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2011 BEST Fish and Ski Boats

Boats made for both family fun & fishing are a breed apart

By Allan Tarvid
Published: February 17, 2011
Skiing behind a fishing boat has always been less troublesome for me than fishing out of a ski boat – but neither experience ever provided any “best time of my life” memories.
If you’ve ever tried to add a homemade livewell, set-up a raised casting platform or install an electric trolling motor system on a ski boat, you know what I mean. Or maybe you’ve tried to safely attach a tow line to a fishing boat and provide comfortable seating for all the fun seekers awaiting their turn on the rope – again, you know what I mean.
So, I was happy to see the appearance of fish & ski boats, which put that dilemma to rest.
These four fish & ski boats include two aluminum crafts well suited for northern fishing and two fiberglass rigs perfect for southern fishing. All four are comfortable family fun boats ready to pull skiers or tubers – or great for a day of fishing – and will add glamour to your cabin’s driveway or dock.

Allan Tarvid started boating at age 10, switching a tired old outboard motor between a homemade plywood rowboat and a basement-built, round-bottomed racing shell. To this day he resists growing up.

Length: 18 feet, 2 inches | Beam: 95 inches Dry Weight: 2,105 pounds | Max hp: 220 hp MSRP: $28,456 (with 190 hp Mercruiser I/O and trailer) Website: www.crestliner.com.
Photo by Crestliner
Crestliner Super Hawk 1800 I/O

For Cabins: The reasonably priced Super Hawk is a welded aluminum boat with room for seven people. Inboard and outboard power options range from 135 to 220 hp, letting you match the engine to your performance needs.

Best Feature: Storage room abounds with bow and aft dry storage compartments; port side rod racks; cavernous in-floor storage for towable toys or more rods; a big, lockable drawer under the helm console; compartments under the rear jump seats; and cargo netting around the bow. The bow and stern areas convert from comfortable seating to fishing platforms or sun decks in seconds.

Accessories & Amenities: Fishing options include vinyl flooring and a wash-down system, rod tubes in the in-floor compartment for 7-foot rods, a bow-mounted trolling motor and onboard battery charger, a fishfinder and a variety of additional pedestal fishing seats. Ski and cruise options include pads for bow and stern sun decks; padded bow back rests with cup holders; a ski pylon; and a Sony stereo upgrade that is iPod- and SIRIUS satellite radio-friendly.

Length: 19 feet, 6 inches | Beam: 94 inches Dry Weight: 1,800 pounds | Max HP: 200 hp MSRP: $25,995 (with 115 hp Mercury OptiMax and trailer) Website: www.nitro.com.
Photo by Nitro
Nitro Z-7 Sport

For Cabins: All new for 2011, the Z-7 Sport combines the fishing capability of a Nitro Z-series fiberglass bass boat with added comfort for four occupants and a list of amenities rivaling that of a purpose-built ski boat. And, it comes ready to fish or ski at a decent, no-hassle price.

Best Feature: This boat seems to make use of every cubic inch of available space from the storage compartments and rod locker under the huge bow casting deck and padded lounge seat area, back to twin compartments flanking the tournament-style livewell. The center rear seat covers a built-in ice chest and another is built into the passenger-side console near the glove box. Large, loose items can be stored in open side compartments on both sides of the cockpit, and there is in-floor storage with a ventilated lid for wet items.  

Accessories & Amenities: This boat includes standard features like a trolling motor, fish finder, stereo with MP3 jack, ski-tow pylon and stainless-steel prop that are usually extra-cost options. Z-7 options include upgrades for fishing and entertainment electronics, a more powerful trolling motor, snap-in carpeting and an engine jack plate for added performance.

Length: 18 feet, 5 inches | Beam: 96 ½ inches Dry Weight: 1,780 pounds | Max HP: 175 hp MSRP: $36.092 (with Evinrude E-Tec 150 and trailer) Website: www.rangerboats.com.
Photo by Ranger
Ranger Reata 1850RS

For Cabins: The Ranger 1850RS protects your family with Ranger’s uncompromising, built-in flotation, which keeps the boat floating in the most drastic situations – even when cut in two.

Best Feature: Ranger boats are famous for their ride, handling and attention to detail. Top-quality marine-grade upholstery and carpeting mask subtle innovations like taller lips around compartment openings with better climate seals and deeper drain channels to keep the “dry” in dry storage.

Accessories & Amenities: The 1850RS illustrates Ranger’s tendency to go beyond the expected to give owners more for their money. Examples include adding hydraulic steering for larger outboards, fitting engines with power-matched stainless steel props, equipping compartment lids with gas-assist cylinders and providing color-matched trailers with LED lighting, a spare tire and wheel, and a chip-resistant finish.

Length: 18 feet, 6 inches | Beam: 96 inches Dry Weight: 1,530 pounds | Max HP: 175 hp MSRP: $37,741 (with Mercury 150 hp XL OptiMax and trailer) Website: www.lundboats.com.
Photo by Lund
Lund 1850 Tyee

For Cabins: The same characteristics that make Lund’s riveted aluminum Tyee a popular choice for northern tournament fishing also make it a roomy, comfortable and safe family fun boat suitable for almost any water.

Best Feature: The Tyee’s Integrated Power Strake hull (IPS2) trolls straight as an arrow, forward or backward, but also planes quickly, handles bigger engines easily and maneuvers well enough to test the skill of family skiers. A fully instrumented helm console has plenty of room on top for additional electronics like sonar and GPS.

Accessories & Amenities: The boat includes virtually all of Lund’s legendary fishing features and adds touches like a Sony MP3 player/radio and optional wrap-around bow cushions, boarding ladder and ski pylon. (2011 is the second year Tyee 1850 models offer a ski pylon option.) A ProTrak track system around the gunwales lets you attach holders for everything from cups to fishing rods and downriggers, exactly where each item needs to be.

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