When Bayliner brought back the Trophy series of center console fishing boats in 2020 it generated plenty of interest but had only two models, a 20-footer and a 22. The company keeps expanding the line, however, and now it’s up to five models ranging to 24’ long. For 2023 the smallest is the T18 Bay, and despite its diminutive nature compared to its siblings, it’s a sure bet that this boat will prove to be uber-popular.
Bayliner stayed true to the core bay boat concepts when designing this little fishing machine: it has an M-hull with 17 degrees of transom deadrise to minimize draft, while maximizing stability and providing enough of an angle to break up a chop; it has elevated fore and aft casting decks; there’s a livewell centered between flip-up jump seats in the aft casting deck plus an option for a forward livewell; and the foredeck is designed with a mounting surface ready for a bow-mount electric trolling motor. For anglers who like to fish the open Bay for stripers one day and probe the shallows for specks the next, the design and layout is right on target.
Additional fishing features include four rocket launchers on the T-top and four on the back of the leaning post, rod racks under the gunwales, six vertical flush-mount rodholders on the console, and a cooler/fishbox under the forward console seat. If you think the family might opt to sunbath over casting now and again… well, we hope you’ll set them straight. But on the off chance that you’re willing to cater to such insanity, you could opt to get the forward cushions which turn the bowdeck into a sunpad.
A final feature we find particularly attractive about this boat is its pricing. While boat prices have always varied quite a bit, since all the Covid chaos boat pricing has become so volatile it’s virtually impossible to put reliable numbers into print. That said, Bayliner advertises the boat as priced well below the cost of a new car. And note that it comes with a single-axel galvanized trailer. If you’ve looked at the pricing for new boats these days, you know that’s a rarity in the current market.
It’s true that an 18-footer isn’t big for the Chesapeake, and if you plan on fishing the open Bay you’ll want to pick your weather days. That said, there are also a lot of advantages to going with a smaller boat. It’s easier to run, easier to maintain, and easier to tow and launch. In this case, what also needs to be kept in mind is that the boat/motor/trailer package has an overall storage length of 22’6” and a width of 8’6”. That means this is a garage-ready rig for homeowners with a common 16’ by 24’ bay just waiting to be filled up by something other than another new car. Which, we must point out once again, would cost a whole lot more — and would be a whole lot less fun to drive.
Bayliner T18 Bay Trophy Specifications
- LOA – 18’2”
- Beam – 7’5”
- Displacement – 2000 lbs.
- Draft (max) – 2’7”
- Transom Deadrise – 17 degrees
- Fuel Capacity – 33 gal.
- Max. Power – 115 hp
- Area Dealer – Riverside Marine, Essex, MD, (410) 686-1500.