THE Extreme 545 Side Console is one serious plate alloy fishing rig.
After a recent test around Jacobs Well and Jumpinpin, I can confirm that first impressions sometimes are correct. This boat just cuts an absolutely mean figure, whether resting on the trailer or steadily filling with water.
“Wait, filling with water?” I hear you ask in confusion. Yep.
The bilge pump had its work cut out for it and did an admirable job until Trevor from Karee Marine diagnosed the culprit for the substantial leak shortly after launching as a missing bung in the rear kill tank. After reaching in and doing up the bung, the bilge pump took care of the rest and things were ship shape in no time.
Comfortingly, standard buoyancy chambers in the hull would have prevented the boat from sinking, but the incident sure made for an interesting start to what was to be an awe-inspiring boat test.
At 5.5m in overall length and with a 2.1m beam, the 545 Side Console is not an insignificant piece of metal, yet it doesn’t feel ship-like or unwieldly from the helm. Extreme is one of New Zealand’s premier boat builders and the Kiwis certainly know how to build tough boats. The 545 Side Console’s 5mm hull and transom are testament to this tough design philosophy, and a 19-degree deadrise ensures you can cut through sharp chop with absolute ease.
Running with the tide towards Jumpinpin, we were able to stretch the Extreme’s legs to 77km/h, which felt very quick in a totally open side console boat. The 115hp Mercury Pro XS FourStroke was to thank for this impressive turn of speed, and boy, what a motor this is.
This was the first time I’d driven a boat powered by a Pro XS FourStroke and I came away hugely impressed. Quieter than any other four-stroke I can think of, both at idle and under power, and with rolling acceleration like nothing else, it’s a very well sorted motor.
Paired with the 545 Side Console, cruising along at 4500rpm and giving the throttle a punch results in a serious shove, pushing you right into the backrest of the comfy pedestal seat. I’m a self-professed speed demon and driving this boat was an absolute blast.
This Extreme isn’t all about looking cool and going fast though, with a number of features elevating it into that special circle of hard-core fishing rigs that manage to cover all bases. The functional and reasonably sized side console had enough room for the latest Mercury VesselView4 digital instrumentation as well as a large Raymarine sounder/GPS combo, VHF radio, switch panel and grab handle.
On the side of the console are a couple of rod butt stands and blank hooks for rod storage at rest or on the move. Up the front of the boat are a casting platform, generous kill tank, pedestal seat mount, padded seat/knee rest, anchor well and, interestingly, two flush-mounted rod holders. An optional electric motor mount (fitted to the test boat) would make this the perfect rig for barra fishing in Queensland’s northern waters.
There’s a lot going on down the back of the Extreme 545 Side Console. It starts with a tray for battery storage, plumbed live bait tank, excellent bait board with rod holders, another kill tank and in our boat an optional deck wash. The rear bench seat can be folded up in one smooth motion to enclose the battery and anything stowed on the tray, but when lowered the seat has an inbuilt step that makes life easy when entering and exiting the boat via the full rear pod.
Don’t you hate it when you’re leaning against the side of a boat to pull in a fish or wash your hands and the insides of the gunwales dig right into your thighs? Well you won’t have that issue with the Extreme. It has the deepest gunwales I’ve ever seen and makes awkward manoeuvres against the side of the boat a doddle.
And when you do lean on the sides of this boat, it doesn’t even notice. Seriously, I was sitting on the gunwale with my legs hanging over the side and I couldn’t get the boat to lean more than a few centimetres, whether I sat at the front, middle or back of the boat. This unbelievable stability is thanks in no small part to the boat’s flood keel that runs the length of the hull and fills with water once the boat comes to rest. It’s a great feature and would definitely make a difference on those lumpy days offshore, let alone just walking around the boat.
Speaking of lumpy, after trying to throw the 545 Side Console off balance, Trevor and I swapped boats and he took the Extreme into the midst of Jumpinpin Bar to tackle a few breaking waves. It lapped up the punishment and after punching through and back over the top of a number of sets, Trevor showed off the power of the setup by accelerating away from a chasing breaker with ease. Heading back to the ramp, the Extreme showed a clean set of heels to a couple of following boats and carved though oncoming wakes like a hot knife through butter.
The Extreme 545 Side Console is genuinely at home either in the estuary or offshore. I couldn’t fault the boat as a dedicated fishing rig and unlike some hard-core fishing boats, there is no compromise on quality and finish. Everything on the boat is of an exceptionally high standard.
If you’re chasing the ultimate fishing rig, stop by the Karee Marine yard at 1776 Ipswich Rd, Rocklea and have a chat to Trevor about the options that would best suit you. Alternatively, go online at www.kareemarine.com.au or call 07 3875 1600.