“How about we blast out to Penguin Shoals for a fish?” Offered Ryan Carmichael, Sales Manager for Tauranga’s Master Tech Marine. This guy is talking my language, I thought. A brand-new boat, the Buccaneer 565 Billfisher, pushed by a sweet engine package in the Suzuki DF115A, heading out a to fishing spot I was yet to visit.
No worries Ryan, I’ll see you at the Sulphur Point boat ramp at 7.30am.
Throwing together a collection of cool stuff to fish with is never a problem in our office so I soon had a pair of Shimano rods and reels - a Chronarch 150HG on a Revolution rod and a Curado 200HG on an Ocea rod - a few Butterfly jigs and a new colour Gulp Squid Vicious softbait in the truck ready to go.
565 Mark Three
Billfisher 565 is glass boat builder Buccaneer’s latest fishy rendition of its popular and practical 565 EXESS XL and 565 Classic XL Cabin Wide Body.
The Billfisher is essentially the same boat as the other two from the keel up to the gunwales. It differs somewhat in the internals and gets a reasonably comprehensive fisherman’s makeover in other places.
Without going into long-winded detail you get a spacious and stable working platform with a decent compliment of rod holders – there’s four in the teak covering boards, six overhead in the rocket launcher, two more at a handy level halfway up the side poles and another couple up front in a very fishable bow well.
The main cabin area stands out, ergonomically set out with enough handholds for comfort and safety. It is easily enclosed with zip and dome clears and there’s plenty of shelter from the rain without encroaching on the casting space to the rear.
On this day we didn’t utilise the twin bucket seats underway, instead choosing to stand upright enjoying the expansive Tauranga Harbour and Mount Manganui views.
The driver’s side featured a Garmin Echomap70s and a very nice Garmin engine monitoring system. This is the boat’s standard package and is included in the $67,750 introductory special but other preferences and upgrades can be catered to if desired.
Although the Billfisher 565 is bigger than it sounds at 5.90 metres overall the full length bunks in the forward cabin still surprise. It’s nice to know an extended overnight cruise is not out of the question especially with a substantial 165 litres of fuel sitting under the floor beckoning the adventurous.
High and Dry
For me the highlights of Billfisher 565 are its ride and its immediately apparent good looks, due in part to quality factory mouldings - a Buccaneer trademark.
The day Ryan and I chose for our fish/test to the Penguin Shoals would have proved a challenging one on a lesser boat. The remnants of a ground swell from the North Island’s recent mother-of-all-storms pushed under a slowly building easterly breeze. With the weather forecast to rapidly deteriorate in the afternoon we had no choice but to get cracking.
And get cracking we did sitting on 23 knots into the swell and beam-on to the rising wind slop. That not a single drop of spray came through the windscreen on the journey out is testament to the soft ride of the hull and the built-in spray deflecting devices. In my experience only the best hulls stay dry in a beam sea.
The Suzuki DF115A is an impressive unit. Running at pace past The Mount and out to sea the motor demonstrated the features the company’s products are well known for – quietness and fuel efficiency.
Sitting on 4500 rpm we were able to chat easily over its muted drone while Ryan explained that like a fine wine Suzuki engines get better with age, becoming even smoother and more frugal after about 20 hours of running in.
Suzuki has long focused on fuel efficiency and environmental responsibility - two factors that go hand-in-hand. The release of its Lean Burn Control system a few years ago had the company leading the way on this front and it has continued to refine things since. For fuel burn figures it is worth visiting Suzukimarine.com.au
Suzuki engines also have a reputation for class leading reliability. When quizzed on the topic Ryan explained that with all the Suzi’s Master Tech Marine has put on transoms less than a handful have ever come back with an issue. Personally I can’t recall hearing about a single fault and I’ve driven more than 30 boats with these power plants on the back.
Once at the shoals a quick reconnaissance with the Garmin unit revealed bait balls and what looked to be kingfish marks on the steeper side of the small bank. Ryan’s impressive mechanical jigging technique produced an instant result with a small king quickly subdued and released. I was impressed with the little Buccaneer’s stability as the two us leaned over the side sorting the fish out.
While it appeared we were in for a solid session that turned out to be the first, and last kingi we would see as almost immediately the tide started turning and the marks vanished.
Changing to the snapper rods we rigged up one with a purple and gold Butterfly jig and the other with a more traditional bottom ship-style jig.
In 70m of water and without an adequate sea-anchor we were pushing the limits of this style of fishing in 10 to 12 knots of breeze. Never the less we persevered with a range of lures and softbaits, most of which produced fish. On this day the Butterfly jig was easily the most productive; catching snapper, golden snapper, pink mao mao and kahawai.
With dinner well sorted and the breeze building we pointed the Billfisher 565 back to the harbour 12 nautical miles distant.
It is always my preference to conduct a boat and engine test in this manner - a decent day out on the water in a mixture of conditions. Even so, given the weather forecast and the relatively modest size of the boat I had been a little apprehensive about this one.
I needn’t have been. The Buccaneer Billfisher 565 rides as good as she looks. At no stage during the run, which included building white caps and a decent slop around the entrance of The Mount, did we need to slow beneath 19 knots. In fact most of the time we sat on 23 to 24 knots. For a while I suction cupped a Go-Pro camera to the outside of the hull and was never concerned about it bouncing off.
As a package with the Suzuki DF115A, the Garmin kit and the single axel Enduro trailer the current price offers great value in an easily managed and maintained boat with excellent build quality. Serious fishos will want to add a few more bolt-on features; bait boards, a quality windlass, maybe an electronics upgrade – but to get rolling and catch a few fish today this boat is ready to go.