Great Family Fishing Boats

Trick out these models for cruising, water sports and angling.

sixfamboats.jpg
For the Family
Many boatbuilders now consider families when designing even the most dedicated fishing vessels, installing convenient cup holders, grab rails, even cushioned seating. Those models prove perfect for folks whose sport fishing still dominates their boat use, folks who occasionally entertain on board or take their kids to a sandbar. But some fishermen — particularly those with children in the 8- to 15-year-old range — find that family truly takes over their on-water focus. Their kids and spouses love the water, love fishing, love cruising and love water sports. For them, a truly versatile family-first boat fits the bill. A good number of vessels occupy the family category, but here are six selected by their builders as highly popular for that demographic. I asked these six boatbuilders (listed alphabetically) the following questions to better explore the needs of this group and showcase the highlights of these vessels. 1) What do you believe today's family fishermen are looking for in a boat?
2) What are the important safety and construction features they look for, or should look for?
3) What amenities seem to make them most happy and comfortable?
4) What are the key fishing features you make sure to include in any true family boat?
whaler240running.jpg
Boston Whaler 240 Dauntless
To begin with, Boston Whaler employs a team of in-house designers who spend time with customers in their boats and with owners of others brands, says Jeff Vaughn, Whaler's vice president of sales, marketing, and customer service. "They say: 'So, tell me stories. Where do you go with your boat? What do you do with your boat?' — while they literally sit in the customer's boat." Vaughn says Whaler believes that families are most interested in five key areas: 1)__ Simplicity
2)__ Versatility
3)__ Comfort
4)__ Fishability
5)__ Safety Vaughn says the 240 Dauntless meets all these needs. For comfort, it offers ergonomically designed seating that meets accepted guidelines for height, angle and support. -- continued on next slide.
whaler240detail.jpg
Dauntless Aft Bench Seat/Casting Deck
Aft, the full-width bench (pictured) features a backrest that’s cushioned on one side with fiberglass nonskid on the other, so it converts to a broad casting deck. To fish forward, the captain simply folds down the plush bow seating and stows the cushions to create another open platform. A handy livewell, ample rod holders, and fish boxes complete the versatility. When it comes to the style of boat families choose, Vaughn says center-consoles like the Dauntless still outsell dual-consoles and cabin boats. He says buyers should always water-test a boat before purchase. Whaler has also built a reputation for safety with its unsinkable pedigree. Other attributes that make a boat safe include nonskid surfaces, wide foot falls, handrails at the right height and recessed hinges, in addition to solid construction. SPECIFICATIONS
LOA 23 ft. 11 in.
BEAM 8 ft. 6 in.
DRAFT 14 in.
DEADRISE 16 deg.
MAX POWER 300 hp
edgewater280cxrunning.jpg
EdgeWater 280cx
This model name simply states its dual purpose: crossover. "Today's fishermen want more overall utility," says Daniel Robinson, EdgeWater's marketing coordinator. The 280cx "can replace a number of different types of boats." The spacious cockpit — characteristic of dual-consoles — offers loads of versatile fold-down seating. Add the wraparound lounge area in the bow, and families can plan a perfect evening cruise or daytime picnic. Plus, the cabin belowdecks comes with a sink, head and optional microwave. For fishing trips, EdgeWater includes a hardtop with rod holders, electronics boxes and LED lighting on its larger boats. Full-length rod boxes, insulated fish boxes and large livewells are also standard. The 280cx comes with a 28-gallon livewell, prep sink and storage for tackle, three fish boxes, and undergunwale and flush-mounted rod holders. “As a semicustom builder, we can also build a boat with unique features to meet the specific fishing needs of customers,” Robinson says. -- continued on next slide.
edgewaterdetailhoriz.jpg
280cx Cruise Package Options
(Pictured: A grill and refrigerator come with the Cruise Package.) Safety should also be a primary concern for families, he says. “It’s important to consider how the boat is built, how it handles under extreme conditions, and what type of engines and components are on the boat — are they the most durable and reliable?” Robinson points to EdgeWater’s SPI stringer-grid system as a hallmark of construction strength. The company uses a single-piece infusion process that creates a unified structure to add solidity to the hull. SPECIFICATIONS
LOA 28 ft.
BEAM 9 ft. 6 in.
DRAFT 20 in. (boat only)
DEADRISE 21 deg.
MAX POWER 600 hp
everglades243running.jpg
Everglades 243cc
Everglades says its family buyers look for an uncluttered deck — which makes moving fore and aft effortless and safe — plenty of storage, and easy accessibility, meaning they can beach-hop or raft up with minimal hassle. For Everglades, those qualities — plus abundant fishing features — have made the 243cc the company's most popular model. At first glance, it’s easy to see this boat’s inherent fishability. It features a 36-gallon livewell, a 67-gallon fish box with pump out, two tackle lockers, undergunwale power ports, lockable rod storage and four flush-mount rod holders in the gunwales, plus more on the standard hardtop or optional second station. -- continued on next slide.
everglades243ccdetail.jpg
Standard Hardtop
(Pictured: The 243cc comes with a standard hardtop, loads of rod storage and stylish fit-and-finish.) However, for the family, Everglades adds touches such as stern seats with folding backrests, a forward U-shaped bow seating area with cushions, wraparound coaming bolsters, low-profile aluminum powder-coated bow rails, Fusion stereo, LED lighting and recessed cockpit drains — all standard. “Creature comforts are abundant,” says Everglades’ marketing coordinator Kristy Curry. “We are targeting the consumer who wants high-end quality and amenities, as well as a yacht-style fit and finish.” SPECIFICATIONS
LOA 24 ft. 3 in.
