The Fish Hunter
Putting an 18-year-old boat in the water isn’t very interesting. But using its frame to bring a brand new, custom-made fishing machine dockside is quite another matter. That’s what they have done.
The Fish Hunter is a beauty, spawned by decades of seaborne knowledge about guided fishing and nature appreciation. Over the years Captains Mike Bailey and Hunter Robinson have built a passion for finding the best way to serve customers. Their dedication to the task springs from the heart – the result of spending their lives in the embrace of The Everglades and the Gulf of Mexico.
"Months of planning, long hours of hard work and total dedication to you, our customers, are over," said Captain Mike Bailey. "And in the water, ready to serve you is the Fish Hunter," Captain Hunter Robertson said. A hand-crafted labor of love that is unmatched anywhere.
Fish Hunter was created from the frame of a Parker 25 that provided years of service, but which was ready for a new purpose. In fact, a complete transformation. Dozens of ideas clamored for attention as Mike and Hunter thought over what they wanted beneath their feet on the water. Finally, in the fall of 2013, their thoughts gelled and they set to work.
Hauling the old boat ashore and into a work space, the pair pretty much destroyed it. Thousands of pounds of soaked foam came out. Everything from the gunwales to the keel was stripped, most of it tossed on the scrap heap. Rotted decking went, the console was cut free and a 140-gallon fuel tank jettisoned.
A Hull to Cry For - pepper in the paint
That beautiful Carolina flair in the bow gives the Fish Hunter a thoroughbred look as she cuts a swath through Naples waters. Loving care went into rebuilding the hull, then fairing it out to a sleek finish now highlighted by an easy-on-the-eye color scheme of Oyster White over San Mateo Wheat.
Gold filigree elegantly pops the name Fish Hunter.
But a story lurks behind the beauty. A story of pain that not only brought a tear to the eyes of its builders, but more than that. And it started with pepper … cayenne pepper.
Just how, one might ask, does cayenne pepper get into a boat building story? Well, down here in the sub tropics, algae and grasses grow like crazy everywhere. And, if you don’t want toxic chemicals on your hull in these pristine bays and backwaters there is an old-timers recipe to help out.
You grab a few pounds of cayenne pepper and mix it into your paint. Nothing will grow on that, guaranteed. What a terrific solution to a boater’s headache of scum and critters accumulating -- requiring haul-out, scraping, sanding and repainting year after year.
Terrific – until the time comes to sand it all off in turning an old warrior into a sleek new fishing machine. When the sandblaster was cranked up, all hell broke loose in the form of clouds of pepper-filled dust. It erupted, and not just in the eyes. “It got into unmentionable places,” Captain Mike relates.
Well, now you do. There is more to a thing of beauty than meets the eye and while it is all just a memory to Hunter and Mike, it is part of a story of putting one’s all into a dream boat. Enjoy the ride and give the guys a tip of the hat for what they went through to get you there.
Then began the exacting work of bringing ideas to life. Shaping what was only an image -- albeit a clear one -- into a boat like no other on the water. Weeks of hard labor ensued.
Friends helped with some of the work and specialists tackled the complex bits. Jamie Fisher Marine applied their skills to the electronics, installing aircraft-style wiring harnesses and connections. From Miami, A&J Marine Welding crafted a custom-built aluminum engine bracket, specified by Mike and Hunter to put the engine 28 inches behind the transom.
This little bit of wizardry has the effect of lifting the Fish Hunter higher than other boats, “making its own water,” in Mike’s words. That means skimming area sand bars where another guide might find himself hard aground on quick-changing tides.
There is a long list of functional and safety details you will find aboard this carefully crafted vessel.
The Details - Techs and Specs
What you might miss unless you start asking is an array of design details and specially chosen gear to make the Fish Hunter a standout on the water. Some standard expectations are met with multiple tackle storage locations, cutting board, fish box, cooler and matching canvas cushions. In addition to GPS and VHF radio, you will find:
- Power: Suzuki 225 V-6 four-stroke 3-Star Ultra-Low Emission
- Systems monitoring: Suzuki Smart guage diagnostics
- Depth finder: Lowrance HDS 10 (color screen, thru-hull transducer)
- SUREflo magnetic drive high-endurance bait well pumps
- Anchor winch: Lewmar Pro700 (push button free fall; 60 ft-per-second retrieve)
- Weight: 3200 pounds
- Top end: 40 mph
- Range: 150 miles
- Fuel tank: 75 gal
- Watertight bulkheads
- Head room: 6’2”
- Fishing cockpit: 25” – deck to bolstered rail
Plus: Bluetooth connections to the stereo with four speakers so you can enjoy your own music.
It’s all about serving the customer. In addition to engineering that allows movement at speed from one spot to another, the topside design has been critically thought out. Slimming the console and moving it forward gives a guide room to lend a hand to up to four fishermen without interference to their active fishing lines.
There is also a convenient stand-up head accessed through a full front door and step-down from the console. Comfortable seating all around the deck does double duty covering hatches to bait and fish storage and the custom T-top provides both shade and handy accommodation for multiple rod mounts (rocket launchers) and equipment.
Dedication to creating the best experience on the water is what brought Fish Hunter to life. If you want to feel a little bit of what Mike and Hunter feel about their work for you, ask for her by name next time you book a trip.
You’ll be hooked.