Early this year at the Rosehill Gardens Boat show my eyes caught a big, walk-around alloy offshore fishing machine that I just had to climb on and check out.
A few months later I found myself waiting down at Bayview Park on the Parramatta River waiting test-drive the big Stessco Shotgun 625. In keeping with whenever I have had a big offshore boat to test lately, the sea was flat as a tack. But I was so interested in this big fishing machine that I delayed my usual tape-measure antics so that I could get into her and see how she performed. I gave the boat a whirl under the Harbour Bridge where it gets very lumpy due to all the river traffic.
The transom of this big boat is rated to a maximum 175hp, although our Shotgun Centre Cab was powered by a 150hp Saltwater Series Yamaha two-stroke spinning a 17” propeller.
I took advantage of the windless day and opened her up wide. We sped along at 74kmh (46mph) at 5500rpm. At 3000rpm, the boat did a very comfortable 32kmh (20mph).
One of the first things I noticed was how easily the boat slid onto the plane. With little bow lift, the big Shotgun climbed out of the water with about 1/8 throttle.
This is due to large planing strakes running the full length of the hull. Once up there, our lightly-laden boat was very keen to get up and boogie due to the grunt hanging off the back.
For those who want to get the price down even further, a 115hp will get the Shotgun 625 along very well and give better economy.
With an estimated 16° to 18° deadrise, the boat handled the lumps well, leaving the water only on a big wave with no back. She landed flat with no hard jarring and the 1.5-tonne craft handled the choppy conditions easily where owners of smaller boat would have had to concentrate.
Hydraulic steering heeled the boat over with ease and there was no feedback from the wheel. Once set and trimmed, the Shotgun held course over a distance with no creep to either side.
At rest there was little heel with the two of us hanging over one side and the boat gently rocked at rest due to the large wet area underneath. When backing up hard, simulating retrieving line on a billfish, the swim platforms submerged, forcing the back down a tad but well within safety margins.
Beam on, although there was no wind, the boat was bone-dry. Not a drop of water encroached on the enclosed cab, making this a very dry boat for its occupants.
Going with the swell, with a bit of up-trim, the Shotgun rode as if it were flat water. Sudden wheel inputs couldn’t make her chine walk.
Under power in tight turns, the boat stuck like glue and motor revs kept constant, showing no sign of prop ventilation. The 150 Yammy and the hull were a good marriage that could only be bettered by the addition of a more fuel-efficient four-stroke in these times of spiralling fuel prices.
Back in Hen and Chicken Bay, I looked over the boat in detail.
In the chequerplate foredeck is a smallish, drained anchor well that will hold rope and maybe just one anchor. A single cross bollard secures ground gear. Split bow rails are rock-solid for hand support when working up the sharp end.
A forward floor hatch can be used to store a second anchor and spare chain.
It was nice to see a small bench seat with padded backrest up the bow for those who like to see what’s going on.
As befits a true walkaround, there’s quite a bit of room between the coamings and the cabin sides, with hand holds for extra security.
You could stand on the cabin top to look for schools of fish and the five-holder rocket launcher is at a height where you don’t have to stand on tip-toe to get rods in and out.
The sliding helmsman seat and fixed passenger seat sit on raised boxes with hatches for small item storage inside. Seating is comfortable with good forward vision.
The angled throttle quadrant was just at the right height for driving when seated or standing. There was plenty of room for a feast of electronics on the dash but the two digital Yamaha engine gauges were at one side, making it necessary to stoop down to read.
Only a four-way switch panel is supplied as standard. I would need at least six to be able to control all the necessary electric components on an offshore fisher these days.
Just behind the seats the drained kill tank is recessed in the cockpit floor.
There is a covered carpeted area in front of the passenger and helm for storage in place of a cuddy. There’s plenty of cockpit room for at least four anglers with no protrusions to get in the way.
Overly small side pockets (only 110cm long either side) raise the need to store gaffs, ropes, tackle and the like somewhere. In fact the port side pocket has the fuel and breather pipe running down vertically, making it even smaller.
Coaming height is excellent at 706mm but I was surprised to see that no rod holders come as standard. The fuel filler is on the port gunwale with the breather pipe venting out the back of the transom.
The fully plumbed live-bait well in the transom is small and slimy mackerel would not last long due to lack of room.
The raised bait table, with two rod holders, is at an ergonomic height although a transom cutting board would be necessary for most offshore fishing applications.
Lifting the full-width rear lounge cushions reveals the battery, primer bulb and oil bottle and the cushions can be easily be removed for extra room.
Entry and exit is made easier by the ladder and lockable transom door. Swim platforms are solid chequerplate and there is an inspection hatch for the steering hydraulics.
Stessco make their own custom trailers and the model supplied with the boat has twin axles, 13” wheels, override brakes and is fully galvanised. I drove the boat back on to the submerged trailer with ease.
And the most attractive thing about the Shotgun is the price. For under $52,000 you have a dedicated offshore fishing platform. Sure, it is fairly bare-boned but you can custom rig the boat to your mode of fishing. The Stessco Shotgun 625 is certainly good value for the dollar and a good all-round performer.
|Length (bow to transom)||6.250m|
|Weight (hull only)||910kg|
|Max transom weight||250kg|
Front clears, Kill tank, Raised bait table, Hydraulic steering, Navigation lights, 27MHz radio, Navman 4200SX sounder, Navman Tracker 5600 GPS, plumbed live-bait tank, transom door, water-separating fuel filter, marine carpet.
Price as tested including dual-axle, braked Stessco trailer, safety gear, all registrations and on-water tuition $51,990.Reads: 697