The Everglades 243 is simply the best multi-purpose (lake, bay, nearshore, offshore) boat on the market.  It is extremely stable, handles the chop like a big center console, solid as a rock, and is unsinkable.  It's got high gunwales for a bay boat, a huge safety facor for kids (and dogs).  And it's very family friendly with plenty of comfortable seating forward and aft.

The Wide Open II is the fishing machine that's featured on The Nuts & Bolts of Fishing television series.   We looked long and hard for the perfect boat to use on the TV shows, and although it's impossible to find a boat that can do it all, our Everglades 243 is as close as it gets.   She is equally comfortable on the flats or offshore, and has plenty of room for us to carry all the fishing tackle, me and Buck, our guest anglers, Johnny our cameraman and all of his gear.   Stable, dry and she looks really good on the water.  And like all Everglades boats, the 243 is built like a tank and unsinkable, without sacrificing any of the creature comforts.    

The first thing most folks notice, after they get over the striking lines of the hull and the great graphics, is the tower.   The Wide Open II has a full second helm to give us a true bird's-eye view of the water.  It's ideal for spotting schools of baitfish and sight-casting to cruising fish.  A couple other neat features of the 243...first, the leaning post, which rotates to form a very comfortable seat.  And the Yeti cooler is mounted to a sliding rail, providing easy access to the cooler, and it slides securely under the leaning post when you don't need it, opening up the entire aft cockpit for fishing.

The power behind the Wide Open II is Honda's BF250 outboard.   Super quiet.  Super dependable. Super responsive. And extremely fuel efficient.  It's fast out of the hole, and we can cruise at 33mph burning just under 10gph.   Lay the throttle down, and we can blast across the water at 52 mph.  With Honda's new digital controls, we have fly-by-wire control from the main helm or the upper helm position.

To get her to the next boat ramp, we selected the Magic Tilt Twin Axle Aluminum Trailer with disc brakes.  It pulls great going down the road and the disc brakes provide excellent stopping power.

And this boat is equipped with an abundance of goodies for fishing and navigation.  

The Lowrance HDS system has their latest HDS-12 Gen2 Touchscreen display.  And it's networked with Lowrance's StructureScan HD imaging sonar for unbelievable pictures of what's down below.  The 4G Broadband Radar offers superb detail and ranging up to 24 miles, plus there's no harmful radiation emissions.   And the GoFree WiFi on board allows me to wirelessly connect my iPad to the system as a second, fully-functional unit at the upper helm station.  For navigation, Navionics Platinum+ cartography keeps us on course with superior mapping detail and functionality.

One of the most-used additions to our electronics package is SiriusXM Marine Weather.   It's directly interfaced to the HDS system and provides contemporary weather information including weather overlays showing storm systems, wind speed and direction, sea temperatures, lightning strikes, storm cell height/speed, and much more...right on the display.  We get graphical NOAA weather bulletins, and can set alarm ranges for inclement weather.  

In skinny water, we've come to really love the new 10' Blade from Power-Pole.  No more dropping and hauling an anchor.   We can stay put in up to 8-10 feet of water, and it truly holds the boat.  We've installed the C-Monster app and can control the Blade from our smart phones.  It's also got their unique halyard system so we can use the Power-Pole as an additional downrigger set-up when trolling.  

For deeper water trolling, it's Scotty Downriggers all the way.  We have a pair of Scotty High Performance electric downriggers and can put baits down to precisely where we want in the water column.  And when it's time to bring them up, one button push brings the ball up to just beneath the water's surface, preventing it from swinging around to bang into the hull.  Quick-attach pedestals allow us to easily add or remove them from the gunwale.  And when the fish are all holding deep, we can add a third...the Scotty manual downrigger is mounted on a rod holder bracket that fits into a gimbal mount.  So we have the entire water column covered.

Up front, we installed MinnKota's 101 36v trolling motor with iPilot.   It takes a lot of trolling motor horsepower to pull this big boat around, and the 101 can do it.  Plus with iPilot feature, we can plot a course and the MinnKota will keep us on it.   Find the fish...and the Anchor Lock function will keep us on the spot.   Good stuff!

For communications, we installed the ICOM M424 marine VHF radio.  Crystal clear sound, DSC capability, GPS interface, hailing speaker and much more.  Plus we added ICOM's CommandMic which extends full functionality of the radio via a handheld remote up at the second station.   And of course, to get the most from your radio, you need a superior antenna.  For us, the clear choice was an 8' Digital Antenna.

