Should I Get A Center Console Boat For The Great Lakes?

Fishing, cruising, relaxing, and riding are all great activities boaters enjoy out on the Great Lakes. Many boats are great at a couple of these things, but not many that can do them all. That is except for a center console boat.

What makes center consoles so good for the Great Lakes? First of all, they are perfectly shaped to handle most if not all rough conditions the Great Lakes may throw at you. Also, they are great for both deep sea and shallow water fishing (bass, trout, salmon, pretty much every type of fishing).

Although center consoles are most popularly used on the ocean down in Florida, I would argue that they are even a better fit for the Great Lakes. This article will explain why I believe center console boats are perfect for boaters in the Great Lakes.

What are center console boats?

A center console boat is simply a boat that has a console or a steering station in the center of the boat with seating in the front or open deck space and the back (called the stern).

There are small cabins usually inside the console and/or under the deck of most larger center console boats. These cabins often have room for a small bed and/or a bathroom (beds usually only on very large center console boats).

The console of the boat is where all the controls of the boats are located, including ignition, steering, trim control radio, and other electronic devices like antennae, etc. in most of the boats, there is no facility of storage or weather protection, making it unsuitable for cruising purpose.

These boats provide limited relief from sun or rain as the console has a “T-top” or “hardtop” which is permanently mounted to the boat, but its primary function is that it provides space for mounting antennae, radars, and lights.

What makes center console boats so good for fishing in the Great Lakes?

A center console boat is typical 18 feet to 40 feet in length; sometimes, it may vary in length as custom boats are also available. An advantageous feature of these boats is that a person can walk all around the boat from the stern to the hull with ease, which may help remove obstacles encountered along the way.

Powerful outboard engines power these boats. Depending upon the length of the boat, the engine may be single or double. Usually, a single-engine can provide a capacity of 200 to 300 horsepower. If the boat’s length is from 20-25 feet then, a single-engine is enough, but if the size is more than 25 feet, then a twin-engine is recommended as it delivers more power to the boat and helps in better propulsion with a greater amount of thrust.

Center console boats are ideal from the fishing perspective because they allow for 360-degree fishability as it is open from all the sides thus you can insert your fishing pole from the stern as well as from the hull side, maximize deck space, provide a bow cockpit as well as aft cockpit and on top of all of this they are customizable boats that can be molded according to one’s needs and fishery tactics.

For example, one can install a storage unit if the boat’s size is greater than 20 feet, allowing storage of fish that are caught during one trip. Now, coming to the boat’s size, it is a highly compact boat that can cruise through the narrow stretch of water, and it doesn’t get easily stuck if the water level is low in a particular area.

Whether trolling or casting is your thing, a center console is great for both. It truly is extremely versatile and is good at pretty much all kinds of fishing you will be doing on the Great Lakes.

Other uses and advantages of center console boats

Apart from fishing, these boats can also be used for simple water cruising, and while taking suitable precautions, they can also be used for water skiing and other activities. The most important advantage of center console boats is that they are easy on the pocket compared to similar-sized boats because there is no cabin or any accommodations.

They tend to be lighter, which means that they can perform better with equal horsepower, have more motion range, and are easier to carry on the back of a trailer. Maintenance is also minimized since most of these boats don’t have much material that cant be power washed with water.

The whole family will love to go fishing on a center console

Fishing can be a gratifying experience as it involves patience and gives oneself enough time to think about one’s life or to bond with your family. Another reason why fishing is preferred over other activities is that it doesn’t require any prior planning. You just need your fishing rod and some light snacks, and you are good to go.

Different types of boats are available for fishing purposes, but the most favored boats are the Center Console Boats, especially if you are doing recreational fishing in the Great Lakes.

Many center consoles (especially Boston whalers) have beds in the front to lay on. So when someone gets bored of fishing, the nice cozy bed is always a perfect spot to rest.

Disadvantages of a center console boat

Center console boats are robust, easy to handle, and light but like two sides of the coin, it comes with certain disadvantages. The major drawback is that it offers very little protection from bad weather than most cabin boats. On smaller models, the storage space might be absent or limited.

Most of the models don’t have overnight accommodations, or at max, some have only a single berth running through the console, or it might be present under the deck. When it comes to spotting the fish, center console boats are of little use because there is no vantage point on the boat while bass boats do.

Can center console boats tackle the waves of the Great Lakes?

Center console boats being fishing-friendly, can also tackle the usual waves that arise in the Great Lakes. If you are okay with giving up the comfort in bad weather as it does not have a cabin, these boats prove to be worth your money in bad weather.

With a little technique, one can steer clear through waves of 4 feet or higher in the Great Lakes. This would be possible only when your boat is powerful enough to challenge the high tides as most center consoles are. Thus, making your cruising and fishing experience a safe and secure one.

How to choose the right center console boat?

When it comes to choosing the best center console boats according to your needs, there is only one way to tackle this problem, and that is spending lots and lots of time on research. Your research should include different make, different models, and other horsepower boats and stay in touch with various brokers and websites.

As I explain in my article about my favorite fishing boats for the Great Lakes, I like Boston Whalers the most. These boats are very safe and literally do not sink. But they do cost a lot of money. Used marketplaces such as craigslist might be the best bet for you if you don’t want to drop a lot of money on a center console boat.

Even very old Boston Whalers are still seen commonly on the used market which just proves their durability.