Crazy go fast bream boat!

Earlier this week I headed up to Ballina to hang out with the guys from Frogleys Offshore, the distributors of Fuji, Gamakatsu, Megabass, Atomic and various other cool products.

Michael Starkey, who with his father Paul runs the Frogleys operation, had just taken delivery of a Skeeter FX20 and I’d been invited to take a run in it.

Skeeter is a US company credited with building the first ever “bass boat” back in 1948. That first boat was a 16 foot plywood model and the FX20, lauded as Skeeter’s highest performance hull, is a far cry from those humble beginnings.

As well as running a successful tackle company, Michael Starkey is a champion tournament angler, with many wins, including honours in the prestigious Mega Bucks comp, under his belt.

He’s owned a procession of Skeeters and his new FX20, the first and so far only in Australia, is an impressive bit of kit.

We’ll run a full test on this high performance boat in an upcoming edition of the magazine. Just to whet your appetite, however, here are a few vital statistics. The boat is fitted with a 250 H.O. Evinrude E-TEC and ran at more than 120kph during our test runs.

That’s about 74mph or almost 64 knots. Our speed runs down the Richmond River definitely rank up there as exhilarating, albeit pretty scary! If you look closely at the pic accompanying this piece, you’ll see my face was distorted by the speed and I can tell you now that the roar of the wind in my ears was deafening. The engine is still new and Michael reckons he should get 130kph (80mph) when the big V6 donk loosens up.

Skeeters are owned by Yamaha in America and this particular boat was designed to be mated with Yammie’s new 250 VMax SHO four-strokes. The FX20 is rated to a maximum 250hp while the FX21 can handle a massive 300hp. Crazy stuff! I noted fuel use of about 100 litres per hour at max speed on Michael’s boat, which is not too bad considering you are covering serious amounts of water very fast.

The E-TEC (Michael likes the instant acceleration of modern DI two-strokes) is fitted to a jack plate, which allows the driver to maximise performance and ride. Also at the stern are twin power poles. These odd looking hydraulic contraptions allow the boat to be “anchored” in mud or sand. Michael is a flats specialist and says the power poles allow him to more effectively target bream in shallow waters.

Michael’s boat is fitted with a Humminbird 998CX SI sounder/GPS with side and down scanning at the helm with a smaller Humminbird up at the bow just aft of the 36-volt Minn Kota Max 101 electric motor.

While some may consider this sort of boat to be excessive, conversations with Michael revealed that these sort of high-performance boats do provide serious competition anglers with an edge. The ability to get to prime spots before anyone else allows you the best chance at scoring trophy fish. A boat that travels at 60 knots will obviously cover more ground more quickly than one that does “only” 40 or 50 knots. That can make a big difference in hard-fished estuaries and impoundments.

From a fishing perspective, the Skeeter is a basically just one big flat deck. While roaring along at 60+ knots is fun, we definitely spent more time under electric power fishing our blades, plastics and lipless crankbaits. After spending a day in the Skeeter I began to understand just how purpose designed these boats actually are. Aussie fishos are used to boats that allow you to do various things – fish, ski, socialise and so on. An FX20 gets you to where you want to go super fast and then provides an ultra stable platform to fish from when you’re there. That’s pretty much it. They are VERY specialised boats. And they ain’t cheap either – this boat is worth more than $100,000. But if you’re a serious competition angler like Michael Starkey, then the Skeeter FX20 is probably the perfect boat and well worth the investment. Stay tuned to Fisho for more details.


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