Center console boats are hugely popular in most fishing communities. They have a wide range of advantages that make them the go-to option for many people.
Although they are not traditionally used in freshwater lakes for bass fishing, center console boats have become very popular over the years due to their stability, versatility and family-friendly features.
If you’re yet to make up your mind on getting a center console boat for bass fishing, the rest of this article will clear up any doubts and help you come to a decision.
Are Center Console Boats Good for Bass Fishing?
Center console boats are good for bass fishing. They’re rugged designs that’ll hold up just fine for freshwater fishing. The construction allows casting from all sides of the boat, and are usually raised higher off the water than traditional bass boats.
Most center console boats are also designed with powerful engines that are more than enough for most freshwater fishing trips.
I personally use a 17 foot Carolina Skiff center console boat for bass fishing and it does a great job. I have fishing space on the deck of the boat, as well as the stern. Each spot has a removable pedestal seat that is great on calm days.
My particular model of the center console is pretty small at only 17 feet, but I find this to be a good all-around size for bass fishing and inshore saltwater fishing.
However, on many of the lakes, I fish, it’s not uncommon to see 18-21 foot center console boats, especially flats style, micro skiff, or bay boats.
What Are Center Console Boats?
Center console boats are boat designs that have a steering station at the center. They have seating installed around the open deck space and the stern. Depending on the boat’s size, you may find small storage areas under the console, and a T-top to provide shade.
The boat’s console holds all of the necessary equipment, including the steering, trim control radio, ignition, and other electronic devices such as the antennae. The hardtop permanently mounted to the boat can hold rods, radar, lights, etc., and provides some relief from the elements.
Pros of Center Console Boats
They Have Great Balance
The construction of most center console boats makes them one of the most balanced options around. There’s little to no risk of overturning, especially under freshwater conditions. They’ll hold up nicely in most currents, allowing you to focus more on fishing and less on steadying the boat.
You can cast your lines from any part of a center console boat, thus increasing your chances of landing a catch. It’s the perfect option for fishing trips with multiple people on board. You can have lines on the front, sides, and stern. With all directions covered, it’s easier to attract more fish to your boat.
They Are Versatile Boats
Center console boats work well for freshwater fishing, but they can also hold up nicely if you switch to saltwater fishing. Ocean waves don’t pose as much of a threat compared to other lightweight boats.
You also don’t have to only fish with your center console boats. After cleaning out the remnants from the fishing session, you can use your boat for other purposes. Do you want to host a party with your family out on the water? Do you want to engage in watersports? The boat can serve both purposes.
The console’s position makes controlling the boat easier as the captain can maintain a holistic view of the water in all directions. The seating arrangements are also very comfortable, which is why it’s so flexible and has multiple uses.
They Have Wider Fishing Room
Center console boats are fairly spacious. The captain can stand while controlling the boat, and everyone else onboard can move around freely. It’s another reason why family fishing businesses prefer them to other types of boats. However, some people may not like the fact that the seats in the console are stationary.
Cons of Center Console Boats
They Are Expensive
The versatility and overall design of these boats give them a fairly high price tag. You can expect to spend as little as $10,000 on smaller models, while large models can go for as high as $350,000!
The smaller center console designs (also known as bay boats) are typically the cheapest. (Check out Carolina Skiff or Key West Boats!)
They Are Harder To Maneuver
Center console boats are typically heavy, so they need more power to move around on the water. You may have to exert more pressure to steer the boat in an intended direction. I
However, out in the ocean or any strong currents, you need to be fit to control one. Your boat may also be unable to pass a low bridge due to the hardtops. You can either stick to areas that won’t require you to cross a bridge or risk damaging components installed on the hardtop or T-Top.
You also have to worry about possible engine failure and how you’d have to cope in that scenario. Since the boat is heavy, there’s no chance of using an oar and paddling back towards the shore. You’d have to find a way to draw attention from other boats or reach out to people on the shore to help you.
If you intend to occasionally use your boat out on saltwater, you need to ensure your engine is in tip-top shape as engine failure out on the ocean is a lot more problematic.
They Have Lower Storage Capacity
Center console boats feature added seats for people, cutting into what would’ve been nice storage space for your fish. If you only ever head out to the water for a few bass fish, the storage space available should be enough to hold them.
The live wells are also typically smaller, barring any modifications. If you want a boat that’s large enough to hold a large catch, you should go with boats that have a large center console. They’re likely to have bigger storage options underneath the seats.
Bass Boats as an Alternative to Center Consoles
Bass boats are another excellent option for freshwater fishing. They’re specifically designed for the peculiarities of bass fishing, but you can also use them to catch all kinds of freshwater fish.
The boats have a profile that’s very low to the water, and the deck is completely flat with no casting hazards as well.
