A Tra­di­tional Fam­ily Boat Trans­forms into a Top-Notch Fish­ing Ma­chine

Sport Fishing - - FISH TRIALS -

BBos­ton Whaler’s Dauntless se­ries, which spans six mod­els rang­ing from 17 to 27 feet in length, built its rep­u­ta­tion with sta­ble, smooth-rid­ing hulls and cen­ter con­sole lay­outs that lend them­selves to a wide range of on-wa­ter ac­tiv­i­ties, from wa­ter­sports to day cruis­ing, as well as fish­ing. In a word, they’re ver­sa­tile.

Yet, as I stepped aboard the new 240 Dauntless Pro, I quickly sensed an em­pha­sis on an­gling.

The big­gest tip-off was the half tower, a stan­dard fea­ture on this model that in­cludes a sec­ond helm sta­tion and lean­ing pad. You won’t find this on any other Dauntless.

Whaler com­pletely re-en­gi­neered the cen­ter con­sole on this Pro edi­tion. As a re­sult, the pow­der-coated alu­minum tower frame for the hard­top and tower melds seam­lessly with the con­sole. Steps on the port side of­fer easy ac­cess for as­cend­ing the tower, and a SeaDek pad atop the cen­ter con­sole pro­vides cush­ioned non­skid foot­ing for the oc­cu­pant.


“The Dauntless has tra­di­tion­ally been a

jack-of-all-trades,” says Spencer Traynom, pro­gram man­ager for Bos­ton Whaler, who over­saw the team ef­fort to cre­ate this fish­ing-cen­tric 2018 model, which, by the way, helps com­mem­o­rate Bos­ton Whaler’s 60th an­niver­sary. “The 240 Dauntless Pro is def­i­nitely the ‘fishiest’ model in the Dauntless line,” Traynom points out.

To see just how fishy this model can be, Traynom and I headed out on a mid-Au­gust morn­ing into Florida’s Sara­sota Bay from the ma­rina at the Hy­att Re­gency Sara­sota. Join­ing us was local guide Capt. James Good­win, of Go Florida Fish­ing, to help us tar­get red­fish and seatrout, and Sport Fish­ing videog­ra­pher Christo­pher Balogh.

Be­fore we started fish­ing, how­ever, we jet­ted out into the Gulf through New Pass to cast-net for pilchards along the beaches of Long­boat Key. The ex­pan­sive, sta­ble for­ward cast­ing plat­form — mea­sur­ing 86 inches long by 65 inches wide — proved in­valu­able as Good­win scanned for bait schools from the bow while cradling the net.


“This is pri­mar­ily a bay boat,” Traynom said, point­ing to the 1-foot-2-inch draft, as well as the op­tional jack plate, trolling mo­tor and Power-Pole as ex­am­ples of key in­shore-fish­ing fea­tures.

In the next breath, Traynom al­luded to the fact that he has taken his own 240 Dauntless as far as 40 miles into the At­lantic Ocean off New Smyrna Beach, Florida, in pur­suit of mahi and tuna. While Traynom’s 240 is not the new Pro edi­tion, both boats ride on the same 24-foot-8-inch hull. Our tester sliced smoothly through the 2-foot rollers at the in­let — about the rough­est wa­ter we en­coun­tered on this Fish Trial.

Back to bait catch­ing. Good­win quickly spot­ted a dense school of pilchards in the clear shallows and un­furled the cast net. With one haul, he was able to plug the 38-gal­lon livewell un­der the aft cast­ing plat­form. He stowed his net in a five-gal­lon bucket in the huge cen­tral locker un­der the fore­deck, flanked by two equally cav­ernous lock­ers. A sec­ondary livewell is lo­cated un­der the for­ward con­sole seat.


The aft deck rep­re­sents an­other dis­tinc­tive fea­ture of the 240 Dauntless Pro. It dis­penses with the aft ridge found on the reg­u­lar 240, ef­fec­tively ex­pand­ing the deck and elim­i­nat­ing a pos­si­ble trip­ping point while fish­ing. Trays on both sides pro­vide places to stash loose tackle items like hooks and sinkers. Seat cush­ions and back­rests can fit on the aft deck to cre­ate a pair of seats.

We headed back into the bay and north to fish a spot known as Long Bar that Good­win be­lieved would hold red­fish and trout. The sin­gle Mer­cury 350 Ver­ado out­board loped along at


4,000 rpm, push­ing the Dauntless to 29 mph in the 1-foot fol­low­ing seas.


