The "perfect" Tarpon Fishing Boat
In 2004 I decided to seek out the perfect Tarpon fishing boat. All boat designs are compromises but I tried to zero in on the best features based on years of boating, a couple years Tarpon fishing on a 22 ft walkaround, and my observations of the boats of the best Tarpon fishermen in the club. In spite of the fact that the best fishermen had walkaround boats, I decided my skills were better suited to fishing from a center console. The combination inshore/offshore boats that seemed suitable were all too expensive, so I decided to "build" my own. I selected a boat hull that had a sharp entry (to cut our pervasive chop without pounding) and a flat deadrise for shallow draft and stability at rest. I purchased a bare hull with console and had an upper station/t-top constructed locally. I moved the engine (5 years old) from my old boat to the new and sold the old boat as a "project" boat.
So here's the boat: 23 ft. center console, linerless hull, with a 55 degree entry and a 14 degree transom deadrise. A basic fishing boat, good shade, easy to get around with 2-3 on board - no fancy upholstery, no blaring stereo
None of the features described here are particularly unique, but are a combination of things found on other boats.
Since most of my fishing is done anchored up, I like to stay where I position the boat. Because we have some hard bottom and ripping tides, I have always gone with oversize ground tackle. This 26 lb. anchor doesn't need a chain to keep me where I want to be. If you're dragging anchor, get a bigger one or add lots of chain.
My anchor is deployed off a pulpit and roller. The extension of the pulpit and roller eases the job of going under the anchor rode with the rod if necessary when fighting a fish. The pulpit is "custom made" from 1" Starboard.
Your boat should have a midship cleat to allow offset anchoring due to adverse tide/wind combinations.
RODHOLDERS FOR FISHING
Fishing with 6 to 8 rods active means you need lots of rod holders. There are 10 in-gunnel rod holders and 2 adjustable holders either side of the engine at the stern. The picture below also shows tool storage and a pair of multipurpose 5 gallons buckets. The in-gunnel rod holders should be the solid cast SS type, not the lightweight welded. Make sure the backing is sturdy enough to take the heavy pressure of a Tarpon strike - they've been known to tear out inadequate mounts.
If you need to overload one side of the boat with rods due to the wind/current - a pair of sturdy adjustable rod holders on a gimbal base can double up a position.
Add an outboard rod holder to your center console.
Seatback mounts make sturdy rodholders.
Rail Mount Rod Holders should always be used with a safety tether. These are about 4 ft long to allow freedom of movement when the fish
My dead bait (iced fresh or frozen) cooler sits on top of the splash well.
A Starboard bait cutting board snaps onto the cooler top to provide a centralized bait prep area. Release tools also lay on the cutting board to provide access from either side of the boat.
Bait Storage on the Sea Caper
Gunnel Mount Bait Prep Table and Tools on the Sea Caper - drains overboard
When a fish is hooked up, you need to stow the unused rods. This shows the 7 rod rack around my bait well. Some fishermen stow the unused rods on the t-top, in the cabin or around the console. The baitwell is convenient for catfishing as well as access when Tarpon fishing.
ABSOLUKI rod holders
There is a stainless steel ring on each side at the rear to secure the hook while releasing a fish. Note - more rod holders
Tools accessable on both sides of the cockpit + more rod holders
Toe rails were added from mid-ship to the stern to provide added angler security during the fight, especially while being rocked by wake from passing boats.
Never enough storage. Center console and tackle center storage on ABSOLUKI