Pros of Bass Boats
They Are Easy To Control
The overall profile of bass boats means you always have excellent control of the boat in shallow waters and high-wind situations. The ease of handling makes them a great option for first-time boat owners. The swivel chairs allow easy direction changes when reeling in fish, further simplifying maneuvers while on the boat.
They Use Low-Noise Outboard Motors (4-Stroke)
The powerful outboard motors on most bass boats are very beneficial to the fishermen. They aren’t too loud, which ensures a more relaxing ride for anyone on board. There’s also no risk of scaring off all nearby fish due to the loud noise from the engine. Since the motors are not on board, you’ll have a bit more room for storage or extra passengers.
When it’s time for repairs, you can easily reach the motor. Combined with the boat’s general profile, these motors ensure longevity and fast travel while you’re out on the water.
You Can Haul Them on a Trailer
Most bass boats are around 14-25 feet (4.27-7.62 m) long, making them compact enough to fit on the back of a trailer. The compact size is because the boat is designed with a focus on fishing and nothing more. The lack of extras and fittings contribute to the super slim profile, which makes it a great option to go with.
There Are Many Storage Options
Bass boats offer quite a few storage options for storing your catch while out on the water. They come with built-in live wells and storage components nicely positioned all around the boat for your tackle and other important equipment. The numerous storage options make it a serious boat for fishing.
They Are More Affordable
You can find lower-end bass boats for around $20,000. The costliest models rarely go above $100,000, making these boats the best option to go with if you want an affordable boat that’s designed solely for fishing.
The price isn’t cheap by any means, but the best bass boats aren’t out of the reach of many people looking to take their fishing seriously.
Cons of Bass Boats
The Cost May Be Prohibitive
We mentioned above that bass boats are more affordable. However, unless you’re fully dedicated to fishing, you’d struggle to justify the cost. You can’t use the boat for much else, so it doesn’t have any use if you intend to only fish once a month.
There are far cheaper boats you can consider for such leisurely fishing, such as small utility and jon boats. You may also check the used bass boat market for bargains or look for aluminum bass boats (cheaper than fiberglass).
Gas Costs Can Add Up
Bass boats are fitted with high horsepower engines because the professionals who rely on them (especially in competitive bass fishing) want the opportunity to go from point A to B quickly. These motors will consume a gallon (3.79 L) every 4-5 miles (6.44-8.05 km).
If you don’t do a lot of competitive fishing and don’t always move around frequently while on the water, this may not be a disadvantage. Otherwise, the costs can add up, especially with gas prices consistently shooting upwards these days.
They Can’t Hold Many People
If you’re looking for a boat that can hold your entire family while on a fishing trip, you’d have to cancel out bass boats.
Most of them are designed to hold two people.
If you don’t order a bespoke design, you’d have to look long and hard to find one that can fit four people. Even then, the four occupants will be squeezed together with very little room to move around.
They Can Be Uncomfortable
Bass boats don’t have any shade, so you’re exposed to the elements throughout your fishing trip. You’d have to load up on sunscreen and protective clothing or fish from a shaded area (which is limiting).
Also, the boat’s low profile means you’re very likely to splash water on yourself while fishing or while steering the boat around the water surface.
Are Center Console Boats Good for Lake Fishing?
Center console boats are good for lake fishing, especially in larger lakes where weather and waves may become rough. The high gunnels and V-shaped hull of a center console boat make it a safe and common choice for casual and family-based fishing.
On large urban lakes like Lake Lanier, center console boats are becoming more common. Since you can move around from the stern to the hull easily, you won’t find it too difficult to remove any obstacles you encounter along the way.
The powerful engines powering the boats provide all the force you need to move around the lake. Models 25-feet (7.6.2 m) long often come with twin engines, while single engines power smaller options.
If the boat comes with the right engine in relation to the size, you can enjoy better propulsion and more thrust while fishing on the lake.
The boat’s overall design means you don’t have to worry about getting stuck in a narrow stretch of water, as is often the case in most lakes. It won’t get stuck if the water level is low in specific areas.
The freedom to move around from the stern to the hull side makes fishing easier to manage. If you’re on the trip with multiple people, everyone can take their preferred positions, using their preferred fishing tactics without limiting others.
However, before you go fishing in lakes with your center console boat, you should check local regulations. Some lakes have boating restrictions, especially regarding motor size. You’d find such restrictions in lakes with houses nearby.
The aim is to keep noise levels down for the residents. So, find out what the laws say about your type of center console boat before you head out.
So are center console boats good for bass fishing? Yes! Center console boats are an excellent alternative to traditional bass fishing boats.
Center console boats are stable on the water, safe to operate, and usually offer more amenities for family and friends.
They do typically draft more water, and you may need to be careful when casting you don’t catch the console or T-top…but it’s something you can easily get used to.
If you are an ‘all around’ fisherman like me (you like to fish for bass, panfish, catfish, and even saltwater fish) then I recommend you look into center console boats.
However, if you are a die-hard bass angler you may be happier in a bass boat.
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