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2019 FISHING BOAT BUYER’S GUIDE - PART 1

Outboard powered sportfishers continue their evolutionary journey, breaking new size and capability barriers with each passing season. Here’s part 1 of the ultimate guide for what’s new in fishing boats for 2019.
By Capt. John N. Raguso

The good times continue for 2019, with the economy still riding a positive note, consumer confidence high and gas prices relatively low. Bottom line, it’s a good time to go boat-shopping and I’ve done most of the research and legwork for you. So sit back and enjoy the ride as we explore some of the most interesting new outboard-powered sport fishing boats for the 2019 model year.

BOSTON WHALER
Last season’s new 150 and 170 Montauk were a popular redesign for a model lineup that is still revered by coastal trailer boat anglers, five decades after the original 17 Montauk was first introduced. Following up on this effort, Whaler introduced the redesigned 190 and 210 Montauk models at this past year’s Miami Boat Show as 2018-1/2 models, completing the big splash of Boston Whaler’s 60th anniversary year.

The new 190 and 210 Montauks feature increased storage space throughout, including an integrated forward fishbox/storage compartment and a bow locker with fiberglass cover, both with overboard drainage. Seating has been enhanced as well, with cushioned aft quarter seats that are standard on the 210 and optional on the 190. Both models feature a reversible pilot seat with locking backrest and storage below. Underway, boaters are treated to a soft, safe and dry ride, courtesy of a precision-engineered redesigned hull and Whaler’s Unibond construction. Rugged hose-and-go utility makes these the perfect craft for fishing, exploring and pleasure boating with family members of all ages. Operators will appreciate the intuitive helm console with stainless steel accents. Reliable, efficient Mercury outboard power options are available up to 150hp on the 190 Montauk and a 200hp on the 210, with both boats available with hydraulic steering. Each Montauk is readily customizable through a purposeful array of options. For anglers, the optional Fishing Package adds a 72-quart (190 Montauk) or 94-quart (210 Montauk) cooler seat with cushion and backrest, tackle drawers, and added console-mounted rodholders. Several state-of-the-art Raymarine electronics packages are available to enhance navigation and fish-finding capabilities.

Boston Whaler is taking boaters into an exciting future with the all-new 380 Realm. Combining the open cockpit of a center console with the convenience and comfort of a cabin boat, the 380 Realm is designed to empower boaters seeking to share new experiences with family and friends. Part center console and part cabin cruisier, the 380 Realm is the second member of the family lineup, joining last season’s 350 model. Also new for 2019, Whaler upgraded the 130 and 160 Super Sports, marking a keel-up redesign for this popular utility series. Available with a variety of seating configurations, features and options, these family-friendly skiff models are easy to customize for favorite activities including watersports, fishing, exploring and more.

For more information, visit www.bostonwhaler.com.

ALBEMARLE
Albemarle Boats has introduced the 27 Dual Console for the 2019 season to meet the demands of boating families wanting to do a variety of on the water activities. Her deep-v hull and solid fiberglass construction offer the soft dry ride necessary to run in big open water. The 27DC is loaded with amenities and offers comfortable seating from bow to stern to provide ample room for the entire family. An electric head, freshwater sink and cockpit shower have the basic necessities covered. The starboard console houses a bunk and a cavernous dry storage area for larger items like rods and water toys. Charging ports are located throughout the boat in case you forget to leave your electronic devices at home. In addition to seating, the cockpit offers a huge insulated in-deck box that can be used for storage or to hold your catch. An insulated multi-purpose transom box is also plumbed as a livewell, plus there’s an insulated 64-quart cooler beneath the aft-facing seat. A transom door makes it easy to get from the cockpit to the integrated swim platform and ladder. The optional hardtop, bow and cockpit sun shades will keep you cool on hot summer days, and the full height windshield and custom enclosure will keep you dry and comfortable when the weather conditions deteriorate. With a 190-gallon fuel tank, you’ll go a long way between fill-ups. The external Armstrong outboard bracket maximizes foot space in the 58-quare foot cockpit. The 27DC can be powered with your choice of either Yamaha in-line four cylinder F200s or the V6 4.2-liter F250s. I was able to jump aboard this beefy 8,000-pound (dry weight) family sportfisher down at the recent Ft Lauderdale boat show and she feels a lot larger than 27 feet, which is a good thing when you’re miles from shore.

For more information, visit www.albemarleboats.com.

