One resolution we’re committed to keeping this year is to spend more time fishing. If you feel the same, you probably already know that center-console boats represent one of the best design types for fishing. Their full walk-around deck layouts, deep-V hulls, and 360-degree fishability make them perfect platforms for going after the big ones. Over the last year we’ve been lucky enough to run a bunch of new center-console models from reputable builders. Here’s a four-boat sampler of these capable fishing machines, from an offshore power cat hull to a 19-foot jet boat model.
Boston Whaler 230 Outrage
It’s difficult to find a more legendary name when it comes to fishing than Boston Whaler. From their varnished mahogany consoles of old up through many modern designs, the storied builders have had more than their fair share of center-console hits. That’s why we were more than a little excited when the company in the middle of last year launched a smaller member of its offshore center-console lineup—the 230 Outrage.
The biggest theme Boston Whaler pitches about the 230 Outrage is its near-perfect blend of fishability and comfort. And, based on what we saw at the recent Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, we think they’ve nailed it. The 230 Outrage borrows a number of its on-deck comfort features from Whaler’s larger models in the lineup. The helm seat is a great example. Instead of merely serving as a leaning post for the helm, the helm seating is crafted like a Transformer robot so it can serve more than one purpose. All you have to do is flip a latch or two, move the seatback downward, and you’ve got an aft-facing bench in the cockpit. Flip it back up and it’s a helm seat again. Pretty cool. There’s also a stowable, flip-down bench at the stern, a bench ahead of the center-console unit, and dual lounges forward, all smothered in buttery-feeling vinyl. A head is located below the console unit for further comfort.
Fishy features abound on the 230 Outrage. Starting aft, there’s a 16-gallon livewell in the transom and three fish lockers set farther forward under the cockpit decks and in the bow. Rod stowage is everywhere in the cockpit, as well as on the hardtop, under the gunwales, and even forward at the bow. Our favorite fishy feature is the helm dash, which has room for up two 15-inch multifunction displays. It’s pretty neat how Whaler at the show had one rigged for chartplotting and the other solely to display the fishfinder. Let’s not forget about the fun factor. A 350-horsepower Mercury Verado is at the stern, and is capable of propelling the 230 Outrage to a top speed of 54 mph. The 230 is also quite efficient, able to cruise at 20 mph while burning only nine gallons per hour of fuel. With a deep-V hull and 21 degrees of transom deadrise, you’ll be within reach of the canyons in no time. Sounds like tuna time to us.
Folks who know anything about serious fishing boats know that the Everglades 243cc is one of the finest bay boats ever conceived. That said, the 24-foot overall length of the 243cc did limit some of its ability to explore farther offshore. Answering that need, Everglades in 2016 launched a 27-footer cut from the same cloth as the 243cc, but larger—the 273cc.
At first glance the 273cc gives the impression that Everglades simply blew up the 243cc by three feet. In some ways it did, but in other ways the 273cc is quite different. Most noticeable are the twin 250-horsepower Yamaha F250 outboard engines at the stern. With more than a foot of additional beam compared to the 243cc, the 273cc gains the ability to carry twins, expanding its offshore credentials. It’s plenty fast, too, capable of almost 55 mph with the throttles pressed all the way down. Inside the 273cc things are different, too. Seating and casting deck accommodations are expanded, offering more places to sit and relax, as well as cast a line, but we found the 273cc has a little less open deck space for its size than the 243cc. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily, but worth noting if you’re considering either boat. There are twin jump seats under the aft casting deck, a comfortable helm seat/leaning post behind the steering wheel, a bench ahead of the console, and twin forward-facing lounges in the bow. There’s an extremely ample enclosed head under the console, as well.
When it comes to fishability, the extra room inside the 273cc means there’s plenty of space to provide a deeper level of fishing features. Behind the helm seating is a bait prep/rigging station with 31-gallon live well, and a sink and cutting area. A 45-quart fish cooler sits beneath the aft casting deck; there’s additional cooler space under the forward center-console bench seat. The casting platforms are also amplified on the 273cc when compared to the 243cc. There’s also more hardtop space for outriggers and plenty of helm dash space for electronic fishfinding gizmos. If you’ve been looking at an Everglades 243cc, but make occasional offshore romps that are out of its range, the 273cc has a perfect blend of inshore and offshore angling capabilities. We’re thinking about tarpon fishing in the sounds in the morning and tuna offshore in the afternoon.
