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The overwhelming majority (95 percent) of boats on the water in the United States measure less than 26 feet in length, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. These boats are trailerable, generally affordable and easy for one person to manage.

Center console fishing boats at the lower-end of this size class usually feature a single outboard, while boats pushing 26 feet usually offer an option for twins. Here are 20 of the best center console boats that measure under 26 feet currently on the market. Although we tried to keep budget and affordability in mind, this is not a collection of the best fishing boats for the money. Do note the boats are listed alphabetically by brand.

The Barker 26 Open was designed for the angler who wants to fish for tarpon, snook and redfish in the bays, but who also wants to feel comfortable fishing for bluewater species such as dolphin and sails. The 26 Open is based on a patented 25-foot Michael Peters-designed twin-stepped hull that introduces a cushion of air under the boat to increase lift, speed and fuel efficiency. Inside, the Barker carries a deep deck throughout most of the interior, with abbreviated casting decks in the bow and stern.

Boston Whaler says its 250 Dauntless bay boat which debuted late last year, delivers a high-quality experience with its smooth ride and spacious deck, outfitted with fishing features such as a 35-gallon aft-deck livewell, bow fish box, and a full-beam casting platform astern. Choose from several leaning-post options, one of which includes a second livewell. Family members will enjoy the bow sun pad, with port and starboard folding backrests, and the console lounger with armrests. Whaler also employed folding backrests for the port and starboard stern seats. Choose from multiple Mercury power options up to a 400 hp XXL L6 DTS Verado.

The Crevalle 260 HCO is designed for anglers with families that want the most a bay boat can offer. With a 90-gallon fuel capacity, the 26 HCO can reach speeds in the mid-50s with a 350 hp outboard. This model includes two removable 72-quart coolers, an in-console portable marine head, and a storm-gray helm face with integrated foot rests and a standard 12-inch multifunction display. It also has two 28-gallon release wells; a baitwell/cooler; lockable rod storage for 10 rods; powder-coated leaning post with backrest, rod holders and rigging tray; and in-floor storage for a five-gallon bucket.

The North Coast 230 all-composite center console features high freeboard, a pleasing sheer line, trim tabs and a self-bailing cockpit. Fishing amenities include rod holders, rod storage under the gunwales, fish boxes forward, and oversize rugged hardware. Two automatic bilge pumps, crosslink poly fuel tank with shut off valve, and fuel/water separator are standard features on the boat. The 230 hits speeds in excess of 40 mph, with crew and gear, when powered by 250 hp engine, the company says.

The 2500 Hybrid inshore/offshore bay boat is the first fully vacuum-infused Pathfinder model. It offers the integrated aft seating of the TRS series as well as a high-performance, double-stepped hull similar to the HPS models. A new deck layout focuses on a large, single-level foredeck, more cockpit space and additional freeboard. It comes with standard fishing features such as a 43-gallon insulated fish box, locking rod storage, and a 35-gallon livewell.

Regulator Marine has added a second model to its XO center-console crossover lineup with the 24XO, a smaller sister to the 26XO. This new 24-foot-4-inch hybrid bay boat comes standard with dozens of features, including a fiberglass hardtop, 25-gallon aft starboard livewell, two bow fish boxes with locking rod storage, a leaning post with rocket launcher and tackle storage, a 12-inch Garmin display, and a saltwater washdown. In Yamaha testing with an F300, the 24XO hit a top speed of 50 mph at 5,900 rpm, achieving 1.90 mpg.

With its ample beam and catamaran design, the World Cat 230CC offers anglers a roomy cockpit that seats 10 and the seakeeping ability you might expect from a much bigger boat, World Cat says. Amenities include a 30-gallon livewell, 75 gallons of fish-box space forward, and loads of rod holders and storage. The 230CC also floats in 9 inches of water, for fishing coastal beaches and bays.

The Yellowfin 26 reflects a distinctive blend of offshore- and bay-boat features. The upright livewell behind the helm seating and available twin outboards definitely speak to offshore anglers, while the elevated aft casting deck caters to inshore fishing enthusiasts. A level foredeck is standard, but you can order an optional elevated foredeck from Yellowfin, which adds even more appeal for inshore anglers. The elevated aft casting platform serves double duty: Seat backs lift up in each corner so crew members can kick back while running to and from the fishing grounds. A hatch in the middle of the aft deck provides access to the immaculate bilge rigging.

