The emphasis on fishing boats weighs more toward the rugged end of the scale. That's not to say "fish boats" are without amenity. Many of today's models rival cruisers and runabouts while retaining seakeeping and high levels of fishability. Here are just some of the great fishing boats available for 2015.
Boston Whaler 420 Outrage
The new 420 Outrage is not only one of the largest center-consoles on the market, but it is also the largest Boston Whaler ever built. So the question is “Can Whaler go big?” The answer is “absolutely.” Of course it stands out at the dock for its stylish hardtop and raked windshield, cabin windows and the four 300 hp Mercury Verados on the transom. But where it really shines is underway.
Twin 41-gallon livewells turn the Cobia 344CC's transom into an efficient workstation. Ample rod holders, a tuna door and a thoughtfully configured tackle station demonstrate Cobia’s fishing culture, as does the rod stowage beneath the berth inside the console.
The Contender 22 Sport reflects the brand’s sport-fishing DNA with a 26-gallon pressurized transom livewell, a 94-gallon fish locker under the foredeck, and two 30-gallon fish boxes flanking the aft cockpit sole.
The rise of mega-outboards has spurred the rise of massive center-consoles, capable of supporting triples or even quads. With builders like Everglades manufacturing boats like the 435cc, hard-core offshore anglers can jump ship from traditional express boats or battlewagons powered by diesel inboards. The benefits of switching to outboards include ease of maintenance, a superior power-to-weight ratio and the ability to trim the drives completely out of the water. Plus, the center-console design expands the usable deck space — which the 435cc has in spades.
The Express 330 is perhaps the most opulent, yet fishable, express fisher we’ve tested this year and, we think, one of the best riding thanks to Grady’s carefully developed hull layup schedule and proven running surface. This introduction lacks nothing for loading up the refrigerated fish and provides everything needed for weekend or weeklong comfort cruising. With nearly 50 years of boatbuilding experience, it’s no wonder Grady-White has gotten so good at this.
The storied reputation of Mako Boats keeps getting better as its engineers and designers continue to build on the legacy, refining the ride, sweetening the creature comforts and making Makos like this 214 CC far more lethal.
Relying on the recommendations of the world’s top walleye anglers, Nitro introduced the multispecies ZV 18 as a downsized version of its ZV 21, Nitro’s flagship big-water multispecies boat. Built with a deep-V performance hull with a lifting strake design, the ZV 18 easily handles the challenge of big lakes by smoothly slicing through choppy seas.
Going for largemouth bass today? Maybe walleye tomorrow and then northern pike the next day? A multispecies boat like the Princecraft Amarok DLX WS is just right for you. This 16-foot-6-inch hull maximizes its 7-foot-4-inch beam to create a stable fishing platform with raised casting decks at both the bow and stern. From there anglers have unobstructed 360-degree access to the water for casting to, hooking and fighting fish. If anyone wants to sit down while working the rods (or maybe have a trolling motor on the bow), the twin pedestal seats with flip-down backrests can be mounted in six positions.
This boat’s ride on wind-chopped Bull Shoals Lake was proof that Ranger had made a solid, responsive hull that cut wakes and carved turns without pounding the passengers. In our rainy test, the available full windshield protected from spray and wind.
Regulator’s beefy “grillage” construction includes a molded-fiberglass stringer system bonded to the inner hull. The deep-V hull — combined with the wave-crushing heft — provides a remarkably smooth ride. A Carolina-flare bow also helps toss seas aside to keep the interior dry. Standard Lenco trim tabs help you adjust the running angle.
Scout Boats is known for combining innovative design with super functionality and plenty of style. The company has enhanced that reputation with the 300 LXF, a sharp and aggressive, forward-seating, luxury, sport-fisherman center-console that handles cruising daytime to overnight, along with hard-core piscatorial pursuit.
SeaVee’s new bay boat is a stretch — both figuratively and literally. At 27 feet in length, the 270Z Bay is the largest model in the category (also the smallest boat in SeaVee’s stable). Its sweeping sheer line stands in contrast to the low-profile foredecks associated with bay boats.
The Southport 33 FE not only runs, but it can also fish and entertain. From the illuminated 35-gallon livewell in the transom to the four insulated fish boxes, to the vertical rod stowage in the console, to the outrigger plates built into the T-top, the core fishing accouterments are present.
The Stratos 386XF has been a hallmark of the multipurpose fish-and-fun genre for decades. So it was with great care that the company set about redesigning it to reflect the latest in boat comfort, construction, style and technology.
The words big and wide hardly ever go together with the term high performance, yet Triton’s new 21 TrX topped 74 mph during our trials. More than that, this tournament-ready bass boat did so using four-stroke power, a fact sure to cause consternation among some anglers and outboard enthusiasts. We say let them gripe: Mercury’s 250 Verado Pro hurtled the 21 TrX onto plane in 4.6 seconds, hustling us to 30 mph in 8.6 seconds. That’s movin’.
The World Cat 295DC remained fairly flat while cornering with the SeaStar Solutions power-assist steering. The port console houses a head compartment with a VacuFlush toilet and vanity with a sink and freshwater faucet, as well as storage for four fishing rods (up to 7 feet). You’ll find a 30-gallon livewell abaft the port bench seat and a 185-quart insulated cooler/fish box abaft the helm seat.
Filling a slot in the Yellowfin Yachts stable between the 24 Bay and the 29 center-console, the new 26 boasts a step amidships and reflects a blend of offshore- and bay-boat features. The Yellowfin 26 combines performance and quality in a boat that’s versatile enough to fish just about anywhere.