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Hello all. I have been lurking here ever since we purchased a house 6 months ago on St. Helena Island In Beaufort SC. Overlooking the marsh and a tidal creek really has me wanting to explore the creeks and high tide flats while fishing. I grew up on Lake Murray in the middle of SC so I have spent a lot of time freshwater fishing but none really inshore. The million dollar question is what is the best boat for this area and type of explore-fishing? It will usually be just me but if I figure it out (that's the fun part), there will be a friend along regularly. I have been looking at everything from a BT Micro to EC Fury but looking for ideas from persons with experience. Thanks
 

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Explore with a john boat and then move up to a poling skiff. Lots of oysters to be found and beating up an old aluminum boat isn't so bad, but doing that to a brand new fiberglass boat hurts. Also its easier to get an aluminum boat off a sand/mud bar than it is a heavier fiberglass skiff. Other than that and if you are dead set on buying a badass skiff right away then I'd say test ride as many as you can first.
 

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Thanks Plantation, very good points. These boats are just so beautiful and alluring that's it's easy for me to get sucked in. I was originally looking at older, rougher skiffs but that quickly escalated to couple-of-years-old beauties. I have had several jon boats so I am familiar but can I learn to pole out of a jon boat?
 

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I started out in a hightide 1503. Being from Lake Murray you are probably familiar with them, but they are an excellent little skiff for this area because of its light weight construction and 15' length. The bow entry is a little sharp which tapers to about 3 degrees in the stern making it crazy shallow but comfortable in chop for it's size. You can turn it around in any creek and it doesn't hurt as bad when you get a little friendly with the oysters. You can pick up a used hull pretty cheap and have a platform built. Super versatile.
 

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I've also owned a 1503 hightide. They are good boats. One thing I noticed is it wasn't the best skiff to pole. Didn't track all that great for me. Just my experience. Was a fun boat though and caught tons of fish. Also don't stop or reverse so hard in them or water is coming over the transom. I currently own an older Dolphin Renegade and it is a great boat for around here. But there are many skiff designs that will fit you for here. Also depends how skinny you want to get versus crossing big open water.
 

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And yes you can pole a john boat but they are loud. You're fine if stealthy and not banging everything inside the boat. Don't expect any boat to pole as well as a technical poling skiff. Also poling a boat solo is not ideal at all.
 

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Forgotten Coaster
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The BT Micro is a great 2-angler skiff to explore the creeks and flats. It does well in a chop, but areas like Port Royal Sound can get gnarly at times. There are a couple pre-owned BT Mosquitos listed on here that would be better suited for open water crossings if you're ready to take the plunge. Otherwise, a 16-foot welded jon boat with a modified V hull (AllWeld, Scandy-White, etc.) and a roto molded cooler for poling/casting platform will get the job done in the backcountry/marsh and it will take a beating as Plantation already mentioned.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hightide03 - I use to have a High Tide Bugbuster with a short shaft Yama 40 on it that we used to chase ducks in the swamp.
Plantation - My biggest conflict has been a boat small enough to maneuver creeks and man-handle if stuck on mud but large enough to float very shallow and is there enough creeks that I can mostly stay out of the open water or do I need to be prepared for that. I will probably be doing more looking than fishing when poling alone. Once I get familiar with poling and where to fish, I'll call up a fishing partner to come down and fish with me. At least that's the current plan.
Thank yall for all of the input!
 

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Lots of water to explore and learn around st Helena. Unless you just have to go run the sound for some reason ( none comes to mind) a highside 15 is a good start. U will have a trailer and could go to any ramp. Wanna fish whales branch, drive to that ramp.
 

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Following this thread. Considering a move to SC.

My previous skiff was a center console BT, very versatile on the northern gulf and the marshes there. Interested in a side console like a waterman for my next skiff for the extra floor space. Curious if folks who run the narrow/shallow creeks of SC/GA would find sitting at a side console a disadvantage in terms of visibility over the grass, around corners, down through glare to see bottom while running on plane, etc
 

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Mostly Harmless
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Few hulls track well solo, so that is a hard way to learn to pole without some additional preparations; you need to add ballast equal to your weight to the bow to stay sane. I personally hate to do this because it seems dumb to intentionally add that much weight to a boat that I know I will have to push off sand bars. As a result, the wind blows me around when I fish alone.

Also add something elevated, whether a cooler or a platform, that lets you work around the motor. If you pole from the deck, the motor is always in the way.

I am another vote for a jon boat. They pole adequately once you add ballast as described. One of the reasons people complain about poling them is that they are often so light in the bow that they blow around like a feather.