I loved driv­ing this boat from the tower. The cutout in the hard­top and lean­ing pad are both con­toured to wrap around the helms­man. A bench seat lets you sit down and use a cross brace on the hard­top as a footrest. From the el­e­vated po­si­tion, you can read­ily spot schools of red­fish but also see shal­low ar­eas to avoid. Han­dling proved out­stand­ing as I weaved through the chan­nels. The Ver­ado power steer­ing made turn­ing fin­ger­tip-easy.

An op­tional flush­mounted Ray­ma­rine 7-inch Ax­iom Pro of­fered ac­cess to sonar and chart plot­ting in the tower to help guide the way. I also found sec­ondary con­trols for the trim tabs and jack plate. A pair of for­ward an­gled rod hold­ers flank the helm so you can par­tic­i­pate in the fish­ing ac­tion from on high, while a pair of drink hold­ers en­sures you stay hy­drated while aloft.

The main helm on the re­designed con­sole fea­tured an op­tional flush­mounted 9-inch Ax­iom Pro and a pair of Merc SmartCraft mul­ti­func­tion gauges. There’s a tem­pered-glass wind­shield, and you can or­der an op­tional clear vinyl en­clo­sure for com­plete pro­tec­tion on chilly days.

A helm bench seat with a back­rest fea­tures two flip-up bol­sters and a fold­out footrest on the pow­der-coated alu­minum frame. A Yeti Tundra 65 cooler stows un­der­neath. A sec­ond footrest at the base of the con­sole lets you brace your­self while seated.

In­side the con­sole, ac­ces­si­ble from a com­pan­ion­way on the star­board side, is a step-down com­part­ment with a port light and plenty of room for a por­ta­ble marine toi­let.


Once we reached the spot, Good­win de­ployed the Mo­torGuide trolling mo­tor to move stealth­ily along the edge of the bar. “There they are,” he said. The dark sil­hou­ettes of red­fish cruised 75 feet off the star­board bow in the 2 feet of wa­ter that cov­ered the bar.

Good­win used the re­mote con­trol for the Power-Pole to set the shal­lowwa­ter an­chor, then filled his bait launcher (a fat plas­tic base­ball bat with the end cut off at an an­gle) with pilchards and flung them in the di­rec­tion of the red­fish.

A quick cast into the mid­dle of the chum­mers pro­duced an in­stant hookup for Good­win. As he bat­tled the red to­ward the stern, I noted the short step on both the fore­deck and aft deck, the 21-inch-high gun­wales in the main cock­pit, and wide walk­ways be­side the con­sole — all of which make it easy to work a fish around the boat. Within min­utes, the fish was boat­side, and we re­leased it after a few photos.

Good­win’s bat­tle with the red­fish seemed to spook the school­mates, but a school of seatrout quickly moved in to pick up the slack. As we cast and caught and re­leased trout from the fore­deck, Traynom pointed out that the 240 Dauntless Pro is not with­out fam­ily com­fort. “For ex­am­ple, with op­tional pads and back­rests, this fore­deck can be con­verted into a lounge area,” he ex­plained.


Even­tu­ally the tide slacked, sig­nal­ing the time to rack the sticks in the hard­top rod hold­ers and run per­for­mance num­bers. With four adult males, 80 gal­lons of fuel and 38 gal­lons of livewell wa­ter, the Ver­ado 350, turn­ing an En­er­tia 18-inch-pitch three-blade stain­less-steel pro­pel­ler, vaulted the boat to plane in five sec­onds, reach­ing 30 mph in 12 sec­onds.

The 240 Dauntless Pro posted a top speed of 48 mph at 6,200 rpm, where the en­gine con­sumed 31 gph for 1.55 mpg. The op­ti­mal cruis­ing speed oc­curred at 4,000 rpm and 25.5 mph, where the 350 burned 11.5 gph for 2.2 mpg.

To­day, an in­creas­ing num­ber of se­ri­ous fish­ing ma­chines are lean­ing to­ward a softer side to add ap­peal for nonan­gling fam­ily mem­bers. But it’s nice to see the Whaler 240 Dauntless Pro go the op­po­site di­rec­tion by adding se­ri­ous fish­ing fea­tures to a hull that’s al­ready a fa­vorite among fam­i­lies ev­ery­where.

Bos­ton Whaler’s new 240 Dauntless Pro of­fers a host of an­gling fea­tures, mak­ing it the most fish­ing-friendly model in the Dauntless se­ries.

Whaler de­signed a new cen­ter con­sole for the 240 Dauntless Pro that seam­lessly in­te­grates the hard­top and tower. A sec­ondary livewell re­sides un­der the for­ward seat.

As Capt. James Good­win demon­strates here, the ex­pan­sive for­ward cast­ing deck on the 240 Dauntless Pro makes it easy to run an elec­tric trolling mo­tor and catch fish, such as red­fish and spot­ted seatrout (left).

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