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Shopping or thinking about putting a new deck under your feet this season? Here’s part 1 of the ultimate guide for what’s new in fishing boats for 2018!
By Capt. John N. Raguso

These are happy times if you are a boat-owner or on the cusp of taking the plunge. Consumer confidence is up, the stock market is at record high levels, and the price of fuel is fairly stable in the lower end of its five-year range. Combine that with a new wave of high-tech next-gen outboards and marine electronics to complement whatever boat strikes your fancy and indeed, life is good. There has been a significant paradigm shift in the boating industry to offer consumers what they want more than ever before. This has been manifested in a number of different ad-hoc designs, including but not limited to family fishing center consoles, family oriented dual consoles and super hard-core 40- to 50-foot quad outboard, go-fast, long range center consoles. After having no boats for a 10-year stretch and now having recently purchased two used center consoles for my growing family, I couldn’t possibly be any happier as a boat owner; boating and fishing translates to quality family fun time! So sit back while I bring you up to speed on the latest that the outboard fishing boating industry has to offer so you can find some of that happiness too.

This industry leader is celebrating its 60th year in the business with the introduction of a trio of new boats to commemorate this milestone. The new 150 and 170 Montauk each feature a precision-engineered hull to deliver a remarkably soft, safe, dry ride. Rugged “hose-and-go” utility and effortless operation make these the perfect craft for fishing, exploring and pleasure boating with family members of all ages. Anglers can choose from numerous options to customize the 150 or 170 Montauk to precisely fit their needs. The optional fishing package adds a compass, a 36- or 72-quart cooler seat with cushion and backrest, console-mounted rodholders and tackle drawers. Raymarine electronics packages are also available to enhance fish-finding and navigation capabilities. The 170 Montauk also features an integrated 25-gallon fuel tank under the helm bench seat and a forward fish box with overboard drain. The 150 and 170 Montauk are also available with a retro classic teak package that includes teak boarding steps and swim ladder flooring, lending stylish “vintage” flair that coordinates beautifully with the boats’ clean, timeless lines. The 2018 version of the 170 Montauk is also longer, wider, deeper and beefier than its predecessor, giving it an added dose of seaworthiness. And to support the go-anywhere theme of the Montauk family, the new 150 and 170 each include a standard galvanized trailer with swing tongue, disc brakes and LED lights for safe and reliable transport. Stowing the 150 or 170 Montauk in a garage or driveway is now easier than ever before. The 190 and 210 Montauk models have also been upgraded for the 60th anniversary year. Boston Whaler is taking boaters beyond familiar territory and into an exciting future with the all-new 350 Realm. Combining the open cockpit of a center console with the convenience and comfort of a cabin boat, the 350 Realm is designed to empower boaters seeking to share new experiences with family and friends. Part center console and part cabin cruisier, the 350 Realm is the first of a new family lineup with additional members soon to come, so stay tuned.

For more information, visit www.bostonwhaler.com.

Allied Boat Works has upgraded its 24 Explorer for the 2018 model year to include a large center console with a generous head area and storage space, a port light, large aluminum framed access door, canvas T-top with LED spreader lights and four built-in rodholders, a molded deck anchor access and bulkhead access hatch to the anchor locker and storage area, forward U-berth seating with a bow bolster and cushion set, four S/S cup holders, plus a trio of storage areas with 30 cubic feet of space complemented by gas-assist access hatches. The 24 Explorer also includes a fiberglass leaning post with 40-gallon livewell, a cushioned bolster seat and backrest, six vertical rodholders, two S/S cupholders and a small under-seat storage area for your necessities. Additional console upgrades include open storage, a lockable glove box with twin USB ports and a 12-volt receptacle, plus two S/S cupholders. As a semi-custom manufacturer, Allied Boat’s options list is extensive, but includes a custom outboard motor bracket with full swim platform, power-assist hydraulic steering, premium sound system, fully plumbed ceramic head, multiple bow and stern seating configurations and more.

For additional information, visit www.alliedboatworks.com.

I had a chance to jump aboard World Cat’s latest sportfisher, the 280CC-X at the recent Ft. Lauderdale Boat show and found that this cat was meant to prowl offshore waters with feline prowess. This center console is the first World Cat craft to carry the “X” designation. The all-new 280CC-X provides the smooth-riding advantage of catamaran style twin-sponson hulls and marries it to bold and aggressive styling, the latest technology, unequaled deck and cockpit space, with new levels of comfort and first-class luxury. World Cat designers and engineers used an all-CAD approach to create an exceptionally stable platform with an all-new hull that provides a smoother, drier, more responsive ride in all types of sea conditions. Styling innovations include a sleek, graceful sheer line leading to a tumblehome aft, a swept-back glass-dash console topped by a surfboard-edge hardtop, plus an aggressive, unique bow with integrated docking lights and through-hull anchor.

