FROM THE ARCHIVES: First published in TrailerBoat #175, Jan 2004
You wouldn’t be far wrong in thinking that some shadowy, clandestine movement is creeping ever-closer to its goal of locking away our coastal waters to just about every activity except breathing.
Thankfully, the enthusiasts who fish inland impoundments on the east coast of Australia still have plenty of places to enjoy their sport. Love them or hate them, marine parks are gradually forcing anglers out of their traditional fishing grounds — and it’s my guess that many of them will turn their attentions to freshwater dams. And why not?
Although suffering the debilitating effects of a drought at the time of writing, Australia’s east-coast impoundments are blessed with a wide variety of rewarding fishing options, thanks largely to the efforts of local fish-stocking groups.
This burgeoning inland fishery has generated tremendous growth in the small-boat building trade, with dedicated dam-fishing dinghies coming out purely to suit the needs of mad-keen freshwater anglers.
There are a number of major players competing for the freshwater-angling dollar, but few enjoy the profile and reputation of Gold Coast-based Stessl Boats, whose original EdgeTracker vee-nosed aluminium fishing punt has practically become the industry standard in Australia. In an effort to keep up with the fast-moving trends in this ultra-competitive segment of the market, Stessl has released its second-generation EdgeTracker, which it says will deliver a host of improvements over the original.
Let’s see how that claim stands up.
BUILT TO FISH
The 435 model I recently tested features a reasonably deep vee bow, which relaxes into a more shallow deadrise at the stern, balanced by acutely-reversed chines — which give the EdgeTracker its name.
The main advantage of this distinctive hull shape is to do with handling and ride: the almost flat deadrise at the stern coupled with an aggressive bow shape combine to offer a good mix of stability and wave-taming characteristics over choppy water. The “edgetracker” chines act like rails and keep the hull running straight and true during turns, while the refined chine system also works to increase lift at the stern for faster holeshots. The downside is that they can tend to grab at waves, which results in a slightly harder landing when belting across rough, confused water.
But I believe the advantages offered by the EdgeTracker hull platform in fishing environments far outweighs any irritating traits in the ride as a result of pushing the boat past its limits in poor conditions.
SPACE FOR RENT
Topsides, anglers are looked after with an expansive raised and carpeted casting platform, which has a centrally-located pedestal seat mount. The gunwale coaming is fair — so flylines won’t get snagged during a backcast — and there’s plenty of space to fit an electric motor on the bow.
A hatch in the bow section of the casting platform opens aft to reveal a smallish anchor well. A Danforth or sand anchor would fit snugly in here, but a fixed grappling pick would be a tight fit.
Two hatches aft of the anchor well open to reveal a cavernous hold with room enough to store a long, skinny icebox with space left over. There is a carpeted floor inside to keep items out of the bilge.
But it’s the live fish well found adjacent that really impressed, due to its ingenious design and practicality. It measures 120cm and is mounted laterally, and could keep a 50lb barra alive such is its volume. It is fed by a pump mounted on the starboard side and drains overboard via a PVC tube, which can be adjusted to suit whatever water level you require.
When full, the tank weighs about 120kg — however the 50hp Honda bolted on the back of the test rig had little trouble lifting the hull and a load of gear, fuel and two adults on the plane. It wasn’t a neck-snapping holeshot by any means, but it got there comfortably, and full throttle pushed us out to 57kmh on the GPS. There was no tachometer on this boat but the engine sounded like it was running at near its upper limits.
The sill around the livebait tank had a lip that stopped water splashing around inside, and despite throwing the boat all over the place, very little water sloshed out of the hatch and onto the floor. There is a perforated divider in the tank to separate catches for two anglers during comps. This also prevented water rushing from one side to another and destabilising the boat while underway. Full marks for this livewell: it will be warmly welcomed by anglers who’ve endured bad ones in the past.
STACKS OF STORAGE
The cockpit has three spigots for the two upholstered swivel seats supplied. The helm featured mechanical steering, which was very easy to handle throughout the range of the Honda’s power trim.
The wheel is installed on a fibreglass sports console atop an alloy base. The gap between the front of the console and casting deck bulkhead was minimal, and other than for storing spare jackets or clothes, it would probably be better to have extended the console forward to the deck to allow more storage space inside. On the test boat, the console was screwed down to the deck but was skewed to one side. This was caused by a proud weld pushing the side of the console away from the starboard coaming. Maybe I’m just being picky, but this writer likes things squared away.
The short, raised casting platform in the transom was rebated to allow the engine and its loom to tilt all the way up. A portside hatch has dedicated storage for a tote tank with room for an extra 10–15lt jerry can; and on the starboard side a single battery was strapped down to a rack. There was enough room for a deep-cycle battery to be installed here to run your electric. Should the owner decide to load up all the hatches on this boat as well as carry extra fuel and a second battery, increasing the horsepower to its maximum of 60 would probably be necessary.
A portside pocket of about 1.2m fits between the bulkheads of the front and rear raised platforms, but there were only two rodholders installed in the gunwales.
CHALK AND CHEESE
I ran the Generation II EdgeTracker against the superseded model, which is slightly shorter at 4.25m with a slimmer beam of 1.8m, compared to 2.05m on the 435. The difference between these two boats was astounding, and to peddle a worn cliché, it was much like comparing chalk and cheese.
The new model offers a more comfortable, gentle and quiet ride, and stability at rest has been improved. Manoeuvrability at speed was exceptional with and without the 120lt of water in the livewell, and only during high-speed, full-lock turns were we able to force the propeller to cavitate.
The prominent chine rails clearly help the hull grip hard in tight turns. The boat as tested was pretty bare, but I think this is how most experienced anglers would want it, so they can customise the hull according to their own needs. A tiller-steer version is also available.
Certainly with carpets, basic plumbing, comfortable seats and stacks of room, the new 435 EdgeTracker is the ideal platform upon which to build a tournament-winning impoundment fishing weapon.
Price as tested: $19,034
Options fitted: Sports console, engine upgrade, steering system, livewell with pump, remote control throttle box for Honda outboard
Priced from (BMT): $16,321
Length (overall): 4.35m
Deadrise: About 3–4° with
Rec/max hp: 50/60
Weight: 230kg (hull only)
Fuel: Tote tanks
People: Four adults
Make/model: Honda BF50
Type: Carburetted four-stroke, three-cylinder
Rated hp: 50
Gearbox ratio: 2.08:1
Propeller: 11¼ x 13 alloy
Runaway Bay Marine Sales, Runaway Bay, Qld, tel (07) 5577 2666 or email email@example.com
Excellent stability, tracking and overall performance.
Fish/baitwell is a triumph.
Ample fishing and storage space.
Strong build and attractive finish.
Good resale value.
Rail chines can “grab” in very choppy conditions.
Console installation and design can be improved upon.
No sub-floor fuel tank.
Story and photos: Rick Huckstepp
First published in TrailerBoat #175
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