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BOAT SENSE: INSHORE FISHING BOATS

In this installment of The Fisherman Magazine’s monthly “Boat Sense” series for 2017, Capt. John Raguso breaks down the finer points of the ideal inshore fishing boat for Northeast and Mid-Atlantic anglers.
By Capt. John N. Raguso

Peter Orlando, the Marketing Director for EdgeWater Powerboats, concurred with this inshore laundry list and mentioned that most of these special features are built into their twin Inshore Series craft, the 220IS and the 240IS. Both feature a broad, stable, single piece infusion hull, which is shallow enough to probe the back bays, but is large and strong enough with enough vee to tame runs offshore. Two livewells, massive storage compartments, locking rod boxes and loads of standard features make these hybrid sportfishers ready to go, with options that include a trolling motor, T-top, power pole and a mini tower.

Bryan Harris of Everglades Boats described some of the common features shared by their trio of hybrid inshore boats, the 243, 253 and 273 center consoles. “Our hybrids share a top-shelf construction pedigree, including low-profile, powder-coated bow rails and pop-up cleats; lower gunwales with a large cockpit to give you all the space and freedom to move around; under-gunwale rod storage; plenty of dry storage and lockable rod storage; large livewells and fishboxes; roomy fore and aft casting decks; foldaway stern seats in the aft casting deck that are located on either side of a large insulated cooler, all of which combine for a perfect marriage of comfort and functionality.”

By this time, you’ve probably started to develop an understanding of the preferred standard features that some of the best and most advanced inshore boats have in common. However, you should also realize that these are not mandatory requirements for all inshore boats, just a wish-list of some of the most desirable features found on a handful of the top boats.

I recently purchased a used, smaller inshore boat for my family to enjoy on their aquatic adventures and many of these aforementioned common core features were definitely on my radar screen for the 185 EdgeWater CC, but not all of them were included. Like the majority of boating decisions that are driven by need, opportunity, budget, safety, performance and more, I was forced to “compromise” and get the inshore boat that had the most of these need-driven items from a lengthy wish list, that ultimately blended them all into a safe, roomy and capable angling and entertainment platform.

When I was searching the usual internet websites and local boat dealers for my ultimate used inshore boat, I had established the following attributes that any boat to make the short list should/must have, broken down into the mandatory deal-breakers, and the sure-wish-it-had-it variety. That list is as follows:

Inshore Boat Must Have List:

  • Positive foam flotation
  • Self-bailing cockpit sole
  • 20 inches of cockpit depth
  • 25-inch transom height
  • Recirculating livewell with self-bailing drain
  • Raised forward casting platform
  • Onboard or removable fishbox/cooler
  • Basic rod storage
  • Easy access to bilge pumps and wiring
  • Wood-free construction, especially in the hull and transom
  • Removable gas tank hatch
  • Top-shelf boat builder
  • Minimum 50-gallon fuel tank

Inshore Boat Wish List:

  • Sturdy 1-piece S/S bow rail
  • Flush anchor locker
  • Provisions for an electric trolling motor
  • Two batteries with switch
  • New electronics
  • Rod storage
  • Tackle storage
  • Raw water washdown
  • No bottom paint
  • Trailer
  • Medium sized console with storage underneath
  • Leaning post with rocket launcher/back rest in lieu of twin helm seats
  • T-top with rocket launcher
  • Trim tabs
  • One owner
  • Minimal wear and tear with no historical damage
  • Aft jump seats with storage down below
  • Transom wave gate


I will save my detailed rationale for some of the wish list items for "buying your first new/used boat." However, as an experienced 36-year boat owner, boat tester and charter boat captain, the reasons for the mandatory must-haves were a straightforward no-brainer for me. This formerly owned EdgeWater 185cc is going to be used by my kids and grandkids, so positive foam flotation, a self-bailing cockpit sole, 25-inch transom and a minimum of 20 inches of cockpit depth were total deal-breakers for me—and I walked away from dozens of boats during my two-year search because they lacked one of these critical components.

From an ergonomic standpoint, the concept of an inshore boat is to cover the gamut from the skinny water back bays to near-offshore shark or deepwater fluke drifts 10 miles off the beach. With its 54-gallon fuel tank, 16-degree aft deadrise vee bottom, wide reversed chines, raised forward casting deck, recirculating livewell, leaning post with rocket launcher, and 94-quart Igloo cooler that doubles as a fishbox/cushioned bench seat forward of the console, this boat will deliver on those expectations. Sure, it doesn’t have new electronics, but there’s a place to put a new Furuno GP1870F GPS/fishfinder, and a new VHF radio, so it has potential. Plus it has a collapsible/removable Bimini top to keep my grandkids from getting too much sun.

While the ideal inshore center console features low-profile rails, plus pop-up cleats and deck hardware to minimize snags, I will have to compromise with this 1999 EdgeWater 185cc with its beefy oversized thru-bolted 8-inch stainless steel cleats and high-profile 1-inch forward rail, but overbuilt is always better than underbuilt! Plus this inshore boat was never bottom painted, was still owned by the original purchaser who kept it sheltered in between trips inside of his garage, came with a working roller trailer and was well within my budget parameters. The fact that it was located down in Wilmington, NC made for an interesting 32-hour, 1,390-mile road trip to get it back to Long Island, but that’s another story. This inshore boat is ready to fish!


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