CZone’s digital switching system, traditionally available only on larger craft, enables full-boat control with touch-screen convenience from one location. There’s no more balky panel switches and fuses or cantankerous circuit breakers. A spacious head offers 50 inches of sitting headroom and is accessible through a wide side-hinged door. Two large compartments in the aft deck allow easy access to the ship’s mechanical systems and were designed with both customer and dealer input to get it right. When it’s time to fish, a total of eight flush mount gunwale rodholders and a 30-gallon recirculating livewell get the job done. Twin 110-gallon fuel tanks support canyon range.

For more information, visit www.worldcat.com.

Southport Boats has introduced a new model on their popular 33-foot platform, the Southport 33 LX. The totally new LX deck plan offers all of the comforts and conveniences of a day cruising powerboat or fine yacht tender, coupled with the proven Southport ride. The most noticeable feature of the new 33 LX is a forward 270-degree wraparound pit seating area on the port side, which creates a comfortable and spacious lounge area in the bow. It is Southport’s answer to the sociability of a dual console, while still maintaining the center command station operation, visibility, functionality and fishability of a center console. As a result of this new layout, the boat features more tender-like amenities, including extra refrigeration, a microwave, coffee-maker, plus food and beverage storage and food-preparation areas, all wrapped up in a summer galley.

Additionally, the aft cockpit, a place once reserved exclusively for fishing, now becomes a far more inviting place to entertain and relax, but she can still perform when it’s time to catch your dinner. With the addition of an L-shaped wrap-around lounge in the aft port corner and wet-bar with refrigerator and bottle and glass storage in the leaning post, the aft cockpit rivals the bow area for comfort and social amenities. The 33 LX was the next evolutionary step for Southport, who saw their 33 platform take off in the first two years of production. For hardcore sport fishing enthusiasts, the Southport 33 FE, 33 TE or 33 ST are the logical choices.

For more information, visit www.southportboats.com.

This Maine-based boat builder’s coastal fishing boat lineup includes five styles of layouts from 14 to 25 feet. Maritime’s 14-, 18- and 20-foot rolled edge Skiffs are simple, basic, uncomplicated boats with maximum interior space, self-bailing cockpits and hulls that are fuel efficient and easily propelled with low to moderate horsepower. They are built strong and "unsinkable," are dry-running with a seaworthy ride. The distinctive feature of the Defiant center console series is the wraparound non-skid deck that facilitates easy boarding, installation of flush mount rodholders, pop-up cleats and self-bailing cockpits. Models 21 feet and larger have a large step down area under the console that provides room for storage and an optional porta-pottie or marine head. The Patriot and Voyager Center Cabin models combine all the benefits of a center console with the convenience of a full cabin. You can walk and fish around the side decks of the cabin without tripping over elevated steps. Additional weather protection is provided by each of these models giving you the opportunity to cruise, play or fish longer in comfort and security. The 21, 23 and 25 Express models feature a composite laminated glass windshield for strength and good looks. These boats have large versatile cockpits ideal for cruising and comfortably accommodating friends and family. Maritime’s 23 and 25 Challenger cabin models feature excellent visibility from the well-designed pilot house, a large comfortable V-berth that easily accommodates two adults and has a variety of seating, galley and cockpit configurations to meet your needs.

For more information, visit www.maritimeboats.com.

Wellcraft is celebrating its 60th year of operation with the introduction of the 202 Fisherman center console. This trailerable sportfisher joins a Fisherman family that includes 18-, 22-, 24-, 26- and 30-foot models that are all built from the keel-up to perform at their best when bending a rod either in the bay, inlets or in near-coastal environments. This newbie offers plenty of foot space onboard with a wide 8-1/2-foot beam. Her overall length is 20 feet 4 inches, and the 19-degree aft deadrise running bottom complements a 2,650-pound dry weight (without power) that provides max comfort to captain and crew when carving a path on your escapades, as her forward entry cuts smoothly through a tight afternoon chop. The max horsepower rating is 200 sea ponies, but she should be right at home with a 150-horsepower outboard, which will tweak the most miles from the standard 56-gallon fuel capacity. The 202 Fisherman CC features a forward anchor locker, bow storage, gunwale-mount combo rodholders/cupholders, stainless steel thru-hull fittings, plus a fiberglass stringer grid and foam flotation. Other notable standards include an aquarium style livewell tucked under the forward casting deck, a leaning post at the helm, plus twin folding jump seats in the aft corners. An opening hatch in the front of the console reveals a head area down below, which can be outfitted with an optional porta-pottie. The 202 Fisherman is available with 10 gelcoat color options, so you can totally personalize you ride. Optional packages can outfit the 202 Fisherman with mats, bow seating cushions, plus the offshore Scarab fishing scheme. She is available with either Mercury or Yamaha four-stroke outboard power packages.

