As usual on trade day at the U.S. Powerboat Show in Annapolis last week, the bulk of the crowd sauntered along the floating docks toward the stars of the show, the megabuck motor yachts, trawlers and express cruisers.
But tucked away in land exhibits toward the west end of the show were a pair of fishing boats excellently suited to two of the rising passions among Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic coast fishermen -- rockfish on the fly and yellowfin tuna at the offshore canyons.
Action-Craft, which has been building flats boats in Cape Coral, Fla., since 1980, was a newcomer to the Annapolis show this year, having hooked up with Fred Quimby's Marine Service in Easton a few months ago.
The Salt Shaker 300, built by Salt Shaker Custom Yachts in Punta Gorda, Fla., appears to offer a fast, easy ride to the canyons at a resonable price for a custom offshore boat.
Action-Craft's 2020 Flatsmaster model, a sleek, open boat with a moderate vee hull, appears to be virtually perfect for fly anglers who want to fish the shallows or run out into the bay for breaking fish.
"We build a good boat; a strong, dry boat," said Bruce Perkins of Action-Craft.
"We've been in business farther south for many years, and we're slowly moving north in response to the increased interest here in fly fishing.
"It's been a hard nut to crack, at times, but we now have several guides in the area using our boats."
The 20-foot Flatsmaster is chocked with features, from unobstructed, non-skid front and rear casting decks to a push pole platform offering the advantages of extended sightlines to fish and stealthy maneuvering.
Bow lights, cleats and hardware are either flush-mounted or recessed to minimize the possibility of snagging lines or leaders. The cockpit bench seat folds down to increase the area of the rear casting deck, and the toe rail is molded in and will keep stripped lines on deck rather than in the water.
Hatches for anchor locker, dry storage, coolers, fish boxes and live wells all seal flush with the deck and include latches to keep them from banging or popping open while under way.
The cockpit and storage compartments also are self draining, and wash-down after a day of fishing should be quick and easy.
Construction is fiberglass over Klegecell foam, a strong, lightweight core material.
"You don't have to be heavy to be strong anymore," said Perkins, adding that no wood is used in the construction of the 2020.
Power for the 2020 comes from an outboard motor up to 225 horsepower, and the hull uses a pocket drive system to decrease draft and allow greater range in shallow waters.
The show price for the 2020 was $35,750. Normal retail is $42,050.
Salt Shaker Custom Yachts also has been around for 20 years and, sales representatives from Old Lyme Marina in Connecticut said its 33-footer offers "style and function blended to create the ultimate blue-water fishing machine."
And at the boat show special price of $179,264.21, one might expect a bit of dash and panache to go along with twin 250-horsepower outboards, custom color schemes and a basic vee berth.
So, throw in a fully instrumented center console, tuna tower with hardtop, GPS, radar, chart plotter, tackle center, center rigger and outriggers, windlass, anchor rope and chain. And then add another half page of equipment and features for the boat show special.
A different version of the Salt Shaker, the dual console 301, is available with twin inboard gas or diesel engine options. Base boat prices, which include impressive lists of standard equipment, range from $114,780 to $168,600.
The Salt Shakers don't appear to be much for overnighting or entertaining, but there is little doubt the 300 or the 301 is an efficient, fast sportfishing machine.
Pub Date: 10/17/99