CAROLINA SKIFF
A talk with some of the Carolina Skiff folks down at the recent Ft Lauderdale boat show confirmed that there was nothing new for 2019. The latest newbie from last season was the 24 Ultra Elite, which features an elevated full-width casting deck across the stern that is ideal for sight casting to schools of gamefish, and an aerated 20-gallon lighted well in the port corner that will keep your baits lively all day. When underway, the aft deck area quickly transforms to a trio of independent cushioned jump seats that lift up on compression hinges. Standard accommodations at the helm are a leaning post/rocket launcher with thick cushions on the seat bottom and backrest for the captain and mate. A four rod rocket launcher aft of the backrest will stow your sticks out of the way until they are needed. There’s a removable 100-quarrt insulated cooler down under, plus a flip down footrest for added comfort when underway, in addition to a molded fiberglass footrest built into the console. A six-pack of horizontal racks are set under each gunwale for added rod storage, augmented by four flush-mount rodholders installed in the covering boards. The console’s dash will accommodate a 10-inch multi-function display for your marine electronics needs.

A spacious full-width casing deck in the bow converts into cushioned lounge seating for the crew when it’s time to hit the beach, supported by removable backrests on either side and low profile stainless steel bow rails. A pair of dry storage lockers are set under the seating, with a removable deck table, a front deck swivel seat that pulls out when not needed, and an insulated storage box with LED light and overboard drain set under the cockpit sole. A hinged hatch in the forward section of the console swings up to reveal a private head area with standard porta-pottie, complete with a privacy curtain. Other notable standards include hydraulic steering, 24-volt trolling motor plug/panel, a removable rear deck swivel seat, a quartet of stainless steel pop-up cleats, swim platform and more.

For additional info, visit www.carolinaskiff.com.

BLACKFIN
Since it was acquired by Seabring Marine, Inc., the builder of Monterey Boats, the Blackfin brand has undergone a total transformation while continuing the tradition of toughness and reliability. Blackfin’s team of engineers, designers and fishermen spent years creating the ultimate next-gen fishing and family boat lineup. Since 1973, Blackfin has carried fishermen, friends and families on unforgettable adventures. The new Blackfin team recognizes this legacy and draws on a true passion for fishing and leisure boating, plus decades of experience, to deliver innovative boats that combine yacht-like design and legendary heritage with cutting-edge marine technology and high-end construction.

I was on hand at the recent Ft Lauderdale Boat Show to witness the debut of Blackfin’s all-new 33-foot center console, the 332 CC, and she’s a beauty. The 332 CC is equipped with a deep-v, twin stepped running bottom that is 10-1/2 feet in width and is rated to carry up to 900 sea ponies on the transom, which can be arranged in either twin or triple formats. The generous 315-gallon fuel cell will let you explore the blue water fishing grounds with a safe and solid feel under your deck shoes. The 272 DC takes last season’s proven 27 center console design and upgrades it to a family-friendly dual console layout, which is growing in popularity with each passing season. This 27-footer is based on a 22-degree aft deadrise running bottom with 9 feet 4 inches of beam, a 180-gallon fuel tank and is rated to carry up to 600hp on the transom. Standard amenities include a 21-gallon freshwater system with pressurized cockpit shower and washdown, Fusion stereo, seven gunwale mount rodholders, two roomy, in-deck insulated fishboxes with macerator pump-out, wet bar with sink, removable 35-quart Yeti Tundra cooler, in-floor storage, a vanity with freshwater sink, plus a head with porta-pottie and pump-out deck fitting and much more.
The current Blackfin family includes models that range between 21 to 33 feet. However, the scuttlebutt at Ft Lauderdale is that the company is planning on launching five new boats in 2019 that will include center and dual console models up to 40 feet in length.

For more information on Blackfin Boats, visit www.blackfinboats.com.

COBIA
I jumped aboard Cobia’s latest intro, the 240 CC at the Miami Show earlier this year and spent some time checking out this Florida girl up close. Ever since the Maverick Boat Group (which includes Maverick, Hewes and Pathfinder) acquired Cobia back in 2005, their star has continued to rise. Cobia represents one of the best brands of saltwater fishing boats on the market if you are looking for affordable quality, and the new 240 CC is a perfect example.

The 240 CC is equipped with everything you’ll need for a fun day out on the water as standard equipment, either bending rods in the bluewater, or pulling a tube loaded with kids in the back bays. The one-level cockpit makes for easy transit fore and aft. A pair of insulated 40-gallon fishboxes are positioned under the cockpit sole, with a second pair of insulated boxes set under the raised forward bench seats equipped with overboard drains that can do double duty as either backup fishboxes or to stow your safety and sport gear out from underfoot. Cobia has added a convenient deep stowage space positioned in between the bow benches in the cockpit sole, accessed easily by a flush locking hatch. When it’s time to anchor up over your favorite wreck, reef or beachside hideaway, a convenient vertical anchor locker in the forepeak will hold a generous amount of rode and features a through-stem stainless steel anchor chute that makes deploying the hook a breeze, plus its low-profile signature keeps it out of the way when maneuvering around dockside obstacles.