Be it deep-V mono-hulls or multi-hulls, offshore, bay boat, or hybrid models, outboard-powered center console fishing boats have clearly become the most popular among saltwater anglers, outselling all other boat types by a wide margin.

Versatility leads the way in the best center console fishing boats under 30 feet. Larger models in the category offer seaworthiness to handle offshore demands; smaller and midsized hulls are scaled for comfort and efficiency on inshore fishing grounds.

The 280 Outrage from Boston Whaler offers loads of features and the legendary, unsinkable design for serious saltwater angling and safety. Twin helm seats, a three-sided tempered glass windshield and integral hardtop offer superb comfort. A lounge on the forward console conceals voluminous stowage underneath. A transom bench seat folds down for fishing, and bow seating converts to a forward casting platform. A pair of livewells hold plenty of bait for a day of fishing. You can power this boat with up to 800 hp for the speed to get to the fish in a hurry on a smooth-riding hull.

A mainstay at the top of the best center console category, the vacuum-infused 280 CC from Cobia offers superb running performance, tournament inspired fishing features, and a long list of family friendly amenities. Smartly laid out, with touches like a front entry head and an electric hideaway bow table, seen mostly on larger boats, the Cobia appeals to the serious angler with a large tackle station, twin in-floor fish boxes, tons of rod storage, and a 42-gallon livewell. Optional features include forward-facing backrests at the bow, a fully enclosed windshield below a color-matched hardtop, and a full array of electronics. Whether on the fishing grounds or at the sandbar, the 280 CC delivers with style, comfort, and performance.

When the blue water beckons, the best offshore center console fishing boats over 30 feet get you there fast and efficiently, with a margin of seaworthiness and safety that takes unpredictable weather and rough water in stride, along with the features and amenities to maximize your days offshore.

The 44CB (Canyon Berth) from Contender combines the unparalleled fishability of the 44ST with cabin accommodations to escape the elements. Equipped with a center console berth, the 44CB provides both the comfort and functionality needed for long runs and overnight trips. With a maximum power rating of 2000 hp, the 44CB will get you to the grounds quickly and comfortably. Powered with triple or quad engine configurations, the boat offers outstanding speed, performance and reliability. Each CB is equipped with a freshwater sink, slide-away marine toilet, 70-gallon fresh water capacity, 400-quart under berth storage and optional a12-volt air conditioning system. Additional features include two 110-gallon aft insulated fish boxes, two 55-gallon transom livewells, a 340-gallon insulated forward fish box, and two 10-foot forward rod lockers.

As the second largest boat in the Yellowfin fleet, the 42 Offshore offers world-class bluewater fishing capabilities. Available with triple or quad outboard power options up to 2,000 hp, this center console offers exceptional speed. The proprietary stepped-hull design also provides optimal fuel efficiency and a dry, smooth ride. A roomy cabin within the console enables comfortable overnighting, with an available generator providing the power for air conditioning on sultry days and nights. The 42 goes toe-to-toe with comparably sized inboard sportfishers, but will outrun and outmaneuver them all. Like all Yellowfins, numerous customization options let you build the perfect 42 for your needs.

The Mako Pro Skiff 17 is a small powercat, which eats up a chop better than any monohull we can think to compare it to. Though we tested this model on a lake in Missouri, a breeze provided plenty of chop, boat traffic created some larger waves in the mix, and we were rather shocked at how well the Pro Skiff handled it all. Listing at $16,395 with a 60-horse four-stroke outboard and a trailer, pricing is more than reasonable and the only visible presence of cost-cutting is the use of a roto-molded center console instead of a fiberglass console. The boat also comes with more standards than one would expect in this price range, including a 65-quart swing-back cooler seat, five vertical rodholders, a 10-gallon livewell with a 500 GPH pump and adjustable spray-head, and a helm switch panel with lighted rockers and a 12-V outlet. For more information, visit Mako Boats. Editor's Update: Since this article was published the price of the Pro Skiff 17 has increased to over our price ceiling, at an MSRP of $23,395.

Designed from the outset with the sport of fishing in mind, center console boats are a popular choice for both inshore and offshore anglers alike. The helm on these boats is conveniently located in the center of the boat, leaving an open passageway on either side, as well as open bow and stern decks at the front and rear of the vessel making for easy casting and catching. The hull design is typically built to withstand rough waters, making it an ideal boat for ocean fishing. 59ce067264


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