The Hydrasports Custom 23 Bay Bolt does not come with a standard engine, which means you’re left to power your boat as you see fit up to a maximum of 300-hp. Not coincidentally, our test boat was powered by a Yamaha 300 four-stroke that took us to a top speed of 59.2 mph at 5900 rpm. At that speed we were burning 26.6 gph and getting 2.23 mpg for a range of 154 miles. Pulled back to a more economical 3000 rpm we were running at 26.8 mph with a 6.7 gph fuel burn. Now we were getting nearly four mpg for range of 277 miles.Our time to plane was 2.9 seconds and we were accelerating through 30 mph in 7.2 seconds.
The performance of the 23 Bay Bolt is about what you might expect a for shallow draft boat. You are not going to find deep-V hull performance and rough water capability in this boat, but what you will find is access to waters that most other boats would never even attempt. Given that the 23 Bay Bolt has a relatively flat bottom, when you start getting into rough water it can be a bit of a wet ride. However, operating in mild chop, which you might find in inshore waters, was no match for our test boat. We were pretty much able to skip right across the chop that we experienced on test day, and while it was a bumpy ride, it was a quick and efficient ride as well as dry.
As we were testing in a narrow protected run with a heavy current, and 25-30 mph winds, we were understandably unable to determine minimum trolling speeds, but did find little turbulence behind the Yamaha 300 four-stroke.Since the 23 Bay Bolt has a relatively flat bottom, I expected turning performance to be lackluster and uncontrolled. And yet again Hydrasports Custom proved me wrong. While I wouldn’t describe the turning performance of the 23 Bay as aggressive, I did find that the boat turned with authority and complete controllability in spite of the high winds and optional tower high above the center of gravity.
Operating in varying sea conditions at higher speeds from the tower can be a bit disconcerting, but that’s more of a personal observation. Certainly it is ideal for spotting and slowly easing up to bonefish or other species. Operating from the lower console left me without any trepidation about what the boat could handle, and handle well.
The Hydrasports Custom 23 Bay Bolt really is feature filled. Starting at the bow you have a massive casting platform which allows ample access all the way around the bow. Underneath the forward part of the platform is a large storage area that includes an indentation for securing your casting net’s 5 gallon bucket.
Just behind is a 15 gallon (56.8 L) aerated livewell colored blue, with all the edges rounded. To the sides are two very large fish boxes that double as storage compartments with flip out rod holders, three on each side, with two of the three being sufficient to hold 9’ (2.74 m) fly rods.
In true Hydrasports Custom fashion all hatches are back gelled, gasketed all the way around, supported by gas-assist struts, and secured with stainless steel hardware. In addition all the hatches are lockable, and keyed alike, so two keys can get the boat started and give you access to all the compartments. The hatch latches also have a small red dot to let you know when they are in the open position, so you are never spinning the latch in the wrong direction trying to get the hatch open. And all hatch covers have channels around the edges that direct water off the platform, onto the deck, and out the overboard drains.
Trolling Down the River
Understanding that sometimes boaters prefer to do some trolling, Hydrasports Custom built gunwales at the bow wide enough for mounting a trolling motor to either side without having it hang off the edges. The 23 Bay Bolt can come pre-rigged for having the trolling motor mounted to either side of the bow.
More Hydra-Sports Courtesy
Pretty much every center console has a cooler just ahead of the console with the seat cushion on it. The Hydrasports Custom 23 Bay Bolt is no different, but Hydrasports Custom does things a little differently and with a little more courtesy. Instead of a squared edge cooler, Hydrasports Custom fitted the boat with a half-round, Frigid Rigid cooler. Those rounded edges give you a little more room between the cooler and the dual fishboxes so that you can walk through and around the console. In fact it gives you 11” (27.9 cm) of clearance. When walking alongside the console, the nearly 9’ (2.74 m) beam really comes into play as you’ve got almost 2’10" (.86 m) of space between the console and the gunwales. This even allows for vertical rod holders on both sides of the console.
Behind the console is a very nicely laid out helm with two rows of rocker switches, and I always like to see circuit breakers under the switches which saves you having to stock your tool kit with fuses. Hydrasports Custom also supplied the 23 Bay Bolt with Yamaha’s new multifunction display. This feature lets you customize the screen allowing for a variety of different displays to suit your needs and desires. One great optional feature, that was included on our test boat, is the jack plate. Activating a switch at the helm allows you to bring the engine up vertically a full 6 inches, thereby decreasing your draft without changing the trim or running profile of the boat. This can all be done on the fly.
There is a flush mounted compass in the center of the panel. Its position allows room for a 12” (30.48 cm) display to the side, but its functionality leaves a lot to be desired. The compass card kept getting jammed which became irritating after only a few minutes. I fault Ritchie Compass for that feature as opposed to Hydrasports Custom, and an easy fix would be installing a GPS in conjunction with your 12” (30.48 cm) display, and incorporating your heading readout into that display. Mounting the compass on the top of the console is not an option if you plan on using the optional tower, which I highly recommend. In that case the top of the console becomes a standing platform for tower operation, negating the option of mounting the compass there.
Underneath the console is access to your batteries via a pull down door that lies against the deck. I thought this might be a little awkward to work on the batteries with this door in place and evidently Hydrasports Custom feels the same way. Just a simple push sideways releases the barrel hinges and the door removes allowing an unobstructed work area.There are still two changes I’d like to see made to the helm area. First is a recessed area added at the bottom of the console to put your feet into. I just couldn’t seem to get close enough to the helm. Secondly a flat footrest next to the rod holders on the sides of the console would be nice. The starboard side has one for accessing the tower. I would get a second from the dealer, and even mount it myself on the portside.
The Pump Room
A convenient feature found in every Hydrasports Custom boat is access to a pump room from the center of the cockpit deck. Opening the hatch gives you a clear view at a glance of your bilge pumps, livewell pumps, washdown pumps, and an unobstructed view of the bilge area. This is a great feature to have and I applaud Hydrasports Custom every time I see it.I also notice that the pickup line for the livewell aerator is fitted with a raw water strainer that easily unscrews for cleaning. This is an important feature. When operating in shallow water, it’s pretty much a given that you’re going to be picking up grass in your intakes and having a quick way to clean them out is important.
In the center of the aft casting platform is a 32 gallon livewell. Having this additional livewell not only allows you the ability to keep your bait accessible from both the bow and stern, but also provides you the flexibility to fish with multiple baits. To either side of the aft cockpit are compartments for Plano tackle drawers.
Above And Beyond
Our 23 Bay Bolt was fitted with an optional tower and I found it to be a great feature. Operating a boat this fast, from this elevated platform, makes you feel like a kid in a candy store. You won’t find sitting room in the tower but you will find a comfortable leaning post that is positioned just right to allow you easy access to the helm. Padded bolsters are all around, rocket launchers are aft, and a multifunction display gives you complete instrumentation. A flip down step on the starboard side of the console allows you easy access to the tower, and increases your visibility dramatically.
Hydrasports Custom is no stranger to fishing and they know that going after different species in different conditions may require customized features and the company stands ready to give the active angler exactly what he wants. In this way, the Hydrasports Custom 23 Bay Bolt can be used in many different location and perfectly suited for the application.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Hydrasports Custom 23 Bay Bolt (2013-) is 59.2 mph (95.3 kph), burning 26.6 gallons per hour (gph) or 100.68 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Hydrasports Custom 23 Bay Bolt (2013-) is 26.8 mph (43.1 kph), and the boat gets 3.99 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.7 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 277 miles (445.79 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 300-hp Yamaha four-stroke.
Standard and Optional Features
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!