The new version of Wellcraft’s flagship, the 352 Fisherman, is built for the rigors of unpredictable offshore waters. Equipped with the Offshore package, it gives anglers the upper hand in their quests to best challenging big-game species. Of course, the 352 isn’t strictly for blue water. Its maneuverability and 26-inch draft also make it suitable for targeting nearshore and inshore favorites, like cobia, tarpon and stripers, and catching bait along the beaches or inside inlets and bays.
As one would expect on a center-console this size, there’s no shortage of fishing room on board, and the layout incorporates seating for a sizable crew and equally generous storage, without scrimping on the features and refinements that take it beyond a big, comfortable boat and make it an outstanding fishing machine.
An anchor locker with through-stem-anchor setup and windlass is part of a compact, raised deck at the bow, large enough to serve as a perch for a crewmember to net bait, and leveled with both covering boards, which smartly incorporate recessed grab rails and transition to coaming bolsters that form a one-piece backrest for the entire U-shaped seating up front.
Raised compartments, integrated into the port and starboard bow seats, easily turn into twin loungers thanks to removable backrests. Detach the cushions and said seats become elevated casting platforms. A cooler, also removable, hides under the seat that bridges them at the forward end, while an in-floor storage compartment — with base mounts for a removable table on its hatch — holds two 5-gallon buckets or bulky, wet items, like cast nets or buoys.
Two steps aft, the console seat for two comes with back- and armrests for lounging. Lifting it open reveals a 28-gallon cooler for drinks and snacks. A portside door provides entry to the step-down cabin in the console. Inside, you find a marine toilet, sink with freshwater faucet, storage cabinet with counter, a mirror and forward berth.
The helm features a glare-reducing black finish and a two-level footrest. Our test boat accommodated a pair of 22-inch Garmin multifunction displays, along with two panels of aluminum toggle switches, all properly labeled, a Fusion marine stereo, trim-tab switches with indicators, and Mercury Joystick Piloting next to the tilt steering wheel placed to put the skipper on the boat’s centerline, seating or bracing against the middle helm seat, which folds away for added standing room while driving.
The three-across, bolster helm seats butt against an aft-facing tackle-storage and prep station that, along with a 35-gallon aquarium-style livewell to port, incorporates a counter with cutting board — upgrades include an electric grill, refrigerated drawer and wash-down bib — plus tool holders, and tackle trays and drawers to starboard.
The hardtop has a built-in electronics box plus mounting surface for gauges or other electronics. LED lighting, a Garmin radar dome and FLIR thermal camera, plus a pair of angled rod tubes (kingfish-style) and twin three-rod rocket launchers on the frame maximize the functionality of the hardtop, also designed to accept outriggers and a second helm station.
Anglers will love the twin 320-quart macerated fish boxes in the cockpit; tilt-out tackle storage and horizontal rod racks with reel pads on both gunwales; portside door; and the 32-gallon livewell — insulated to double as a cooler — that takes up most of the transom. A door that leads to the swim platform and a sink with freshwater faucet fit in opposite transom corners while two foldout benches seat three astern.
A total of 18 flush-mount rod holders come standard, and a Seakeeper 3 gyrostabilization system, air conditioner, 3.5 kW marine generator, and 12-volt chiller for the transom well are optional.
On the water, the Wellcraft proved quick out of the hole and throughout its speed range. With triple Mercury Verado 400Rs, the test boat averaged 9.1 seconds to go from zero to 30 mph. Top speed was 61.2 mph, and at 4,000 rpm, we cruised at an efficient (26 gph) and comfortable 35 mph.
The 352 obeyed every command of the electronic steering instantly and accurately, tracking true on the tightest turns without excessive leaning. Bow rise on takeoffs was negligible, and so was spray, with wind and sea at various angles, even while taking on passing boat wakes.
All told, the 35-footer was a joy to drive and, given the boat’s impressive layout and numerous amenities, it would be a mistake for anyone looking for a versatile fishing boat in its class to leave this Wellcraft off the short list.
Deadrise: 23 degrees
Fuel: 376 gal.
Water: 12 gal.
Weight: 13,510 lb. (w/ power)
Max HP: 1,275
Price: $253,333 (base)
Wellcraft Boats: wellcraft.com
Location: Sarasota, Florida
Wind: Southwest 7 knots
Sea State: 1-foot chop
Test Load: Two adults, 288 gallons of fuel