1866 Bass and Bay Center Console for 2009
By Capt. Rob Smith
I tested this model the previous year and my only real suggestion was to add a seat since I was rather uncomfortable standing for long periods of time and figured you, as a fisherman, might also find the same thing. Well, Smoker Craft listens to its customers and others. This year, the biggest difference is the addition of a seat which I really appreciate. Of course, there were a few other changes. Let’s review.
This is an all welded design with no-wood construction that can take the beating of real use in the shallows, yet you can slip it off the trailer again without worrying about the fact that you bumped a hidden rock putting into the swim mode. Endurance, performance, and stocking up on game are what this rig is all about.
New on the stern
Across the stern is another minor change that could be significant for some. It used to have an open design without a stern platform. Now, you have about 30” and nearly the width of the beam as a platform to stand on or to add a fishing seat for casting while seated. Stepping from starboard to port, I felt like the boat maintained good stability, enough that I could switch sides casting and not put myself or my fishing partner in the drink. This platform also shades the batteries which will help protect them from inadvertent damage or contact (if you forget to use a battery box and lid!) and keeps them out of harsh sunlight and rain.
New at the center console
As I said, I am happy with the addition of the helm seat. Choosing to have this seat adds room for a carry-on cooler nested below, and with a flip-flop seat back design you can relax while keeping watch over the stern of the boat. The helm itself is the same fiberglass pod design from last year. Most builders will make this out of welded aluminum, but this design saves weight and looks nicer.
Gunwales and deck
The gunwales are wide enough to use as a step onboard and you could add some trolling gear if you really needed it. There is an aluminum tray about halfway down where you can toss some loose tackle or other small gear. Smoker Craft put a vinyl edging on it to protect your gear and your hands from cuts. Three rods can be stored under the gunwales in racks.
The deck on the 1866 Bass and Bay really stands out from most of its competition. Rather than a welded aluminum deck, which understandably is utilitarian and easy to care for, or plywood that increases potential sources of rot, the American Angler 1866 Bass and Bay has a composite deck that should last a lifetime. Underneath the deck is the centerline fuel tank keeping the weight better distributed, part of the reason this rig handled so well.
On the bow
The bow raised deck is always helpful. It gets you up to see the fish better or to peer over a blind and scan the area. The 1866 has a bow deck area that covers 66” by 76”. In the center is a base to add a casting chair if you feel you need it. To encourage more fishing in the southern climates, the builder includes a pre-rigged trolling motor connection.
The overall length of the 1866 Bass and Bay is 18’. She has a beam of 7’10” and a dry weight of 980 lbs. without the engine. The family vehicle (if it is designed for towing) will certainly be able to tow this rig to most any spot you want to launch from. Bottom and side gauge aluminum is 0.100 gauge. Interior freeboard is 24” maximum depth in the cockpit. Maximum capacity is 1400 lbs. and maximum rated horsepower is 80. She carries 18 gallons of fuel in her centerline fuel tank.
The 1866 Bass and Bay was far more comfortable to me with the seat, as I continue to point out. If you want to maximize room onboard and don’t mind standing while driving, then opt out of the seat. When driving, the only thing I really noticed other than good handling was that my arms tired after awhile. Small engines don’t normally offer hydraulic steering, so if you are used to it like I am, you notice it when you don’t have it. When I made sharp turns, the only slip I noticed was if I forgot to throttle back or trim down a bit, both things you should do before making hard-over turning maneuvers. She is up on plane in 2.7 seconds like a flats boat should be, and hitting 30 mph in 6.5 seconds, but a more reasonable cruising speed is around 18 mph, allowing you to conserve fuel so you can stay out longer.
Smoker Craft, the parent company, targeted a rig that was more widely applicable. It has performed well in the northern areas. With the addition of another casting platform at the stern, she is also a rig that can work the southern areas and coastal bays. Simple, smart and performs well. Other than coming pre-stocked with bait, what more could you ask for?