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Center Consoles

They may be loaded with family-friendly features, but many open boats are still fish chasers at heart. Fifteen years ago magazine articles routinely referred to center consoles as “hard-core fishing machines”—overbuilt open boats with a couple of pedestal helm chairs or a leaning post, rod holders, a livewell, fishboxes, and a cooler. That was pretty much it.

How different the story line is today.

Center consoles now include sunpads, wraparound seating, wet bars, and barbecue grills—along with bigger consoles that house a head, berth, and sometimes a flat-screen television. The changes serve as a microcosm of boating’s metamorphosis to a multipurpose activity. Center console boats now offer something for the entire family, not just the anglers.

“Because the amount of time we all work is greater, when we find time outside of work we figure out how to use that family time in a way we are all together,” says Joan Maxwell, president of Regulator Marine. “Being in a boat provides that platform.”

Center console boats have gotten bigger, with a few models about 40 feet, and faster, with quad-outboard setups no longer a rarity. They can run offshore 100 miles or more and often do so burning less fuel than most diesel convertibles. Today’s center consoles may include plenty of seating and other amenities, but they still have the soul of a fishing boat—50-gallon live wells, outriggers, insulated fishboxes, dry rod stowage, and more. And it’s not just the larger boats that have gone through a metamorphosis. Smaller models also offer more in the way of performance, comfort, electronics, and fishing features than earlier generations.

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Beneteau Barracuda 7

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SeaVee 390-Z

SeaVee Boats of Miami, Florida, recently launched a quad of center consoles with stepped hulls—the Z Series—that offer better efficiency and overall performance without sacrificing fishability. ...more


Rossiter 17 Center Console

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Regulator 23

The transom is back. The newly introduced redesign of the Regulator 23 is a refreshed center console employing an Armstrong outboard bracket. Designed by Lou Codega, who has designed all the Regulator models to date, the new 23-footer sports a 24-degree deep-V hull, and is the entry point in a line of rugged center consoles. ...more


Cobia 344 CC

With an abundance of comfortable seating and stowage, round up the family for a day of boating, and head offshore armed with twin livewells, outriggers, and rod stowage galore. ...more


Everglades 435 CC

Few would dispute that Bob Dougherty, who was Boston Whaler’s chief engineer for 30 years, is an icon in the world of small fishing boats. ...more


Tournament Tackler

I tested the Venture 39 Tournament Edition this past September on a river near the Venture yard in Stuart, Florida. What I found was a fast, solidly built boat turned out by a reinvigorated builder that is keeping an eye on pleasing even the most demanding customer. Accommodations: Venture makes a true semi-customizable boat. As ...more


High I.Q.

The Sportsman Heritage 231 excels as a no-nonsense center console with smart stowage and plentiful seating. ...more


By the Numbers

Count on the Regulator 25 to fall right into a line of great-running, good-looking center consoles. ...more


What a Pair

When outfitted with twin 557-horsepower Seven Marine outboards the fully custom 375 Center Console from Intrepid might as well be a rocket ship. ...more

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