It was with great pleasure that I opted for a day’s fishing while testing a Skeeter ZX20 Bay Boat, especially considering the alternative was a day in the office. This particular model was powered by a small block 200hp Evinrude E-TEC, so I knew that I didn’t have to catch fish to have fun: driving this boat was going to be all the adrenalin rush I would need. With the growing popularity of bream and bass fishing competitions around the country, there’s been an influx of new specialised boats on the Australian market.
The competitions were originally modeled on the well-known American fishing competitions, ‘Bass Masters’, and plenty of imported bass boats soon followed. They are extremely stable, super fast and use every inch of deck space for fishing. Not unlike a ski boat in hull design, these boats have very low sides, making them not as versatile as many centre console or half cabin boats. But this is where the popular ‘Bay’ boat stems. The idea is to have the fishability and speed of a bass boat while incorporating slightly higher sides and a centre console to make the boat better in rough water conditions.
Performance and Layout
To really test the fishability and ride of this boat we needed three people onboard. Let’s face it: if a boat of this size can’t fish three comfortably, then it’s not worth having.
But the ride was impressive. We did 50mph across Sydney Harbour and banked into some serious turns and the crew never got wet. The ride is solid. On a nice day you would have no problem taking this vessel for some light offshore fishing and, if the weather started to turn, you could really race it in with this missile.
When fishing with three men onboard I was impressed with the hull’s stability. Often we would have two or even all three people fishing off the same corner without any dramas, trying to cast our lightly weighted plastics at some form of structure ? either a wharf or moored boat. There is no accounting for the competitive nature of serious fisherman, hence the three of us jostling for position on the same corner.
This boat is brilliantly finished and laid out. Obviously constructed by serious fisherman, the ZX20 Bay Boat has all the necessary rod storage, bow/stern platforms, pedestal-seat mounts and large live wells needed to fish bream and bass competitions.
If a boat is finished well there will be no rattles when underway and this was the case with each Skeeter I have had the pleasure of using. All the storage hatches closed perfectly and showed no signs of warping, which can be a problem with large decking hatches. All the latches are neatly countersunk and are easy to open and close.
To give this 20ft hull maximum performance it was matched with a small block 200hp Evinrude E-TEC engine. This hull is suited to the weight of a standard 150hp engine, so the extra performance and horsepower can be gained with a small block engine. But what should be considered with the choice of small block engines is they may not have the same longevity simply because the output is higher. To combat this aspect of small block engines, Evinrude will often use some components from the larger models, specifically parts that are under a lot of pressure and movement such as drive shafts and fuel injectors.