World Cat 280 CC-X
Power cats: folks generally either love them or hate them. While these boats are incredibly seaworthy and provide a great ride, their additional beam, high topsides, and twin hulls create a unique challenge for builders: designing one that actually looks good. World Cat is aiming to tackle that issue with its new 280 CC-X center-console power cat, which made its debut at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in November, 2016. Our take? They’ve done a good job at tackling the aesthetics issue while still delivering a solid offshore boat.
A view of the 280 CC-X from the bow shows a completely re-engineered set of hulls, tunnel, and pod, all designed to improve ride, reducing sneezing (power cats tend to compress wakes between their hulls in rough weather and blow the spray out the tunnel and into occupants’ faces), and make the boat look as if it’s lower to the water. From the side, the boat also looks lower and sleeker than previous models, thanks in part to a two-tone paint scheme. Add in an angled center-console unit with beautiful pipework, and you’ve got a great-looking boat. The new look should tempt lots of serious offshore anglers not traditionally attracted to power cats. While there are plenty of fishing features packed into the 280 CC-X, we’ll first note a few power-cat firsts that this boat includes. Up at the bow, World Cat has engineered a clever, offset windlass arrangement that allows the anchor roller to be situated at the center of the bow, instead of in one of the two hulls. That means the anchor is easier to deploy and retrieve. Also a first is joystick steering.
Twin Yamaha F300 four-stroke outboards power the 380 CC-X. Fully throttled they’re capable of pushing this moderate-sized cat up to a top speed of around 59 mph. Efficient cruising happens around 30 mph, which nets two miles per gallon of fuel efficiency. There’s 220 gallons of fuel capacity, offering up plenty of range. Once you’re out at the canyons you’ll enjoy a bevy of baked-in fishing features. Rod stowage is just about everywhere, from under the gunwales, up to the hard top, and back at the stern. Additional stowage is under the console unit, as is a head. A transom door enhances boating big fish and a live well and rigging station sit behind the helm seating. If you’re hauling your catch back to the dock, you’ll appreciate the ample fish locker under the cockpit. Folks on the hunt for a smooth-riding center-console with the chops to go offshore after the denizens of the deep should give the 280 CC-X a close look.
Scarab 195 Open Fish
Are fishing, watersports, and family fun your game? If they are, Scarab introduced a new jet-powered center-console fishing boat at the 2016 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show that might tickle your fancy. We ran a prototype a few months earlier and can weigh in on Scarab’s uniquely different fishing machine.
Like any jet boat, the 195 Open Fish provides thrilling acceleration and performance, and on the 195 it comes courtesy of a single 250-horsepower, three-cylinder Rotax engine. While our tests of the prototype were unscientific, we saw acceleration to 25 mph in around eight seconds—that’s fast, by the way—and an overall top end around 40 mph. A benefit of the jet is that it makes this boat highly maneuverable. Whether you’re running to cast for flounder in the back bays or towing your kids on a tube, this boat aims—and succeeds—to please. Luckily Scarab hasn’t simply slapped a center-console unit on top of its already successful 195 and called it a day. They’ve put plenty of thought into making it a boat that’s good at more than just one thing. Take the transom, for example. It’s actually a tailgate that folds out to provide either additional casting space or an easy way to suit up to go wakeboarding or skiing. Farther forward in the bow is another large area to cast from, replete with a drop-in casting chair that’s actually quite comfortable.
And Scarab hasn’t forgotten about rod stowage. Around the gunwales are several places to drop in a rod, and there’s also space for stowing them under the gunwale. We’re also big fans of the generous application of foam decking throughout this boat. It’s kinder to feet, knee joints, and lower backs than bare fiberglass decks during the course of a long day on the water.
The 195 Open Fish is comfortable, to boot. Despite its relatively short length there’s a head tucked under the console unit, easily accessible by simply lifting up the front end of the unit itself. There’s a curtain for privacy, which means folks can use the head as a changing room for watersports. You can also opt for cushions to cover the forward and aft casting platforms. This allows you to outfit the boat for entertaining or strip it down for serious fishing business. There are also twin jump seats under the aft casting platform. The 195 Open Fish is a chameleon when it comes to possible uses, and the best part about it is its affordability. Starting at under $40,000, the 195 is within reach of a lot of anglers who might not otherwise be able to afford a new fishing boat. The biggest decision you’ll likely need to make is what activity you’ll use it for first.