform. Anyone have experience with the Bay Max?

 

For where I am, any other suggestions? I'll take it redfishing in SC and maybe on the flats in NH or the Cape as well, once a year or so, but it will primarily run around close-in, New Haven to Rye. 

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I regularly fish with a friend in Cos Coib who has a 24" Triton Light Tackle boat.  Very nice for what you want.  Bow and stern casting platforms, live well, center console.  He has an electric motor mounted in the bow that lets him sneak around the rocks very well.  Draws 13 inches of water with the engine up.

 

It's also a comfortable boat when the water kicks up.  He bought it on the western South Shore of Long Island, and we brought it back to Cos Cob by water, running in the ocean between Debs Inlet and the Narrows, before we could tuck back into New York Harbor.  West wind came up, and it got a little lumpy there, and again in the Sound--although that was a following sea--and the boat rode surprisingly well given the shallow draft and relatively flat bottom.

 

I grew up in the western Sound, and fished in a lot of different boats there over the years, and the Triton is probably the nicest package I've fished from, both nosing around in the rocks casting plugs, bucktails and flies, and fishing in deeper water for blackfish, etc. in the fall.

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I like the Jones bros boats and fished on one of my friends a number of times.  I have fished my Hewes 20ft LT for 20 yrs on LIS east and find that it does whatever I have wanted to do including going over to Plum Island ,plum gut and the race. I fish totally artificals and occasionally fly fish. The best part of the boat is it has a huge open casting platform and  is very stable. They stopped making them quite a few yrs ago,but can be found on the Maverick web site from time to time.  They draw 12in and can be poled if you are young and strong . LOL I bgt mine from a guide in Chatham Mass after fishing with him .  They are made without any wood in  stringers or transom.  Good luck with the search..

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12 mins ago, John P said:

I like the Jones bros boats and fished on one of my friends a number of times.  I have fished my Hewes 20ft LT for 20 yrs on LIS east and find that it does whatever I have wanted to do including going over to Plum Island ,plum gut and the race. I fish totally artificals and occasionally fly fish. The best part of the boat is it has a huge open casting platform and  is very stable. They stopped making them quite a few yrs ago,but can be found on the Maverick web site from time to time.  They draw 12in and can be poled if you are young and strong . LOL I bgt mine from a guide in Chatham Mass after fishing with him .  They are made without any wood in  stringers or transom.  Good luck with the search..

 

That Hewes 20 LT is about exactly what I'm looking for, but tough to find, it seems. Bigger than the 17' Maverick and Hewes and Flycrafts I've looked at. The wood stringers in the older Cape Fisherman are the hold up for me; none in it now, but I had a boat with soft spots previously. 

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I fish western sound, generally Fairfield-Stamford, and across the LI side.  I don't think poling has any place in this area of the sound.  Sure there are some 'flats' to pole, and sandbars.  But you'll be much better suited with a trolling motor and a deep-er V.  There's a lot more mud bottom, gravel, and boulder fields than sand flats in western sound.  Especially if you want to CATCH fish.

 

I'm generally an artificial guy.  I have an 18 center console.  If I could do it over 20 would be perfect.  Casting deck with storage underneath, pop up cleats and no high rails  to snag a fly on.  Gunnels or no gunnels is up to you and depends how much you're taking family out/how old your kids are.  If you want to do anything other than fish and you don't want to be limited by rough water I'd say you want gunnels no flats/bay style boats.  Fishy rips get some pretty steep chop espec with wind against tide, I definitely appreciate gunnels to grab onto then.

 

Jones brothers are a pipe dream unless you're loaded.  They're hard to find and pricey as you know.  I know nothing about tidewaters but they seem really nice.  In addition to a triton, take a look at sea hunts, maritime skiffs, and older restored makos/seacrafts/aquasports or those In good condition repowered.  Maycraft makes a solid economical boat.  Anglers are nice too.  Northcoast are overbuilt but very nice.  Keep in mind higher deadrise = better in a chop, less fuel efficient and a bit less draft.  Think about the spots you want to fish and how much water you have...  

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What are the guides using on the flats in your area?  How about in the other areas you have mentioned?  Where will you really fish 90% of the time?  What style of fishing is most enjoyable?

 

I would try and get a few days in with the most experienced guides especially at the extremes of the boat size range and hull range.  Take a bay boat out in 3' of water then take a poling skiff out in 1'.  See what you like.

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56 mins ago, stroipaHuntah said:

I fish western sound, generally Fairfield-Stamford, and across the LI side.  I don't think poling has any place in this area of the sound.  Sure there are some 'flats' to pole, and sandbars.  But you'll be much better suited with a trolling motor and a deep-er V.  There's a lot more mud bottom, gravel, and boulder fields than sand flats in western sound.  Especially if you want to CATCH fish.

