Built on the banks of Queensland’s famous Jumpinpin, fibreglass Bonito boats have carved a nice little niche for themselves in both the commercial and recreational fishing markets. There’s a handful of crabbers that put serious miles on their Bonitos in their local area – running 150hp tiller steer outboards. That’s on the 5.6m version, which we’ve tested over the years at Fishing Monthly, and you can Google “5.6m Bonito” to see the article and videos.
The latest Bonito to grace their range is the 5m (or 500). It’s not necessarily brand new, but this is the first opportunity that we have had to get one out on the water for a test. To do so, Roger and Martin from Bonito Boats talked local Bonito owner Adam Webb into going out for a morning on the water.
Adam is a Jacobs Well local and knows the ‘Pin like the back of his hand. He spends a lot of time fishing, crabbing, prawning and camping in the area and needed a boat that could do all of those things – both with the family and without. His Bonito 500 is perfectly set up and versatile enough to all of these things and more.
Hand laid with high quality glass, a self-draining floor and an attention to detail, let’s examine how this Bonito ticks all of Adam’s boxes.
If Adam is in ‘sportfishing’ mode, there’s a small, front casting deck that he can stand on and use his Minn Kota iPilot, which is located front-left. Also a keen whiting angler, it’s a simple transition to move the seats to the front bases, add the bimini top and you’re hanging a couple of Alveys and sloppy joe rods over the transom, waiting for a whiting to load up. Adam’s tip was that you have to dig your own bloodworms to get the best whiting.
Adam’s a big fan of camping locally on Straddie, and you don’t need to stretch the imagination very far to see that the space on this boat would swallow up the camping gear for the bulkiest of packers.
Adam also explained that while crabbing, there’s the beam on board to carry his large, hand-made crab pots, and the boat draws little enough water to get up into the shallowest creeks that often yield the best crabs.
Adam has two daughters, who are 8 and 9 years old. They can cast their own nets and, understandably, after a solid session on the crustaceans, the boat can be a bit of a mess.
“I love that no matter how dirty the boat gets, you can hose it out, give it a quick scrub and it comes back gleaming,” Adam said. “One polish a year and she is back to near-showroom condition.”
Not surprisingly, the 90hp Suzuki on the transom shoots this boat up and onto the plane. With both seats back, I expected this boat to be a little bum-heavy, but the Bonito jumped up onto the plane and maintained an efficient attitude in the water.
Hitting 6400rpm at wide open throttle, the Bonito skipped along at 64km/h and cruised comfortably at 4000rpm where it sat on 36km/h. No fuel usage gauge was available to test economy.
As with most Bonitos I’ve been in, I loved the swing-away sounder arm. Adam’s was fitted with a Garmin 95CV, which has a 9” colour screen and gives you great bang for your buck.
The Bonito is simple in its layout, simple to drive and simple to fish out of. There’s a reason why Bonito boats are becoming increasingly popular, and their simplicity (and a nice finish) definitely has something to do with it.
If you want to go and check out the Bonito factory or talk about their range, talk to Martin Slennett on 0416 099 908 or visit www.bonitoboats.com.au .