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15-Plus ThingsĀ (Out of Like 1,500) to See at Miami Boat Show

Florida Sportsman Editor Jeff Weakley features some of the highlights from the Miami International Boat Show.


DAIWA | Tackle Trends

fishing reel
Daiwa Exist 3000 reel. (Photo by Jeff Weakley)
  • Visiting tackle vendors at the Boat Show gave us a chance to talk to hardcore anglers like Scott Dubiel (shown here at Daiwa booth) and learn a lot about new trends in Florida fisheries. Ultralight offshore jigging is a new rage and Dubiel here holds a Daiwa Exist 3000 reel spooled with 10-pound braid on a Harrier Light rod, with an 80-gram jig. A Daiwa rep for the Florida West Coast, Carter Gavlock of Tarpon Springs, has been tearing up the reef fish on this rig, including a recent 31-inch gag.

CONTENDER | A Bayboat with Bluewater Bones

bay boat
Contender 23 Bay boat. (Photo by Jeff Weakley)
  • Fresh from Contender’s recently completed Fort Pierce manufacturing facility comes a new bay boat scaled back in size but not in quality. The compact, versatile 23 Bay fits a common profile on Florida waters—23 feet—but it packs a robust console with dual-door forward access to systems and storage, heavy-duty leaning post, 70-gallon fishbox and more. Finish work and hardware are all top-notch, and if the running attitude is anything like the vaunted 25 Bay (the hull bottom looks similar?) it’s gonna be a great rig for anglers who want to run far and fish hard for everything from redfish to tunas. Nice way to celebrate 40 years of production for Contender, a Miami hometown original.

PATHFINDER | Side-by-Side Boat Comparisons

fishing boats
Pathfinder 2400 TRS (left) and 2400 Open. (Photo by Jeff Weakley)
  • The Miami Boat Show is a great place to absorb the finer details which differentiate similar models in like-size classes. Case in point is the Pathfinder 2400 TRS (third-row seating) at left compared to the somewhat more fishing-focused 2400 Open. (We say “somewhat” because both boats are incredibly well-equipped for an array of Florida fisheries!)

SCOUT, RANGER | Small Boat Tower Solutions

boat interiors
Scout Sport Tower, Ranger 2660 Bay tower. (Photos by Jeff Weakley)
  • The show is also a great place to see how different builders handle boat-design features, such as upper-control stations on bay boats. Scout, based in South Carolina, does some neat things like this Sport Tower on the 281X Signature series (above left), also offered as option on the standard 281 and the brand-new 261XSS. Upper control station foot placement is aft, leaving unobstructed view-through console for passengers below; center of gravity shifted astern also improves the ride for the captain. Meanwhile, Ranger (right) cranks up the height with this lofty fish-spotting helm station on the 2660 Bay, a model introduced last year.

DUSKY | Classic Center Consoles

boat
Dusky 33 Open Fisherman. (Photo by Jeff Weakley)
  • The Dusky 33 Open Fisherman, a classic step-hull, twin-outboard design, remains a popular choice among Florida anglers looking for a semi-custom build to accommodate about any kind of fishing imaginable. Visit their factory this year. It's just up the road in Dania Beach.

CHITTUM | Cutting Edge Flats Skiffs

fishing boat
Chittum 21 Snake Bight. (Photo by Jeff Weakley)
  • Wonder what happened to the 18 to 20 foot flats boat class, as tiny technical skiffs and larger bay boats took the scene in the last 15 or 20 years? Some builders, such as Chittum Skiffs in Palm City, have invested lots of research and energy into developing hybrid-style rigs like this 21 Snake Bight. It’s built on a fairly narrow hull at the waterline, with widened deck cap and customizable structural lamination for various horsepower needs. The boat appears designed for comfortable and quick rides across open bays while retaining supreme maneuverability and stealth under pushpole propulsion while sight fishing. Carbon fiber layup, according to factory sources, keeps the weight in the 700-pound range, incredible for a boat this size. The one pictured here is something of an “out there” edition, equipped as it is with a 300R Mercury and reportedly reaching 85 mph. Tamer, real-world builds with 115 to 225 hp engines probably make more sense for most anglers.

