The Fishing's good in those skinny waters at the back end of the bay. But the ride over open water to get there-not so good. A flats boat gets beaten up on the ride. A deep-V center console gets beached. But there's an alternative. The bay boat is as versatile a vessel as you'll find in the fishing world, a fantastic compromise that lets you hunt in the shallows and, conditions permitting, go outside the inlet. No other style of boat covers such a wide range of water. And almost no other style of boat offers so many models. So we picked five of the best to help you choose. We looked into how they're built, rigged, and handled the flats and open water, then checked that all-important intangible-what you get for your dollar. This was a tough one. Prices and features were all close. So close, that you'll be cheating yourself if you flip to the end to see who won. You might miss the right boat for you.