I’ll be honest: When I was first invited to Petoskey, MI, to run all sorts of bass and multispecies fishing boats tipped with engines from Yamaha’s new, expanded VMAX SHO lineup, it seemed like just another boat test gig. But then they asked if I’d be up for some light-tackle fishing for smallmouth bass on Lake Michigan’s crystal-clear waters. “Sign me up,” I said.
Luckily for you and, well, for me, the event provided the opportunity to run one of Skeeter’s finest multispecies boats, the MX 2025. It’s a boat, as the name suggests, that is designed to target open water species such as walleye and lake trout, as well as skinnier-water fare that includes, among other critters, smallmouth, pickerel, and muskies. The unpredictable Lake Michigan weather gave me the opportunity to run the boat in calm and rough conditions, and in both deep and shallow water.
Freshwater fishing is in Skeeter’s DNA. The company virtually invented the bass boat in 1948 with a pointy-nosed 13 footer that had the look of a mosquito, hence the “Skeeter” moniker. Today the company builds bass, bay, and multispecies boats from 19 to 24 feet in length. The MX 2025 sits alongside its sister ship, the MX1825, as part of what Skeeter calls its “Deep-V” lineup. They’re both targeted at fisheries like ones on the Great Lakes. One day you might be using a trolling motor to crawl over the shoreside shallows for spawning smallmouth bass, while the next you’re trolling deep for walleye out in open water.
The first order of the day was to crawl around on deck and check out the MX 2025’s fishing features, which are abundant. The aft casting deck is extremely generous, with a 32-gallon aerated livewell and two large tackle stowage compartments cleverly concealed beneath its carpeted surface. Additionally, there are two sturdy aluminum bases where you can pop in a couple of comfy pedestal-mount fishing chairs. Moving forward, there is a lockable stowage compartment on the port side of the cockpit that the Skeeter tells me can accept six rods up to 12 feet in length. Two lockable stowage compartments with more than enough room for a few tackle organizers and other miscellaneous gear are situated on the port side of the cockpit, behind the helm.
Cockpit seating includes two captain’s chairs behind the tall wraparound windshield, with bases for two more pedestal chairs behind them. A feature that I liked was the cockpit carpeting, which can be removed in a snap, thanks to... snaps. It’s a nice feature if you plan to fish in nasty or wet weather, or when you’ve got an inkling that things could get messy with lots of fish on deck. Lucky you. By the way, this boat sparkles, with lots of flash added to its gelcoat. That may, or may not, suit your taste.
The forward casting deck features even more rod stowage via a locker in the centerline deck, which is flanked by more tackle stowage and yet another aerated livewell. Having a redundant livewell, as well as duplicate tackle and rod stowage, isn’t a gimmick. It means anglers don’t have to shuffle past each other to get gear or bait when the fishing action is hot. If you’ve ever fished a dual-console or similar boat under 20 feet in length, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Rounding out the forward casting platform is a base that accepts a standard pedestal-mount fishing chair, as well as the foot controls for a bow-mounted Minn Kota trolling motor.
You’re probably wondering about fish-finding gadgets and gizmos. Skeeter has provided space both at the helm, and up on the forward casting deck for pedestal-mount fish finding gear. Several electronics options from Lowrance and Humminbird are available. If you can’t catch fish with this boat, you’re not living right.
One of the reasons Yamaha featured the MX 2025 at the Petoskey event is because it provided the opportunity to show off its brand-spanking-new 250-horsepower, four-stroke VMAX SHO outboard with 25-inch shaft. Up until last fall, the VMAX SHO 250 was only available with a 20-inch shaft, and that limited their penetration into the multispecies and pontoon boat segments.
As I fired up the 4.2-liter big-bore V6 and ran the MX2025 out of the small-craft harbor in Petoskey, I was struck by not just how quiet it was, but also by how little vibration it produced. And when it came to putting the beans to it, the VMAX SHO 250 responded, in spades. I was able to punch the throttle and launch the MX 2025 quickly up into the mid 30-mph range in about seven or eight seconds, further pushing the boat all the way up to around 54 mph, where the engine burned about 23 gph.
A good cruise speed for this boat and engine setup is around 27.4 mph, where fuel consumption is only 6.3 gph. With the 51-gallon fuel tank, that means you’ll enjoy 222 miles worth of smallmouth-seeking cruising range. A Yamaha F300 four-stroke outboard is an option.
By the time the afternoon rolled around and a cold front had passed through with heavy rain, 15 knots of breeze had kicked up quite a chop on Little Traverse Bay. And Little Traverse Bay seems anything but “little” when a west wind howls across it, thanks to about 40 miles of unimpeded fetch—a perfect opportunity to see how well the MX 2025 behaved in the steep, two-foot chop. The good news is that the ride was relatively dry and predictable for an open boat of this size, aside from a few large sheets of spray that made their way inside. The boat also exhibited excellent tracking with very little bow steering at all speeds.
The not-so-good news is that the Skeeter hull does produce some banging despite its sharp entry, mainly because of a fairly flat aft running section, but it wasn’t so bad as to be a deal-breaker.
One thing Skeeter really wants me to tell you about is its React Keel. The “keel” is an approximately four-foot long appendage on the bow that runs aft and is designed to increase tracking stability, especially when drifting, but also when using a trolling motor, or when trolling with the primary outboard or a kicker. I had a chance to see how it worked when Yamaha Pro Angler Robert Blosser took me and a few other boating journalists smallmouth fishing off Harbor Springs, MI.
While we were sight-fishing for smallmouth bass in calm waters that were only six to eight feet deep, a booming west wind should have made life difficult for the Minn Kota trolling motor on the bow, especially given the added windage of four guys onboard. The wind tried its best to throw our bow around—but it never really was able to make things untenable. Additionally, the boat tracked really well underway, and during slow-speed maneuvers, such as when docking or pulling up to a T-head. While I can’t scientifically say that Skeeter’s React Keel was the reason for all the good tracking, a competitor’s multispecies boat I ran that same day wasn’t so nimble in the same regard.
Our boat got skunked on the picky, pre-spawn smallmouth bass that were swimming around Little Traverse Bay that day, but another Skeeter boat that fished with us slayed them, catching several five to six-pounders up in the shallow water. When it comes to lake and river fishing, the Skeeter MX 2025 means sayonara for smallmouth... and just about any other fish that swims.
Other Choices: A couple of other great boats you should check out, if you're in the multispecies market, are the Tracker Targa V-20 WT and the Princecraft Xperience 188.
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|Fuel capacity||51 gal.|