Wave Taming Skeeter SX240 Bay Gives Guide Edge
By Craig Lamb
Skeeter Pro Chad Manning runs Fish & Grits Charters in one of the most angler-dense saltwater fishing locales on the west coast of Florida. Tampa Bay, the largest metropolitan area on the Gulf of Mexico side of the state, attracts locals and vacationers to the world-class fishing that showcases tarpon, permit and a plethora of inshore species.
“I call it the guide mob mentality because when the action really heats up, there are so many captains concentrated in the same location,” he said. “It’s more man versus man, than man versus fish.”
Manning, a sixth-generation Floridian, describes the fishing atmosphere as often times chaotic.
That said, Manning chooses to run his business in a stress-free environment. His clients like it and they often enjoy rod-bending action all day long. Getting to the fish sometimes requires longer runs to escape the crowds. Fishing windblown beaches is a given.
“My Skeeter is ideal for the job because of the smooth and dry ride,” he explained. “I can go farther out, make longer runs, and my clients stay dry and happy.”
In fact, 95 percent of Manning’s clients are anglers who know what a true dry ride is, and they call out the boat for that purpose.
“That’s the first compliment they talk about, the dry ride,” he said. “As anglers, they know better, and I get confirmations of it with an early every trip.”
Manning’s choice is the 2019 Skeeter SX240 Bay, featuring a list of refinements that are ideal for a charter guide and anyone else seeking a well-laid out boat. The SX240 Bay is 24’ 1” with a beam spanning 101” and overall weight of 2,925 pounds. The boat has a maximum rating of 300horsepower.
“Skeeter is relentless and passionate about staying on the cutting edge of new technologies, designs, and features that make a great boat even better,” explains Manning.
A particular feature he likes is the Comfort Console, which allows for more than a comfy space for a potty break. You get two features dually important in a family- and guide-friendly bay boat. Those innovations are a roomy changing station with plenty of space to safely and discreetly change clothes, and space for a portable toilet.
“Another thing I like is the additional storage because some of my clients bring a lot of gear on board, and the console provides quick access to store the gear, keeping it out of the cockpit where we need to keep the area clear of gear.”
Skeeter engineers managed to add interior storage space around the console. In today’s world of wide-screen fishfinders, radios and other electronics needed to stay in the game that means more space for batteries. More space also makes batteries, electronics, and wiring systems more accessible for maintenance behind the console. The Comfort Console even adds more seating space with the 35-quart Engel® Roto Molded High-Performance Cooler, featuring ice retention of up to 10 days. The Comfort Console is an optional accessory.
Keeping live bait healthy all day long is a must, and Skeeter engineers recognized that need by expanding the capacity of the new Lean Post Baitwell to 40 gallons. This allows the angler to keep more, and larger bait which leads to longer days on the water. Skeeter didn’t hold back on fish care with the larger baitwell. It now features an additional circulation pump to keep water moving and oxygen flowing throughout the tank. Rounded corners also protect bait from harm, encouraging them to swim in a natural, circular motion.
“The aeration pipe is hidden inside the live-well,” said Manning. “That keeps the live well free of open plumbing, and allows the bait to swim freely without harm, running into pipes in the way.”
On long runs, he describes “pressurizing” the live-well by filling it to the upper lip to prevent water from sloshing around inside.
“That reduces stress on the bait, keeping them lively all day long,” he added.
Manning powers his SX240 with the Yamaha 4.2-liter F300 V6 outboard for a reason.
“It’s perfectly matched to the boat and is super fuel efficient,” he said. “I can easily get up on plane and optimize the run.”
During fall and early winter, Manning focuses on King and Spanish mackerel and hogfish, the chic species of the moment for its tasty food value.
“The secret is out about hogfish, and they are hard to catch,” said Manning. “The wave-taming performance of the SX240 allows me to run out farther than other bay boats, so I’m successful in catching them.”
If you want rod-bending action, all day long, a trip with Manning is a good idea. Contact him at (813) 966-3474.
“I just don’t like to spend hours of the day chasing schools of redfish, only to put my clients on one or two fish,” he said. “It’s less stressful on me, and my clients, to put them on fish that will bite all day.”
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Original Source: Sportsmans Lifestyle.com