Choosing a poling skiff? Suggestions?

Joey Bagels

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After a couple decades fishing the salt mostly out of kayaks, I’m thinking of getting a poling skiff to use in the marshes here in Texas and on the occasional trip to the Keys. I’ve run a multi-species freshwater boat for 30 years and owned a skiff for a couple of seasons a decade ago, so not looking for advice on boating in general, but I need some input on poling skiffs specifically. There’s so many great options out there now!
First, size? It’s mostly going to be me by myself and occasionally another person (wife or angling buddy). I’m thinking of a 14.5’ skiff, but would 16’ be more versatile or stable in windy weather?
Next, my freshwater boat is a tiller. I had a big, bulky skiff almost a decade ago that was a center console, but I didn’t like the layout and I only had it a couple of seasons before selling it because I was working and didn’t have time to really use it. Is there any specific advantage to a console that I’m missing?
Finally, been looking at the Skimmer Skiffs https://skimmerskiff.org/skimmer-146/
Does anyone have any experience with these? They seem to have good reviews and are custom made at a great price. Thoughts?
Thanks for your time and insight.
 

brokeoff

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Look on microskiff.com for more information. They will be very helpful.

I’ve been looking for a skiff for New England and I think a good place to start is checking out what the other guys are using. For example, a TX skiff has different requirements that that of an LA, FL, or SC/NC skiff. I think in TX they are trying to run long distances in very shallow water. In the Keys you might make different decisions based on the primary species you will target. Here in NE some deadrise is going to be helpful.

I think longer is generally better unless you have storage restrictions.

Also, look around at build times.
 

bonefish41

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I've had three boats first 19' Robalo CC; second 17' early Hydrasport CC; last 13'Whaler which I customized for flats...the first two were exclusively SW Coast Florida...the last both same as other two but limited fresh as it would be towed back north after use in Naples/Marco/South areas. Unless I knew the waters I was on, like the back of my hand, which I never did, I would always stand at the console while at speed for the best view of the water... sitting down in the Whaler even though she never exceeded 25 kts vision was short and I never felt comfortable running at speed in salt sitting down whether it was crab buoys or floating junk there was always something to avoid coming up fast...If I was younger I'd get a used Dolphin Super Skiff...they have sufficient dead-rise for serious chop...used hull and find a used fresh water 90 hp Yamaha 2 stroke...
 

karstopo

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Microskiff forum has a lot of Texas based folks that have poling skiffs. I’ve only fished out of a Gheenoe in the general micro skiff department here in Texas and would say that‘s not what I would say is ideal craft for around here. A little too cramped for two people to coexist in comfort and not in my mind any kind of cross an expanse of open water boat or a craft with much range or windy weather craft. A Gheenoe might shine more in a wind protected/smaller water zone. Wind is as you already know an omnipresent factor in Texas, no persistent high pressure, low wind systems parked for days like more to the east. The lack of mangroves, vegetation or terrain to hide behind is also a factor. So something low profile to minimize wind issues, something good in a reasonable chop, and something with decent bit of range, along with something not being a beast or tank to pole around, this seems to be the wants list.

I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a skiff that does these things. Seems like it’s a challenge to find the right size and characteristics, not too little to handle a passenger with modest comfort and decent in a bit of chop or too big to be unmanageable solo on occasion.
 

Joey Bagels

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Yeah. I’ve signed on at microskiff.com and have been researching for a little while now. I’m waffling between the 14 and 16’ models of either Skimmer, SaltMarsh, or possibly Ankona. I’m going to purchase new so I can customize, but don’t want to go mental and blow too much cash. The wind and chop are permanent fixtures here on the Texas coast as you mentioned, Karst. I’ll mostly be creeping around in marshes and hiding behind islands and shorelines (or fishing the local bass lake) when the wind is too blowy. It may come down to a road trip to Florida to test out some different boats.
 

okaloosa

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you will get hammered with any chop in that skiff....plus if you are poling someone and they move a bit on the bow you may be doing a dance or swan dive off the poling platform. That is a very specialized skiff for very sheltered, very shallow water. If you have to go any distance in the water to get where you want it will be very wet and uncomfortable, if not dangerous esp if a front comes through.
I had a Maverick HPX-V for 12 years....I have been in smaller lighter technical skiffs but I dont feel safe in open water with them at all.
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Matanzas_marsh

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Chop is everywhere everyday on any coast,op said be will be creeping around marshes . Technical poling skiff is what he asked about. I have never been knocked off or uncomfortable or felt dangerous crossing water or on poling platform even with a person walking the gunale on my outlaw. You must not have spent much time on the bow or the platform of an outlaw. But shure a tank like a maverick hpx will do better as an open water boat as it was meant for.
 

okaloosa

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Chop is everywhere everyday on any coast,op said be will be creeping around marshes . Technical poling skiff is what he asked about. I have never been knocked off or uncomfortable or felt dangerous crossing water or on poling platform even with a person walking the gunale on my outlaw. You must not have spent much time on the bow or the platform of an outlaw. But shure a tank like a maverick hpx will do better as an open water boat as it was meant for.
A lot of people say they will be fishing marshes but the boat ramp is a mile away across open water. I had many boats in 30 years of living on a bayou in Florida and there is one thing for sure: everyone sooner or later pushes their boat to the limits.
 

