Guiding Angler Colles Stowell on the Fly in his new Beavertail BT3
It's become rather common with my anglers over the last three years that once they get introduced to the fishery and have some successes fishing with me that they want to give it a go on their own. Some anglers simply enjoy the fishery enough to want to learn how to fish it on their own. And others assume that buying a boat will be cheaper than hiring guides on a regular basis. More on that in another blog later...
Understandably most of us enjoy the adventure that comes from learning "new" water and nothing spells freedom like owning your own boat. If anything I always take it as a compliment when my anglers are "turned on" to the fishery enough to go out and buy a boat. Clearly I've done my job well if my enthusiasm has taken over your life. Even more so when they hire me to guide them on said boat as they learn the ropes, etiquette of being on the water and the enjoyment of running a flats skiff.
Such is the case today. Colles and I met three years ago and quickly became good friends as he hired me to learn the local waters. Being a striper/trout angler from the NE Colles was eager to learn a little about redfish too. So this fall Colles took delivery of a brand new Beavertail BT3 with a 90 Etec powering the rig. Bells and whistles galore, his boat came rigged for a trolling motor, power pole pro series, four blade stainless Powertech Prop, custom proprietary Beavertail Atlas Jack plate, I-command Etec guages, Minn Kota trim tabs, VHF radio and more...
I've guided Colles on his boat three times now, this being the fourth and having owned a first generation Beavertail side console for two years and a B2 side console for five years I feel pretty qualified in giving you my thoughts on the latest generation of Beavertail Skiffs. But first about our fishing adventure.
We had a beautiful day to fish with unseasonably warm temperatures for the end of January. We launched at mid day in order to fish the tide falling down from high and to capitalize on clean water, there was some wind earlier this week, and the fish being more concentrated for fly shots. I rode on the console seat with Colles running the boat so that I could shoot some pictures and offer some guidance on which lines were safe to run, where the shallows rose up and more importantly where not to go. We started in an area that has been holding a school of fish most of the winter and after poling it for only fifteen minutes I knew we needed to move. The bait was definitely everywhere but there were no signs of the school or any singles. A quick 180 of our plans and we found the fish. The first small squad of fish was lined up perfectly at Colles's eleven o'clock just thirty feet away and cruising towards us when his fly hit the water. I think it surprised him how aggressively the fish charged the fly and the eagerness to hook up resulted in a lifted rod tip, the curse of death, and the fish was off as soon as he ate the fly. It's winter and we're all allowed a little rusty patch, I'm just glad it didn't persist. We repositioned on the school, about 100 fish from five to nine pounds, but the tide was rushing out and their mood was nervous. It was time to move.
We arrived late to the next spot; a creek that's been holding about fifty fish but they had already repositioned out of the choke point I was counting on to be able to put some fly shots on them. Our final move was the right call and I never regret any type of eleventh hour move. I knew exactly where this school of fish was holding and took my time positioning Colles's skiff for the proper shot angle. On his first cast to the spot I had anticipated the fish being, BAM hooked up on a redfish. I'm thinking we made the right call... Colles went on to catch several reds and a trout before turning the bow over to me, with a lot of encouragement, to catch my first redfish of the year. So we both got our first reds of the year on fly on record and it was a great day of sightfishing on the Cape Fear Coast.
Now about the BT3. The fit and finish of the boat from the hatches to the aluminum work, the console down to the taping of the non skid is really well executed. I like the operation of the jack plate, the layout and design of the center console is ergonomic, comfortable and well appointed on the deck and the dry storage is truly cavernous, I could actually fit under the rear seat hatch.
My three strongest "likes" about the boat are it's hole shot is incredible, it could give you whiplash, and the boat planes out instantly and without any cavitation. For such a wide eighteen foot skiff the boat floats extremely shallow and poles and spins much better than say the Hewes' and Master angler Mavericks of the same size. The boat is light. The hull attributes are more like those of a Custom Carolina sportfishing boat and it is a very dry and comfortably riding boat. My overall thoughts on the boat are that for it's size it poles well, spins well, is insanely quiet and doesn't slap in the chop and is incredibly stable.
My "needs improvement" list are as follows: I know many will disagree with me on this but the sanded non skid decks are time consuming to make and a bitch to clean. Colles's boat is an intriguing and easy on the eyes seafoam green from stem to stern but the deck non skid shows dirt if you so much as look at it cross eyed. While the boat is light and agile for it's size on the pole it feels hollow in rough water at speed. I would describe it feeling like there is lot of vibration in the deck and console in rough water and this could be due to the light weight and large width. What it doesn't feel like is a jarring ride, the ride is smooth and the hull cuts the water with the tabs correctly positioned but the cap feels like it flexes. The major difference in the old Beavertails compared to the new Beavertail, and this may differ with different engines and props, but this particular hull slides or breaks loose easily in a turn. This is not due to an enormous speed or power output, the boat just simply slides in the turns necessitating a reduction in power, some pre planning of the turn approaches and careful timing in tight quarters. Colles's skiff with a 90 etec is producing around 34 mph at 5400 rpm with a four blade prop and the jack plate adjusted for maximum efficiency, which is about 1 1/4 inches of lift. I don't think the boat is "propped" perfectly but I do think it could achieve better speeds without the powertech. My B2 with a 60 hp, 550 pounds and 17.8' in length is getting 36mph with a tuned Rogue prop from Etec at 5500 rpm.
Overall on a scale of 1-10 in it's class I'd rate it a seven. I like the aesthetics, layout, alumimum work and poling and draft abilities but could do without the vibration and sliding as drawbacks.
The new year is in full swing and it's off to a terrific start. I hope to see you on the bow this season for some exceptional angling opportunities and memories made. Come test your skills on the coast against wild fish with Double Haul Guide Service.
Tight Loops & Lines,
Captain Seth Vernon~
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