While you see more bay boats on the water than offshore craft under 25 feet these days, the new Wellcraft 222 Fisherman is clearly made to venture away from the coast and handle the rigors of deep, open water. Add the Scarab Offshore package, and this boat is ready to target big pelagics right where they live.
The boat’s 16-inch draft still permits shallow-water passage, but the deep-V hull with 20 degrees of deadrise ensures safe and comfortable navigation and affords anglers aboard this cleverly designed and well-appointed center console the confidence to head offshore and tackle a moderate chop without wincing or bracing for jolts.
Potential buyers attracted to the boat’s sporty looks and many features will undoubtedly return to the dock with a grin at the end of their test run. With 250 ponies on the transom (the test boat was powered by a Yamaha F250), the Wellcraft is fast out of the hole and scoots at nearly 50 mph (we hit 49 mph at 6,000 rpm). On tight turns, even at a good clip, the 222 responds predictably, demanding just a brief course alteration rather than a major maneuver to avoid floating debris, partly submerged pilings or rocks. Fuel efficiency was also impressive: We burned only 8.6 gph at 3,500 rpm while cruising at a respectable 28 mph.
When it came to amenities, our test boat made it difficult to think of extras I’d want to add. I found seating more than sufficient for a 22-footer: The fold-down bench on the transom is roomy enough for two, and so are the forward console seat and the leaning post serving as helm seating. Coaming pads to port and starboard, as well as optional cushions and removable backrests, turn the twin elevated storage compartments up front into comfortable lounges. A removable bridge panel with matching cushion closes the gap between them, turning the entire bow into a spacious sun pad. Remove that bridge, and an available pedestal table converts the front of the boat into an idyllic lunch spot with 360-degree views of the water.
The front compartments offer ample space to stow safety gear, tackle and more. Just forward sits an anchor bow roller with a locker next to it to store the rode. The center console’s entire facade, forward seat and all, lifts to reveal a step-down head compartment complete with Porta-Potti and storage netting on the sides. Air shocks aid the lifting, so dropping the front console access door when the boat is rocking isn’t a concern.
The dash and helm boast a futuristic feel and enough real estate to house a compass on top, 14 lighted toggle switches with breakers, a pair of large displays, and a digital multifunction gauge, plus VHF radio, stereo and more. There’s also a pair of cup holders and a grab handle for a companion at the helm, with a charging station for electronics (with USB and 12-volt accessory plugs) just below. A built-in footrest with anti-skid pad enhances the ergonomic design.
Rod storage is enviable for a boat this size. Vertical racks hold three rods on each side of the console, while horizontal racks cradle two more under each gunwale. The rocket launcher in back of the leaning post keeps another four rods ready for action, and there are a total of eight flush-mount holders conveniently located on the transom and gunwales.
The leaning post includes terminal tackle storage, accessed by tilting the seat forward, and a 72-quart cooler that fits neatly inside the frame down below. Aft coaming pads matching those on the bow offer a cushy surface at just the right height for anglers to brace their knees when battling fish on either side of the boat.
A generous livewell with a clear lid to monitor bait is suitably located on the port transom corner. On the opposite side, a transom door enables anglers to boat large fish and lets swimmers and snorkelers get to and from the swim platform with a telescoping boarding ladder. A step back, a raw-water washdown spigot helps the crew keep the deck and gunwales clean or cool off during warm days.
While a quick survey of the layout is enough to convince anyone that the 222 Fisherman is family-friendly, hardcore anglers will also certainly find everything they expect on a serious fishing machine. And if you thought a boat designed to tangle with offshore fish was out of your budget, or that your vehicle wouldn’t be able to tow such a boat, you’ll want to check out this capable center console and arrange to take one for a spin.