We all know there’s no such thing as the perfect boat – what’s ideal for me is not necessarily what’s ideal for you – but if I were to prototype my ideal bay boat for light-tackle jigging it would look a lot like the new Sportsman 267 OE. We spent some time testing hull number-one and then went jigging for stripers in Eastern Bay, and came to one inescapable conclusion: this is one rockin’ cool fishing machine. Ready to take a look at it on video, and see what we mean?
Before we even get into the angling aspect of things, first and foremost we need to chat a bit about what happened when running this boat at a 43.5 mph cruise through a one- to two-foot sea. The breeze was pumping out of the south-west at around 15 knots, creating one of those tight bang-your-fillings-out Chesapeake Bay chops. We had to make our way down the Miles River and then turn south into Eastern Bay, which meant dealing with a beam-sea, then a head sea, and then a following sea on the way back. In all cases the boat sailed right across the waves without pounding or slamming, much less rattling anyone’s fillings loose. We need to bear in mind that the 267 is fairly large for the light-tackle bay boat genre, and that you want to keep the nose down a bit to ensure the aggressive entry is what’s meeting the waves. But in a tight bay chop the ride was hands-down phenomenal. A strong assertion? Youbetcha, which is why I’ll be quick to point out that you should never take anyone’s opinion as fact – my own included – but if you take a test ride on one and experience it for yourself, I’ll be dollars to donuts that you agree.
One other thing I’d bet we’ll agree on: performance with a single Yamaha F425 XTO outboard is sweet. In the rough stuff we managed to break 56-mph, and in flat water with two fewer people aboard, the Yamaha techs on-site were able to wring out 60.2-mph. At that 43.5-mph cruising speed (4500 rpm) we made 2.2 mpg, and if you can stand to pull the throttle back to 3500 and a 31.3-mph cruise, you’ll see 2.7 MPG on the digital gauges.
Once we reached the hotspot and located some fish on the meter, we dropped down the Minn Kota on the bow, Spot-Locked ourselves in place, and began casting. The only unusual thing to point out about fishing from the 267 OE is that with five of us aboard, the boat never seemed crowded. And that was with all of us flinging jigs while standing at cockpit-level, not on the forward nor aft casting decks, due to the sea conditions.
A unique touch on this boat is how they designed in the fishboxes. Rather than putting lockers in the deck, under foredeck seating, or under the aft casting deck as you might expect to see in a boat of this nature, Sportsman places a coffin box under an extended forward console lounge. There’s also a small box in the foredeck. That pushes all the fish-stowage capacity forward of the console. Though many people will probably end up icing down one of the aft livewells and using it for the catch instead of the bait, it does mean that large fish pulled in at the stern will have to be dragged up into the bow. Fortunately, the sky’s the limit when it comes to just how large a catch you can chill – that coffin box is rather massive, and there isn’t a cobia in the sea much less a rockfish or drum that wouldn’t fit.
More about those livewells we just glossed over: if you enjoy live-baiting you’ll be floored by how much bait you can haul around in this boat. The 30-gallon livewell behind the leaning post would be called sufficient by most folks, but there are also twin livewells flanking the aft casting deck (one with air-injection) plus a mini-well under one of the steps up to the bowdeck. Then take into account the nine rocket launchers, kingfish-style angled hard-top holders, and flush-mount rodholders in the gunwales, and you’ll realize you can not only enjoy live-baiting on top of light-tackle casting but you can also set out planer boards and run a respectable trolling spread, should the mood strike you.
So far as construction goes, you’ll see nothing to beef about and plenty to like. The hard top is a great example, since it’s formed in a two-part mold with lights, stereo speakers, and an electronics flat all integrated. Grab the back and do some chin-ups, to convince yourself of how sturdy the structure is. Stringers are foam-filled molded grids bonded with methyl methacrylate, hulls are molded with vinylester resins, and all the hardware’s stainless-steel.
When all was said and done and our test of the Sportsman 267 OE was complete, there was one thing which drove home our point that this prototype is not, in fact, the perfect boat. The Sportsman rep loaded the boat on a trailer, waved good-bye, and towed it back to South Carolina.
Sportsman 267 OE Specifications:
LOA – 26’7”
Beam – 9’2”
Displacement – 4600 lbs.
Draft (hull) – 1’3”
Transom Deadrise – 16 degrees
Fuel Capacity – 116 gal
Max HP – 425
Area Dealer – Riverside Marine, Essex, MD, (410) 686-1500.