It’s called “Andy’s Rock,” but you won’t find it so named on any charts of the Connecticut River. Still, it’s legendary in the fishing lore of the Roussel family and their boat, Annie B II.
“I was fishing with my kids, Bret and Taryn, one day about five years back, and we’d tried every tactic and caught nothing,” says Andy Roussel, 58, an Ivoryton, Connecticut, health insurance marketing manager. “On the trip back into the river, my son suggested we take one final troll by a rock pile just south of the [Amtrak] railroad bridge. On that very last pass, he hooked a 49-inch striper.”
There’s more: “The following year, in the exact same spot, my first cast of the year returned a 36-inch fish!” Andy’s Rock — try your luck sometime.
It’s just one of the many adventures Roussel has had during his 36 years of boating “on and around the river,” he says. “I grew up in canoes and small boats. I built a plywood skiff with a friend when we were 22 to get us out on the water for fishing.”
Other boats have included a Sears Gamefisher, an 18-foot Angler and a 21-foot HydraSports walkaround. Each has had a serious fishing component.
“I spent my youth as a surf caster and freshwater fisherman, and fished on my dad’s and father-in-law’s boats later on,” Roussel says. “After becoming an owner, I began to take others with me. Now I often fish with my grown kids, my dad and friends. It’s a great way to spend time together.”
His latest fishing machine, Annie B II, is a 2003 Wellcraft 250 Coastal with twin 150-hp Johnson outboards. Roussel bought it just over 10 years ago for around $48,000. “I wasn’t looking especially for a Wellcraft,” he says, “but this boat had the quality and features my wife, Ann, and I wanted, and the price made it a value.”
Little-used and professionally maintained, the 250 Coastal was in good shape, too. Roussel found it while searching the Internet. “I’d looked at many used boats, deciding to find something relatively new but without the early depreciation costs of a brand-new boat,” he says. “This boat just fit the bill. It was not too big, had accommodations for some overnighting, and all the fishing features and electronics I wanted.”
The Wellcraft has proved a solid, comfortable fishing platform with plenty of deck space. “We generally fish close to the Connecticut River, from Black Point over to Clinton and occasionally to Plum Gut, mostly targeting stripers, blues, fluke, sea bass,” Roussel says. There also are leisurely days of picnicking at Hamburg Cove, and rides up and down the river. “Hamburg Cove is a family favorite, as are slow cruises through Essex and then anchoring by Nott’s Island,” Roussel says. “The swallow-viewing trips are also a hit in the fall.”
LOA: 25 feet ▐ Beam: 8 feet, 6 inches ▐ Draft: 2 feet, 10 inches ▐ Weight: 5,000 pounds ▐ Hull type: modified-vee ▐ Propulsion: twin 150-hp (and up) outboards ▐ TANKAGE: 150 gallons fuel, 8 gallons water ▐ Builder: Wellcraft, Cadillac, Michigan, (231) 775-1351. wellcraft.com
Roussel prizes the 2-stroke Johnson outboards for their reliability. “I had the same engine on my last boat and knew them to be reliable workhorses,” he says. Cruising speed is around 30 mph at 3,800 rpm; top end is just over 40 mph. “I rarely top 35,” he says. “It just doesn’t make sense to drain the gas tank or put unnecessary stress on the engines. They can use a lot of fuel compared to today’s high-efficiency engines, so we try to eke the most out of them by smart cruising.”
The boat can handle both the occasional rough waters of Long Island Sound and the tidal swells that can occur at the mouth of the river. “I’ve never felt uncomfortable,” Roussel says. “I just know enough to slow down when needed.” He uses a Furuno radar, a Raymarine GPS/fishfinder and a VHF radio. “I don’t always have radar on, but the GPS/finder is always on when I’m moving,” he says.
The boat requires little maintenance beyond the normal. Atlantic Outboard in Westbrook, Connecticut, services the engines, and Roussel keeps the boat at the Oak Leaf Marina in Old Saybrook.
“We replaced the canvas a couple of years back,” he says, “and the cockpit coaming bolsters just before that, and I’ve had to replace the freshwater and fishbox pumps, but that’s about it.”
Has the Annie B II fulfilled the vision he had for the boat a decade ago? “Absolutely!” Roussel says. “Experiencing a big fish with both kids is something, and we enjoy fishing with my dad and friends often in search of the next one.”
The Wellcraft 250 Coastal is designed as a versatile fishing and family boat. Powered by a pair of outboards, it rides a modified-vee fiberglass hull with 18 degrees of transom deadrise. With an average cruising speed in the 30-mph range, the 5,000-pound boat can make quick work of getting out to the fishing grounds and can add range to day-tripping and cruising plans. The 250 Coastal’s cuddy cabin has a head, galley and berth. An amidships dinette with bench seats for four and a high-rise table converts to a bunk. The galley is equipped for day trips and overnights, and the pressurized water system is a convenience for family and fishermen alike.
On deck, the 250 Coastal’s helm station is to starboard, with twin pedestal seats and a molded panel for engine gauges. There’s room above for a fishfinder, plotter and other electronics. Access to the bow is through a walkthrough windshield or narrow gunwale walkways, protected by a rail extending to the bow. Fishing gear includes rod holders, insulated fishboxes with overboard pumpout, a bait well, a partial transom door and a transom shower.
This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue.