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Best Bay Boats

Check out our collection of the top bay boats for inshore and offshore fishing.

Updated:

October 20, 2020
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top bay boats
Top Bay Boats SWS Staff

Bay boats, roomy, with elevated casting decks and shallow drafts, remain among the most versatile of all saltwater fishing boats. No single boat design, except perhaps the center console, has had as much impact on our fishing as the bay boat.

Bay boats can be seen fishing inshore coastal waters on the East, Gulf and even West coasts of the U.S., but a new style of bay boat – the hybrid – has provided anglers in pursuit of offshore game fish the security and capability needed while maintaining the standard bay boat hull design ideal for shallow waters.

We decided to round up some of the best bay boats available, as well as give credit to some of the most dependable bay boat manufacturers in the game today. We kept affordability in mind, but by no means did we limit our list to the best bay boats for the money. The models below are in no particular order, and it’s safe to say we like them all.

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The Barker 26 Open from overhead
Barker 26 Open SWS File

Barker 26 Open

The 26 Open from Barker Boatworks features a Michael Peters twin‑stepped hull. Its interior layout and deep cockpit put it in the hybrid bay-boat category. With a draft of 14 inches the 26 open drifts across surprisingly shallow water. Yet, it’s also designed to venture offshore to wrecks and weedlines with a 45-gallon livewell in the leaning post, 15-gallon transom livewell, and 15-gallon well in the bow. A jackplate, trim tabs and an aluminum trailer are all standard. For comfort, bench seating folds out from the transom. The 26 Open features 100 percent vinylester resin and composite coring, and is built using vacuum-bag infusion.

Specifications

  • Length: 25′6″
  • Beam: 9′3″
  • Draft: 14″
  • Deadrise: 18 deg.
  • Weight: 4,500 lb.
  • Fuel: 90 gal.
  • Max hp: 627
Boston Whaler 240 Dauntless Pro running out to fish
Boston Whaler 240 Dauntless Pro SWS File

Boston Whaler 240 Dauntless Pro

The 240 Dauntless Pro from Boston Whaler is designed for serious inshore fishing with a large single-level aft casting deck with stowage and a livewell underneath. Plug-in backrests enhance the comfort of the aft-quarter seats. There’s also an expansive forward casting deck that converts to twin loungers. This model includes a half-tower with a second station and easy portside access. The leaning post has integrated rod holders and accommodates a large cooler underneath. Like all Whalers, the 240 Dauntless Pro features an unsinkable hull.

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Specifications

  • Length: 23′11″
  • Beam: 8′6″
  • Draft: 14″
  • Deadrise: 16 deg.
  • Weight (w/ engine): 4,654 lb.
  • Fuel: 90 gal.
  • Max hp: 350
Caymas 28 HB running inshore
Caymas 28 HB SWS File

Caymas 28 HB

The 28 HB hybrid from Caymas features a Michael Peters patented double Stepped-Vee Ventilated Tunnel hull, a large non-skid casting deck, and abundant storage for tackle and gear. It also includes 35-gallon livewells, backlit console display and a 120-gallon fuel tank for maximum range. It features a 17-inch draft and a jackplate shallow water versatility. It can be rigged with Yamaha, Mercury, or Suzuki outboards up to 450 horsepower.

Specifications

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  • Length: 27′7″
  • Beam: 9′4″
  • Draft: 17″
  • Deadrise: 18½ deg.
  • Weight: 4,300 lb.
  • Fuel: 120 gal.
  • Max hp: 450
Contender 25 running through an inlet
Contender 25 Bay SWS File

Contender 25 Bay

Contender maintains a tradition of building hard-core fishing boats, and the 25 Bay keeps that promise. Large casting platforms fore and aft provide ample room for several fishermen without crowding. Bolster pads the length of the cockpit are built for fish fights. The twin stepped hull with 15 ½-degree deadrise runs smooth and dry, in a foot of water or offshore. The design provides improved performance at speed and added stealth inshore. An optional jackplate gets the 25 up and out in the shallows.

