2019 Contender Bay Boat Info
For 2019 I just got a brand new 25′ Contender Bay Boat which is about the baddest bay boat on the market! Contender has been building some of the best center console boats in the ocean for over 30 years. Several years back they got into the Bay Boat market and have definitely put their years of expertise into this rig. The boat is 25′ long so it is very comfortable even when things get rough, many people even fish these boats offshore one some fairly windy days. For such a large boat, this thing only weighs 3600 lbs loaded and can float in 10″ of water – even less than my seacraft even though its 5 foot bigger! This boat is great for fishing in the backcountry/gulf where I like to go and can get anywhere you really want to go except in the super skinny water where one would pole. The fiberglass is all hand laid and Contenders are known for a very solid build, and not getting stress cracks and such. Powered with a 300 Yamaha this boat flies, cruising in the mid 40 mph range, getting good fuel economy in the 3mpg range at 40, and 2.2mpg at 50 mph! She holds 90 gallons of fuel so you can go a long way. There is plenty of seating and I will take up to 4 people on charters (though we don’t always have all 4 fishing at once). There is comfortable bench seating in the front, and some some bucket/bench seats in the back for when things get rough. She’s equipped with a brand new Garmin chartplotter (8610xsv), VHF, Minn Kota Terrova 36 volt iPilot trolling motor, and twin 10′ Power Pole Blades. Superior sonar with sidescan as well as livescope on the trolling motor, allows you to find tarpon when you can’t see them! She has two separate livewells with aeration so you can hold plenty of bait and have them in different wells which is nice. One well is pressurized so water doesn’t slosh around when you are running in the waves (more of an offshore thing, but still nice to have!). Twin bilge pumps for redundancy though hardly any water makes it into the bilge as the boat is self bailing (water goes out directly into the ocean not to the bilge). Tons of storage in the bench seating and large bow storage locker. There is a nice casting platform that is turnbuckled tight to the bow, which not only is great for casting from but also to sit on while battling big fish in the waves. There are plenty of rod holders several of which also double as drink holders. Jack plate equipped for getting the motor trimmed just right for fuel economy, or getting up in the skinnier water. Nice custom cooler for food/drinks and even a deck box in the bow for keeping fish that can also double as drink/ice storage. She is an absolutely gorgeous boat and a pleasure to fish out of. Come book a day and see why!
The boat I run my tarpon trips on is a 1977 fully restored custom 20′ SeaCraft center console. It was stripped down to the hull and stringers and refinished from the bottom up in 2012 and repainted/fitted again in 2017, and has been fixed up like new once again in 2017. Older SeaCrafts have always been known for their great ride and seaworthiness and this boat is no exception. She does not bang, crack, or rattle in a choppy sea. Rather it is a very soft, comfortable entry that you don’t feel at all. There is likely no other boat in her size class that is as comfortable to fish from. She has been retrofitted with complete modern electronics and goodies. Now powered by a 200 hp 4 stroke Yamaha engine to get you to the fishing grounds quickly. She has Garmin GPS/Fish Finder, VHF Radio, Minn Kota 36v iPilot trolling motor, and an 8′ Power Pole Blade Edition. The floor is all one level (no step up in the bow) allowing easy ability to fish and walk around the entire boat. Two custom fighting chairs are mounted up front of the console. The bow area gunwhales are cushioned with Seadeck which is nice to lean on. All cleats, running lights, and rod holders are flush mounted. She has a large 40 gallon live well able to hold plenty of live bait. Two separate livewell pumps for redundancy as well as an aerator keep our bait lively without worry. 8 Rod holders make it easy to spread baits in different directions and fish multiple rods. The transom has been entirely rebuilt giving much more room to fish and custom bracket gives the boat an even smoother ride like a larger vessel. Jack plate allows the motor to trim up even higher than usual to have easier access in shallow water. Custom console is narrow for easy ability to walk around while still having plenty of storage space as it is tall. Spray rails on the bow help keep down spray while running. This is a one of a kind vessel that is perfect for fishing tarpon and I’ll explain a few key points here.
No T-Top allows you to fish around the bridges much easier and they really get in the way when trying to cast, fight fish, etc…
Trolling motor allows you to drift and anchor silently and work your baits in ways that were previously not possible. iPilot trolling motor has built in GPS which can hold position then you can move quietly over if we see fish next to us etc… without having to pull anchor. Also when drifting you can keep the boat sideways, allowing you to fish multiple baits much easier. You can also set up and drift your baits across the front of bridges and other structure where tarpon often lay without scaring them with a loud combustion engine.
Boat size is perfect for fishing the bridges and channels. Boats much bigger are very hard to maneuver around the bridges where we often fish. The boat is also big enough to fish in the open bays where it gets rough when other smaller skiffs can’t be there.
Power Pole allows quiet staking up on the edges of banks where tarpon often are cruising by. When you hook up simply push a button, start your engine, and your after your fish.
Big live well that has two live well water pump plus aerator. Can keep multiple types of bait alive with ease. Also can work very quietly with just aerator if you’re in need of being very sneaky with the fish.
Multiple rod holders and different angles allow you to fish multiple rods in different positions if you need to leave them in the holders, thus increasing your odds.
Garmin 7607xsv ChartPlotter/Sounder includes hi-res satellite imagery of the backcountry which is helpful for getting around. Also the sounder has hi-def bottom and side scanning sonar which is tremendously useful when tarpon fishing. You can ‘see’ fish up to 500 feet away on either side of the boat when they aren’t necessarily rolling/busting on the surface. This can be very beneficial for your fishing especially on days when other captains are going to struggle to find the fish that don’t have this technology.
Comfortable chairs for fighting stubborn tarpon are available. Of course I usually recommend people to stand as you have to really pull on big tarpon and they may make quick moves diving under the boat. Chairs are there when you want to take a break!
I’m sure if you fish a trip with me you’ll love my boat as much as I do!