While boats under 26 feet in length understandably remain the most common-size vessels on fresh and salt water, fish boats 26 to 30 feet are very popular with saltwater anglers. That mid-size vessel can be trailered and launched with relative ease, and its size gives it optimal offshore capability.
Most 26- to 30-footers carry twin outboards, although with today’s larger outboard options, many can run with a single engine. Here are 15 great center console fishing boats that measure 26 to 30 feet that are currently on the market. The boats are listed alphabetically by brand.
Boston Whaler 280 Outrage
Select features from a Sport Fishing review of the 280: Twin chairs coddle the helmsman and co-pilot with lumbar and thigh support. Fully padded fold-down armrests offer lateral support, while footrests at the base of the helm let you prop up your feet. Flip-up bolsters offer backside bracing while standing.
A tempered-glass windshield, integrated seamlessly with the powder-coated aluminum frame for the optional hardtop, quells wind noise enough to allow for conversations at the helm without shouting. A motorized vent atop the front panel ushers in fresh air on sultry days.
A pressurized 30-gallon baitwell lies abaft the helm seats and features an adjacent tackle-prep station. A second livewell in the port quarter adds another 17 gallons of bait capacity. Twin 54-gallon lockers with pump-outs flank the cockpit, and anglers will find lockable rod storage within the garage — the spacious compartment beneath the forward-console lounge.
From an SF Fishing Machines column: Calcutta’s 263 features a transom that disappears into a recess in the deck when lowered; the company calls it a sea gate. “It’s not just a splash board; it’s a sealed door,” says Steve Ellis, president of Calcutta Boats in Palmetto, Florida. “There’s also nonskid on the side of the door.”
With the sea gate lowered, the entire aft deck of the catamaran is open and flat. Ellis says it measures 6 inches above the waterline. “I’ve got guys who will fight fish onto the deck. Florida State University uses the boat for its shark and grouper research vessels,” he says. “One guy in Venice caught a 104‑pound wahoo. All he had was a 2-inch gaff. He was afraid he’d lose the fish, so he let down the door, grabbed the fish by the tail and slid it in backward.”
Cobia 296 CC
From an SF Fishing Machines column: Cobia marketing director Charlie Johnson says the 296 CC had made its mark on customers because it’s laid out well and truly doubles as a hardcore fishing boat that runs well in seas and still offers plenty of comfortable features like seating throughout, a hideaway table at the bow, and a forward-entry console with a step-down head.
The 296 CC debuted in 2008; it received a console redesign in 2013 and a new hardtop was added in 2014. The electronic bow table and bilge access came with 2015 upgrades, and seating has been improved twice in the last three years.
From an SF First Glance column: The 262CC comes with the company’s most ergonomic deck design to date, and is built with EdgeWater’s single-piece-infusion construction technology. With SPI, vinylester resin is vacuum-infused into the grid structures and hull laminate in one step. Resin molecules in the grid harden simultaneously, creating a one-piece bond.
The 262CC’s bow wraparound seating unit integrates forward-facing backrests and lockable rod storage. The forward-entry console opens to reveal a well-appointed head compartment and storage. The newly designed leaning post can be configured many different ways for fishing or on-water entertaining, with a premium cooler, grill, sink, cutting board and storage.
From an SF review of the 273cc: Everglades set rocket launchers in the leaning post and hardtop to store rods. Three more rods could be nested in horizontal hangers beneath each gunwale. A 31-gallon livewell with a standpipe resided in the leaning post. Everglades placed a freshwater sink to the left of the well.
What stands out aboard this boat is the space offered to anglers scrambling back and forth to bait hooks and fight fish. Too often in boats with an aft casting platform, deck space is scant. Rods placed in the rocket launchers encroach on headroom; often the bulkhead to the platform can dramatically narrow the footpath. But nothing feels crowded even during heated fish battles.
Grady-White Canyon 271 FS
From an SF review of the 271 FS: With 100 gallons of fuel, full livewells and three adults on board, and turning Yamaha Saltwater Series II 19-inch-pitch, stainless-steel three-blade propellers, the Canyon 271 FS jumped on plane in 3.5 seconds and reached 30 mph in 6.4 seconds. I found a top speed of 56.2 mph at 6,000 rpm, where the twin Yamaha F300 outboards burned 51.9 gallons per hour for 1.08 mpg.
The most efficient speed came at 25.6 mph and 3,000 rpm, where the twin 300s consumed 12.4 gallons per hour for 2.06 mpg, translating to a cruising range of more than 380 miles based on the 186-gallon fuel capacity.
From an SF Fishing Machines column: When Jupiter introduced its first bay boat last fall, the company clearly entered fresh, new territory. “We applied the clean, sleek and elegant lines of our bigger offshore boats to the bay boat, giving it design and functionality to handle fishing and cruising from various shore distances,” says Mike Adams, national sales manager. “The higher gunwales, coaming pads throughout and flush decking with a minimal design make this boat more than capable of handling nearshore and offshore fishing.”