Specifications

  • Length: 25′4″
  • Beam: 8″6″
  • Draft: 12″
  • Transom Deadrise: 15½ deg.
  • Weight: 4,200 lb.
  • Fuel: 90 gal.
  • Max hp: 400
Everglades 253cc running in the river
Everglades 253cc SWS File

Everglades 253cc

The 253cc from Everglades Boats is a hybrid-style bay boat that is loaded with features, including a 26-gallon livewell, a 69-gallon insole insulated fishbox, an 87-quart cooler beneath the forward console seat, tackle storage compartments under the helm seat, and lockage rod stowage under the bow seating. It provides a 91-square-foot cockpit for plenty of fishing room. There are two foldaway stern seats that, when folded down, create a spacious aft casting deck. The smooth-riding hull features 20-degrees of transom deadrise, drafts 16 inches and will accept outboards up to 300 hp.

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Specifications

  • Length: 24′9″
  • Beam: 8′6″
  • Draft: 16″
  • Deadrise: 20 deg.
  • Weight: 5,250 lb.
  • Fuel: 100 gal.
  • Max hp: 300
Grady-White 251 CE trolling offshore
Grady-White 251 CE SWS File

Grady-White 251 CE

The 251 CE is a hybrid-style bay boat foremost, with a nod to family comfort and outings at the beach. Featuring Grady’s proven SeaV2 variable deadrise hull, with 16 degrees at the transom, the CE is great for fishing nearshore reefs and barrier islands, yet the 14-inch draft lets anglers slip into the back bays and creeks to chase flounder, stripers or reds. Grady has updated the T-top adding a full height windshield. The 12-gallon livewell and two large 74-quart overboard draining fishboxes in the bow are standard, as are the built-in foldaway bow seat backrests. The boat comes with a F300 Yamaha outboard and clocks 49.6 mph top speed.

Specifications

  • Length: 24′ 7″
  • Beam: 8′6″
  • Draft: 14″
  • Deadrise: 16 deg.
  • Weight: 3,715 lb.
  • Fuel: 78 gal.
  • Max hp: 300
Pathhfinder 2500 Hybrid running to the fishing grounds
Pathhfinder 2500 Hybrid SWS File

Pathfinder 2500 Hybrid

The 2500 Hybrid combines a double-stepped hull, a bustle transom and max horsepower of 350. It tops out close to 60 mph with a F300 Yamaha outboard and a hardtop. A 16.5-degree deadrise, slightly higher freeboard, and a generous bow flare translates into exceptional open water performance, yet the drafts 13 inches at rest. The 2500 Hybrid features an elevated forward casting deck with an open cockpit aft, accommodating to sight-fishing off the bow or bottomfishing and trolling off the stern in big water. Flip-up rear seats, a deluxe tackle station with convertible bolster seats, a 35-gallon livewell and a 45-gallon insulated fish box come standard.

Specifications

  • Length: 24′ 9″
  • Beam: 8′6″
  • Draft: 13″
  • Deadrise: 16 ½ deg.
  • Weight: 3,500 lb.
  • Fuel: 68 gal.
  • Max hp: 350
Regulator 26 XO in turquoise waters
Regulator 26 XO SWS File

Regulator 26 XO

This hybrid makes it easy to fish bays and skinny water, but offers the capability to head offshore when the time is right. More than 122 square-feet of deck space, spacious seating, and generous storage provide fishability and family comfort. Engine options including single Yamaha F300 or 425 XTO, with a jackplate option. Integrated flush-folding rear cockpit seats convert to a casting platform, with the option to add a Minn Kota Riptide Ulterra bow-mount trolling motor with iPilot GPS and a 10-foot Power Pole Blade. Built-in coolers, stand-up head compartment, forward and rear sun shade options, and optional removable tow bar lets you play until the sun goes down.