BEAM 8 ft. 2 in.
DRAFT 16 in. (boat only)
DEADRISE 19 deg.
MAX POWER 300 hp
grady285running.jpg
Grady-White Freedom 285
Many family fishermen don't know exactly what style of boat they want when they start looking, says Shelley Tubaugh, Grady-White's vice president of marketing. "But when they start talking about being able to fish and tube and picnic, the dual-console becomes the clear choice." That versatility, as well as comfort and safety, tops the wish list. “Having a place for everything and everything in its place might be the best way to say it,” Tubaugh explains. “They want the equipment available to use a boat in multiple ways all in the same day.” The 285 offers cushioned seating, a sun deck, ample dry storage, tucked-away shelving and trays, saltwater and freshwater washdowns, a sink, optional grill, and a swim platform — to name a few amenities. The 285 comes with four standard flush-mount rod holders, three horizontal rod racks and two insulated fish boxes. A 32-gallon insulated livewell with full-column distribution can be added aft. -- continued on next slide.
grady285detail.jpg
Bow Lounge
(Pictured: The bow lounge area sets up for picnics, or gear and seating can be stowed for fishing.) Grady’s construction process and materials also result in a safe, reliable hull, Tubaugh says. Buyers should not only consider the level of foam flotation, but also seek a true self-bailing cockpit, where everything drains overboard and not into the bilge. “Look for hand-laid fiberglass construction, which makes a boat more solid and longer lasting,” she says. “The attention to detail — like having a handrail right where you need one, deep freeboard, well-built toe rails, water-accessible swim ladder — can make the difference in how you feel at the end of your day on the boat.” SPECIFICATIONS
LOA 28 ft.
BEAM 9 ft. 6 in.
DRAFT 20 in.
DEADRISE 19 deg.
MAX POWER 600 hp
pursuit325running.jpg
Pursuit DC 325
"When you consider the family, I think it's all about additional comfort, adequate seating, sunshades and ease of moving around the boat," says David Glenn, Pursuit's marketing manager. "I think the fishing-boat market has changed from true hard-core center-consoles to hybrids such as the new DC 325." Pursuit designed this dual-console’s attributes such as high freeboard, soft corners, great visibility from the helm, and adequate handrails with safety and maintenance in mind. All boat “furniture” is built using one-piece technology for strength and consistency, Glenn says. Standard equipment includes an anchor windlass — a key feature for families since it enables anyone to hoist the hardware without breaking a sweat. Pursuit also extended the transom bracket on either side of the outboards, creating more maneuvering room aft for swimmers and fishermen. -- continued on next slide.
pursuit325detail.jpg
DC 325 Belowdecks
(Pictured: Rod storage and a convertible berth inside the port-side console.) For anglers, a 25-gallon livewell, two 36-gallon insulated fish boxes, three flush-mount rod holders, plus undergunwale and belowdecks rod storage, and a tackle center provide more-than-adequate fishing amenities. To put the final touches on a total fishing and family package, add the optional retractable sunshade that deploys electrically from the hardtop, a ski tow package, outriggers, and additional rod holders. “We are not a price-point boat, and we strive to deliver yachtlike quality and features in all the fishing boats we build,” Glenn says. SPECIFICATIONS
LOA 34 ft. 6 in.
BEAM 10 ft. 10 in.
DRAFT 22 in.
DEADRISE 20 deg.
MAX POWER 600 hp
scout251xsfishing.jpg
Scout 251 XS
While the 251 XS displays lower-freeboard bay-boat lines compared with other models in this category, it certainly demonstrates Scout's attention to family details and customized styling. "Families are looking for a boat on which they can do many things — something they can catch fish on with their buddies or families and something they can still be proud of when they pull up to the dock to entertain friends or have a date night," says Scout spokesman Mark Jerkins. Families will want to look at the optional seating packages, which include bow cushions and forward bolsters with grab rails, a casting-deck extension/table conversion package, and the sun-lounge filler cushion. -- continued on next slide.
scout251xsdetail.jpg
Aft-Deck Seating
But the 251 XS already comes with a Fusion stereo, transom ladder and an expansive, cushioned transom bench seat that completely folds down to an aft casting platform (pictured). Scout “fished up” this model with two standard livewells and a release well, loads of rod storage, and a 10-inch jack plate. The angling options list is also long, for optimal customization. “Style, performance, safety and reliability are key,” Jerkins says. SPECIFICATIONS
LOA 24 ft. 10 in.
BEAM 8 ft. 6 in.
DRAFT 13 in.
DEADRISE 18 deg.
MAX POWER 300 hp