Issue: April 2002
Stessl build aluminum boats to suit all tastes from the cheapest, most basic tinnies to some of the most specialised aluminium sports fishers in the business. And the 4.6m Bass Boss is one of their best. The test boat on this occasion belongs to Peter Keidge, an impoundment bass and tournament fisherman who lives near Queensland’s Lake Moogerah, where we conducted the test.
If you’re going to test a fishing boat it stands to reason that you need to take the boat fishing, which is exactly what we did. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it. But Peter is a bass specialist and his first question was what’s the GPS for ?
“Maaate, trust me. Would I put a waypoint on any of your pet fishing spots ? We have to do some performance figures that’s all.” I wouldn’t, didn’t, honest. I knew all the spots he went to anyway.
The Stessl 4.6m Bass Boss is a calm water boat. Thus, the high internal decking and low gunwales right around the boat. Any loose gear, such as tackle boxes, need to be placed on the lower deck to avoid losing them over the side in hard turns. So while the boat is a side console, there’s still ample room to pass along the starboard side of the console on the higher deck. This is a standard feature of boats built for bass fishing. But it does make the Bass Boss a two-person boat, because there are only two seats.
Poor Trish, who helped us out with the photo shoot, had to sit on the casting deck. But there are extra mountings for the pair of pedestal seats up on the foredeck and forward in the lower deck so the seats can be moved around. But as you can see, Trish’s other half had taken over the second seat leaving her to her own devices.
Those high decks swallow a stack of gear. Hidden completely out of sight are no less than three batteries (two for the electrics and one to start the outboard,) two live wells, safety gear and fuel tank.
There is a lockable rod locker under the aft port side decking that is long enough to hold baitcasters and spin rods. It’s carpeted to avoid damaging Peter’s stable of top-of-the-range rods and up-market reels. Our fly rods ended up lying along the deck itself once assembled, but even there they could be tucked up against the side of the hull under the wide gunwales, well away from stray feet and backsides.
These gunwales can technically be termed side decks, but this boat has three deck levels counting the topsides and can get confusing. Being a fly fisherman, Peter chose to set his casting/fishing deck below gunwale level to avoid the dreaded flyline blowing overboard and wrapping up the propeller syndrome.
The dam gets choppy sometimes and just having those few centimetres from deck to topsides does add an element of security. The standard of workmanship used building the boat is obvious and the paintwork is excellent. Don’t you just love the metallic bronze colour ? It looks a million dollars and is as good as it looks, which is not always the case with some brands of aluminium boats.
Peter has elected to store the anchoring gear under a hinged panel way up in the pointy end. You are going to get confused about which deck level we’re talking about shortly if I’m not careful here. The foot control for the electric motor is also stowed in this locker.
The two sounders in this boat, designed for two people to use while fishing, might sound excessive to some. But when you see these blokes fish, the two sounders makes a lot of sense. Impoundment bass fishing is all about sounders. They’re literally your eyes and Peter reckons if you’re serious you need to be able to see a sounder at all times.
This is a serious fishing boat built to a recipe arrived at via a lot of thought and even more experience on the part of both Peter and Stessl. It may not be everybody’s idea of the perfect boat although for impoundment fishing Southern Queensland style, we’d have to rate it as close to perfect.
If boat tests on specialised boats like this are to mean anything they should indeed involve fishing. So we did and as the photos prove we were successful.
Apart from the motor fitted on the test day, which has subsequently been swapped for a bigger motor, there’s not a thing I’d change about this boat. I guess you could say that the combined might of Peter and Stessl has produced the goods. And “spot on” aren’t words we use often in boat tests.
The test boat was supplied direct from Stessl Boats. Because the Stessl 4.6m Bass Boss is a fully custom-built boat, prices are not available at this stage.
Peter wasn’t completely happy with the boat on the day of the test. The brand new 50hp Low Pressure Direct Injected two-stroke Tohatsu struggled to deliver the performance he wanted. The Tohatsu hit a top speed of just over 24 knots on our GPS – see, we did use the GPS to get performance figures – and frankly was a bit leisurely off the mark.
Peter, with the considerable help of Tim Stessl, has been playing with props and on the day it was spinning a beautifully polished Power Tech stainless steel 11 incher. In the end the verdict was unavoidable. Simply not enough power. Keidgie ended up swapping the 50hp for a Tohatsu 90hp and he’s now a happy boy.
There’s definitely a message here I feel for those contemplating a Bass Boss fitted out to this level. When a 65lb thrust bow mount electric motor, a couple of whopping great batteries to power it – local bass guns use these electrics constantly while working suspended fish – 90lt of water in the live well, two sounders, plus the extra rod lockers are all added up, the boat isn’t going to be a lightweight! No discredit to the 50hp Tohatsu either, it was simply a boy trying to do a man’s job.
Interestingly a 5m Bass Boss we tested a couple of years back powered by a 50hp four-stroke returned reasonable performance. No fireball, but OK. The longer planing surface on the 5m boat helps out, but it sure shows how much weight goes in when you start tricking out a boat like this and three people.
Story by Warren Steptoe