Specifications

  • Length: 26′9″
  • Beam: 9′3″ 3/4
  • Draft: 15 ¾ “
  • Deadrise: 17 deg.
  • Weight (w/ F300): 6,780 lb.
  • Fuel: 107 gal.
  • Max hp: 425
Robalo R246 Cayman around islands
Robalo R246 Cayman SWS File

Robalo R246 Cayman

The R246 Cayman bay boat from Robalo features spacious, elevated forward and aft casting decks, and built-in storage for rods and tackle. A 30-gallon livewell resides under the aft deck, and 20-gallon livewell sits beneath the is forward deck. Twin forward loungers with backrests allow for crew to relax between fishing spots. Twin LED-lit storage compartments on either side of the transom ensure access to gear in the pre-dawn darkness. The R246 is rated for up to 350 hp, and features a 90-gallon fuel capacity. It is also available in an SD model that features a half-tower with a second station that Robalo calls a “Sky Deck.”

Specifications

  • Length: 24′ 6″
  • Beam: 9′
  • Draft: 12″
  • Deadrise: 16 deg.
  • Weight (w/ engine): 4,200 lb.
  • Fuel: 90 gal.
  • Max hp: 350
Scout 251 XSS ready to fish
Scout 251 XSS SWS File

Scout 251 XSS

The 251XSS from Scout Boats is designed to be hybrid bay boat capable of handling and performing in both inshore and offshore fishing situations. With a draft of 13 inches, it offers shallow-water angling capabilities, while the proud bow, hull design and extra interior freeboard provides seakeeping, comfort, dryness and security needed when venturing offshore. Standard features include a large anchor locker, port and starboard lockable rod stowage, leaning post with rod holders, and trim tabs. Available options including rear deck jump seat cushions, port aerated livewell and a portable marine head. The 251 XSS also sports Scout patented T-top with an integrated glass windshield and side windows.

Specifications

  • Length: 24′10″
  • Beam: 8′6″
  • Draft: 13″
  • Transom Deadrise: 18 deg.
  • Weight: 2,300 lb.
  • Fuel: 68 gal.
  • Max hp: 300
Sea Born FX25 running nearshore
Sea Born FX25 SWS File

Sea Born FX25

Flagship of the Sea Born FX fleet, the FX25 combines an offshore-style transom and 22-inch freeboard in the cockpit with an expansive forward casting deck, putting this model clearly in the hybrid category. The single-step hull is designed for efficiency and performance. The FX25 has a 14½-gallon livewell and a 27½-gallon release well in the stern. There’s also a 52½-gallon release well under the forward deck. A folding rear bench seat offers comfort while underway. A jackplate is standard, and this model is rated for outboards up to 350 hp.

Specifications

  • Length: 24′11″
  • Beam: 8′9″
  • Draft: 13″
  • Deadrise: 17 deg.
  • Weight: 2,600 lb.
  • Fuel: 68 gal.
  • Max hp: 350
Sea Hunt BX 25 FS at high speed
Sea Hunt BX 25 FS SWS File

Sea Hunt BX 25 FS

The BX 25 FS bay boat from Sea Hunt features a 12-gallon livewell abaft the leaning post seating and a second under the aft casting deck. There’s also an insulated 220-quart compartment and lockable rod stowage under the large forward casting deck. The sharp bow entry and Carolina flare is designed to provide a smooth and dry ride. A forward console seat, twin forward loungers and three aft jump seats offer comfort while underway. An integral hardtop features a full-height windshield and side windows to protect the center-console helm.

Specifications

  • Length: 25′3″
  • Beam: 8′6″
  • Draft: 15″
  • Transom Deadrise: 15 deg.
  • Weight (w/ engine): 3,700 lb.
  • Fuel: 68 gal.
  • Max hp: 300
Sea Pro 248 DLX cruising with friends
Sea Pro 248 DLX SWS File

Sea Pro 248 DLX

Boasting 100 percent composite and foam-filled fiberglass construction, the 248 XLX from Sea Pro comes with two 30-gallon pressurized livewells and a single port manifold drain system. There’s also a Simrad NSS7 evo3 multifunction display with a thru-hull transducer, tilt hydraulic steering with power assist, lockage rod stowage, 40-quart cooler and bow trolling motor plug with harness, all standard. Available options include a hardtop, battery charger, hydraulic jack plate and trim tabs. Maximum rated power is a 350 hp.

