Wellcraft isn’t happy just keeping up with the Joneses. The brand built its reputation by incorporating innovative features and creature comforts into attractive center consoles capable of challenging the toughest game fish. And the 302 Fisherman is proof that a solid fishing boat can be much more than rugged and utilitarian.
Owners have a say on their 302’s configuration. For instance, the modular bow layout lets you choose between twin seats with storage underneath that easily turn into an oversize forward lounge or an open forward cockpit. The Scarab Offshore model we tested had the latter, with netting stretched below the bow coaming pads for holding tackle trays and various loose items.
A spot at the bow where the covering boards converge forms a sizable raised deck for a crew member to throw a cast net or pitch baits. A cooler against the forward bulkhead serves as a step to reach this strategic, elevated platform — a cushion helps it double as a forward seat, and there’s also a large hatch there to access the anchor locker, complete with a roller for through-hull anchor setup, and an optional windlass and raw-water washdown.
A closer inspection reveals other multipurpose storage smartly built into the 30-footer without surrendering fishing room fore or aft. Just forward of the console, a large in-floor compartment drains overboard and stows buckets, bumpers, cast nets or other bulky, wet gear. Four in-floor storage compartments, insulated and macerated, drain overboard to double as fish boxes.
Recessed grab rails run along the bow to the center console, where a forward seat accommodates two directly above a two-tier storage locker to keep personal effects or safety and rain gear dry and handy. A portside door allows entry to the step-down head compartment, which offers a sink with freshwater faucet and additional storage.
The dash easily accepts a 17-inch multifunction display, digital multifunction gauges, and 18 lighted toggle switches, with room to spare for a VHF, stereo, trim-tab switches and more. Above the dash, a compass rests on the centerline, the tilt-steering wheel and controls sit a tier below it, and a full-height windshield keeps rain and spray off the helm, where the skipper and a companion have the option to sit on or lean against bolster seats equipped with arm- and backrests with lumbar support.
A deluxe hardtop comes standard and provides shade for the dash, helm seats, and the food-prep station behind, which includes a second sink and a removable cooler on a pull-out slide, or the optional electric grill and fridge. The hardtop includes overhead storage, LED lights and stereo speakers, and its frame incorporates 10 vertical rod tubes, plus one to port and another to starboard angled — kingfish-style — for trolling.
The extensive rod storage is augmented by three flush-mounted rod holders on the transom, 10 combination rod-cup holders along the gunwales, and horizontal racks for three outfits under both covering boards. Just aft, on both sides of the cockpit, tilt-out hatches hold four large storage trays for lures or terminal tackle.
On each of the transom corners sit a 23-gallon baitwells fitted with clear lids for monitoring live baits. A third hatch between them opens to a nifty bait-prep station.
A rear washdown and a boarding ladder are also standard features. And if snorkeling, diving, or catching sizable pelagics are part of your plans, a side door and a transom door are among the available options. Other possible upgrades include a premium sound system, underwater LED lights, a removable bow table, a sunshade for the forward cockpit, a Garmin chart plotter, open-array radar A foldaway transom seat comes standard.
Boasting a revamped hull, with a broader beam but still sleek and with its signature sweeping sheer line, the new 302 Fisherman impressed during our sea trial. Powered by twin 350 Verados, it was quick to jump on plane and accelerate to 57.6 mph turning 6,300 rpm. In a 2-foot chop, shuttle sprints from zero to 30 mph — with and against the wind — averaged a swift 7.5 seconds.
While it’s not uncommon to hear someone say a boat feels bigger than its actual dimensions, the 302 drives like a smaller boat. It was surprisingly responsive from takeoff to wide-open throttle and zigzagged between a string of crab-trap buoys enlisted for a slalom test, without exaggerated leaning or sliding in tight turns.
The Wellcraft also proved dry, stable, and impervious to excessive pitch and roll while adrift and at idle speed.
All told, the 302 Fisherman is fun, versatile, handles like a sports car, shines on family outings, and can out-duel offshore game. If it sounds like the kind of center console you’re looking for, check one out at your nearest Wellcraft dealer.