Inshore and nearshore saltwater fishing has grown more popular than ever, and boatbuilders have created a plethora of models designed for this angling genre. Whether you cast to the mangroves for snook, intercept tarpon in the pass, pop for stripers in the bay or present baits to redfish in the surf, there’s an inshore fishing boat to meet your needs.
Many that made our 25 best list are labeled center console bay boats, but you’ll also find an occasional hybrid model in the mix. Hopefully this list goes a long way in helping you buy your next inshore fishing boat. The boats are listed alphabetically by brand.
BlueWave 2400 Pure Bay
INSHORE ATTRIBUTES: The 2400 Pure Bay represents the pinnacle of modern bay-boat design, according to BlueWave, which builds this model. The 2400 Pure Bay boasts features including a Pro Series 3-inch drain that is nearly impossible to clog and an AFD drain system that helps keep the deck dry in almost any conditions. The interior offers expansive casting decks.
Boston Whaler 210 Montauk
INSHORE ATTRIBUTES: In many ways, this is the quintessential inshore center console with a pedigree that harkens back to Boston Whaler’s classic 17 Montauk. The 210 Montauk takes this platform to new levels of angling performance. A shallow draft enables you to stalk game in skinny water. And you can safely move about the deck while fishing thanks to Whaler’s penchant for designing boats with superb stability at rest. Anglers will appreciate the expansive forward deck with a large fish box, anchor locker and convertible cooler seat not to mention the four standard rod holders and optional aft livewell.
Carolina Skiff 198DLX
INSHORE ATTRIBUTES: You've just got to love a hull that can plane in 3 inches of water, and that's exactly what the Carolina Skiff 198DLX can do, thanks to a unique tunnel-hull design. That means you can cross inshore flats to get to fish that few other boats can reach. "Our new Tunnel Skiff Series delivers the ultimate in shallow-water boating," says Joe Kirkland, CEO and president of Carolina Skiff. The 198DLX also features elevated front and rear casting decks and Bay Star hydraulic steering for easy piloting of this inshore fishing machine.
INSHORE ATTRIBUTES: Anglers will find the Century 2200CC loaded with inshore angler amenities, including oversized insulated fish boxes on both port and starboard sides and a 30-gallon livewell under the rear cushioned seating. The 2200CC also features a readily accessible raw-water wash down for easy cleanup. Anglers will appreciate the vast storage available including the port side rod locker that can hold up to three 8-foot rods, as well as storage locker under the bow seats. This inshore center-console will handle outboards power to 250 hp.
Cobia 201 CC
INSHORE ATTRIBUTES: Introduced in the summer of 2013, the new Cobia 201 CC quickly gained a strong following in inshore circles for its roomy layout, high-sided security and comfortable ride. Standard big-boat fishing features include a 50-gallon fish box that drains overboard, 26-gallon livewell with clear acrylic top for monitoring baits, and storage for up to 12 rods. Easy access to the rigging and batteries is achieved underneath the transom seat, and the console has plenty of room for electronics, stereo and a VHF.
Contender 25 Bay
INSHORE ATTRIBUTES: Contender has put its 32 years of boatbuilding experience into the design and construction of the 25 Bay. Drawing only 12 inches, the 25 Bay can fish skinny water. Its fore and aft casting decks offer plenty of room for multiple anglers. With a pair of steps, the hull rides on a cushion of air while underway. The 15 1/2-degress transom deadrise provides outstanding stability at rest. This boat's backbone is a one-piece, solid-glass structural grid for lightweight strength. It is rated for outboards up to 350 hp.
INSHORE ATTRIBUTES: Versatility is just one of the attributes of the EdgeWater 220IS. With a draft of just 13 inches and a stable 8½-foot beam, this center-console can easily take you into shallows to pursue redfish and other inshore species. The Single-Piece Infusion hull offers solid construction. The 220IS comes standard with two large livewells to keep your baits healthy and separated for a full day out on the water. And there's plenty of room to fish, thanks to spacious forward and aft casting decks. Equipped with the optional tower, the 220IS makes spotting fish easier than ever.
Everglades Boats 243
INSHORE ATTRIBUTES: This boat appeared in our gallery — 25 of the Decade's Top Boats — so it's a natural to make this list, as well. The Everglades 243cc combines aspects of an inshore-fishing boat with features from offshore machines. For example, there's a forward casting platform, but it is recessed more than on most bay boats. Draft with the engine up is 16 inches, so you can sneak into the shallows. With 19 degrees of deadrise at the transom, this inshore center-console slices through choppy water. The 243cc carries a maximum horsepower rating of 300.
