Dual consoles might be the fastest-growing category of outboard fishing boats. Grady-White certainly focuses plenty of effort on expanding its Freedom series, adding new models and updating existing models. The refreshed 285 brings new features developed in its larger models, giving it a surprisingly grand big-boat feeling in a 29-footer.
Grady offers one electric sliding lounge on the starboard side behind the helm seat and one on the port side as well. When it’s time to fish, they slide up into aft-facing seats in a mezzanine position to clear the cockpit for fish-fighting action.
But for fishing, we’d forgo the electric lounge and choose the optional portside cockpit galley with freshwater sink, slide-out trash can and storage drawer. It can double as a rigging station, albeit a fancy one with the sliding Corian top over the sink and fiddle rail to keep things from sliding off.
We found a livewell and an insulated fish box in the transom. Rod holders include four in the gunwales, four rocket launchers on the hardtop and three rod hangers under the starboard gunwale. Under that, on the port side, a styled toe rail allows the gaff man to tuck his toes for solid footing.
The helm console offers a vast working space for a large MFD, Yamaha Command Link gauges and Fusion audio controller. The captain’s bench is electrically adjustable fore and aft, and on the port side a seat accommodates the first mate.
The port console opens to a large changing room with a marine head with electric flush. The forward box opens into the head compartment, creating additional storage for two more rods.
With all those amenities, limiting the crew will be your biggest issue, but the liberal cockpit seating is only half the story. Forward of the windshield, the bow opens to wraparound lounges and a cocktail table. The table can be lowered to the seating level, the filler cushion added and foldaway backrests deployed, turning the area into a sun pad. Stow the cushions, and it’s a good spot to cast a rod or a net.