Dream boats take on all shapes and sizes, depending on where you fish and the species you target. They also reflect the imagination and vision of the angler. We talked with 25 captains who ply coastal and offshore waters around the country — from Massachusetts to Alaska.
Most run charters, but a few are serious tournament fishermen. All offered their view of the perfect beauty (in terms of a vessel, of course). They listed four reasons why this particular boat met their high standards and they sent us their photos.
We have listed the boats in a fairly random way, mixing up the sizes and locations so you will see the variety from start to finish. When we had more than one photo per boat, we included them.
Is your dream boat on this list?
Capt. Bob Murray (charter)
Charleston, South Carolina
Dream boat: 32 Regulator (current boat)
- The beautiful lines on the Regulator are a great design but obviously functionally thought-out relative to sea comfort in the ride.
- Top speed is 60 mph, which allows me to get to my favorite fishing holes and adjust quickly to a changing sea.
- There’s no better design due to the size of the fish holds and the rod storage and even the two livewells.
- The ride is the real deal; it allows 10,000 pounds of boat to get you there and back without requiring you to have back surgery.
Estimated cost: $250,000
Sea Born NX23
Jerry Riccio (tournament captain)
Cape Coral, Florida
Dream boat: Sea Born NX23 (current boat)
- Draws only 9 inches but can handle offshore fishing.
- Customizable by the manufacturer to my specifications (shallow-water anchor, windlass, four livewells, etc.)
- Very fuel efficient w/ Suzuki 175 four-stroke (5 mpg at cruise)
- Top-notch electronics package installed; feeds all information through 12-inch multifunction display.
Estimated cost: $65,000 to $72,000
Capt. Rimmer Covington (charter)
Dream boat: 390B SeaVee with triple 350HP Yamaha outboards (current boat). Jose Wejebe introduced me to SeaVee in 2006. It didn’t take long to realize that the fit and finish, ride, speed, range, stability, layout, and overall fishability were far superior to anything I had ever experienced.
- Fishability. I can utilize every inch of the boat, 360 degrees, to safely and effectively attack the fish. I have two livewells (65 and 70 gallons) and four tuna tubes.
- Electronics. I have Simrad’s NSO 15, NSE 12, and BSM-2 with chirp, which make navigating in the dense Mississippi River fog and at night much safer, and those poor fish can’t hide from the chirp.
- Speed. In the Gulf, we make long runs, sometimes up to 100 miles. I can cruise comfortably at 40 knots in 2- to 3-foot chop.
- Quality Construction. Durability and attention to detail can make or break a boat. We put thousands of hours a year on this boat.
Estimated cost: In the high $300,000s
42 Gamefisherman Walkaround
Capt. Greg Bogdan (charter)
West Palm Beach, Florida
Dream boat: 42 Gamefisherman Walkaround (Bogdan currently runs a center-console, inboard boat, but wishes for a larger vessel like a Gamefisherman, made in Stuart, Florida. He’d prefer a 44-footer, but the company doesn’t make one.)
- Having a boat that I can use to do all the types of fishing I need to do — in the inlet, along the beach, offshore, in the Bahamas — is a must.
- Customizable to have: a tower, two livewells in the deck, a small well in the bow, a transom fish box.
“Guess-timated” cost: $1 million
Capt. Robert “R.T.” Trosset (charter)
Key West, Florida
Dream Boat: 34 Yellowfin. Trosset owns a 34 Yellowfin, and it’s powered with twin Suzuki 300 four-stroke outboards. It also sports a pair of Simrad 12-inch NSS touch-screen displays with a chirp sounder, radar and autopilot.
- The double-stepped hull offers a great, dry ride and great fuel economy.
- The 34 offers awesome fishability with great toe room.
- It’s a big boat, but small enough that one captain can run it.
- I can get it into 20 inches of water to net pilchards, and the two baitwells hold plenty of live bait.
- The quality and build finish is awesome.
Estimated price: $230,000
Maverick Master Angler
Capt. Tom Van Horn (charter)
Dream boat: 17-foot Maverick Master Angler (1995, current boat)
- Classic look and design
- Extreme stability, smooth and dry ride.
- Ample below-deck storage, including two large livewells
- She’s paid for — haven’t had a boat payment in years.
Estimated cost: $20,000
Capt. Terry Nugent (charter)
Dream boat: Contender 33T, Twin 300 Mercury Verados, Raymarine Electronics
- The Contender 33T is a huge, open trailerable center-console that lets me fish a variety of locations in a variety of ways very effectively.