EDGEWATER | Solidly Built Twin Outboard Offshore Rides

saltwater boat
EdgeWater 266CC. (Photo by Jeff Weakley)
  • Here’s the EdgeWater 266CC, not a new model, but a boat I decided I liked for a lot of reasons. For most Florida bluewater and reef fishing, I’m a big fan of twin-engine “mid-length” center consoles. There’s the obvious confidence factor of having multiple engines. Twenty five or 26 feet is also about that length where the boat bridges short-interval windchop, allowing you to “ride on top” at speed in conditions that might be marginal for smaller boats. But go larger and you’ll be pushing into specialized heavy-duty towing classes, outgrowing many driveways, or courting into bigger bills at marina storage. A few other things I noticed about the EdgeWater: One, I liked the lines! Two, I saw few visible fasteners around the decks and gunwales; little to loosen or corrode. They’ve also solved the quandary of bilge access by installing a removable box in the aft cockpit sole. Beneath it is sensible access to thru-hulls, livewell and raw water pumps, bilge pump and transducer. Forward of the console, cavernous access to the head compartment is also provided; the latch is heavy duty and secure (same for the side-opening dive door, transom rings and other hardware). Show price with twin 200 hp Yamahas, Seakeeper ride system and a bunch of other features is $268,723.

POWER | Wild New Power Options

boat and outboard motor
New outboard power on display, including Yamaha's H2 hydrogen engine. (Photos by Jeff Weakley)
  • Word got out pretty quick Day 1 of the boat show, after announcement of the Yamaha-Roush Engineering-Regulator team-up to produce an outboard boat powered by hydrogen fuel—likely seeing water testing in summer 2024. Those are carbon-wrapped hydrogen fuel tanks installed in a 26 Regulator hull; just a demo showing the ongoing structural work being done to accommodate the systems. In general, there were lots of interesting exhibits around the show floor discussing alternative fuel sources, electrification of outboards and other initiatives pushing toward carbon neutrality in the coming decades. A Florida Sportsman editor was scheduled to sea trial a power catamaran propelled by 350-horsepower Cox outboards running hydro-treated vegetable oil, or HVO. Again, many of these power exhibits are “conceptual,” but it’s clear we’re looking at some evolutionary times in marine power.

SUZUKI | Classic Outboards

suzuki outboard motor
Suzuki Stealth. (Photo by Jeff Weakley)
  • Of course, traditional combustion engines, like this example of the new, visually striking Stealth Line series from Suzuki, were in good supply at the Miami show. As were technical staff and friendly representatives ready to help find any answers to questions about products, service, dealer assistance and more.

GRADY-WHITE | Boats Big and Small

offshore fishing boat
Grady-White 231 Coastal Explorer. (Photo by Jeff Weakley)
  • Grady-White's attractive booth at the show this year featured a couple of attractive new models. Welcoming guests at the entrance was the 231 Coastal Explorer, a no-nonsense inshore fishing boat ready for cobia and tarpon seasons. Walk in a bit and take in the view of the new 415 Freedom Dual Console, a spare-no-expenses, include-every-option, total-luxury boat that retains every bit of sportfishing DNA that runs through the Grady lineup.

BOSTON WHALER | And Boats Even Smaller Yet

fishing boat
Boston Whaler 170 Montauk. (Photo by Jeff Weakley)
  • Yes, the Miami show has a deserved reputation as a “big boat” boat show, but there also were trailerable gems around the convention center, like this updated classic from Boston Whaler, the 170 Montauk. Show price with 115 Merc EFI: $64,840.

SKEETER | Epic Trailer Builds

boat and trailer
Skeeter's all-welded aluminum trailer. (Photos by Jeff Weakley)
  • Skeeter builds some awesome fishing boats, but newsflash—they also build some awesome trailers!  Here’s the all-welded aluminum Cadillac of boat-haulers sitting under Skeeter’s new 241SX bay boat (featured a few months ago in Florida Sportsman’s Dec/Jan print issue). Check the sweet non-slip service steps to the bow, for solo launcher/loaders.

KAYAKS | Paddle Craft

fishing kayaks
Old Town Sportsman BigWater ePDL+ 132 kayak. (Photo by Jeff Weakley)
  • Yep, there were plenty of kayaks on display, including the brand-new Old Town Sportsman BigWater  ePDL+ 132. Show attendees were able to test many kinds of human-propelled watercraft in the Nautical Ventures AquaZone tank in Pride Park.

ACCESSORIES | Organizers, Sunglasses, Fillet Tables and More!

outdoors accessories
Sea Sucker, Costa sunglasses and Seaward fillet station. (Photos by Jeff Weakley)
  • You could buy all kinds of boating gear at the show, from new sunglasses to custom fish-fillet stations, to kayak loading racks and any manner of boating accessory. Sea Sucker, which makes the well-known durable suction-grip installed features, won an innovation award for this clever, tension-closing trash bag. How many bags and pieces of random debris blow off boats through the year? Keep everything contained with this clever product. Keep your Costa-protected eyes on the water and find those fish you’ll bring home to clean on your new Seaward fillet station!

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