The aft cockpit depth for the 25 Bay measures 22 inches. At the bow, the deck lies 25 inches below the gunwale. Jupiter opted to eliminate fore and aft casting decks “that become obsolete when fishing in any type of sea,” Adams says. “This is truly a hybrid, running in less than 14 inches of water yet with the offshore running attitude of our 38 center console.”
North Rip 30
From an SF First Glance column: North Rip consulted Rhode Island tournament fisherman Capt. Jack Sprengel, of East Coast Charters and Team Shimano Sportfishing, to design the layout and equipment for its new 30-foot center-console — from the perfectly spaced rod holders to the spacious fish lockers and livewells.
The North Rip 30 comes with a walk-through tuna door in the transom; 48 cubic feet of macerated, insulated fish boxes; lockable rod storage; a 42-gallon livewell plus the option for two additional wells; and saltwater washdowns fore and aft.
From an SF Fishing Machines column: Introduced in 2011, the 28 quickly became the brand’s top seller. As Regulator does across its model line, it added more standard equipment and options each year to the 28. Upgrades have included white-painted engines and a vanity sink in the head. For 2016, Regulator added options such as Taco Grand Slam 380 outrigger bases with 18-foot telescoping poles, removable forward-seating backrests, and factory-installed Garmin or Raymarine electronics.
“The 28 displays the signature Regulator features that have wowed customers and fans since the beginning, and the standout favorites that have built the brand’s reputation as a serious offshore sport-fisher,” Maxwell says.
From an SF First Glance column: Livewells behind the helm unit and in the transom offer plenty of bait storage, while 245 gallons of insulated fish-box space lets you store quite a catch. The transom bench seat flips down out of the way to open up the cockpit.
Standard features include a powder-coated hardtop with rod holders, electronics box, LED spreader lights and dual-color map lights; trim tabs with indicator lights; power-assisted hydraulic steering; and a walk-through transom door. The helm’s custom-bonded windshield comes with an overhead vent.
Scout 275 XSF
From an SF review: The 275 features family-friendly comforts and all the right angling amenities, blended with superb fit and finish — as is Scout’s hallmark. But time did not allow a long run offshore or even any bay plinking.
However, a thorough inspection shows just how intently Scout thought about anglers. The deck is rimmed with plush coaming pads that make stand-up fishing comfortable. The 275’s transom features a wave gate that folds, extends and drops down for three different positions. Leave it folded to enlarge the cockpit, extend the bench seat while running, or completely drop the gate for swim-platform access to work a fish around the outboards.
Dual cylindrical 20-gallon livewells anchor the aft corners, allowing anglers to split up baits. Port and starboard in-deck fish boxes hold 25 gallons each and feature diaphragm pumps.
Sea Hunt GameFish 27
From SF new boat news: This coffin-box 27 is the latest in a series of boats that Sea Hunt says it designed for serious fishing. The new 27 comes ready to head offshore with multiple insulated fish boxes, two livewells (30-gallon transom well and 40-gallon leaning-post tank), tackle organizers and drawers, side-entry and transom doors, high-speed pickups, LED underwater lights, an anchor windlass and, of course, a coffin box — all standard.
While the GameFish 27 appeals to anglers, it also features family comforts such as a cushion that turns the coffin-box top into a lounge, aft-facing seats behind the helm, and options like a rear bench seat and side-entry-door ladder.
From an SF First Glance column: Southport has unveiled a tournament-edition layout on its traditional 27-foot center-console hull. An 80-gallon coffin box replaces the forward wraparound seating, and Southport has improved the 30-gallon livewell in the transom, redesigned the console and helm pod, and reconfigured the T-top and leaning post.
The new T-top is structurally lighter, while the leaning post is a semicustom aluminum design with plush seating, storage beneath, and a multirod rocket launcher with cup holders mounted aft. Southport also placed twin fish boxes in the sole and arranged more than ample rod storage in and under the gunwales. The oversize anchor locker holds two anchors and plenty of rode and chain.
Wellcraft 262 Fisherman
From an SF review: Carrying 106 gallons of fuel and spinning a Mercury Mirage Plus 21-inch-pitch propeller, the 262 reached 30 mph in 7.5 seconds. Top speed was 57.4 mph at 6,000 rpm, where the twin 250 hp Verados burned 52 gallons of fuel per hour for 1.1 mpg. The best fuel efficiency occurred at 33.8 mph (3,500 rpm), where the twin outboards burned 18 gallons per hour for 1.9 mpg.
The hull tracked straight and true with barely any correction needed to stay on course. Cornering at high speed proved predictable and comfortable, and close-quarter maneuverability was superb thanks to the Mercury power steering and digital throttle and shift.
World Cat 280CC-X
From an SF First Glance column: World Cat’s first X-design catamaran, the 280CC-X, features aggressive new styling that includes a graceful sheer line terminating in a soft tumblehome aft, a swept-back glass dashboard at the console, and a surfboard-edge hardtop.
The 280 represents a completely new computer-assisted design from the waterline up, says World Cat president Andrew Brown. “The 280CC-X also offers advanced technology, including a fully customizable digital dash (including CZone digital switching), and a host of functional, comfort and convenience features.”