- It is fast, and with 400 gallons of fuel has tremendous range. I can cover tons of ground quickly. The combination of speed, range and rough-water handling let us get out, hammer the fish and get home while the rest of the fleet stays at the dock.
- Raymarine electronics. The combination of two huge e-series screens, 12KW Super HD radar and chirp allow me to locate birds and fish that may go undetected on a lesser-equipped boat.
- The Verados are whisper quiet, making communication with the crew much easier. They provide enough power to push the boat to 60 mph and do so with awesome fuel economy.
Estimated cost: $250,000
Scout 251 XS
Capt. Jamie Hough (charter)
Charleston, South Carolina 843-364-1759 flatspotcharters.com
Dream boat: Scout 251 XS (current boat)
- The boat rides like a dream and floats in 15 inches of water. I was able to lay everything out on the boat exactly as I wanted — from the electronics to the pump systems and the rod holders.
- It’s extremely maneuverable and is great for charters and tournaments. It has tons of livewell space and everything else I need.
- It’s fast with the F350 Yamaha; tops 60 mph.
- Did I mention it rides like a dream? Like a hot knife to be exact.
Estimated cost: $118,000
Capt. Bill Platt (tournament captain)
Dream boat: 36 Invincible (current boat)
- Great fishability, lots of room
- Fuel-efficient Yamaha F300s
- Plenty of speed when time counts
- Lots of storage for fish and tackle and personal bags
Estimated cost: $300,000
24-foot Pro-Line Custom
Capt. Dan Clymer (charter)
Crystal River, Florida
Dream boat: 24-foot Pro-Line custom bay boat (current boat)
- Plenty of room for my Crystal River fishing clients
- An elevated half-tower for extra visibility and storage beneath
- Great ride for inshore and offshore — can fish both any given day
- I custom-rigged my boat, no large console to contend with: clean, simple. Everyone that sees it says “this makes sense.”
Estimated cost: $50,000 (base cost)
Capt. Paul Mandella (charter)
Bay Shore, New York
Dream boat: Southport 29CC (current). When I found this line after several years of researching center-consoles, I knew my search was over.
- It’s very stable while drifting due to its broad beam. I regularly fish four anglers down one gunwale for striped bass and needed a boat that would not heel over under those circumstances.
- It’s extremely economical when considering it carries 500 hp on the stern. I run the boat on plane, and the fuel gauges report 15 to 17gph, depending upon sea conditions.
- My Southport is built like a tank and handles sloppy conditions with a very soft and dry ride, making for happy clients on those “sporty” days
- The lines of this hull are just beautiful in my opinion. The large Carolina-style bow flair and tumblehome aft are something not found in other center-consoles in my area.
Estimated cost: About $200,000
Edgewater 225 CC
Capt. John Raguso (charter)
Long Island, New York
Dream boat: Grady-White Voyager 248 (pictured on this page) or Edgewater 225/228 CC (Raguso is shopping used models for the 2014 fishing season.)
- Each is the best boat in its class from a speed, ride and fuel efficiency standpoint
- Extremely well made and “max functionality,” ergonomic design
- Max fishability
- Excellent resale value
Estimated cost: $20,000 to $25,000
Onslow Bay 32
Rob Lupola (tournament captain)
Navarre Beach, Florida
Dream boat: Onslow Bay 32 (currently owns a 27)
- The 27 is the best boat I’ve ever owned; it meets the needs of hardcore fishermen. The 32 would only be better.
- Small enough to tow but large enough to handle big seas.
- Has all the fishing amenities I need.
- The builder makes one at a time and is involved in the entire process with his hands-on expertise.
- Entire deck is flush with all storage belowdecks; includes a gutter for drainage.
Estimated cost: $205,000 fully rigged
Brad Runyan (tournament captain)
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Dream Boat: Jupiter 38. Runyan sold his previous Jupiter 38, which he had campaigned in a number of South Florida Tournaments, but plans to purchase and customize another one again in the near future.
- I have found the hull to be very fuel efficient.
- With high-quality components throughout, it is easier and less expensive to maintain the boat in the long run.
- The design is very stylish, in my view.
- The design is very versatile, offering features for the family and serious fishermen.
Estimated price: $400,000
Capt. Jimmy Decker (charter)
Newport Beach, California
Dream Boat: Everglades 243cc (current boat). Decker’s Everglades 243 center-console/bay boat has no top and is powered by a Suzuki 300 four-stroke outboard, with a bow-mounted trolling motor.
- It’s built like a brick outhouse with top quality construction and components throughout; it’s virtually indestructible.
- I fish everything from inshore for calico bass to 60 miles offshore for marlin, and it can really handle the rough water.