For more details, visit www.wellcraft.com.

For 2018, last season’s 236CC is now re-designated as the 241CC and is set up for a single outboard motor application. The 240CC has also undergone a similar moniker change to the 242CC and features a wider 9-foot beam, with either single or twin power options. The latest Sailfish to hit the marinas is their 245DC, which made a mid-year splash in 2017. The 245DC is sized “just right” for most Fisherman readers and represents the best combination of seaworthiness, usable cockpit space, functionality and affordability. You can trailer it, keep it at a marina, stow it in your driveway or back yard for the winter and run it all day long without breaking the bank. The 245DC offers an impressive list of standard comfort, sport and fishing features. One of her most interesting attributes is that she is rated to carry up to 12 passengers, and there is a dedicated spot to sit every one of them! The port console features a roomy finished fiberglass head area down below complete with a sink and faucet. Owners can choose from an optional porta-pottie or electric marine head with holding tank and pump-out. The starboard console offers additional dry storage with access to the electronics wiring and accessory panel, plus the helm’s dash accommodates a 12-inch multifunction display. A flush hatch on the centerline of the cockpit sole positioned between the dual consoles opens up to create a deep storage area for all of your watersports toys like skis, wakeboards, tow lines and fishing rods. Other notable standards include a Bimini top, transom gate with folding boarding ladder, cockpit bolster cushions, 15 S/S recessed cup holders, LED interior and navigation lighting, a 25-gallon baitwell in the port transom corner, four flush-mount stainless steel rodholders and more.

For more information, visit www.sailfishboats.com.

This Florida boat builder has launched a pair of ocean-running center consoles for 2018, the 301 CC and the 320 CC. I was able to jump aboard both of these debutants at the recent Ft Lauderdale Boat Show, and both of these big Cobias have a lot to offer at a reasonable price. The new Cobia 301 CC has all of the great features that made its predecessor the 296 CC one of the top-selling 30-footers in its class, but has added a few nuances that take it to the next level. Upgraded features on this new sportfisher include an inward opening swiveling fiberglass door amidships in the cockpit on the starboard side for hauling the big ones aboard or for easy egress back at dockside. There’s additional foot space in the cockpit, plus a tackle station and bait prep rigging area that now includes a freshwater sink. The new center console command station puts all of the critical operational controls in the most ergonomic spots to maximize form and function. As an interesting aside, the dash panel can be color-matched to the hull for all those anglers (or spouses) who are slaves to making a fashion statement. Combine these with popular features like an electric bow table and this running bottom’s silky smooth ride, and you can see that the Cobia engineers have made a good thing even better. Also new for 2018 is the 301’s big sister, the 320 CC. This newbie shares her smaller sibling’s 21.5-degree aft deadrise running bottom, albeit on a larger, wider and beefier hull to better handle unpredictable offshore seas. Powered by a pair of Yamaha F300s, this Florida girl travels a long way with her 275-gallon fuel capacity in your pursuit of bluewater adventures.

For more information, visit www.cobiaboats.com.

Striper has complemented their 200CC and 220CC models by adding their biggest center console to date, the 270CC. With an overall length of 27 feet, 7 inches and supported by a 9-foot beam, the 20-degree aft deadrise running bottom tames the majority of sea conditions that you are likely to encounter on your long distance travels. The 190-gallon fuel capacity provides bluewater range for most coastal anglers with a 5,500-pound displacement that will soften the journey along the way. She is rated to carry up to 500 sea ponies on the transom, but a pair of 200s should do nicely and help you milk maximum range on your offshore trips. Standard essential fishing features on this neophyte include raw water washdown, an aerated recirculating livewell, recessed rod racks under the gunwales, flush mount rodholders in each covering board and more. Niceties include a locking head area to take care of business when nature calls; twin cushioned bench seats forward with storage bins down under; plug-in back supports when it’s time to show a softer side and catch some rays; plus platform extensions port and starboard that make it a breeze to get back onboard or to transit to and from the vessel at dockside.

For more information, visit www.striperboats.com.

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