May 14, 2015
Over a two-month period, Florida Sportsman staffers fished the Dusky 19 Bay Shark in a variety of settings, inshore and off. Here we're running on the St. Lucie River with a full tank and typical fishing load. Top end, with 175 E-Tec, was 37 knots at 5,700 rpm.
You don't see many flush casting decks and trolling motors on 20-degree-deadrise boats. That makes the Bay Shark somewhat unique, an inshore fishing platform that provides an offshore-grade ride in a chop. The tradeoff is she's a bit tippy when your buddy joins you on one side to land a fish. Also, trim tabs are a must to level out the ride on plane, but you'd want them on a boat this size anyway, for lots of good reasons.
Wide console with mounting surface for Lowrance HDS 5-inch chartplotter/sonar combo. It's a sweet little unit, but we'd go with a larger screen.
Forward port storage compartment, about 36 inches long. This and an identical compartment starboard drain directly overboard, a nice feature if you plan to use it as a fish box (Yay! No scales in the bilge).
Trolling motor batteries mounted forward, as they should be, right next to the receptacle for the motor and the plug for charger.
Fuel fill. Standard tank is 60 gallons.
Popup cleat next to the trolling motor bracket. The 24-volt Motor Guide 75 Wireless model with remote control is easy to remove and stow for security.
We thought to ourselves, a bay boat without a flat, raised rear casting deck? Then we realized the Dusky Drive engine bracket doubles as a great casting platform. For a boat that will also be used for trolling offshore, this leaves ample freeboard for tending to trolling rods and landing big fish aft. (That Dusky Drive also makes a great step for getting in and out when wade-fishing.)
Another view of the console. Center top is receptacle for the 360-degree light. One of the things we'd change if we ordered the boat is to have that receptacle installed on the aft gunnel; it would require a longer pole to fulfill Coast Guard requirements for visibility at all angles, but it would get that white light out of the skipper's face (another good argument for a T-top).
Forty-gallon livewell. It's a hemispherical well, with two sharp corners in the back. We wondered if that would cause baits to get beat up, but the sheer size of the well gave plenty of room for baits to circulate.
What the heck? This katydid stowed away on a sunrise wahoo trip—12 miles of trailering, 25 miles of running. That curved windshield is great for the guys standing behind it, too.
Console has space beneath it for batteries, oil reservoir and even a zippered T-bag, which is where in this case life jackets are stored.
Signal flare storage tube on the side of the console.
Shutoff for livewell pickup, immediately aft of the console. We'd like to see the pickup moved aft a bit, to avoid air-lock issues when running in a chop. (Rigged like this, it's not a day-killer, but you have to keep an eye on it.)
Leaning post with space for a cooler below. What are those ropes for? You'll see . . .
Safety lanyards for a pair of Penn 50W Internationals. When's the last time you saw tackle like this on a bay boat? This boat performed surprisingly well at high-speed trolling, probably a result of the deep-vee hull and engine setback on the Dusky Drive. Dropping the trim tabs a little, we cruised comfortably at 14 knots in a 1- to 2-foot chop, without surging or bogging. The rod holders felt secure.
The owner had DC outlets installed for electric reels or downriggers. Pretty sweet.
Evinrude E-Tec 175DPX (433 pounds, 25-inch shaft) offered more than enough punch to get on plane.
That's quite a setback on the Dusky Drive. Not only does this open up the cockpit of the boat, it increases the effective running length, bridging short-interval chop comfortably. Photo number 8 highlighted two other unforeseen benefits. Prop is a Viper stainless, 14 ¾-inch diameter, 17-inch pitch. We saw no reason to change that.
Underwater LED lights were cool, attracting baitfish at night.
Final impression? If you want to mount a trolling motor on an affordable, offshore-viable boat, definitely check out the 19 Bay Shark. She rides better at sea than many “offshore” center consoles of comparable size. Like many deep-vees, the more you push her, the better she seems to ride.
At the same time, due to the low freeboard she's not a logical choice for a year-round bluewater vessel. But we're talking about a bay boat, remember? In that capacity, the Bay Shark offers everything you'd expect from an inshore platform in this price range. And if you want to shoot 10 miles offshore to chase wahoo or sailfish, no problem. On the flats, three or four guys can easily fish without interfering with one another. Duskys are outfitted to the customer's specifications. T-top? Additional rod holders? No sweat.
Construction is rolled-edge fiberglass, with no inner liner, but after several weeks of hard use, the Bay Shark seemed to live up to Dusky's reputation for well-built boat.