- The boat is very stable and safe.
- It is easy to trailer and launch and load, which I usually do by myself.
Estimated price (with trailer): $90,000
Grady-White Atlantic 26 Flybridge
Capt. David Bacon (charter)
Santa Barbara, California
Dream Boat: Grady-White Atlantic 26 Flybridge. Bacon’s dream boat, which he currently owns, is no longer offered by Grady-White. The company built them in 1991 and ’92 only, but our research indicates there are some Atlantic 26s available on the used-boat market. There are also a number of other owners who rave about the design of this boat.
- The roomy cockpit is great for six-pack charters.
- There’s a big cabin on this boat that lets people get out of the weather and stay warm on long runs.
- The boat’s twin Yamaha outboards offer great maneuverability — excellent for calico bass fishing around “boiler” rocks close to shore.
- The flybridge lets me read the water from a higher perspective.
- With the walk-around on this boat, you can easily get to the bow to man the anchor or fish.
“Guess-timated” price (as rigged): $250,000 (boat originally sold for a base price of around $78,000).
Intrepid 375 Tournament Edition
Mark Henderson (tournament captain)
Cape Carteret, North Carolina
Dream Boat: Intrepid 375 Tournament Edition. (Henderson currently fishes his dream boat on the kingfish tournament circuit. It is powered by triple Yamaha F300 outboards.)
- The quality of Intrepid is second to none, particularly in the attention to detail.
- They built a very fast, dry fishing machine that gets surprisingly good fuel economy and handles rough seas like no other center console.
- The stability, comfort, style and ride of this center-console fishing boat gets my team and me to the fishing grounds quickly and more comfortably than any other boat I’ve ever owned or fished.
- Every fishing amenity that I could think of was manufactured into this design. The 375 Tournament Edition was developed and built for the serious fisherperson and any boat owner that wants to ride in comfort, style and quality.
Estimated price: $400,000
Modutech Marine Custom 46
Capt. Andy Mezirow (charter)
Dream Boat: Modutech Marine Custom 46. Mezirow currently owns his dream — a 46-foot custom aluminum fishing boat from Modutech Marine.
- Versatility — up to 14 fishermen can fish along the rail for day trips. The boat is also perfect for long-range trips of up to a week.
- Speed and economy — the Cummins QSL 9-liter engines push the boat to a top speed of 30 knots, and we can cruise fully loaded at 21 knots. At that speed I burn 30 gallons per hour. On long trips, I can go into displacement mode and sip just 4 gallons per hour at 10 knots.
- Seakeeping — this is the best rough-water 46-foot boat I have even been on.
- Fit and finish — it is a workboat finish, built like an Alaskan commercial boat on the outside, but on the inside it is finished like a luxury yacht.
Estimated price: $700,000
Capt. Fred Robert (charter)
New Smyrna Beach, Florida
Dream Boat: EdgeWater 220IS. Robert had fished charters with four other brands of inshore boats before finding his dream boat — the EdgeWater 220IS — which he has been fishing for 2½ years. It is powered by a Yamaha F250 outboard, and he has a tower to help find fish.
- I have found that the hull runs very dry – an important consideration in choppy, windy conditions.
- It is easy to maintain and put on the trailer, which I usually do by myself.
- Of course, it fishes well inshore, but I can also go offshore with four large customers without any problems
- If you have to change a pump for a baitwell or work on the boat, it is very easy – everything is accessible.
Estimated price: $65,000 with a tower and Yamaha F250 outboard
Shallow Sport X3
Capt. Doug Stanford (charter)
Dream Boat: Shallow Sport X3. Stanford has this 25-foot Texas-sled-style bay boat on order with a 300-hp Yamaha four-stroke outboard to use for inshore charters for redfish and seatrout along the Texas coast. Apparently, it is the dream boat of many others, as there is a six-month waiting list for deliveries.
- This boat runs in extremely shallow water, easily cruising in 4 to 6 inches while barely on plane, great for pursuing redfish in back-lakes that are very difficult to access otherwise. At rest, it draws only 8 inches of water, and can jump on plane in 12 inches of water.
- The deck is 9 feet wide, offers tons of fishing room for a trio of anglers.
- It handles rough water with ease. I have seen it take on 6-foot seas very smoothly.
- You can order up to 120-gallon fuel capacity for incredible range.
Estimated price: $60,000 with a Yamaha F300
World Cat 320EC
Capt. Carl Nyman (charter)
Dream Boat: World Cat 320EC. Nyman currently runs a Uniflite Salty Dog 28, but aspires to own the World Cat 320 EC — his dream boat.