Another 'must-have' component on my boat is an Autotether.  It's a wireless kill-switch lanyard.  It installs in a couple minutes, and connects to your kill-switch.  You wear a small fob that allows you to freely move about the boat.   If the fob gets wet, or if it gets more than 100 feet from the receiver, it automatically kills the engine.  There's also a Passenger fob, that will trigger an alarm if one of your passengers falls overboard.  Buck wears the passenger version.  This is something every boat should have.   And they make kill-switch adapters for virtually every outboard and inboard manufacturer.

Then there's the fishing tackle...and this could take up another whole page of the site.  All the rods on the Wide Open II are custom built by Coach's Custom Rods, with components from American Tackle Company, including their new Bushido rod blanks.  ATC creates blanks to fit every fishing situation...AND...every angler.  The spinning rods are equipped with the new MicroWave Guide System, delivering better casting distance and accuracy over convention rod guides.  Most of the reels are spooled with FINS Situational Superline.  Their braided lines offer superior abrasion resistance, excellent castability, and great knot holding.  Plus their new Shock Absorbing Braid has about 10% built-in stretch, offering some of the same characteristics of conventional monofilament with the strength, small diameter and sensitivity of braid.

There's a lot more on the Wide Open II...and a lot of it you simply need to see to appreciate.   Check out our tour, boat show and episode filming schedule on the site, and stop by to say hi when we're in your area!

See you on the water!   Click on the image below to see a video of Wide Open II on the water.  And be sure to watch The Nuts & Bolts of Fishing every week on FOX SportSouth to see just how well this amazing boat fishes!


WIDE OPEN II Specifications:

EVERGLADES 243 with Second Station:
LOA w/o Engine - 24'3"
LOA w/Engine - 26'11"
Beam - 8'2"
Draft Hull Only - 16"
Draft Engine Down - 33"
Deadrise at Transom -19˚
Weight (no engine, approx)- 3,500 lbs
Max HP Capacity - 300 hp
Max Persons Capacity - 12
Max Weight Capacity - 1,725 lbs
Fuel Capacity - 80 gal
Water Capacity - 9 gal
Fishbox Capacity - Fwd - 75 gal
Livewell Capacity - 36 gal
Cockpit Area - 85 ft²
T-Top frame. Custom radar pedestal, leaning post frame and bow rails fully powder-coated.  
Aft lifting sponsons provide better performance and serve as swim platforms.
Honda BF250 Outboard on Atlas Jackplate  
Full digital controls at both helm and second station  
Lowrance HDS-12 Touch with Structure Scan & DownScan, Network Hub, GoFree Wifi, 4G Radar, SiriusXM Weather interface, Point 1 GPS Antenna
ICOM M424 VHF with CommandMic IV for second station.   8' Digital Antenna.
SiriusXM Marine Weather Module interfaced with HDS-12 
Jensen 4 channel stereo with marine-grade speakers
DOWNRIGGERS:  Scotty High Performance Electric & Manual Downriggers  
TRAILER:   Magic Tilt Twin Axle Aluminum Trailer with disc brakes
ADDITIONAL GEAR:   Power Pole 10' Blade Shallow Water Anchor, MinnKota 101ST 36v Trolling Motor w/iPilot on lockable quick-release plate, Lumitec Underwater Lights, SpiderKing Rod Riggers, Taco Outriggers, YETI Cooler on roller rack, Autotether Wireless Kill Switch Lanyard.   Additional gunwale-mounted rod holders.
SECOND STATION FUNCTIONALITY:  Full control of HDS-12 via WiFi using iPad.   Remotes for Jackplate, TrimTabs, Power-Pole, Stereo.   Honda control selectable via Binnacle interface.  Engine start/stop.   Horn.   Compass.   Upper seat locks in three positions...fully closed, leaning, seated.   2 Ready rod holders for access from upper helm.  
COMFORT:  Leaning post seat rotates to form seat or comfortable leaning cushion.  Dual flip-up padded passenger seats in rear.   Full front cushion package for forward seating. Coaming bolsters along gunwale.   Freshwater shower and saltwater washdown.  Patented sliding console window, raises and lowers for air-flow or to shield from rain and wind.