Cobia is a Yamaha OEM partner and offers Yamaha four-stroke outboards as their exclusive power source. According to recent factory tests, the 240 CC will hit a top speed of 49.3 mph powered by an F300 V6 spinning a 17-inch pitch SWS II prop. Cobia is planning to introduce the 240DC at the upcoming 2019 Miami Boat Show.

For more information, visit www.cobiaboats.com.

SCOUT
You’ve heard the expression, “go big, or go home.” Scout heard the call too and went large—very large in fact—with the pending introduction of their flagship 530 LXF model that has been a few years in the planning and development stages. Hull #1 has been making the rounds on the Yamaha test circuit, as they try to perfect the black art of getting this hull to run with five of their mega outboards, the 425 XTO V8s. Strapping four on the back was no challenge, since the Scout’s 14-1/2-foot beam has plenty of acreage to fit them on the transom. Indeed, powered by a quartet of the big 425 XTOs, the 530 LXF hit a top speed of 57 mph at 6,000 rpm. Throttling it back to 4,500 revs, factory tests indicated that this South Carolina girl hit 39.6 mph at 79.3 gph (gulp!), for a net of 0.5 mpg. This might sound like a lot of petrol being consumed, but remember this: the Scout 530 LXF tips the scales at almost 27,000 pounds dry and without power. Those mega Yamahas weigh almost 1,000 pounds each and there are four of them. Add 805 gallons of fuel at 7-plus pounds per gallon with thousands of pounds of onboard gear and that fuel efficiency number doesn’t look so bad, especially when you consider that you are covering a lot of sea surface quickly in a very large boat. Talking with the Scout and Yamaha engineers at the Ft Lauderdale show back in November, they surmised that adding the fifth 425 XTO will allow this battleship to break 60 mph and then some. If it were me, I’d be thrilled with four of those fire-breathin’ monsters on the back, but a lot of folks just have the need for more speed. If you are one of the lucky ones who are considering this supersized chariot as your next ride, you’d better move fast. The word at the show was that Scout had already taken at least a dozen advanced orders and they will probably make one of these a month, so if you snooze, you’ll lose. Scout will have hulls # 2 and #3 down at the upcoming Miami Show in February, with one in the water available for test rides and the other high and dry at the convention center. I can’t wait to hop aboard!

For more information, visit www.scoutboats.com.

GRADY-WHITE
Celebrating its 60th year in operation, Grady-White’s Canyon 456 CC was created for those looking for the top-of-the-line alternative to traditional luxury sportfish yachts, whether moving up from a boat they’ve outgrown or transitioning from a large inboard. The Canyon 456 is a perfect blending of tough battlewagon fishing machine and superior cruising yacht. With onboard storage for a total of 32 rods, she is ready to fish. Onboard control starts with Grady’s exclusive Sea Command Center, which is aesthetically striking, exceptionally comfortable and offers an amazing assembly of technology. The center’s ultra-comfortable forward-facing seating features four premium individual electronically adjustable seats, each replete with rich upholstery and stainless supports for the armrests. A fold down footrest for each adds even more comfort. The starboard center seat accommodates the captain, who has an easy reach to the ergonomically arranged array of systems, electronics and controls at the helm. CZone digital switching technology enables one-touch control of on-board systems including power, electrical, lighting, heat and air conditioning, even the seacocks. A software application allows remote command of these functions from your smart phone. Grady’s sea chest raw water reservoir allows remote electronic control for livewells, generator, air conditioning, washdown systems and more.

The Canyon 456 is equipped with a Seakeeper gyro stabilizer to give an added element of control in the most extreme sea conditions. The Yamaha Helm Master system with Set Point is also standard, further providing enhanced performance. The revolutionary Zipwake dynamic auto-leveling trim control system also assures maximum ride control. This canyon runner also offers a standard variable speed bow thruster. The entire helm area is covered by a stylish, sophisticated, enclosed AV2 T-top with an integrated wraparound windshield for maximum visibility and protection. Electronic side windows and a large overhead hatch allow plenty of fresh air, when the heating or air conditioning system is not needed. This top includes a built-in SureShade electronically retractable cockpit shade and LED spreader lights forward and aft. And now that she is being equipped with a quartet of Yamaha’s new 425 XTO extreme offshore V8 four-strokes, this Carolina girl will hit a top speed of 58 mph, with relatively fuel efficient cruising speeds between 30 to 37 mph at 0.64 mpg. Her dry weight is listed as 24,500 pounds without power, and ready to go with fuel and engines, she’s pushing 32,000 pounds. This is a beast, and her 616-gallon fuel tank will take you to the fishing grounds in style and comfort.

For more info, visit www.gradywhite.com.

