The Evolution Of The Center Console Boat
Center console boats have been around since the early ’60s. As a matter of fact, the first CC boat was designed by Dick Fisher of Boston Whaler. This boat was 16′ in length and had a removable console. Boaters and anglers laughed at it for its rather odd look. It was the first time boaters had seen a boat where the passengers stood up rather than sitting down. What a concept! The original Whaler Center Consoles are considered to be a classic today and yield a big price, and most owners wouldn’t think of getting rid of them.
Those little Whalers have seen significant changes in several areas. Now they’re faster and bigger. Some are even larger than their sister sportfishing boats. The development of improved marine electronics and other features, such as better seating to reduce the impact of the pounding on an offshore trip, has made center consoles far more enticing. Today, outriggers are standard on many center consoles. Another factor has been the arrival of the 3 and sometimes 4-engine setup that appeared in the early 1990s. This made the center consoles even faster for the fishing grounds and expanded the King Mackerel fishing time for anglers, both competitive and recreational.
This evolution changed King Mackerel tournament fishing forever. It allows competitors to trailer their boats to distant tournaments rather than the long and costly travel of running their boats to the tournaments. With this change, competitive King Mackerel fishing was then opened to tournament fishing all over the East and Gulf Coast. This proved to be a game changer for the sport, aided by the growth of the Southern Kingfish Association.
Center consoles are a natural match for the King Fisherman. The design enabled the angler to have 360-degree access while fighting the fish, combined with dual engines that made the boats far nimbler than their counterparts, the offshore sportfishing boats. The design also makes for better visibility that could allow fishermen to easier spot bait. Overall, the center console provides a great working deck that features a complete walk-around capability. Very handy when it comes to fighting a big fish.
Today the center console boat dominates inshore fishing and is making great strides with the offshore angler. More CC boats are present in offshore tournaments every year, including fishing for species like Marlin and Giant Bluefin Tuna. This was proven in 2021 when Captain John Cruise and his team won the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament in Morehead City, NC, making the first time a center console has ever won this well know event. Just this past winter, the same crew landed a 1000-pound Bluefin.
What’s next for the center console boat, we can only guess, but I’ll bet it will be a game-changer just as Dick Fisher did in 1961.