Middle entry level Saltwater Boat Flats/Inshore/Nearshore

SaltySheepsheadSaltySheepshead Posts: 6 Greenhorn
I find myself looking for a new boat! I have been an avid freshwater bass fisherman for years, and have also been fishing the shorelines/piers/bridges pretty much anything accessible by foot! I’ve fished the crap out of south Tampa throughout south Sarasota and a little bit of Venice! This is the location I plan to
continue to fish....when I wanted to catch a red grouper or a gag grouper I would head to the skyway or book a charter with Hubbard’s Marine and go catch reef species! I’m interested in finding a boat that I can float shallow, fish the tidal rivers such as the manatee river under the bridges and all the flats of Tampa south....and here’s the kicker I would occasionally like to head offshore or the middle of Tampa bay on calm days! I would never plan on running out past ten miles ever I’m just not that interested, a good gag or red grouper here and there will suffice! I am mainly interested in sheepshead/red&black drum/flounder etc...inshore use 90% of the time but with that potential to go offshore 10%! That’s my situation and what I’m looking to get out of the boat! Looking for good suggestions around 30,000 but anything closer to 20,000 so I can load up with gear would be much better for me! 

This is what I’ve been looking at
Mako 17 pro Skiff   20,000 range 
Mako 19 CPX  30,000 range

Anything comparible in price to get out on the water! I have had a few small Jon boats in the past, a Lowe aluminum “bass tracker” like boat! That’s all the experience I have, I do enjoy sitting up front using the trolling motor to flip to docks so a bow seat base is a must and the ability to put a nice trolling motor on! 

Any ideas!? I am in the market within the next 6 months! 


  • jtsulljtsull BradentonPosts: 14 Greenhorn
    Same here, I had a custom grizzly tracker at 14'.  While OK for the river it was sketchy out by the Skyway.   I recently bought a new 2018 NauticStar 1810 Bay with a Yamaha 115.   Their 1810 and 1910 are 2018 models and there are some good deals on them.  Good overall bay boat to do what you described.  Same price range you mentioned.  Also Yamaha has a special where the motor is 5 yr warranty and $500 towards other equipment.  I put that $500 towards a Humminbird Helix 10 SI/DI.
  • larrywittlarrywitt Posts: 2,610 Moderator
    Visit the EXPO this weekend there should be a variety of boat to look  at.
  • SaltySheepsheadSaltySheepshead Posts: 6 Greenhorn
    Thanks 👍 I do plan on heading to the expo and pick the minds of some of the salesmen! JTSULL I’ll take a look at the nautic star lineup! Does anyone know anything about the 2018 or 2019 makos!? It seems that is where I get the most boat for my buck, from what I’ve looked at new! I fully loaded a boat build for a 2019 17 foot pro skiff mako with a 60hp and it would literally be just under 23,000, add 3 grand for some electronics, another grand for safety equipment! That would leave me around 2 to 3 grand under budget! Fully loaded boat.... I’ve met several people who have newer mako boats who absolutely love them, yes they do cut corners (plastic center console) to save money 💴 but isn’t that what I’m also doing!? if I wanted to impress the ladies I’d spend 100,000 but that isn’t what I’m looking to do here! Stay under 30 and get a “NEW” boat I’ll take the hit on buying new so I know that the Motor has never been in saltwater, buying used scares me bc I don’t know that motors history and being ten miles offshore of course it would be my luck for it to die then and there 😂
  • jtsulljtsull BradentonPosts: 14 Greenhorn
    I was interested in the Mako Pro Skiff 15 or 17.  The reviews from owners sort of worried me.  Also I know the Pro Skiff 15 and 17 is not self bailing.  I wanted a boat that would drain itself without pumps if it scooped a wave over the bow.  Google the new Mako.  Keep in mind upset folks will post there concerns, happy folks may not.  For 25K I ended with a brand new boat with life time (non-transferable) hull warranty (limited of course), and a new Yamaha 115 with a 5 year guarantee.
  • SaltySheepsheadSaltySheepshead Posts: 6 Greenhorn
    I took a look at the nautic star 1810 and it looks very comparible to the mako cpx 19 and under the price point at this time! 28,000 for the starter package bay Nautic 1810 👍
    Thank you for the info....how far offshore have you taken your nautic!? Run into any troubles with it!? 
  • 10kman10kman Posts: 446 Deckhand
      Mako's were good boats in 80's,solidly built,but then BPS
    bought them and start to make them cheaper.For ex.look at
    the covers,cheaply built.
       Look at Nautic Star,Pathfinder,Scout, good bay boats for what you seem to be looking for.

