by Dom Wiseman

The water surged up the ramp as the sun started peeking over the horizon. Clear skies framed the tiny glaring orange dot in the distance while a very light offshore breeze tickled my skin as I stood next to the larger than expected white, orange and grey Sea Doo Fish Pro. A southerly had been and gone the night before, whisking away the cold waters brought by the nor’ easterly winds of the previous few days. This is what fishermen call perfect conditions, and next to me is the latest fishing dream from the design minds of Sea Doo, a purpose-built, personal water craft that takes all the things we love about PWCs and adds more fishing capability than most of us would ever need.

Sea Doo Fish Pro

While in Australia there is a small but loyal following for offshore and inshore fishing out of personal watercraft, large manufacturers have generally stayed away from dedicated, factory fitted, fishing versions until now. This is a world first and it is a very competent first effort. It is clear Sea Doo see a large market for this fishing specific craft, and they have certainly put in the time to understand what anglers need and what makes a good PWC fishing platform.

In New Zealand, this market is more advanced, courtesy of their conditions, so Sea Doo joined forces with New Zealander Andrew Hill, who has been riding, fishing and customising PWCs for over 10 years. The end result is impressive.

With this collaboration, once again, Sea Doo have changed the face of the category and much like when they added the entry level Spark to the range, have probably started a completely new segment within the PWC category itself.

WHAT YOU GET

The Sea Doo Fish Pro is built on the popular ST3 hull which sits underneath the RXT, GTX Limited and another task specific platform, the Wake Pro. But, unlike those craft, the hull carries an extended platform, adding 30 centimetres to the rear of the craft. This allows the addition of the esky/fish box and, if you choose, an additional 15 litre spare fuel container that adds up to considerable mileage when combined with the onboard 70 litre fuel tank.

The brilliant esky/fish box is expertly designed and is a custom piece made for Sea Doo. It is attached to the Fish Pro using the innovative LinQ system. Lift up clips in the hull allow the box to be placed over the top of them with a lever on the box’s underside securing it in place. The spare fuel can operates the same way. Sea Doo claim the cooler lid stays open, and while I have seen videos showing it doing just that, my experience was that it doesn’t always stay open in choppy offshore conditions. It would, however, be an easy fix with a small fitting inside the esky that will lock the lid in place.

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It comes with a great storage pouch on the front which is easy to get at and can hold things like knives, pliers, plastics, leader etc when you are fishing alone. When two up, which the craft is more than capable of, the guy at the back will be constantly passing things up front and that’s why I would add an additional plier/knife holder somewhere accessible to the driver.

The esky also serves as a pseudo rocket launcher with multiple locations for rods to be stowed. On either side you can have two rod holders positioned straight up and down. Alternatively, you can move them to the front of the cooler box on an angle for trolling. They are a simple clip-in clip-out set up which can be performed while on the water. Like any PWC, spray is an issue, and this extended platform on the Fish Pro does throw a bit of that all over your reels while underway.

The top of the box lid is finished in a non-slip Eva foam. Bait fishing may require the addition of a wooden or plastic insert.

The extra length allows the additions of these crucial fishing elements, but also makes this craft insanely stable either fishing alone or with two on board.

Up front the Fish Pro comes with a waterproof recess for mobile phones and wallets while the entire front section including handlebars lifts on struts, giving the driver incredible access to an enormous 100 litre storage area. EPIRBs and the like can be secured to the underside of the lid, leaving more room for fishing gear below. Immediately in front of the driver is a tackle organiser which allows fishermen to store tackle boxes at their fingertips. I had the Lowrance handheld VHF radio in one mesh pouch and tackle boxes in the other. The rest of my gear was secured in a dry bag. This storage area is crucial when you consider the safety gear that you must carry in addition to your fishing equipment.

It would be remiss to not mention the key to any fishing operation, the factory fitted Garmin plotter/sounder. This is a neat little unit that makes any fishing experience that much easier. The unit sits where the side mirror would usually be on the starboard side of the craft. One minor issue I have with that is that you must take your hand off the throttle to make any use of the functions while underway. It is for safety reasons, no doubt.

Sea Doo Fish Pro

One thing I would add is a forward rod holder. I’m not quite sure how I would go about fitting one exactly, but a RAM mount or Railblaza mount would more than likely do the job. It’s only an issue if you are fishing with another person and being able to turn around and reach the rod holders at the rear isn’t an option.

We also had the optional sound system fitted and while I rarely listen to music while fishing, I understand the appeal.

POWER

The Sea Doo Fish Pro is powered by the stock, naturally aspirated Rotax engine. This is not the supercharged version found on some other models but still gives a good account of itself. It sits on a three-cylinder platform and produces 155 hp. In all reality operating offshore fuel efficiency is the key, so the supercharged engine probably won’t appear on this platform.

The fuel tank onboard is 70 litres versus the standard 60 litres on other craft, and with an extra 15L available in the spare tank, it gives this craft better range than almost any PWC on the market. In mixed use inshore and offshore, cruising and some wide-open throttle, we achieved close to 180 kilometres before we had to refuel.

With two onboard with a few crab pots, we were pulling 85 kilometres per hour down the river and back making it a fast and efficient way to chase these tasty crustaceans.

ON THE WATER

This ST3 hull is widely used across the range and provides an excellent base for the Fish Pro. With the extended length the stability is incredible and suitable for both inshore and offshore use. I fished one and two up and even did some crabbing on the mid north coast and not once did I feel anywhere close to slipping into the water.

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The top of the hull is finished with a slanted angle which is purposefully designed and makes for a comfortable position to put your feet on while winding in fish sitting side on.

While that is great from a stationary point of view, the ride is also excellent. Offshore the hull seems to slice through chop with ease, the pump spends much less time out of the water than other craft and it rides with a slight nose up attitude which means you do not get as wet as some other hulls. A very competent machine for offshore anglers.

The Fish Pro also comes with a fishing must have, trolling mode. It is easy to engage and works like a cruise control in that you can adjust speed one kilometre at a time up to 10 kilometres. This means you are not going to get fatigued as you drag some lures around.

ON THE TRAILER

A single axle trailer will set you back around $3,000 from a dealer bringing the buy price beyond the 20k mark combined. That said, you can tow one of these with any vehicle and depending on where you are launching, it could be easier than a boat.
OVERVIEW

There’s not much more you would need to add to the Fish Pro straight away to get out fishing. No doubt, you could buy a small tinnie for this kind of money, but some launch sites and bar crossings will simply be much easier in a PWC. After using one during a mid-north coast holiday, I’m already more than convinced of their abilities. I had a ball heading out in the mornings, backing down a difficult ramp, riding out of a small creek and through a point break littered with surfers, then running 20 kilometres to get to the snapper spots. Something that would be difficult, at best, in my tinnie.

POSITIVES

Smooth ride

LinQ system

NEGATIVES

No front rod holder

Water spray on your gear

NUMBERS THAT MATTER

Price: $19,199 with Garmin EchoMap Plus 62cv fish finder, 51L cooler box, extended rear platform, storage bin organiser, 4x rod holders (excludes trailer and registration)

Construction: Fibreglass

Length Overall: 3.73m

Beam: 1.25m

Weight on trailer: 700kgs (approx. est)

Engine: Three-cylinder Rotax

Fuel Capacity: 70 litres Recommended Fuel: 95 RON. You can run E10 according to the manufacturer’s specs