The 535 Bluefin Stormcat is another of the ‘Cat’ series of tournament-orientated punts from the Bluefin stable. These are powerful, well appointed boats combining a neat blend of luxury and fishing features with raft-like stability in a well finished alloy hull. And with a 150 Mercury four-stroke on the back, let me tell you that this cat can really storm!
At 5.35m long and 2.34m wide this big punt is a dedicated tournament craft. The entire layout and presentation is virtually an angler’s wish list come true: all floors are (hookless) carpeted and there’s a full-length soft-lined rod locker, plenty of storage under the floor, a 90L catch well, very comfortable seating and a neat sound system. And it’s all pushed along nicely at around 80km/h by that 3L Mercury 150 four stroke on the transom. You want to get there first? This rig sure will give it a good go!
Up front on the craft’s 400mm high casting deck there were six hatches, all with storage under them. There was ample anchor room in the front one, in the next set of hatches there was provision for a battery (or two) for the Minn Kota electric motor up front, then came paired hatches for general storage, tackle trays and the like. Paired hatches also accessed the divider-equipped 90L Flowrite Tournament live well designed to keep the catch in best shape for the weigh in. A bicycle-style seat up front was removable while the Stormcat’s s clear and uncluttered front deck would allow up to three anglers to fish at a given time.
The cockpit work area featured another seat spigot up front, the Stormcat’s side console being set to starboard next to a side pocket. As the console was fixed to the side of the craft rather than onto the floor, the arrangement provided ample leg room for the skipper while driving from the plush wrap around bucket style helm seat. The console came set up with a grab rail plus a tinted windscreen, the latter of which is great when travelling at 80 clicks on a winter’s morning.
The Bluefin’s dash layout centred around a Lowrance HDS9 sounder uppermost, with a timer for the catch well and an array of eight rocker switches lower. To the side of the sports style wheel (linked to hydraulic steering) were the ignition key and marine radio. Engine controls were side mounted in the usual manner.
A Fusion sound system was featured with speakers at the rear of the 400mm high forward deck and a big fat sub woofer between skipper’s and mate’s high backed seats. I’d see two, maybe three, anglers working within the cockpit with it’s 460mm depth.
The passenger had easy access to the Stormcat’s 2.25m long rod locker set into the cockpit’s port side. Featuring soft lining, the locker would swallow up quite a few ready-to-use rods. Further hatches, the central available for storage, were located aft of the helm and seating area. An angler could also work here of course.
Rod holder equipped grab rails were mounted near the transom area with a ski pole central; handy for some bare footing from the Bluefin team on weekends I’m told. Completing aft details were a full width, non-skid equipped pod, and a boarding ladder to port.
One thing I did notice while aboard the Stormcat was the immense stability. This is, of course, important for the style of fishing usually undertaken in these tournament or sports orientated boats where anglers usually stand to fish.
The degree of inherent stability was not confined to the craft at rest either. When I was seated very comfortably in the skipper’s seat and driving the Stormcat, she had a running-on-rails like ability to turn, go-kart style, and then recover to a level attitude just as smartly.
Hull configuration consists of a fairly shallow vee at 15 degrees, some pronounced strakes under the hull, a quite large keel, plus a hull weight of 680kg which all combine to enhance stability. Construction is 4mm alloy on the bottom, 3mm topsides and with a solid layout of under floor stringers and a dedicated cross bracing system the Stormcat’s hull was very rigid and vibration free at all times.
I was quite impressed with the ride of the Stormcat. Even powering very hard into chop produced very little in the way of noise or hard bumping, and I feel sure that the ride and handling aspects of this craft are going to be strong selling points for the Bluefin dealers. Spray was also pushed well away from the hull but one must expect some water about the place if heading across waves or chop with the breeze on the quarter, same as in any other open boat.
Engine ratings for the 535 Bluefin Stormcat are from 115 to 150hp. No surprise, then, that the 150 Mercury four-stroke did such a remarkably easy job of powering the craft. Mind you, this style of tournament rig usually sports near maximum horsepower. It’s a tradition among tournament anglers to get to a hot spot without delay so there was nothing unusual in the choice of a maximum horsepower engine.
The 150 Mercury purred into life at first turn of the key and lifted the craft gently onto the plane at 2000rpm at 19.7km/h. 3000rpm saw 31.2km/h, 4000rpm saw 41.8km/h, 5000rpm a smooth 54.8km/h and 6000rpm a speed of 81.3km/h. Good speeds, undoubtedly, but what impressed me was the sheer urge of the 3L four cylinder Mercury. Even at 5000 rpm a push of the throttle lever saw instant response and a quick surge forward. Speeds were checked with two persons aboard the craft.
After testing this powerful and very useful tournament style rig I was impressed with many aspects, not the least being that it is an Australian-made craft. The layout, the features, ride and handling plus the performance of the Mercury 150 all were big pluses.
The craft would also perform well with a smaller motor if your focus was on pleasure rather than tournament fishing. With an external side height of 500mm the rig would be suited to work in impoundments, rivers, bays or most other sheltered water situations.
The rig as reviewed with its many extras (including sound system, Minn Kota and Lowrance sounder) carried on a Dunbier trailer and with registrations would come home for $57,178 as supplied by Nitro Marine of the Gold Coast. A 115hp motor in lieu would entail a cost of $53,878. You can contact Nitro on (07) 5532 5812 or view the range online at www.nitromarine.com .
|Length on trailer||6.60m|
|Construction||Bottom 4mm alloy, top sides 3mm alloy|
|Towing||family six wagon or 4 x 4|