After my test of the 8522 Fish (part of a new series of value pontoons from Starcraft), I was dead certain that the crew at Starcraft wears Docksiders, can tie a few knots and knows red-right-return. Smart features include small details such as using a swim ladder with flat rungs, much easier on bare feet than round ones, and coloring the helm console nonglare gray to make a day on the water easier on your eyes.
But there are some big features that show just as much experience, including the biggest of all: its aft deck arrangement. Here, I found a solid-surface station that has two drink holders and a rack that will hold four fishing rods. This is served by a pair of pedestal seats, making a great spot from which to fish, enjoy a cocktail or keep an eye on kids using that flat-runged ladder to re-board after performing cannonballs and belly flops. (Remember those? Ouch!)
There are three couches aboard the Stardeck 8522 Fish. The two forward make this a switch-hitter: A hard-core fishing ‘toon would sport swivel seats in the bow. The aft couch is equipped with a changing room that concealed my 6-foot-1-inch frame to the neck when I tried it on for size. The helm seat is a swiveler with armrests. From it, I discovered that 60 hp is enough to push the 8522 Fish quick enough to tow a tube or beat a thunderstorm back to the dock, if you pay attention to the weather.
The 8522 Fish is not a typical luxury pontoon. There’s a gate forward, but no boarding platform (thus, the long couches). There’s no wood trim and no tilt wheel at the helm. Instead, it boasts a versatile layout with everything a family needs to get out on the water at an affordable price.
• Undercut seat bases provide “heel room” for enhanced comfort.
• Recesses in the couch backrests house the stereo speakers and drink holders, providing a clean look and protecting the couch from moisture.
• A marine-grade 12-volt receptacle and an MP3 port grace the helm for your convenience.
• The sink molded into the helm is as good for rinsing glasses as it is for washing bait smelling hands.
Test Drive * Test Engine: Mercury 60 EFI 4-stroke * Test Prop: 11.5″ X 10.5″ aluminum, 3-blade, 1.83:1 ratio * Test Load: People (190 LB.) Fuel (20 GAL.) * Top Speed: 22.4 MPH @ 5,600 RPM * Time to 20 MPH: 8.0 sec. Vital Stats * Length Overall: 22’3″ * Beam: 8’6″ * Dry Weight: 1,900 LB.(boat only) * Seating/Weight Capacity: 14/2,200 LB. * Fuel Capacity: 24 GAL. * Max HP: 150 * MSRP: $18,495 (w/50-hp 2-stroke) * NMMA Certified: Yes