Pontoons have always been a natural fit for fishing. Even without dedicated fishing packages—optional groupings that typically come in the form of fishing chairs and livewells grouped on the bow or stern—their spacious, open decks allow anglers plenty of space to work their lines. Stability and minimal draft also offer a fishing-friendly twofer. Bennington’s 23 SCCTTX takes things to a new level by adding a feature plucked right off the deck of one of its fiberglass V-hull counterparts: a coastal center console, complete with overhead T-top.
To be fair, it’s not an altogether radical concept. Center-console pontoons with a fish-friendly focus have been done before. Avalon’s 23-foot GS Center Console Fish ($42,803 with Mercury 250) and the 2020 model SunChaser 23-foot-10-inch Eclipse 8523 CC Fish ($63,299 with a 250 hp Yamaha, standard third-tube package and no options) are two examples of similar-size center-console pontoons. Bennington’s design, however, arguably comes closest to blurring the lines between a pontoon and that familiar center-console V-hull.
Interior and Accessories
For starters, the console is more similar in physical size to what you’d find on a fiberglass center-console. A Plexiglas windscreen adds protection from the elements. Below, there’s space for the buyer’s choice of displays. On my test boat, a pair of 12-inch Garmin flat screens nicely flanked the stock Ritchie compass; both 7- and 9-inch alternatives are available from Garmin or Simrad. A row of lit rocker switches spans the midsection. A stainless-steel spoke wheel and a footrest complete the picture.
Behind the console, Bennington pairs a familiar, leaning-post-style seat. It is a 3-foot-2-inch-wide bench with slide-in backrest. Below the hinged seat, you’ll find another standard 19-gallon livewell, along with a removable bait bucket. A freshwater washdown hose tucks under a pie plate. The look is completed overhead by a beefy Fisher T-top (in a buyer’s choice of three powder-coated colors: black, silver or white) that includes five rocket launchers. Twin LED lights illuminate the dark.
While the center console hogs the spotlight, additional fish-friendly features are spread evenly throughout. Forward, twin deluxe high-back bass seats with flip-down armrests are positioned just inside the fencing; roto-molded stowage cabinets nestle in each corner. Our test boat traded out one cabinet for a 24-gallon livewell with flanking rod holder and cup holder. Behind, a standard 18-gallon well sits below the flip-up seat in front of the console. Generous rod stowage is recessed into the open space below the coaming pads running down both port and starboard sides. Additional slots are at the ready to secure fishing rods and nets.
Bennington’s familiar Swingback stern lounge makes an appearance aft, offering arguably the SCCTTX’s most traditional pontoon seating. It can be optioned to include a pedestal mount below the removable sun-pad cushion for a matching deluxe bass seat. The same folding bass seats are standard in the bow, with this boat sporting the optional twin recliners. In this fashion, the aft platform (4 feet, 10 inches by 3 feet, 2 inches by 1 foot, 1 inch, when raised) becomes an elevated casting deck, with diamond-pattern nonskid on the surface. Lift the entire gas-shock-assisted platform to access stowage below, along with a standard pop-up privacy curtain.
With a partial focus on coastal waters, it’s worth revisiting Bennington’s construction details. Full-length, extruded-aluminum M brackets offer a solid base for deck cross members. The deck is through-bolted to these oversize cross members using fanged, stainless-steel elevator bolts rather than screws, minimizing twisting and promising a secure, quiet ride. Full-length, anodized skirting runs port and starboard. Bow decks and corner channels are beefed up using heavy-gauge anodized trim. All underdeck wiring is encased in conduit; sealed Deutsch connectors are used for electrical connections within the console. The T-top is bolted directly through to the cross members and boasts a sturdy feel. And yes, I swung on it just to verify.
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Though the target audience will definitely have rod in hand, when not baiting those hooks, you can still do all those things that pontoon enthusiasts love, whether it’s party, cruise, entertain, or even pull the kids on water toys. Bennington builds the 23, along with currently a similar 22, on the SX Series platform, a more value-oriented line in the Bennington hierarchy. And while the look may be newly fish-focused above, below deck, the SCCTTX retains the builder’s familiar feel and performance.
My test boat came equipped with the optional SPS+ Sport Performance System, which consists of triple 25-inch pontoons paired to a 250 hp Yamaha outboard that is controlled by SeaStar hydraulic steering. Handling during our sea trial was spirited with a hint of inside lean in the corners, thanks in part to lifting strakes on the central pontoon and performance foils on the inside of outer logs. An underdeck wave shield streamlines the underside of the deck and adds a layer of protection. Acceleration onto plane was virtually instantaneous, with almost no bow rise of note. Top speed peaked at 45.2 mph.
How We Tested
- Engine: Yamaha 250
- Drive/Prop: Outboard/Yamaha Saltwater Series II 15 1/2″ x 16″ 3-blade stainless steel
- Gear Ratio: 1.75:1 Fuel Load: 32 gal. Water on Board: 0 gal. Crew Weight: 390 lb.
- Deluxe stainless-steel steering wheel with tilt.
- Curved, four-step aluminum ladder offers a more natural path in and out of the water, and eases reboarding.
- All-in-one Kicker KMC45 stereo system.
- Leaning-post backrest must be removed—and laid elsewhere or stored—to access the livewell below.
- Aft casting deck platform is difficult to raise; twin releases are cumbersome.
- Stow with care—loose wiring under the center console is easy to snag items on.
Pricing and Specs
|$83,849 (with Yamaha 250)
|Single gasoline outboard to 250 hp
Speed, Efficiency, Operation
Bennington Marine – Elkhart, Indiana; 574-264-6336; benningtonmarine.com