(Please be sure to click through all the images in the gallery above.)
The growing popularity of bay fishing plus the ever-present desire to expand one’s piscatorial stomping grounds has produced a specialized boat category that builders might call the coastal hybrid. Anglers first saw the proliferation of 24-foot bay boats with slightly higher freeboard a few years ago, followed by a few 25-footers and finally a 26-plus-footer.
“Every design aspect of the 25 Bay was centered on the idea of creating a boat versatile enough to fish in almost any circumstance,” says Contender’s Les Stewart Jr. about the company’s 25-footer, which debuted on the water in 2012.
For a closer look at these specialized crossovers, we examined six vessels for their inshore and offshore capabilities. They’re listed from shortest LOA to longest.
EDGEWATER 240 IS
This bay boat lives up to its inshore design with elevated fore and aft casting decks. It also offers 19 inches of gunwale height in the middle of the layout to keep crew secure, in case you decide to blast out to the Gulf Stream on a nice day when the mahi are biting.
Load it up with the max horsepower of 350 on the standard electric jack plate, and you’ll have the speed to get there and back quickly. The 77-gallon fuel tank should provide sufficient range.
The 240 IS also features the peace of mind of a self-bailing deck and flotation that makes it unsinkable. Though it has only 14.5 degrees of V at the transom, the sharp entry of the variable-deadrise hull knifes cleanly through chop, and the 24-foot LOA is long enough to bridge moderate wind waves. Standard Lenco trim tabs let you fine-tune the ride to the sea conditions.
The 35-gallon aft livewell should keep you supplied with bait on any forays off the beach, as well as when you’re casting pilchards to shore pockets and points while bay fishing.
LOA: 24 ft
BEAM: 8 ft. 7 in.
DEADRISE: 14.5 deg.
MAX HP: 350
EdgeWater Power Boats
While much about the 243cc denotes “bay boat,” Everglades avoids such a label when describing its 24-foot-3-inch center-console design. The self-bailing interior is encircled by deeper gunwales than in most bay boats. Even the forward casting platform is recessed, yet the low freeboard is bay boat-esque, as is the optional bow-mounted trolling motor. Hull draft with the engine up is just 16 inches.
The most telling offshore quality of the 243cc is the hull’s deeper V. With 19 degrees of deadrise at the transom and sharp entry forward, it’s steeper than most bay boats, allowing the hull to slice smoothly through choppy water if you run outside for king mackerel or to fish a coastal wreck for snapper. The maximum horsepower rating of 300 and the 80-gallon fuel tank also imply offshore capability.
Wherever you go, you’ll appreciate the 36-gallon livewell in the aft deck and 75-gallon in-sole fish locker. We’re not sure if this is a bay boat that you can take offshore, or an offshore boat you can fish inshore. Whatever — with the 243cc, you have the versatility to fish both.
LOA: 24 ft. 3 in.
BEAM: 8 ft. 2 in.
DRAFT: 16 in.
DEADRISE: 19 deg.
MAX HP: 300