Six Bay Boats You Can Take Offshore Fishing

Crossover models offer family comforts too.

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 the EdgeWater 240 IS, Everglades 243cc, Grady-White 251 CE, Yellowfin 24 Bay, and Pathfinder 2600 HPS Bay Crusher for their inshore and offshore capabilities. They’re listed from shortest LOA to longest.

EDGEWATER 240 IS

EdgeWater 240 IS
EdgeWater 240 IS Specs:
LOA: 24 ft • BEAM: 8 ft. 7 in. • DRAFT: 13 in. • DEADRISE: 14.5 deg. • MAX HP: 350
Courtesy EdgeWater

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.

EdgeWater Power Boats
Edgewater, Florida
386-427-9783
ewboats​.com

Everglades 243CC
Everglades 243cc Specs:
LOA: 24 ft. 3 in. • BEAM: 8 ft. 2 in. • DRAFT: 16 in. • DEADRISE: 19 deg. • MAX HP: 300
Courtesy Everglades

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.

Everglades Boats
Edgewater, Florida
877-902-6287
evergladesboats​.com

GRADY-WHITE 251 CE

Grady-White 251 CE
Grady-White 251 CE Specs:
LOA: 24 ft. 7 in. • BEAM: 8 ft. 6 in. • DRAFT: 14 in. • DEADRISE: 16 deg. •  Max HP: 300
Courtesy Grady-White

Brand new to this coastal-hybrid scene, the Grady-White 251 CE (Coastal Explorer) represents a first-of-its-kind design from the popular North Carolina boatbuilder. Grady does not call this 251 CE a bay boat, yet it was created for inshore use with offshore capability. At 24 feet, 7 inches, the 251 CE features lower-than-normal gunwales for easy access to the water, and it draws just 14 inches.

The 16-degree deadrise and maximum horsepower rating of 300 help it transition to offshore seas quickly. Transformable seats fore and aft fold down to create casting decks and open up for lounges, allowing the boat to shift from focused fishing to family fun.

The company says the new Coastal Explorer center-console is every bit a Grady-built hull, designed for peace of mind, reliability and comfort.

Anglers will get their first look at the 251 CE at the Miami International Boat Show in mid-February.

Grady-White Boats
Greenville, North Carolina
252-752-2111
gradywhite​.com

YELLOWFIN 24 Bay

Yellowfin 24 Bay
Yellowfin 24 Bay Specs:
LOA: 24 ft. 10 in. BEAM: 8 ft. 6 in. • DRAFT: 14 in. • DEADRISE: 15 deg. • MAX HP: 350
Courtesy Yellowfin

With flush casting decks fore and aft, a hydraulic jack plate, and a draft (with engine up) of just 14 inches, Yellowfin’s 24 Bay definitely appeals to inshore anglers. Yet with a maximum of 350 hp, a 75-gallon fuel tank and relatively high gunwales in the middle of the self-bailing interior, you can race offshore when conditions permit, and return just as quickly if the wind comes up.

In fact, that’s just what Yellowfin owner Wylie Nagler did in this -near-25-footer (24 feet, 10 inches) one year during the Southern Kingfish Association nationals, when he took the boat 15 miles offshore in -less-than-glassy seas — a move that earned his team second place in the tournament. “In those conditions, a little common sense and good seamanship go a long way,” says Nagler. “But if the weather kicks up, you have -confidence to get home safely.”

With just 15 degrees of deadrise at the transom, the Yellowfin 24 Bay doesn’t pretend to be an offshore fishing machine, but its sharp entry cuts down the chop. On those rare days when wind lays off and seas turn to glass, it has the size and stability to let you zip outside and sample the wonders of blue-water fishing.

Yellowfin Yachts
Bradenton, Florida
941-753-7828
yellowfinyachts​.com

CONTENDER 25 BAY

Contender 25 Bay
Contender 25 Bay Specs:
LOA: 25 ft. 4 in. • BEAM: 8 ft. 6 in. • DRAFT: 12 in. • DEADRISE: 15.5 deg. • MAX HP: 350
Courtesy Contender

At the request of its owners and admirers, Contender put its 32 years of boatbuilding experience into the design and construction of the 25 Bay, making sure it fished the shallows well, while providing ample offshore capability and family comfort. With moderate gunwale height and drawing a mere 12 inches, the 25 fishes skinny. Its fore and aft casting decks offer plenty of room for multiple anglers.

The 25-foot-4-inch LOA and the twin-stepped hull create a seaworthy platform that takes moderate seas in stride. The 15.5-degree transom deadrise allows the 25 Bay to remain steady at rest while affording anglers a stable and soft ride. The reverse-radius chine and bow flare provide a dry ride and a quiet slow troll.

Rated for 350 hp and carrying a 90-gallon fuel tank, this bay boat tops out in the 60s with plenty of range for most coastal fishing. In addition, bolster pads along the full length of the cockpit aid anglers fighting big offshore fish.

The boat’s backbone is a one-piece, solid-glass structural grid for lightweight strength. It also employs vinylester resin and balsa coring in the hull. The high-density-foam transom can easily support a hefty outboard, and includes recessed trim-tab pockets.

Contender
Homestead, Florida
800-645-2906
contenderoffshore​.com

PATHFINDER 2600 HPS BAY CRUSHER

PATHFINDER 2600 HPS BAY CRUSHER
Pathfinder 2600 HPS Bay Crusher Specs:
LOA: 26 ft. 2 in. • BEAM: 8 ft. 10 in. • DRAFT: 15 in. • DEADRISE: 18 deg. • Max HP: 350
Courtesy Pathfinder

Largest in its class, the 26-foot-2-inch Pathfinder 2600 HPS has enough length to span tightly packed ocean chop. Its twin-stepped, variable-deadrise hull, 8-foot-10-inch beam and 350 hp rating enable big-water performance. The hull also features lifting strakes and a bustle transom.

Despite its size, the 2600 draws only 15 inches. Employing the standard, 6-inch jack plate elevates even the largest Yamaha outboard for shallow startups.

Expansive fore and aft casting decks, two standard livewells (48 gallons and 15 gallons), oversize fish box, console tackle center, lockable rod boxes, and rod holders to accommodate even larger conventional gear give anglers all the proper fishing amenities. The 2600 also features almost 30 inches of exterior freeboard at the console.

Pathfinder Boats
Fort Pierce, Florida
888-SHALLOW
pathfinderboats​.com

Additional Crossovers

Sea Born FX25

Sea Born FX25
Blackshear, Georgia
912-449-0033
seabornboats​.com
Courtesy Sea Born Boats

Sportsman Masters 247

Sportsman Masters 247
Summerville, South Carolina
843-376-2628
sportsmanboatsmfg​.com
Courtesy Sportsman Masters

Scout 251 XS

Scout 251 XS
Summerville, South Carolina
843-821-0068
••scoutboats​.com**
Courtesy Scout

Tidewater 2400 Bay Max

Tidewater 2400 Bay Max
Lexington, South Carolina
803-832-7300
tidewaterboats.net
Courtesy Tidewater