Lastly, get the lightest practical motor that will easily plane the boat with your average load. You want a boat that floats level when loaded without passengers. While mass in the bow helps tracking when poling, motors add mass to the wrong end of the boat, thereby forcing you to add even more mass to the bow in order to pole. If a 16’ jon boat is rated to 40 hp, but a 25 hp planes it out easily with your normal load, use the 25 hp. The speed demons are horrified by the suggestion that you shouldn’t hang the biggest possible motor on a hull, but for this function, weight is more important than speed.

Nate
 

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Few hulls track well solo, so that is a hard way to learn to pole without some additional preparations; you need to add ballast equal to your weight to the bow to stay sane. I personally hate to do this because it seems dumb to intentionally add that much weight to a boat that I know I will have to push off sand bars. As a result, the wind blows me around when I fish alone.

Also add something elevated, whether a cooler or a platform, that lets you work around the motor. If you pole from the deck, the motor is always in the way.

I am another vote for a jon boat. They pole adequately once you add ballast as described. One of the reasons people complain about poling them is that they are often so light in the bow that they blow around like a feather.

Lastly, get the lightest practical motor that will easily plane the boat with your average load. You want a boat that floats level when loaded without passengers. While mass in the bow helps tracking when poling, motors add mass to the wrong end of the boat, thereby forcing you to add even more mass to the bow in order to pole. If a 16’ jon boat is rated to 40 hp, but a 25 hp planes it out easily with your normal load, use the 25 hp. The speed demons are horrified by the suggestion that you shouldn’t hang the biggest possible motor on a hull, but for this function, weight is more important than speed.

Nate
jon boats are best polled from the bow when fished solo IMO. learned to pole like that in an old tracker years ago.
 

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Mostly Harmless
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jon boats are best polled from the bow when fished solo IMO. learned to pole like that in an old tracker years ago.
I have done that and it works great back in protected areas, but the tracking is poor in the wind and I always seem to be in the wind.

Nate
 

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Following this thread. Considering a move to SC.

My previous skiff was a center console BT, very versatile on the northern gulf and the marshes there. Interested in a side console like a waterman for my next skiff for the extra floor space. Curious if folks who run the narrow/shallow creeks of SC/GA would find sitting at a side console a disadvantage in terms of visibility over the grass, around corners, down through glare to see bottom while running on plane, etc

Yes. My personal experience is that it helps a ton to stand while driving around most creeks and flats in the lowcountry. Plenty of them are around here, but I couldn't own another side console unless it had a lifted helm I could steer while standing. But I think those look ugly and I'd rather go offset center. I've saved my ass more than once by seeing bottoms I wouldn't of seen sitting.
 

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Yes. My personal experience is that it helps a ton to stand while driving around most creeks and flats in the lowcountry. Plenty of them are around here, but I couldn't own another side console unless it had a lifted helm I could steer while standing. But I think those look ugly and I'd rather go offset center. I've saved my ass more than once by seeing bottoms I wouldn't of seen sitting.
I was afraid of that...thanks for the confirmation
 

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No way I would own another side console. Give me a center console or stand up tiller with grab bar. Good advice on everything above.
 

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I run an east cape evox in the marshes. Standing up behind a center console really helps, also not going full throttle helps. Best advice i can give is look for a skiff that drafts 6-8" with a center console that tracks pretty straight. Nothing worse than fighting the boat and fighting the wind/current/ With our tide swings current is a major player.

Also, when running winding creeks around here wearing your kill switch is almost a necessity.
 

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Been on many skiffs but never owned. For the experiences guys, wouldn't a good piece of advice be to take it slow on a low tides to find out where issues (such as sand and oyster bars) are? Making fishing high tides an easier navigation?
 

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Lots of water to explore and learn around st Helena. Unless you just have to go run the sound for some reason ( none comes to mind) a highside 15 is a good start. U will have a trailer and could go to any ramp. Wanna fish whales branch, drive to that ramp.
I second what flysalt060 said. A 15'4 highsider with a 15hp tiller and a cooler in the back is a great boat to run around and learn an area in. With a little balancing practice you can pole from the cooler and they're super lightweight and easy to get out of the pluff mud. Can also be a good little boat to duck hunt out of as well and you don't feel too guilty when rubbing an oyster bed.
 

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Been lurking here a while, but thought I might add my two cents. I haven’t been in Beaufort very long, but I’m out any day it isn’t raining. I have an older 17T Mitzi and it does great from what I’ve experienced so far. Mostly fishing around St Helena, Sams Point, and occasionally off the Broad. I know many others in the low country with Mitzis that enjoy them. You can find older ones for a pretty good deal from time to time. They’ll come scratched so you won’t be as worried when you run up against some oysters.
 
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