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How is it going everyone? I am looking into a skiff to fish creeks, rivers, shorelines, and shallow bays from Carrabelle down to the Crystal River area. My budget is probably around 10k as a starter boat. I appreciate everyone’s help.
 

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I don't have any advice for you because I'm in the same 'boat' so to speak. Following to see what advice you get. I just moved to Louisiana from Colorado and am looking into what type of boat I need, I also have about the same budget.
 

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Fin and Feather 16
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We don’t have any fish!!! But a 16 foot aluminum boat or gheenoe would fit the bill because once you get east of St Marks the rocks are everywhere on the flats and I’m the creek’s. Only downside is you would have to pick you days wisely. Might be able to find and old 18ft Duracraft or G3 in that range.
 

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Panhandler
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As others have already mentioned, that stretch of coast can be hazardous due to the rocks and oyster bars. A modified V-jon boat will go skinny, is within your budget and you won't cry when you scratch it. Not the softest ride and they are noisy (which can be mitigated somewhat), but they will get the job done without breaking the bank.
 

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I had about the same needs and less budget, but also want to run in creeks and rivers some, just to explore. I'm much older now and need something I can manhandle off sandbars and such by myself, since I'm always alone.

Plant Tree Wood Motor vehicle Road surface


I was looking for a 14 ft tin boat and stumbled into a deal on a 16 ft Starcraft Seafarer that has a 63" beam (I measured it) and 20" freeboard. Yep, 20". That freeboard excited me - if I get caught out somewhere, I'd rather tough it out in my boat than a 22 ft bay boat.

The Starcraft weighs 286# bare, according to their specs and I can load it from the ground onto my trailer single handedly with no fuss - I've done it several times now.

It's got a 25 hp 2 smoke Johnson that gives almost 30 mph top speed and is easy on gas. I Would like a little more power but that's OK. Don't really need it and more power equals more weight.

Even with its' V hull design and nice entry, it'll almost float in spit and handles chop well. Aluminum is noisy and I learned the hard way, years ago, to keep it light.

With that in mind - and traction for my hind hoofs and my dog's claws - I just bought some regular no-nap indoor/outdoor carpet and stuck it down with spray adhesive.

Total weight about 2#. With the spray adhesive, it's easy to replace - with Henry's carpet glue, it's almost impossible.

It's still a tin boat and noisy but the carpet tones it down a lot.

I also built a folding grab bar for it and mounted the chart plotter and a small instrument panel on it.

Completely loaded, gassed up, legal, and ready to go but without me in it, I doubt it weighs 500#.

I would also like a flat floor, but can't have everything, I guess.

Before I fell into this one, I'd never heard of the Seafarer, but I'm very pleased with it. It compares very favorably with the Klamath and Bayrunner boats on the west coast. Light, rugged and seaworthy.
 

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Carpe Diem
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The optimum skiff for the areas the OP wants to fish is a 15 to 16 foot welded aluminum jon with a 25 to 50 hp motor. My first choice for starting out would be a G3 1548 VBW with a 25 hp outboard. I would not worry about tunnel hulls and jack plates since knowing where and when to go is more important here than just running shallow. Better to know where the rocks are and avoid them than to run in 6" and hit a rock 4" below the surface. Conditions on the Nature Coast are not very conducive to poling, so I wouldn't worry about poles and platforms to start. As experience and buying power is gained, bigger, more complicated rigs can be considered.
 

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Panhandler
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@Vertigo, you may not be a fan of poling, but there are many of us who have done it for years in the region the OP is considering. In skiffs, flats boats and aluminum jon boats, too. Just sayin'

Definitely agree with you on the need to learn the waters before running crazy. My outboard techs would always comment on how many engine hours I had idling. But that's also why I never broke off a skeg or bent a prop.
 

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Pole away, but this ain't the Florida Keys with miles and miles of sandy flats. In all the decades I've fished here I've seen one and only one fisherman poling.
You ain’t spending enough time on the water in the early hrs when stalking from the platform with fly gear is prime then! The guys doing the poling are hitting it early before the wind picks up.
 
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OP, I have fished these waters my entire life… if you can find an aluminum hull like mentioned with a tunnel start there then in 6 months you won’t be saying “wish I bought a tunnel”!
 
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Carpe Diem
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You ain’t spending enough time on the water in the early hrs when stalking from the platform with fly gear is prime then! The guys doing the poling are hitting it early before the wind picks up.
Yeah, that must be it. All the guys poling and fly fishing are doing it in the dark and that's why we don't see them.

Seriously, 80% of the fishermen on the Nature Coast are using bait. 19.9% are artificial only, and maybe 0.1% are fly fishermen. The same ratios apply to poling. The OP wants to get started with a limited budget for a starter boat, presumably to gain experience and move up as his situation allows. Why complicate things with tunnels, jack plates, poling platforms and fly rods? Experience will tell what's needed and the preferred direction to go.
 

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Yeah, that must be it. All the guys poling and fly fishing are doing it in the dark and that's why we don't see them.

Seriously, 80% of the fishermen on the Nature Coast are using bait. 19.9% are artificial only, and maybe 0.1% are fly fishermen. The same ratios apply to poling. The OP wants to get started with a limited budget for a starter boat, presumably to gain experience and move up as his situation allows. Why complicate things with tunnels, jack plates, poling platforms and fly rods? Experience will tell what's needed and the preferred direction to go.
You are just a smart ass that “thinks” he knows all about all! Who gives a shit what anyone else is doing? A used tunnel will cost no more than a used no tunnel and he already has an upper hand in that when he realizes he wants/needs a tunnel he already has one to rig out from there. But hey, WTF do I know about boats and the Nature Coast?
 
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