Is a Bay Boat the Fishing Boat for You?

Designed with a shallow draft to hug the coastline for families and fishermen, bay boats are a popular boat style. Ranging on average from 20-25 feet, when outfitted with fishing in mind, they can easily accommodate four anglers, and all their gear and catch. Engineered with modest shoal hulls, as at ease as bay boats are on inshore waters, the further out they get into the ocean, the rougher the ride. Below we compare and contrast bay boats with center consoles and offshore fishers to help you separate fishing boat types and discover the best one for your needs. 

Bay Boat
For many anglers, bay boats hit the sweet spot. They’re modestly-sized, easy to run and maneuver, and access shallow species while also getting out into open water on calm days.

Bay Boats

Versatile boats designed for inshore fishing that you can still take to open water.

Shoal draft to traverse shallow waters. With modest hulls that split the difference between flat boats and burly offshore fishers, bay boats hit the sweet spot of effectiveness for trolling small-tackle, shallow-water species. Bay boats can run through very shallow spots other boats in this post couldn’t get near. And their shallow draft makes for super-stable casting. 

Versatile and trailerable. Bay boats are easily used for light cruising, and are the perfect size for towing inflatables and wakeboarders when not on angling duty. But they’re also versatile fishing-wise. Bay boats are easily taken out a ways offshore on good weather days, but know that the further they get out of their inshore comfort zone, the rougher the ride when compared to center consoles and offshore fishing boats. It’s also worth noting that most bay boats are trailerable. Save dock fees, and be able to drop your boat anywhere you want to troll. 

Engineered to optimize the angling experience. Bay boats have low-slung gunwales that make it easier to swing fish out the of water. Casting decks are on the bow and the stern. They easily hold multiple livewells, rod holders, washdown and tackle storage. And they come with fish finders and other advanced fishing tech, among other fishing features. All this can also come with luxury comfort.  

Bay Boat
Center consoles are popular for versatility of activities and water they can access.

Center Consoles

A sought-after middle-of-the-road boat for fishing that splits the difference between inshore and offshore fishing.

A better ride. More power and a deeper draft and V allow a center console boat to cut through the chop. They’re known for riding like a sedan. Decent handling, comfortable ride, medium sized, and can come more bare-boned out outfitted for luxe comfort and fancy fishing.

More range. The deeper-V hull of true center console boats allow anglers to get through the inlet and further offshore. However, the deeper draft makes them more frustrating for inshore fishing, and the hull is also less stable than the flatter hull of a bay boat. 

More power. Most bay boats run one engine. However, center consoles are far more likely to come outfitted with multiple engines to get you to your catch faster

More size. While center consoles are often thought of as smaller boats like bay boats, you can more easily find center consoles up to 40 feet these days, which crosses into the size of many offshore boats, which we’ll talk about next. More size = more heft, further distance and more anglers that can be accommodated. But the larger the boat, the harder to handle, and the more expensive to store and maintain.  


Offshore Fishing Boats

The beasts of fishing boats, offshore boats have prowess, but sometimes anglers don’t need all that power.

Big and powerful. Offshore fishing boats are big and fast, over 30 feet, with deep V hulls designed to cut through the roughest chop in open waters far from shore. Aimed at catching sportfish, they can be outfitted with three and four powerful engines to get you out to your fishing spot safely and quickly. 

Designed for longer trips. These boats offer safety and comfort for longer, often overnight trips miles out to sea. Offering more fore-to-aft length than bay boats and center consoles leaves room for additional storage and convenience features. Expect cabins, heads and even a galley aboard, as well as ample protection from waves the other boats encounter far less frequently. 

Come with all the bells and whistles. In addition to accommodating overnight guests, offshore fishing boats are known to offer high end finishes and details. Expect top-of-the-line fishing technology, large-fish catching equipment like outriggers and bait stations, and large livewells to accommodate big fish, as well as high-end entertainment systems and luxe seating and cabin accommodations. Of course all the higher end details makes fishing boats expensive, in addition to the multiple engines to maintain and large storage needed in the offseason. The main difference is size. 

Bay Boat
Offshore fishers are the ultimate boat for serious anglers, but can be overkill if your fishing has variety, and they are also are the highest ticket fishing boats.
After all this info, does a bay boat still hit that sweet spot for you? 

While offshore fishers are the angler’s dream boat, do you want to live that dream every day, or do you also like to fish for shallower species? Is a center console too versatile that it doesn’t feel specialty enough when it comes to inshore fishing? Sounds like it’s bay boat time. Browse our selection of bay boats for sale now.