WITH the decision made last month on the hull, motor, trailer and electric motor, the next decision to be made in the project boat was the layout. I had originally wanted to incorporate a lot of features into the layout of my new boat. All of them would fit if we were using the hull of the Queen Mary.
As space in a 4.65m boat is limited, the challenge was to get as many of the desired features into the layout as possible without cluttering it. Some of the items on my wish list were full-length 45-degree rails, livebait tank, casting deck, live well, transom storage shelves, fish box seat and plenty of storage space. Where was it all going to go?
As I do a lot of fishing in the bay and even further offshore, a decent livebait tank was always going to be a necessity. I decided it would need to hold at least 20 good-sized baits such as yakkas, slimies and cowanyoung.
The first bait tank we put in was too small for my requirements, so we raised the height of the rear storage section until it was level with the side-decks to accommodate a deeper tank, which would later be plumbed with two bilge pumps. The first pump would be on the transom to continually fill the tank from outside, while the excess escapes via an outlet at the top of the tank. Another bilge pump and spray bar would be secured inside the tank to circulate the water already in the tank, without the need to pump more in. This is desirable if you’re in a creek or dam in the heat of the day, as the water on the surface can be quite warm, and constantly pumping warm water onto your baits will kill them. By circulating the water already inside the tank you will quickly cool it, which means your baits will stay healthy.
I decided to change the rails on the Truck from the usual vertical design to 45 degrees. There were two reasons why I decided to do this, and both had to do with preserving the paint job. Firstly, the rails would protect the paintwork if the boat was to bump into a beacon or pylon. As I love jigging the beacons in the bay for mackerel, kingies and cobia, there is a high probability that the boat would accidentally come into contact with a beacon at some stage.
The second reason was that I often use tail-ropes and flying gaffs when gamefishing, which can quickly rip paint off as a large shark or cobia thrashes along the side the boat. The top of the rail would be unpainted from the start, which looks neater than a painted rail with half the paint ripped off. The rails were kept low to allow you to still reach over into the water to release a fish.
As well as game and sportfishing, my new Stessl Truck would also be used for estuary and freshwater work. Putting a casting deck at the bow would not only give an elevated platform to cast from but would also increase the storage space underneath.
Two seat bases were incorporated in the deck, which would allow a seat or lean seat to be positioned on whichever side of the boat you were casting from. The three hatches would store lifejackets, rain jackets, safety gear and items of tackle that were not used that often.
The central hatch would be the largest and would have enough room to store a small food esky if need be. The hatches on each side would be a bit smaller as the support frames for the seat mounts would take up a bit of space at the front of each. These hatches would have carpeted lids and may even have locks added at a later date.
With the Minn Kota 55lb bow-mount motor on a special bracket on the bow the truck could be used for estuary and impoundment lure- and fly-casting. The guys at Stessl make a custom bracket with a special scoop at the front for the motor leg to swing down.
The Minn Kota Bow Mount has a few special features that make it ideal for casting and trolling. The stealth factor of the whisper-quiet motor means you won’t spook fish as you are coming up to a snag to cast. The Autopilot feature allows the boat to be set on any straight course without the motor needing to be readjusted if the wind blows the boat off course. This is especially handy if you want to slowly work along a bank whilst casting or trolling. The foot control for the motor is extremely user-friendly as speed and direction can be altered with just a small movement from your foot. This leaves both hands free for cast and retrieve luring, rigging up or casting a net for bait. A lockable, quick-release plate would secure the motor to the bracket while allowing easy removal when not required.
We initially put a live well at the rear of the casting deck as I thought it may be useful if I decided to fish a B.A.S.S or B.R.E.A.M tournament, and could double as extra storage space when not used as a live well. As we positioned the centre console I knew that there wasn’t enough room between the console and the rear of the casting deck to fit a large esky or fish bin. The live well wasn’t that high up my list of must haves, and was further down the list than room for an esky, so it was removed. A large esky could always be set up as a live well if the need arose, so I had more to gain by removing it.
With the live bait tank on the port side of the transom there was a similar-sized space on the starboard side to use. Initially I was going to put another well there with a top access door, similar to the live bait tank, that I could use for storage. As I had also wanted an area where I could cut bait, berley and possibly fillet fish we decided to make the access to the storage shelves through the side and leave the top as one solid piece. This could later have some nylon board added for processing fish and cutting berley.
With this level with the side decks, cleaning would just be a matter of hosing with the deck wash. The storage shelves could hold items such as pliers, knives, small tackle boxes, tagging equipment and other items that need to be close at hand. The lower shelf could also hold a battery if need be, however, I am considering putting my batteries under the console.
The seat behind the transom was built to also act as a tackle-storage locker. It had shelves in it to store at least two Plano 3730 deep boxes and three Plano 3700 boxes. These boxes are great for storing all kinds of tackle and keep it away from spray, which naturally causes corrosion. You can have a lot of boxes at home with all your various items of tackle and just add or remove them from the fish box seat, depending on where you are going for the day and what tackle you need to take. They slide into the fish box seat from the rear for easy access, and each is supported on its own slides.
The door on the seat will later have a lock added for security when away from home. The front of the fish box seat has another storage area, which is not deep but is the full height and width of the seat. It will probably be used for storing maps, charts and other items.
Although we couldn’t fit in all the features that I had originally wanted, we came very close. With a 4.65m hull the space is obviously limited, but many fishing-friendly features were put into the Stessl Truck to make it a very versatile boat for a variety of applications.
Next month we will look at all the finishing touches such as lights, bilge pumps, instruments, electronics, wiring and fishing friendly storage solutions so that everything is close to hand yet out of the way.
1) The combination of rollers and skids on the Sea-Link were designed to suit the hull of the Truck.
2) The console seat opens at the rear and stores tackle boxes.
3) The front casting deck incorporates seat mounts and storage hatches.
4) The transom incorporates a livebait tank, storage shelves and cutting boards.
5) The bracket for the MinnKota bow-mounted electric motor on the 45-degree side rails.Reads: 329