Brian Turner has been a fixture in the Tampa Bay offshore-fishing community for many years, most recently at the helm of Haulin’ Grass, his customized 42-foot Yellowfin. Turner founded the Florida West Coast Bluewater Series more than six years ago, and fishes in nearly every pelagic and multispecies event in the region, often in less-than-favorable weather conditions. This boat is his third 42 from the Sarasota, Florida-based boatbuilder, and it has some unique features to make it one of the most competitive sport-fishers in the area, starting with its construction. “This is the first all-carbon-fiber 42,” he says. “The cap, liner, hull and stringers are all vacuum-bagged carbon fiber, which saves more than 3,000 pounds of weight. This boat is 20 percent lighter, 20 percent faster and 20 percent more fuel-efficient than the standard build, so the added expense is worth it over the life span of the boat.”
Watch: Marlin in the dredge!
With a usual run of at least 120 miles one way to the fishing grounds, speed and fuel capacity are two critical factors. Turner is running the Yamaha 425 XTO Offshore outboards in a triple-engine configuration. They have 5.6 liters of displacement, produce 425 horsepower each, have electric power steering, and produce tremendous thrust. In reverse, the exhaust is diverted away from the prop at speeds below 2,500 rpm, giving Haulin’ Grass excellent maneuverability while backing down. Fuel is configured in a 280-gallon centerline tank and two 160-gallon tanks on either side, for a total of 600 gallons. On tournament days, when getting offshore quickly is a competitive advantage, Turner adds a 300-gallon, self-priming ATL fuel bladder on the forward deck; the boat is plumbed with a fuel hose and quick-release fitting for the bladder that runs aft to a manifold in the bilge, then to each engine. It’s a slick setup that allows him to run hard for the first part of a multiday trip, burning off the fuel in the bladder, then stowing it below deck, still having a full 600 gallons in the tanks.
At the helm, a pair of 24-inch Garmin multifunction displays occupies most of the available real estate. Paired with the Garmin GMR Fantom radar with 6-foot open array, hunting for birds at ranges of more than 10 miles is no problem. A Garmin 7612 resides in the tower, as does a pair of 25-foot carbon-fiber outriggers and center rigger, keeping everything up and out of the way rather than fixed to the gunwales, to maximize the boat’s fishabilty. A double row of rocket launchers along the aft edge of the tower has the capability to hold 14 full-size outfits, with storage for two more in the belly band. Additional rod holders line the comfortable bench seating forward of the console, giving Turner the option of fishing light or heavy tackle at a moment’s notice.
The boat’s cockpit is wired with 12-volt plugs to accommodate LP dredge reels, as well as for deep-dropping with electrics. In the transom is an 80-gallon livewell with a clear lid and viewing window, with a second, even larger livewell located in the aft section of the leaning post—unless he’s seriously live-baiting, this is used for drink storage on most trips.
Another customized feature is the forward fish box. Turner had the team at Yellowfin remove the small divider that separated the standard fish box from the boat’s forwardmost compartment, which opened up the entire area. “We can lay some really big fish in there now,” Turner says. “It’s a big space, and it’s a lot more efficient from an icing standpoint. It goes all the way up into the bow flare now.” When asked about the absence of an on-deck coffin box, Turner says that one of his pet peeves on boats is having to move around a cooler or box on the deck. “I’d rather keep it open, optimize the space you have, and maximize the fishing platform,” he says. His philosophy makes sense, and it also gives him a perfect spot for the aforementioned fuel bladder.
And while Haulin’ Grass is a perennial tournament frontrunner, it also sees plenty of use as a family boat. “We’ll run from our house [in Tampa Bay] down to the Keys with the kids, and beat my wife driving the car by an hour,” Turner says. “Or we’ll go up to Crystal River for scallop season, or down to Boca Grande for the weekend.” On multiday trips, the crew can also enjoy the air-conditioned comfort belowdecks provided by the boat’s Mase 2 kW genset. Twin bunks provide full-size sleeping accommodations when needed.
“Coming out of a large sport-fisher many years ago, I found that I really liked the ease of maintenance of a center-console boat,” Turner says. “There’s no engine room. It’s not a big production to take the boat out to fish for a few hours or just to go to lunch someplace. The convenience factor is pretty high.”
And the unusual name? Turner’s in the sod business, so when he’s not fishing, he’s literally hauling grass. Now you know.
This article was originally published in the August/September issue of Marlin.