PRO-LINE
I spoke with factory reps down at the Ft Lauderdale boat show and the bottom line is that other than a few tweaks here and there, there is nothing new for this fishing boat builder for the 2019 season. The latest addition in the Pro-Line stables is the 26 Super Sport center console. Measuring 26 feet 4 inches LOA with an 8-1/2-foot beam and a 22-degree aft deadrise running bottom, tipping the scales at 4,400 pounds dry, this Pro-Line will get you to out to the fishing grounds fast, especially if you outfit her with the max rating of 450 sea ponies. If you aren’t consumed by living life in the nautical fast lane, a pair of 150s will do just fine and will probably tweak max fuel economy from her 138-gallon fuel tank and provide bluewater range. A lighted 20-gallon recirculating baitwell is integrated into the transom to ensure plenty of room to fight the fish in the 92-square-foot cockpit. A pair of large 74-gallon insulated fishboxes with macerator pump-outs are set under the rear cockpit sole to chill out your catch of the day. Rod storage is conveniently located under the covering boards, courtesy of a pair of four-rod horizontal racks. When it’s time to fish, a pair of flush-mount rodholders are installed in each of the gunwales and the 27-inch cockpit depth will give max leg support to captain and crew when angling the big ones to boatside. There’s a large forward casting deck with two storage lockers down under, plus raised bench seating with a pair of insulated fishboxes with overboard drains. The console features a companionway on the port side to step down into the enclosed head area, which is equipped with a standard porta-pottie. When it comes time for relaxing back at the dock, the 26 SS has a molded bench seat with backrest forward of the console and the aft deck features Pro-Line’s foldaway transom bench seat with backrest. Other notable standards include cockpit bolsters, a T-top with LED spreader lights, hydraulic steering, electric trim tabs with LED indicators, dive platform with integrated ladder, plus seven pull-up S/S cleats. Wood-free composite construction and a 10-year structural hull warranty offer peace of mind.

For more information, visit www.prolineboats.com.

KEY WEST
The 263FS represents the latest and largest of Key West’s growing fleet of Family Sportsman boats, which include the 189, 203, 219, 239 and 244 models. This 263FS is packed full of the latest innovations in design and performance to provide the active outdoors family with all they could ask for out on the water. Standard features include an under-deck windlass, fiberglass hardtop, side-entry door with hidden ladder, power-assist steering, a folding bolster leaning post, dual livewells, and much more. When it’s time to go fishing, the 263FS is equipped with a staggering 22 rodholders, not including the horizontal storage racks under the gunnels that can hold your longest saltwater rods. That's more than most dedicated fishing boats in this class. When it’s time to relax and spend a quiet day in the bay or at the beach, 16 cup holders and a carry-aboard 75-quart portable cooler will keep a cold drink in everyone’s hand. There’s easy access to the fiberglass-lined bilge area to maintain all of the plumbing components. Owners can opt for twin outboards up to 500hp, but it will run in the mid 40-mph range with a single 300 for economical and relaxing days in the bay or out on the briny. Key West Boats all feature positive upright flotation for added peace of mind. Other notable standards include a recessed bow roller, windlass, plow anchor and S/S through-stem anchor chute; cushioned bench seating in the bow, forward of the console and aft; and cockpit bolsters.

For more information, visit www.keywestboats.com.

PIONEER
The big news from Pioneer is that their long-awaited 266 Pelagic center console is finally in the production stages at their Carolina Composites facility located down in Walterboro, SC. This project has been in the planning stages for at least the last four boat show circuits and it is not a “mirage,” since I had a chance to look at the prototype photos, and it has a lot of potential. The initial 266 Pelagic CC is powered by a pair of Suzuki DF250 four-strokes and from what I could see in the pictures, she sports at least a dozen flush-mount rodholders in the gunwales and across the full height transom cap, a powder-coated T-top with a six-rod vertical rocket launcher, a large recirculating livewell set aft of the leaning post, full cockpit coaming bolsters, twin raised bench seat forward, a roomy cockpit and much more.

The current Pioneer lineup now includes a total of 12 outboard-powered center consoles, bay boats and dual console designs ranging from 17 to 26 feet. Looking at another popular model, the 222 Sportfish is a trailerable center console equipped with a 32-gallon recirculating livewell built into the leaning post that also features a cushioned backrest and four-rod rocket launcher. Other fishing features include a tackle storage center, flush-mount and under gunwale rod storage, a 94-quart Igloo removable forward console cushioned cooler seat and twin forward fishboxes set under raised bench seats. Rated to carry outboards from 150- to 300-hp on the transom, the 96-gallon fuel tank will take her a long way between fill-ups. All Pioneer boats are backed by a transferable seven-year/lifetime structural hull warranty.

For more information, visit www.pioneerboats.com.


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