As the classic saying goes, “There’s no perfect boat,” but for the time being, I’ve settled on mine. As a light-tackle and fly charter captain hailing from the central New Jersey coast, I work the waters of Barnegat Bay, Barnegat Inlet, Long Beach Island, and Island Beach State Park. Every day, different conditions prevail.
With an overall length of 23 feet, my Parker 21 SE “Special Edition” is a modified V-hull (14-degree deadrise) with a Carolina flare. From bow to stern, the transition provides a smooth and efficient ride. Common conditions call for trimming up a touch, tabbing down, and lightly backing off the throttle. These adjustments show the boat’s sweet spot utilizing the more aggressive midship and bow entry. From fishing and running the 21SE before purchasing, I was familiar with its ride. As with all big decisions, I had to think long and hard. I didn’t need a run-and-gun race boat, but did I need a hull with more deadrise and a deeper V?
The deciding factors boiled down to distinguishing qualities I found in the Parker 21SE. I loved it for its quality, simplicity, versatility, fishability and affordability – so it was the perfect boat for what I do.
Parker is well known for building top-quality, sea-worthy boats. Their tradition of toughness, efficiency, simplicity and clean rigging is hard to beat. When investing, depreciation is a top concern, but Parker’s legacy holds strong and commands exceptionally high resale value.
A no-nonsense boat that can be fish hard, cleaned up fast, and easily maintained is what I consider simple. I do not need the add-ons that many boats are outfitted with these days. Every added creature comfort is another system that has to be maintained.
One of the most capable nearshore shallow-draft hulls, the Parker 21SE excels in many different situations. With a draft of 10 inches, I can explore the shallows of Barnegat Bay, even at the bottom of the tide. My missions are unrestricted and rarely constrained by draft. The ability of the 21SE to fish the shallows stands out, yet it still has the ability to venture outside.
On any given day, I can fish the backwaters of Barnegat Bay and then navigate a rough inlet and run up the beach while chasing migrating schools of stripers. On the right days, I’ll fish the inshore reefs and wrecks. I even get out to the midshore grounds when the summer’s “Lake Atlantic” conditions prevail. The high gunnels (freeboard) and bow flare offer security and safety in rough water like a watercraft much larger in size. The boat’s phenomenal stability on drift and on hook are another benefit of the modified V that I prefer. The 21SE’s size is big enough for most everything inshore, yet it’s small enough to get into the skinny—and it’s easy to trailer.
The boat’s fishability is outstanding in anything from calm shallow flats, open bay chop, rough inlets, and nearshore/inshore ocean swells. My clients and I enjoy the large open fishing platform with 360 degrees of fishability. From bow to stern, the 21SE’s deck is clean and clear from snags. However, like most center consoles in its size, there there’s little to no protection from wind and spray. On windy, rough days, it is not a dry boat, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I predominately fish the bow, so sport cabins aren’t an option.
Affordability and efficiency were key factors in my decision to purchase the 21SE. Speed is not my concern, but fuel consumption is. Rigged with Yamaha’s best-selling outboard, the F150 4-stroke, it’s powered just right for performance and fuel economy. The inline four is reliable, lightweight, clean burning, and quiet. The combination of motor and the modified V hull makes for a highly fuel-efficient vessel. Since it holds 80+ gallons of fuel, range is never an issue.
The world of boats today is an overwhelming market of options. The Parker 21 Special Edition stands out as one of the most versatile, low-maintenance center consoles for light-tackle fishing. The central Jersey coast (among many other areas on the East Coast) offers a plenitude of fishing opportunities, and the Parker 21 SE allows me to take advantage of all my local waters have to offer.
Captain Gegory Cudnik
Fish Head Charters
Long Beach Island, NJ.
Phone: (609) 389-9963