Grady-White 251 CE
INSHORE ATTRIBUTES: Grady-White's new 251 CE represents a notable departure from the vaunted North Carolina boatbuilder. While not marketed as a bay boat, this coastal-hybrid was designed to excel at inshore-fishing assignments. It draws just 14 inches, making it great for stalking the shallows.
Hydra Sports 23 Bay Bolt
INSHORE ATTRIBUTES: With a beam of 8 feet, 10 inches, this is one of the beamiest bay boats on the market. And the 23 Bay Bolt draws only 10 inches, giving you the ability to approach fish in extremely shallow water. It is also one of the lightest and strongest 23-footers, thanks to a Kevlar-reinforced hull and a carbon-fiber transom. Dual livewells provide ample bait for a day of fishing. All of the hatches feature compression latches to keep your gear high and dry. The maximum outboard horsepower rating of 300 gives the 23 Bay Bolt lightning speed.
Mako 18 LTS
INSHORE ATTRIBUTES: The 18 LTS features the company's patented Rapid Planing System transom, which helps boost holeshot and top speed, as well as provide for smooth handling. It also translates into straight tracking when poling the flats. Inside, you’ll find raised, non-skid fore and aft casting decks, spacious storage areas, aerated forward-console livewell, helm seat/cooler and rod storage to ensure you have all the tools you require.
NauticStar NauticBay 244 XTS
INSHORE ATTRIBUTES: NauticStar drew on its 27 years of manufacturing experience in designing the NauticBay 244 Extreme Tournament Series (XTS). "Since autumn of 2002, our NauticBay line of bay boats has been greatly received by the avid tournament and recreational angler," says NauticStar president and founder Phil Faulkner. The 244 XTS features two livewells and storage for 28 rods. The aft casting platforms offers flip-up jump seats with storage under each. Though this inshore center-console draws only inches of water, the sharp-entry V-hull provides a remarkably smooth ride, says Faulkner.
Pathfinder 2400 TRS
INSHORE ATTRIBUTES: If you've spent any time inshore on the Atlantic or Gulf coasts there's a strong chance that you've seen plenty of Pathfinder 2400 bay boats. The most recent version, the 2400 TRS, melds hardcore-angling features, integrated deck seating and plush touch-points to make a luxurious fishing machine. At 23-feet, 11-inches long and 8-feet, 6-inches wide, the boat has room for plenty of passengers and the size to handle any bay chop, but still floats shallow. Though designed with fishing in mind, 2400 TRS owners value its inshore versatility whether skiing, snorkeling or island hopping.
Pioneer 220 BaySport
INSHORE ATTRIBUTES: Pioneer calls its 220 BaySport the ultimate 22-foot hybrid bay boat. It can fish in 15 inches of water, yet can run offshore on a good day. It boasts a sharp entry and sweeping Carolina flare. It also features raised forward and aft casting platforms, as well as fore and aft livewells. The 220 BaySport offers built-in strength thanks to Pioneer's unigrid stringer system and reverse-cap deck adhesion.
Ranger Boats 2310 Bay Ranger
INSHORE ATTRIBUTES: Ranger Boats says the 2310 Bay Ranger has evolved from decades of design and development in coastal salt water. The 23-foot, 4-inch center-console bay boat features an ultra-wide bow flare that helps deliver a dry ride. The custom sheer line results in a a minimum gunwale height and huge front casting deck. The 2310 is rated for up to 300 hp, while fuel capacity specs out at a healthy 76 gallons. Inside, the 8-foot, 4-inch beam offers stability for anglers, and the floor plan is geared for quick, easy movement while fighting a fish. The 2310 also features a skid-resistant deck and interior, upright level flotation, stowable jump seats and trim tabs.
Scout 251 XS
INSHORE ATTRIBUTES: "Our 251 has characteristics of a bay boat, but also has a proud bow and aggressive lines that allow it to be taken offshore easily," says Scout Boats' CEO and founder Steve Potts. This 24-foot, 10-inch center-console, which replaces the 240 Bay Scout, has a draft of approximately 13 inches for backwater fishing. Standard features include a large anchor locker, port and starboard lockable rod storage boxes, high-performance leaning post with rod holders, transom ladder and trim tabs. The 251 XS also showcases Scout's patented T-top/glass enclosure. Maximum outboard horsepower is 300 with a fuel capacity of 80 gallons.
Sea Born FX25
INSHORE ATTRIBUTES: The Sea Born FX25 is a completely new boat based on an 8-foot, 9-inch beam and a single-step hull, designed by renowned naval architect Jeff Seyler. The full-forward flare and wide beam are designed to enhance the styling of the transom tumblehome and molded engine bustle. Inshore-fishing features include bow and stern livewells, an elevated foredeck, locking storage for eight rods, a voluminous anchor locker and aft coaming bolsters.
