Getting Started: Buying a Redfish Boat
Part #2 of 4
By: J. Dwayne Smith
Team Padrick and Smith
“The Redfish Guys”
When Team Padrick and Smith, “The Redfish Guys”, had the idea of beginning The Getting Started Series of articles, our goal was to help the upstart inshore angler save some time and money by giving advice on tackle, gear, fishing techniques, etc. However, I’m going to do something a little different in these series of articles, because I recently sold my 189 Back Country flats boat and need a replacement. Consequently, I had the idea that if I asked a group of accomplished anglers that fish the same area a simple question, “Why did you purchase your boat?” By picking a group from the same general area, I eliminated environmental variables such as geography, climate, and tidal fluctuations. Subsequently, I picked some of the best Captains Morehead City, North Carolina, has to offer: Gordon Churchill, Noah Lynk, and Team B&G’s Daniel Griffee and Matt Lamb. Like “The Super Friends” of 1970’s animated TV series, they all have their own special powers but share a commonality; they catch a lot of reds! Our heroes know the flats, marshes, and creeks of Morehead City like their own proverbial back- yards. However, they choose to fish out of different boat designs. Why? Hopefully, their explanations can shed some light for all of us on the benefits of fishing out of a bay boat, flats boat, traditional skiff, and a technical poling skiff.
Why a Bay Boat? By Daniel Griffee
I have had the fortune of doing all types of fishing. I grew up in the foothills of North Carolina, fishing on Lake Hickory for largemouth, catfish, bluegills, and crappie. I went to college at Appalachian State University, where I learned the art of fly fishing for rainbow, brook, and brown trout. After college, my wife and I moved to the coast, where I found the adrenaline pumping, heart stopping, addictive inshore species of red drum.
Growing up in the foothills, I can remember many Sunday afternoons spent on my grandfather’s 15 foot john boat with a 15hp Evinrude on the back. We would cruise the lake, in no hurry to get to the bluegill beds. I always was fascinated by the sweet-looking bass boats blowing by us at 70 mph going to their favorite bass hole. While in college, the creeks were too small for a boat, so I would fish out of a tube or a canoe, if the creek would allow it. Before I graduated from college, my father and I went in together and bought a 17 ft. Team 175 bass tracker, with a 40 hp. Mercury. This was one of the best boats I have ever used for fishing. I didn’t pay a ton of money for the boat and caught everything from 40 lb. catfish to six foot sharks.
As I started fishing the waters from the Neuse River to Cape Lookout, my eyes were opened to a whole new world of boating. I saw these monster 54 ft. offshore boats, sailboats, cabin cruisers, 18 ft. -25 ft. center consoles, deck boats, skiffs, flats boats, and the bay boat. I soon realized the waters I would be fishing would lead me to get an “all-around” style boat.
But is there a perfect “do everything” boat? I don’t think so. In my bass tracker, I can fish just about anywhere, but on rough windy days (which we have a few of), I got soaked and beat to death while riding right above the water. On days I wanted to load the boat up and take the family and friends, I didn’t have enough room or horsepower. If I wanted to run from the Neuse River to the Newport River, it would take longer, and I would have to fill up for gas on the way back. In early May when the cobia are running, in the fall when the Spanish heat up, or the trout get hot at the jetty, I didn’t feel safe with my little aluminum boat in the swells.
That is when I realized I needed as close to the perfect boat as I could get. I wanted four main things.
- Feeling of safety and dry ride
- Fishing deck of a bass boat with a center console
- Ability to fish shallow and near shore water
- Comfortably haul around my family and friends
After fishing in my teammate Dave Bernstein’s 2110 Nautic Star, I realized this style boat was the way to go. We have fished from the Neuse River to Wilmington, making runs from the Cape to Bogue Inlet stopping to fish offshore wrecks. We have fished in the shallows of the Newport and North Rivers, as well as the back waters of Swansboro. The boat has graced the likes of old drum, sharks, cobia, Spanish mackerel, King mackerel, trigger fish, flounder, trout, and red drum.
My father and I loaded the truck, drove to Florida, and bought a 196 Key West Bay Reef. It has everything I wanted. It is a 19.5 ft. boat with an 8’6’’ beam. The only time I have been wet in this boat is when the wind is blowing from the east causing a chop with the outgoing tide that constantly sprays water up over the side. I have made runs in choppy water where the boat will glide over the chop and give you the feeling of stability and comfort.
After I reach my destination, I can stand up above the water on the deck and start casting to places along the shore that look like it will be holding a hungry redfish. Using a platform on the front gives me more of an advantage to see the flash of the beautiful gold fish digging for crabs or just lying there waiting for my lure to swim by. It has a live well built into the front deck along with tackle, anchor, and another large storage compartment.
With this boat, I am able to run out to the Cape searching for cobia, anchor up at the rock jetty catching trout until my arms are tired, or take the family to the Cape and enjoy the beauty that God created. I can run inside and fish areas holding drum, trout, and flounder. Yes, unlike the skiff or flats boat, I must pick the correct tide or risk getting to know the sandbar very well. The boat can float in about one to two feet of water and needs two feet to get on plane. This is when I drop the trolling motor and start stalking the species I’m seeking.
Finally, when the weekends come and my wife and daughter want to take a ride to enjoy the great outdoors and God’s beauty, I can load the boat with chairs, towels, umbrella, grill, coolers, fishing gear, beach bags, and beach toys, head out to a favorite sandy spot and relax. We have taken many people out just basking in the sun, eating something off the grill, while topping it off with a favorite frosty beverage. As much as I enjoying reeling in the unknown at the end of my line, I enjoy watching my daughter frolic and play in the water, exploring the sea shore for sea shells, and then convincing me to come swim with her in the crystal blue waters.
I want to say thank you to Dwayne Smith for inviting me to share my thoughts about the joys of fishing and the boat with which I choose to fish, as well as our sponsors Buffalo Wild Wings, Rays Sprays Pressure Washing, Bomber Saltwater Grade Lures, FINS fishing line, Optima Batteries, and Pro Cure Bait Scents. Also, thank you to Matt Lamb and his crew at Chasin’ Tails, the best bait and tackle shop in Atlantic Beach. They have everything you need, great information for local waters, and they are just a great group of people who enjoy talking fishing.
Thank you, Team B&G’s Captain Daniel Griffie for shedding some light on the benefits of fishing a Bay Boat. His explanation of the general purpose utility of a Bay Boat and its versatility would be hard to debate. His choice to sacrifice some draft for a comfortable ride on those prevalent summer south west wind days is a testament to his common sense approach to fishing. Furthermore, the ability to haul family, friends, and beach accessories cannot be overlooked, because we all know the secret to more fishing time is keeping the true Captain happy. By having the ability to keep your wife and kids comfortable, dry, and safe translates into more on- the-water time for Team B&G.
A special thank you goes out to “The Super Friends” that took the time out of their busy schedules to share their true special powers: knowledge, experience, humility, and a willingness to share. Also, thanks goes out to Strike Pro, Powell Rods, Deep Creek Lure, Capt. Gary’s Marine Products, Yeti Coolers, No Slack Tackle, PointClickFish.com, and Numa Optics for keeping us on the water. Please take a moment to visit Team Patrick and Smith’s website www.TheRedfishGuys.com or on Facebook keyword: The Redfish Guys.