Matanzas_marsh

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Completely agree, average run for me is 5 plus miles each way from ramp. Yes these flat bottom skiffs are a rough ride in the chop. Sometimes it's a slow rolly ride in. The water I like to fish a skiff like this is necessary , it's all a trade off.
 

karstopo

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I don’t know for sure where Joey Bagels fishes, but the closest saltwater to where he lives is Matagorda bay. Matagorda bay has wonderful, pristine, clear water, back lakes and marshes all along the south shorelines of the bay on the uninhabited Matagorda peninsula. Ideal area for a poling skiff. Trouble is crossing the expanse of the bay. No other way to those marshes but by boat. Don’t know it Joey is even thinking of those places with his skiff choice, but If he ever wants someone to push the boat around there sign me up.
 

Joey Bagels

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I don’t know for sure where Joey Bagels fishes, but the closest saltwater to where he lives is Matagorda bay. Matagorda bay has wonderful, pristine, clear water, back lakes and marshes all along the south shorelines of the bay on the uninhabited Matagorda peninsula. Ideal area for a poling skiff. Trouble is crossing the expanse of the bay. No other way to those marshes but by boat. Don’t know it Joey is even thinking of those places with his skiff choice, but If he ever wants someone to push the boat around there sign me up.
I’m actually thinking Matagorda and all points south. Plus winter trips to Louisiana now and then. My birthday’s the same day as Roy Barry’s, so it might be an annual thing to go chase bulls. “I want more life, fu—er!”
Regardless, crossing bays is always going to be a thing. Having done so in a kayak, doing it in a skiff, even at very slow speed, won’t be a concern for me. If the weather’s that bad, I won’t be out.
 

okaloosa

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Ridicuosly expensive but the Hells Bay Professional was the best all around shallow skiff that i felt comfortable crossing open water and still being able to pole in 5 inches with two big adults. Everyone says they will go slow crossing open water but not going on plane is hard when there is a mile or 3 between you and the fish.
 

bonefish41

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High end skiffs are like Asquiths...had to check perspective...checked the Corvette site...2021 Z-51 with all the go on it(but not all the show)came in at under 85 thousand, retail...the starting price of a base Chittum is 85 thousand...:)
 

karstopo

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I’m actually thinking Matagorda and all points south. Plus winter trips to Louisiana now and then. My birthday’s the same day as Roy Barry’s, so it might be an annual thing to go chase bulls. “I want more life, fu—er!”
Regardless, crossing bays is always going to be a thing. Having done so in a kayak, doing it in a skiff, even at very slow speed, won’t be a concern for me. If the weather’s that bad, I won’t be out.
I think the run from Port O’Connor up to the peninsula is maybe 2-3 miles, maybe a little more, across the open Matagorda bay. I flew over to the peninsula a few times and then used kayaks or waded. Also been over there in larger flats boats that can make the run easily. The prevailing SE wind wouldn’t be too bad a run though in a small skiff, but it be impossible to return if a cold front came blowing through. But once you get to the peninsula then maybe 5-6 miles run up that shoreline to around Greens bayou/Army Airport area. Working from there to the northeast is spectacular water full of sight fishing opportunities that may not get hammered with waders and traffic like the bay waters fringing outside. Don’t really know what range these boats typically get. I could spend weeks, day after day, fishing that area and never tire of it.

There’s always Espiritu Santo Bay there at Port O’Connor and that’s a more protected run to places like Pringle, Contee Lake etc., but I know your aversion for crowded fishing. Maybe the big freeze will drop off the traffic, but I have a feeling with all the new people in Texas these days this might be the worst summer ever for crowds, truly. Going to be really tough to find any solitude on the bays I do fear. Make croaker a gamefish and drop the limit to 1 or 2 and that might help, but that’s another discussion. But, I’m afraid to say Texas is on the cusp of seeing an exponential rise on people on the water. These super skinny skiffs might at least give you a shot at getting away from the crowds.

Seems like one with some extra range would be even better.
 

Joey Bagels

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Not that anyone cares, but as an update, there’s a couple of used skiffs here in Texas that are possible options. I am also exploring having a custom one built. Wait time is currently 6-7 months. So just in time for a possible Louisiana trip around the holidays. Still researching and pondering. There’s a lot going on in the skiff world these days!
 

brokeoff

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Not that anyone cares, but as an update, there’s a couple of used skiffs here in Texas that are possible options. I am also exploring having a custom one built. Wait time is currently 6-7 months. So just in time for a possible Louisiana trip around the holidays. Still researching and pondering. There’s a lot going on in the skiff world these days!
I care...
 

coloradowalt

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I'm here in NE Florida, and I put a down payment on an Ankona Native SUV 17. I've never had a technical poling skiff before, but after chasing reds and marsh hens here last fall on the flood tides I was hooked. I've spent a lot of time on Microskiff, fished on a Chittum and Egret, and I have a 18' Tracker Grizzly tiller (and a 23 Seacraft). I wanted something simple, stable (for a TPS), and able to cross the ICW. So for me the Native SUV 17 in a tiller configuration fits the bill, but I truly won't know until after a full season of fishing it.
 
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