The popularity of center console bay boats has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, and as a result, the 2023 model year is chock full of awesome choices. Some stand out because they’re exceptionally lethal fishing weapons, others make their mark with luxury touches, and some score points for being unusually affordable bay boats. For one reason or another, each of these 10 bay boats are the best and deserve top billing:
- Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless
- Bulls Bay 2000
- Caymas 26 HB
- Grady-White 281 CE
- Pathfinder 2300 HPS
- Ranger RB200
- Robalo 246 Cayman SD
- Scout 281 XXS
- Sportsman Masters 267OE
- Tideline 235 Hybrid
1. Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless
The 280 Dauntless made our list of the 10 Best Center Console Boats, and it’s making this list, too, for the same reason: as advertised, it really is unsinkable. Whaler’s glass-foam-glass sandwich construction makes every inch of the boat buoyant.
And, the 280 Dauntless checks all the fishing boxes with livewells, rod holders, tackle stowage, and so on. We also note that while Boston Whalers command top dollar, they maintain a stronger resale value than most competitors, so they represent a better investment than most boats.
Visit Boston Whaler to learn more.
2. Bulls Bay 2000
With an MSRP under the $45,000 mark, including a Yamaha F115 outboard, the Bulls Bay 2000 makes its mark for being affordable without being “cheap.” Though it’s priced well below most similar competitors, it still has multiple livewells, a true leaning post with rocket launchers as opposed to a swing-back cooler seat, and lots of stainless-steel pieces and parts where cheap boats have plastic.
Visit Bulls Bay Boats to learn more.
3. Caymas 26 HB
We love the Caymas 26 HB for its Twin livewells hold 35 gallons each, and there are rod holders galore. But what really sets it apart from the crowd is the SVVT twin-stepped tunnel Visit Caymas Boats to learn more.
4. Grady-White 281 CE
This all-new model for 2023 lands you squarely in the lap of bay boat luxury!
5. Pathfinder 2300 HPS
Few bay boats can match the techy construction on the Pathfinder 2300 HPS, which is vacuum infused to maximize strength while minimizing weight. On top of that, this boat has a stepped hull and, with a 250-hp powerplant, can hit speeds in the low 60s— something very few bay boats under 25 feet can accomplish.
Visit Pathfinder Boats to learn more.
6. Ranger RB200
The only aluminum boat to make our list is the Ranger RB200, and the fact that it’s an aluminum rig gains the advantages of relatively low cost, lighter weight for easy towing with a modest tow vehicle, and low maintenance. But beyond that, we love that this boat comes as a complete package.
7. Robalo 246 Cayman SD
There’s a lot to be said for the Robalo 246 Cayman SD, including a relatively attractive price-point, more room than most bay boats its size thanks to a 9’0” What makes it unique, however, is that it’s one of the smallest bay boats around, with an upper station atop the hard top. Those who enjoy sight fishing but don’t want to move up to a 26’ or larger bay boat will look no further.
Visit Robalo Boats for more information.
8. Scout 281 XXS
This is another model that stands out for its luxury appointments, with a double-wide forward console lounger, gobs of seating, and cushioning synthetic decking on the bow and stern casting decks.
9. Sportsman Masters 267OE
The Sportsman Masters 267OE was refreshed for the 2023 model year, and this boat has all the angling goodies you could want, plus some luxury touches while offering something most other high-end bay boats can’t: a tremendous bang for your buck.
It MSRPs for around a third less than the cost of some, yet the top-end features found on pricier boats like multiple livewells, the big console lounger, and a full electronics package are included on the stock boat.
Visit Sportsman Boats to learn more.
10. Tideline 235 Hybrid
Cat fans will be happy to see the Tideline 235 Hybrid on this list, and they already know why it makes it: you just can’t beat that smooth cat ride in a chop. It also enjoys resin infused construction. What about fishing features?
The Tideline 235 Hybrid is a custom boat, so you can have it built with or without whatever you like — more rodholders over here, less over there, Power Poles, upper stations, it’s all up to the original owner.
Visit Tideline Boats to learn more.
Did you find your perfect fishing machine among these 10 best bay boats for 2023? Maybe rent a boat to get to know the boat.
Each of these 10 bay boats deserves to be called “best” for one reason or another, and if you’re hunting for a new fishing machine there’s a good chance one or more will land on your short-list.
Boatsetter is a unique boat-sharing platform that gives everyone — whether you own a boat or you’re just renting — the chance to experience life on the water. You can list a boat, book a boat, or make money as a captain.
With over three decades of experience in marine journalism, Lenny Rudow has contributed to dozens of boating and fishing publications and websites ranging from BoatU.S. Magazine to BDOutdoors.com. Rudow is currently the Angler in Chief at Rudow’s FishTalk, he is a past president of Boating Writers International (BWI), a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.