Scout 251 XS

Inshore or off shore, it is a luxury fishing machine.

"People are buying boats that are unique or different,” says Scout Boats vice president of marketing Dave Wallace. Scout should know. It has successfully introduced first the 35 Express, then the 345 XSF center console in a lackluster market. The new 251 XS Bay is another nod to upscale styling and features.

When I stepped onto the deck of the 251 from three feet above, the boat’s 18-degree bottom rocked acceptably but let me and other passengers maintain footing. Also noted was the solid sound of foot hitting deck. No hollow drumming, vibrating, creaking or rattling.

That strength is translated into stability, as I learned after firewalling the throttle to streak across Miami’s choppy bay waters. It turned in the high 40s, holding its bite with just a minimum of sideways slide. The hookup comes from an 18-degree deadrise, not the 14-degree found in many bay boats. That deep keel still allows scout to report a 13-inch draft, but this one gives a more comfortable ride in seas than will most bay boats. Note-taking wasn’t easy at 55 mph, but it was possible — a strong sign that this rig will smooth rough water.

The hardtop was optional, as were the taco grand slam outriggers, but they gave our test boat the kind of versatility needed to make such an investment pay off. The Scout will fish comfortably offshore, but on snotty days, it can make a grand casting platform inside when chasing fish on the flats.

Three rod holders on each gunwale and standing rod holders on the console make the 251 XS handy. Three livewells on the transom make it deadly to fish; the center well is for keeping fish to release. Opt out of the deluxe leaning post with livewell for more deck space.

The glass windshield on our tester is tall, giving super protection from the weather. Without the optional top, I’d prefer a lower profile windshield; it will cause less interference with casting. On the fore side of the helm station a deck hatch swings up to reveal a head compartment, supported by gas struts.

The bow area has plenty of space to mount a trolling motor too. You need only to decide: offshore, inshore, or shall we just tool around looking cool in a really spiffy ride?

Comparable model: Ranger 2410 Bay Ranger