  • dterry302dterry302 Posts: 89 Greenhorn
    Bulls bay makes a good budget bay boat. They use the old sea pro molds which are definitely proven.
  • pottydocpottydoc The thriving metropolis of Umatilla Posts: 2,754 Captain
    Another vote for Bulls Bay. Pathfinder builds a great boat, but way out of the price range you’ve been talking about. My uncle has a 21’ Nautistar abiout 7-8 years old, and has had very few issues with it, all minor. Sportsman builds a nice mid tier boat, as does Ronald, but both a little higher in price. You might want to consider a late model used boat. You can spend the same money, get an arguably better boat still under warrenty, and that’s already got all the extras you’d want to add on a new one, like electronics, power pole, trailer, etc and avoid the major depreciation you will take on a new one the second you pull it out of the parking lot.  
  • jtsulljtsull BradentonPosts: 14 Greenhorn
    I like the bulls Bay boats as well.  Their 17' is a 20" transom.  Have to go to 20' to get a 25" at more $$$.  I wanted a 25" for times the stern is looking into the waves.  There are several boat manufactures in this price range.  All have some trade offs when compared to others.  Just think about what you want to do with the boat and weigh the features AND price of each.  Late model still under warranty makes financial sense as well.  Not easy!
  • SaltySheepsheadSaltySheepshead Posts: 6 Greenhorn
    Realistically the only thing I really “have to have new” would be the motor, I’m definitely not a mechanic but I plan on learning about my specific motor! I like the idea of purchasing and older boat somewhere in the 15k price range and put a brand new Yamaha 115 anywhere from 8 to 10 grand 👍....I will take a look at the bulls bay as well...suggestions on older hulls to look for!?
  • ragincajun92ragincajun92 Kingsland GaPosts: 430 Deckhand
    edited February 11 #12
    I came from the bass fishing world too and I was in the same boat as you last year. I settled on a key west 1720 after looking at many other boats and models. For me it was a do a little bit of everything boat which is what I wanted. It has been a great boat and have no complaints other than I wish it had a bigger release well for tournament fishing. You can get one in the price range you are looking at and build quality and resale will be much better than the mako for what it’s worth. I run my down the beach chasing tarpon when the weather allows and hit the backwaters for redfish trout and flounder. I also still hit the lakes and rivers for bass fishing too. It rides better than my 20ft bass boat in a chop as well. Here is a video I made after I bought it.