Sea Chaser 210 LX Bay Runner
INSHORE ATTRIBUTES: The Sea Chaser 210 LX Bay Runner from Carolina Skiff offers a high number of standard features at an affordable price, making it a great value among inshore center-consoles. "We completely redesigned the Sea Chaser Bay Runner to ensure unrivaled tracking, turning and acceleration, and the best price-performance possible," says Joe Kirkland, CEO and president of Carolina Skiff. Standard features include a comfortable new console with full instrumentation and a large dash area for flush-mount electronics. The new Sea Chaser console also offers a quick-release windshield for garage storage.
SeaHunter 24 Bay
INSHORE ATTRIBUTES: SeaHunter says its 24 Bay offers many features that outshine the competition. Those include a huge forward casting platform that can easily accommodate three anglers, a pair of massive livewells, a comfortable rear bench seat and a wide bow flare, for a dry ride in choppy water. The 24 Bay draws 14 inches, even when fully loaded. Maximum outboard horsepower is a Yamaha F350.
ShearWater Carolina Flare Series 26
INSHORE ATTRIBUTES: The ShearWater Carolina Flare Series 26 combines a high level of fishing functionality and versatility with a sharply raked prow and tapered hardtop, resulting in one of the sexiest designs we've seen in an inshore center-console. The Carolina-style flared bow not only helps knock down spray, but also expands the square footage of the forward elevated casting deck. The helm-seat base houses a livewell with a viewing window to keep an eye on your bait. A stern bench seat with a pair of removable backrests stows quickly when it's time to fish. The stepped hull is designed to introduce a cushion of aerated water under the running surface to increase top speed and efficiency. For power, you can order up to twin 200 hp outboards – more ponies than most boats in the genre.
Sportsman Masters Series 247
INSHORE ATTRIBUTES: The Sportsman Masters Series 247 is designed for the inshore/nearshore enthusiast with a sharp forward entry and an advanced, foam-filled, fiberglass-grid stringer system for strength and a quiet ride. This 24-foot, 4-inch boat features a lockable side-entry console with room for a portable marine head, and Sportsman's exclusive rear seat with a "Total Access" hatch for easily reaching the aft rigging. The hull draws 14 inches and is rated for outboards up to 300 hp.
Spyder FX19 Vapor
INSHORE ATTRIBUTES: The FX19 Vapor is the newest center-console skiff in the Spyder stable of flats boats. This boat is built using hand-laid biaxial glass and a foam I-Beam construction system for maximum strength with minimum weight. Several packages are available to rig the boat as a technical poling skiff with platforms, or as a shallow-water casting skiff without platforms. Features include three insulated 70-quart livewells (two aft and one forward), which can be configured as baitwells, release wells or storage lockers. The FX19 draws just 7 inches, allowing you to effectively fish the flats for bonefish, permit and tarpon. Maximum outboard horsepower is 150, though Spyder recommends a 115. Fuel capacity is 31 gallons.
Sundance DX22 HP
INSHORE ATTRIBUTES: The DX22 HP features a 5-inch-deep tunnel on the running surface, allowing for a 20-inch shaft outboard to be used on a 25-inch transom for exceptional shallow-water performance. This inshore center-console draws only 6 inches of water. It also has elevated forward and aft casting decks, an 84-quart livewell and a 76-quart cooler under the helm seat. Maximum outboard horsepower is 150.
Tidewater 2400 Bay Max
INSHORE ATTRIBUTES: Tidewater's 2400 Bay Max offers style, functionality and versatility. Featuring wood-free construction, this big inshore center-console provides lots of interior room, a sculpted sheer line, a sharp forward entry and a flared bow. With a transom deadrise of 15 degrees, it draws 14 inches of water. Inside you'll find dual livewells, lockable rod storage and a console with room for a marine head. A rear seat with a removable backrest provides your crew with extra comfort. Maximum outboard horsepower is 300.
Yellowfin 24 Bay
INSHORE ATTRIBUTES: With flush casting decks fore and aft, a hydraulic jack plate, a draft (with engine up) of 14 inches, and 15 degrees of transom deadrise, Yellowfin's 24 Bay definitely appeals to inshore anglers. Yet with a maximum outboard rating of 350 hp, a 75-gallon fuel tank, a sharp forward entry, relatively high gunwales in the middle of the self-bailing interior, you can race offshore and back when seas are calm. Make no mistake, the Yellowfin 24 Bay is one of the great inshore fishing machines.