By Capt. Adam Peeples
My entire fishing career has revolved around fishing center consoles. One of my earliest memories of saltwater fishing was on the back of an old Mako 258 catching spanish and king mackerel with my granddad and uncle out of Mexico Beach, Florida.
Technological developments in the past 20 or so years, such as the realization of reliable 4-stroke motor technology and significant advances in marine electronics, have turned today’s center console fishing boats into efficient, fast, and reliable fishing platforms that far surpass the abilities of their predecessors.
What was once considered “crazy” to do on a center console is now the norm, as more and more of the large center consoles are not only showing up in bluewater tournaments but taking home checks. There are also clear benefits to fishing a center console offshore.
In my opinion, the two biggest benefits of offshore fishing on a center console are speed and efficiency. Being able to get to the fishing grounds faster is beneficial not only for tournament fishing, but also for the weekend warrior who wants to maximize his time with baits in the water. As always, sea condition is the most limiting factor to how fast you can go, but high-performance center consoles can handle rough conditions as good as any fishing boat. In most conditions center consoles will still hold the advantage on speed.
The dilemma here comes with the speed and efficiency. More speed leads to greater fuel burn which diminishes efficiency, so you need to find the right mix for your boat and fishing needs. On twin powered center console boats, you can see fuel efficiency approaching and exceeding 2mpg on midsized and smaller hulls.
Most triple powered boats that I have run have seen anywhere from .8mpg up to as good as 1.4mpg at cruise. In my opinion, once you get into the larger “mega” center consoles with quad motors or more, you really start to lose the efficiency advantage.
Fuel burn and efficiency aren’t necessarily a financial consideration for everyone, but they can greatly increase your range and provide the ability to make long runs. I primarily fish the Northern Gulf of Mexico out of Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
Sometimes we get lucky and have a push of good water in close, but often in the summer, it’s a minimum of an 80-mile run just to reach quality water. There are days when I may have to spend hours on plane to find an area worth fishing, so being able to cruise at 35 knots and burn right at 1.5 mpg makes a big difference. On the other hand, if I am going swordfishing and know I only have a 60-mile run that day, I am going to open the throttle up to get there faster.
This allows me and my anglers more time with lines in the water. This blend of go-fast and efficiency is one of the things that really makes center console fishing boats an excellent offshore fishing platform.
Another benefit of blue water trolling on center console boats that is not quite as obvious is the 360-degree fishability of center consoles. The proximity of the helm to the spread is also something that I appreciate. With the use of auto-pilot, I can manage my entire spread while maintaining heading. I can observe and direct the crew to make any changes or adjustments needed to the spread, and even leader and/or gaff fish while remaining within arm’s reach of the helm. If we are on a fish that’s dumping a reel, I can put the angler at the front of the boat to give chase while someone else clears lines and teasers.
If I find a nice piece of flotsam and want to pull the spread in so we can catch dolphin on spinners, it’s as easy as clearing the spread and leaving everything in place while moving a couple of anglers forward with spinners. Afterward, nothing more is required than putting the boat in gear and redeploying the spread.
One of my favorite things to do in the summer here in the Northern Gulf is target yellowfin tuna when they are up on top busting baits. Chasing these constantly moving schools of tuna down and presenting a popper in the middle of the frenzy is something you just can’t do effectively on a sport fish. The 360-degree fishability allows me to put a couple anglers with popping setups on the bow as we pull up to the fish and get that quick cast in before the fish sound.
Offshore fishing on a center console allows me to do more with less. While blue water trolling and sword fishing are historically associated with diesel-powered sport fishers, modern center consoles enable captains to not only pull off these types of fishing, but to do so without a mate or crew. The layout of a modern center console allows me to be in the middle of the action while remaining in command of the vessel.
Emerging technologies such as Yamaha’s Helm Master System and autopilot with handheld remote controls, allows me to have complete control of the boat while increasing my ability to multi-task. I look forward to the coming years as technology and innovation continues to improve and provide more advantages for center console captains and crews.