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Any opinions on mid '90s Sportcraft Hardtop Fishmaster (23')

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I'm getting into Great Lakes fishing and have been looking at boats for the past few months. Found a '96 Sportcraft model (see title) for about $15K. Low hours (~350), Volvo 5.7 V8 I/O, Volvo outdrive with dual prop. New Lowrance GPS and Furona Fish finder. Doesn't come with much fishing gear. After looking at pictures and talking to the owner, everything appears to be in excellent condition.

I'm wondering if anyone has any advice/opinions on this brand of boat and motor combination. Good boat? How's it handle rough water? Anything I should be wary of with that particular model?

Also, it doesn't have a kicker motor so would putting a trolling plate on the outdrive be worth it until I could get a kicker (1-2 years)?

Thanks in advance for any info.

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Sportcrafts can be good boats, but they have also had problems with stringers going bad. Get some history on the boat -- more important if it was ever slipped. I'd probably get it surveyed to make sure it is good shape. Typically Sportcrafts are not the fanciest boat but if your intention is for fishing they are well suited for that.

The only complaint I have heard about the Sportcraft hardtop is that they can act as a sail at times catching the wind. Overall with our fickle Great Lakes weather you will end up appreciating having it in spring, fall, and rain.

As for the trolling plate, get a pair of trolling bags instead. In addition to slowing the boat and keeping the engine RPMs up a little for charging, they help keep the boat stable in rougher conditions by holding the boat down.

For that size hull I'd check to see if there are trim-tabs. They will help you plane out sooner (at lower RPMs) and make keeping the boat level in when angling across waves onn plane or trolling. They also will let you level the boat if you have an uneven load on board.

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I have a 2001 Sportcraft and really like it. Mine's a soft top but I know one of the complaints on the hard tops is that they are only around 6' tall so taller guys tend to hit their heads. Any boat can be good or bad depending on how well it was taken care of so I would highly recommend a survey. It will cost a couple hundred dollars but it is money well spent in the long run. Mark Veurink was very helpful to me when I bought my boat, here is his website: http://www.teamreelaction.com/index.php

Other than that Sportcrafts can be very good boats, you see a lot of them on Lake Erie and I see quite a few around on Lake Michigan. Good luck in your boat search and feel free to come back with any other questions you have.

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I've always liked the sportscrafts for fishing boats.

I second the sea anchors vs. spending money on a trolling plate.

The sea anchors go out almost every trip on our boat (and most others I ride on).

They stabalize the boat, keep in in the water during heavy waves, help turning, etc etc.

Many good comes from fishing with bags.

One of my favorite things about the sportscraft ist he wide open back and large gun walls, GREAT for traxstech. I'd put track on the entire back and LOAD it up with rod holders.

MUST have a survey - I would not buy a boat for that kind of money without a survey.

You are about to enter the most exciting part of fishing addiction (IMO) setting up a new boat.

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I was all for getting a survey on anything I've owned. The last time I had one surveyed the guy really didn't do anything at all and charged me a ridiculous price. IMHO, unless the bank or insurance requires a survey, get someone you trust, has the knowledge, has the tools, and the knowledge to use the tools (i.e.moisture meter) to look it over for you. I've known several people that have had surveys and the surveyor never opened the bilge because in their disclaimer it relinquishes them of said duty. Best of luck to you, if your near Grand Blanc area and I can help you out just shoot over a pm.

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