- The beamy design offers the stability and width I need for taking passengers comfortably fishing for salmon.
- The extra width means I can troll with as many as four downriggers at a time.
- Having a cabin lets passengers stay warm and dry when we’re underway in cool, damp climate of the Pacific Northwest.
- There’s plenty of seating, so passengers have a place a take the load off when the fish aren’t cooperating.
Estimated price: $350,000 with twin Suzuki DF300AP outboards
SeaVee 430 Fish-Around
Capt. Barry Brightenburg (charter)
San Diego, California
Dream Boat: SeaVee 430 Fish-Around. As of this writing, SeaVee was on the cusp of debuting Brightenburg’s dream boat — the SeaVee 430 Fish-Around. Brightenburg would order the boat with diesel/pod drive power for comfort and fuel efficiency in Southern California, but would prefer outboard power if fishing somewhere in the tropics such as Panama.
- I have always admired SeaVee boats for their fit and finish. The company has a solid reputation and you know it will stand behind the boats it produces.
- For Southern California fishing, this boat offers the shelter and weather protection we need to get away from the damp, cool air and spray.
- The size is perfect for venturing safely offshore and to islands such as San Clemente.
- The full 360-degree fish-around layout offers outstanding castability and fishability from virtually any point around the rail.
- The recessed walkways forward offer generous freeboard and the peace of mind that kids can venture to the bow safely.
“Guess-timated” price: $500,000
North River Sounder Walk Around 30
Capt. Tom Ohaus (charter)
Dream Boat: North River Sounder Walk Around 30. (Ohaus currently owns his dream boat. He helped design this aluminum boat specifically for his charter business. The boat was completed in the spring of 2013.)
- The full walk-around at deck level allows for maximum fishing space – anglers can follow a hooked fish all around the boat.
- A roomy cabin offers comfort when traveling to and from the fishing grounds in the cool, damp climate of Southeast Alaska.
- I love the hull – it is a deep-V design with wide, flat chines. The boat delivers a soft ride in chop and rough seas, and is an incredibly stable platform at rest. The boat also has a fantastic ride in a following sea. It has absolutely no tendency to bow-steer or broach.
- Excellent performance and low fuel burn. The Volvo Penta D6 330 allows me to run at 25 knots at 2,800 rpm with four or five anglers, a deckhand, ice, fully fueled and completely equipped. Even with the 150-gallon fuel tank topped off, I’m getting more than 2.5 nautical miles per gallon.
- It’s quiet and there is no diesel smell.
Estimated price: $190,000
Customized 44 Pacifica Convertible
Capt. Mark Wisch (charter)
Huntington Beach, California
Dream Boat: Customized 44 Pacifica Convertible. The last 44 Pacifica Convertible was built in 1991, but on the used-boat market it is prized by anglers, many of whom purchase one to refurbish and customize. Wisch has chartered on a number of boats, but believes a renovated 44 Pacifica — which he has previously owned with partners — would be the best choice of all.
- Very seakindly hull that provides a smooth ride in nastiest of seas.
- The flybridge is roomy, very comfortable, with plenty of room for electronics at the helm.
- The bucket-style crow’s nest is easily accessible, and its enclosure offers more security than other towers.
- It carries lots of fuel for outstanding range.
- You can install customize
d bait tanks to carry as much as 300 gallons of bait water without stressing the boat.
“Guesstimated” price to buy, renovate and customize: $450,000 to $500,000
BAMF Boats 30 Fish-Around
Capt. Mike Keating (charter)
Dream Boat: BAMF Boats 30 Fish-Around. Capt. Mike Keating has been fishing out of Sitka, Alaska, for 20 years, but could not find the perfect boat for his Big Blue Charters business. So he started BAMF Boats to design and build his own. Among the various fiberglass BAMF models, his dream boat is the 30 Fish-Around powered by a single Volvo Penta D6-370 diesel sterndrive.
- Sturdy fiberglass construction is quieter and smoother riding than the traditional aluminum Alaskan fishing boats, and its finished fiberglass gunwales are easier on your thighs and knees when fighting a big Pacific halibut or king salmon along the rail.
- Full walk-around deck lets you fish from virtually any point on the boat.
- Roomy cabin affords full weather protection and warmth for crew and passengers when running to and from the fishing grounds.
- With the single diesel, the boat is very efficient, able to cruise at 28 knots while burning just 12 gallons per hour with a full load of gear, fuel, passengers and crew.
With a 200-gallon fuel tank, fishing range is outstanding
Estimated price fully rigged, ready to fish: $210,000