Specifications

  • Length: 24′8″
  • Beam: 8′9″
  • Draft: 15″
  • Deadrise: 15 deg.
  • Weight: 3,000 lb.
  • Fuel: 70 gal.
  • Max hp: 350
Sea Vee 270Z Bay offshore
Sea Vee 270Z Bay SWS File

Sea Vee 270Z Bay

With Sea Vee’s twin-step, cross-ventilated Z-hull, the 270Z is a platform designed for large bays and coastal areas, as well as the occasional offshore excursion. A draft of 15 inches allows the 270Z to access skinny water. It features an oversize bow and aft casting platforms connected by wide gunwales. The aft platform is large due to the absence of a space-robbing outboard motor well. Rod lockers accommodate fly rods up to 9 feet and the console holds up to 16 rods vertically. And with the option to convert your two rear storage compartments, there are four live wells, with 108 gallons of combined capacity. The custom-ordered 270Z can be powered by a single or twin outboards.

Specifications

  • Length: 27′
  • Beam: 9′1″
  • Draft:15″
  • Deadrise: 17 deg.
  • Weight: 3,500 lb.
  • Fuel: 116 gal.
  • Max hp: 600
Sportsman Masters 267OE hunting fish inshore
Sportsman Masters 267OE SWS File

Sportsman Masters 267OE

The Masters 267OE from Sportsman Boats is designed to maximize open cockpit space and open water capabilities, placing it in the hybrid bayboat class. Standard features include fiberglass hardtop, Garmin 12-inch multifunction display, VHF radio, JL Audio sound system, 36-gallon bow fish box, 32-gallon fish box below the aft deck, and three livewells. Twin helm seats and a forward-console lounger ramp up the comfort level. Under the lounger is a 104-quart macerated fish box. Available power ranges from 300 hp to the Yamaha 425 XTO. A half tower with a second station is also available.

Specifications

  • Length: 26′7″
  • Beam: 9′2″
  • Draft: 15″
  • Weight: 4,600 lb.
  • Fuel:116 gal.
  • Max hp: 450
Tidewater 2300 Carolina Bay day cruising
Tidewater 2300 Carolina Bay SWS File

Tidewater 2300 Carolina Bay

The 2300 Carolina Bay from Tidewater Boats provides a platform for both inshore and offshore fishing, making it another among a growing number of hybrids. It is also designed for a high comfort level for the entire family. This model includes a large bow casting platform, a stern casting deck, lockable rod storage, a 10-inch jack plate, recessed bow seating, and a rear pop up jump seat. The step-hull design is combined with the Tidewater bow flare helps create a dry ride and a consistent running angle in both shallow water and offshore.

Specifications

  • Length: 23′6″
  • Beam: 8′8″
  • Draft: 14″
  • Deadrise: 15 degrees
  • Weight (w/o engine): 3,200 lb.
  • Fuel: 67 gal.
  • Max hp: 300
Yellowfin 21 Bay at anchor
Yellowfin 21 Bay SWS File

Yellowfin 21 Bay

The 21 Bay from Yellowfin shares the stepped-hull the 21 Hybrid, but with a forward-positioned center console and rocket launcher seating, the 21 Bay more resembles a traditional bay boat. The 21 Bay comes loaded with fishing features, including a forward fish box in the bow step with a molded-in recess to accommodate a 5-gallon bucket. There’s plenty of storage under the casting deck up front, and two 40-gallon livewells sit beneath the aft casting deck. The 21 fishes super-shallow, and the stepped hull and wide beam provide a fast, efficient and dry ride. Standard equipment includes a jackplate, a single 8-foot Power-Pole and an aluminum AmeraTrail trailer.

Specifications

  • Length: 21′9″
  • Beam: 7′9″
  • Draft: 13″
  • Deadrise: 15 degrees
  • Fuel: 50 gal.
  • Weight: 2,525 lb.
  • Max hp: 350
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