    Reelintension Go Pro Videos https://www.youtube.com/user/85stangbanger (plz like and subscribe)
  • SportsFanSportsFan Posts: 139 Deckhand
    I fish those very same waters and have a 07 196 Bayreef with a 150 Yamaha. The 19 deg deadrise really handles a chop quite well. I can get skinny and yeah then stuck in places like Palma Sola. To me the quality seems very good. You could also check out the Key West Forum. They were in fact part of the reason I went with the KeyWest. Very helpful and friendly. This boat has a single axle trailer and fit's in the garage.  Next size up in the bay series is a 216. 
    I think those are all on dual axle trailers and have 150-200 hp engines. Need a bigger garage.  If by chance you would like more details just let me know. No mine is not for sale. LOL.     
  • brotherinlawbrotherinlaw Posts: 3,043 Captain
    I do everything you're talking about with a 19DLX Carolina skiff. Just further north
  • pottydocpottydoc The thriving metropolis of Umatilla Posts: 2,754 Captain
    edited February 13 #15
    And beat the crap out of yourself in any kind of chop. And yeah, I’ve ridden in one. Considerably more than once. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad boat, just that the ride ain’t so hot. 
  • tarponMiketarponMike Miami Posts: 3 Greenhorn
    Action Craft Is the way to go. It’s a good  solid boat at an affordable price 
    Rod Busting Charters 
  • CaptJCaptJ Posts: 686 Officer
    Here's a thought. I just picked up a 20C Mako - 1986 in great shape, sold the motor for $800.00, hung a brand new Yamaha 150 on it and now have a solid seaworthy shallow draft boat with a 6 year motor warranty for under $20,000. I did do some wiring and cosmetic work, but it was all minor stuff. Hard to compare any of today's boats with this one.
  • kmagnusskmagnuss Posts: 2,879 Captain
    A good boat hull that's taken care of will rarely if ever 'go bad'.  I'm with captj and tarponMike on this one... find a great hull that's known to be bomb-proof and run it hard until you need a new motor.  It's way cheaper than a new boat.
    Tarpon... everything else is just bait.
    Captain Keith Magnussen - Crooked Rod Charters
    Instagram is @crooked_rod_charters
  • THINKICANTHINKICAN Homosassa, FLPosts: 423 Deckhand
    I fished out of a Lund "Alaskan" boat for several years.  Put a floor and T-top on it, a 30 hp Evinrude and fished really shallow out to 30' + in the Homosassa area.  30' is 20 miles off Marker 4 in our area.  Whole rig, brand new, was well under $20,000. Just a thought!  Good luck.
  • brotherinlawbrotherinlaw Posts: 3,043 Captain
    pottydoc said:
    And beat the crap out of yourself in any kind of chop. And yeah, I’ve ridden in one. Considerably more than once. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad boat, just that the ride ain’t so hot. 

    Not that bad if you learn to slow down a little and do what the boat wants. But you're right if you haul --- in a chop you will get beat
  • LastCallJUPLastCallJUP Jupiter, FLPosts: 6 Greenhorn
    I own a 2015 Mako Pro 17 Skiff. I bought it brand new from BassPro. It is a great flats boat, only 8 inches of draft. I use it all around the intracoastal waters around Jupiter and West Palm. I've taken it out the Jupiter inlet and about 5 or 6 miles off shore. Let me tell you, Jupiter inlet is scary in a 17 foot skiff but it makes it. The inverted V hull is great on flat calm water, it's like gliding across ice, super smooth ride. However, it is terrible in any swell over 2 feet, it slams into waves and will beat you up! I stupidly went offshore a few times without checking the weather and ended up in 30 mph winds with swells that you couldn't see over when between them, I thought I was going to die but the little Mako brought me home. It's awesome on fuel efficiency. I swapped the factory 6 gallon tank with a 12 gallon. I also added a T top from Dolphin Pro, around $900.00, installed myself. The live well for the 2015 model is junk, I removed all plumbing for it. It was under the seat in front of the console, makes for better dry storage in my opinion. I had to replace most of the factory switches, they would just stop working after a while. I removed the bow deck to give it more room up front to walk around and fish. It's a fast little boat and can turn on a dime at speed, I've gotten up around 40 mph on calm water. All said and done, I'm happy with it but ready for something bigger and a V hull for off shore. I don't think I'll ever get rid of it, it's a fun boat. Let me know if you have any questions about it. 
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 9,257 Admiral
    dterry302 said:
    Bulls bay makes a good budget bay boat. They use the old sea pro molds which are definitely proven.
    That's what I'm saving and waiting for.   There's one for sale in Key Largo with a 200 yam for 34k that I want but I just don't have it yet.   Gotta wait and save. Been boatless since July and I do not like it. 
    People use statistics the way a drunk uses a street light, for support rather than illumination.
  • livebaitlivebait Posts: 644 Officer
    I fish a 2003 SeaFox 195 bay boat. Way more boat than being offered today in my opinion. Hung a new Yamaha 115 on it in 2016 with MK ulterra trolling motor. Trailer is aluminum with all stainless hardware. Got about $18000 all total in it. One of the fun aspects of a used boat is the countless hours spent to make it your creation, not somebody else's.
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