 

I'm generally an artificial guy.  I have an 18 center console.  If I could do it over 20 would be perfect.  Casting deck with storage underneath, pop up cleats and no high rails  to snag a fly on.  Gunnels or no gunnels is up to you and depends how much you're taking family out/how old your kids are.  If you want to do anything other than fish and you don't want to be limited by rough water I'd say you want gunnels no flats/bay style boats.  Fishy rips get some pretty steep chop espec with wind against tide, I definitely appreciate gunnels to grab onto then.

 

Jones brothers are a pipe dream unless you're loaded.  They're hard to find and pricey as you know.  I know nothing about tidewaters but they seem really nice.  In addition to a triton, take a look at sea hunts, maritime skiffs, and older restored makos/seacrafts/aquasports or those In good condition repowered.  Maycraft makes a solid economical boat.  Anglers are nice too.  Northcoast are overbuilt but very nice.  Keep in mind higher deadrise = better in a chop, less fuel efficient and a bit less draft.  Think about the spots you want to fish and how much water you have...  

 

Thanks for the thoughts, for sure. Poling isn't a priority around here, and the Jones Bros with the platform is kind of a joke - you're not poling that pig very far. The 20 you describe sounds like what I want - lots of casting deck, good storage, can be sparse but not devoid of seating. I don't have kids and don't see any coming. Generally, my wife will probably just sit in a bean bag and read while I fish, and occasionally we might put another couple in the boat and go to the beaches/islands. We're in Greenwich and probably wouldn't get much further than Fairfield (I'd like to move to Guilford or so, though, so that's also a consideration). 

 

I had an early 90's C-Hawk 22 that was overall a great boat, but far better for trolling planers than fly fishing, given the waist-height gunwales toward the bow (and the rail above that). I'm a fair-weather guy, anyway.  

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I've had my 1900T Pathfinder out in the ocean in Florida and NJ, on the flats in the keys, all the channels in south NJ, and the LIS, and everywhere in between. Bow mount and power pole make a huge difference. Might be selling btw. 99% fly fish

 

 

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Your not poling a JB LT 20.  I have fished for 30 years out of the Jones LT 20,  Hewes LT 20, Parker 18 and both the 18 and  21 Maverick Master Anglers.  As I get older I like having a boat with a level deck.  It gets tiring going up and down on the raised decks of bay boats and center consoles. On the Mavericks and Hewes LT, its not as bad as the raised decks are lower.  The Mavericks ride better then the Hewes LT which is known to be a wet boat.  Whatever you decide, make sure and mount a bow mount trolling motor, one with spot lock.

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I have a poling platform on my Jones 1910 LT and it is a great place to put a pizza box at the dock also a great seat when anchored up and watching fireworks on the 4th of July.

Otherwise I just tell people that it is a shade cover for my outboard if they ask. 

 

 

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Thanks for the input, folks! This is all very helpful...

There are three boats I'm looking at seriously: a JB 1910 LTE Cape Fisherman, a Maverick MA 17, and a Flycraft 18 flats. Of the group, the JB is probably the most practical/do-all, and the Flycraft has a lot of pull on me. There are no true "bay boats" within reasonable distance in my price range for comparison, unfortunately. If I went that route, I could buy a new Tidewater for $32k-ish. I'm trying to keep it under $20k. 

 

And I'm not deluded into thinking I can pole a 3000lb boat :) Poling platform might be nice for pictures, maybe spotting reds. 

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Eh... there's a Maverick MA 17 that was reduced nearby... now it may be the most appealing. Lacks seats, so my wife may not be too thrilled...

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The old MA's are known for stringer issues so have it checked before you buy,but they are a great riding boats,  TM is imperative for fishing the rocks.  The MA and LT are really fishing machines and that's all,my wife won't go on mine LOL.  There are sways to have a bench seat and back rest,but if you want a clutter free deck forget it.  I use my poling platform for a place to  lean on when in the stern.

BTW go to the Maverick Boat Group web site and look up any of there products in the vintage area.  Lots of stuff on Hewes and MA. My Hewes LT is the only one for miles and miles especially with a Poling platform.

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I did most of my early striper fishing in Rye 25yrs worth and you so do need a shallow draft if you want to get to the fish.  I fished Scotch caps point with lots of success yrs ago. TM is a must.

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I would not get a flats boat for the sound it can get really snotty at times Especially with am East blow, but do agree, summer nights and days I am in 3 feet of water quite often . 16-18 foot center console, and scout areas at low tides before venturing to see where the rocks are.

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