There's so much choice when it comes to choosing the best family fishing boats, so I've applied a few key criteria to help whittle down your list...
A family fishing boat, in my estimation, is a hybrid, jack-of-all-trades vessel that provides a safe, secure platform for catching fish but also doubles as a family-friendly cruising boat. To qualify as one of the best family fishing boats, I think it needs to tick all of the following boxes:
- A large, uncluttered cockpit with plenty of storage for rods, tackle, bait and fish
- Seating capacity and creature comforts to support at least 4 passengers
- An enclosed head for privacy
- Either a small cabin or a place to mount a bow dodger for little ones to get out of the sun and take a nap
- Modest, economical to operate, and relatively affordable for families on a budget
Modular is preferrable and pressurized fresh water is also pretty much essential. For fishing, it ought to have at least one live well, fish box and cooler, with plenty of rod holders.
With all these criteria in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best family fishing boats.
6 of the best family fishing boats
Beneteau Antares 8 Fishing
+ Affordable and versatile; has both family cruising and fishing features
+ Amazing value for the price
+ A side access dive door is a true luxury in this class
+ Extremely liveable double-cabin design
+ Massive aft cockpit is incredibly useful
– Spartan fit and finish
– Questionable pan-liner construction methods
– Might be a little underpowered for some
Our first recommendation for the best family fishing boat is the Antares 8, built by French giant Beneteau, which is Europe’s biggest boat builder — albeit a relative newcomer to the North American powerboat scene.
The Antares 8 Fishing is compact and sporty looking, and while it is not truly a dedicated fishing boat this may make it more appealing to families as versatile option.
The boat is a contemporary take on the conventional pilothouse design, with a fully modular cockpit seating arrangement, live well, side-exit dive door, cockpit table, two swim steps, integrated fish boxes and even a cutting board.
The pilothouse features sliding plexiglass windows that open for enhanced ventilation and the settee can convert into an additional berth. In the galley, there is a two-burner stove, refrigerator, sink, and fully-protected helm station.
The bow of the boat features a small wet head and additional fixed berth. At 26ft 6in and weighing nearly 6,000lbs this is no speed boat – with a maximum of 250hp on tap, you’re unlikely to go much faster than 40mph flat out.
However as a no-frills family cruiser, the Beneteau Antares 8 Fishing is hard to beat.
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Edgewater 262 CX
+ Sleek, beautiful aesthetics
+ Versatile and modular cockpit seating arrangement
+ More plush than many other dual console boats with fishing features
+ Head with a shower is a real plus in a boat this size
+ Well protected cockpit and helm for an open boat
– Needs twin 200hp outboards to deliver 48mph performance
– Relatively expensive
These days, the salt-water dual console has replaced the family bowrider of old and the Edgewater 262 CX is a perfect example as to why. At 26ft 6in with a displacement of 7,200lbs and plenty of freeboard and bow flare, the 262 CX will surely handle moderate seas with ease.
Seating is plush and plentiful and the vessel also features a molded fiberglass hardtop, large windshield, and spacious port storage compartment that also doubles as a head with integrated shower.
The passenger seat doubles as a convertible chaise lounge, adding to the boat’s versatility and modularity. The aft portion of the cockpit is wide open with a transom walkthrough, integrated dive door, in-floor insulated fish boxes, and a bait well set into the port transom.
Not having a bracket, which I personally prefer for aesthetic reasons, the 262 CX does not have much of a swim deck but this is the price to be paid for choosing outboard power.
One other noteworthy feature: behind the driver’s bench there is a wet bar featuring a sink basin with pressurized water and integrated cooler, which could be used for icing fish. Underneath the wet bar is a space for a cooler as well. All in all, the 262 CX is an ideal family fishing boat for long days out on the water.
Grady White Freedom 285
+ Head features an integrated shower
+ Dive door
+ A premium and feature-rich package
– Probably not enough additional features to justify the extra price
As far as dual console boats go, Grady White’s Freedom 285 is a beautiful example of a premium product. 28ft with a 9ft 6in beam and 19 degrees of progressive deadrise, the 285 Freedom is made with raucous coastal seas in mind.
Like many of the best family fishing boats, the Freedom 285 is feature-rich: it has a head compartment that doubles as a shower, a fiberglass hardtop with integrated lights and marine speakers, a bow ladder, a dive door, as well as integrated fish boxes and a 32-gallon live well.
One other feature of note: the Freedom 285 features a bow thruster which is sure to make docking a breeze. With twin 300hp Yamaha outboards, the Freedom 285’s best cruise speed is around 30mph at which speed you should achieve around 2mpg fuel consumption. Top speed is reportedly just a touch under 55mph at 6,000 rpm.
Scout 260 LXF
+ Seakeeper Ride stabiliser system
+ Center console layout
+ Dive door
– Cramped head compartment compared to dual console models
– Expensive for a 26ft boat
The only center console boat on our list, the Scout 260 LXF, is a quality family luxury boat with lots of creature comforts and amenities. While not as ideal for family cruising, this center console design has ample deck space (as well as standard fishing features like a live well and integrated fish boxes) while also meeting one of our key criteria: an enclosed marine head, which on the 260 LXF is situated under the console.
Featuring a dive door, 21.5 transom deadrise, and 146 gallons of fuel capacity, the 260 LXF is arguably — pound for pound — the best offshore boat on this list.
Its most noteworthy feature is Seakeeper’s new dynamic active trim system, dubbed Seakeeper Ride, which uses AI and advanced computational power to instantaneously deploy small trim tabs to adjust for boat pitch and roll over each and every wave. It does all this dynamically and without user input, beyond setting basic parameters on its included display.
Our estimated price for the 260 LXF includes the biggest engine options and the Seakeeper Ride system.
Cobia 240 DC
+ Relatively affordable
+ Smaller single-engine package means lower running costs
+ Plush and luxurious
– Single-engine may scare off those wanting the reassurance of twins
– At only 24ft, will ride slightly worse than the larger boats on this list
– No dive door
The Cobia 240 DC is a fine example of a manageable and modest family fishing boat. With a single 300hp Yamaha Outboard, 21.5 degree deadrise, and 123 gallons of fuel capacity, speed and handling will be adequate, if not exceptional.
Maintenance and repair costs will also be substantially less than other family fishing boats. At a smaller size, it is hard to discern any really compromises in usability and versatility beyond the lack of a side-exit dive door.
The 240 DC has ample and plush seating, plenty of rod holders, an enclosed head, an anchor windlass with hideaway front ladder, fresh water system, 22 gallon live well, 2 in-deck fish boxes, and a fiberglass hardtop.
The 240 DC is by no means cheap, however for a well-equipped midsize boat, it does offer great value in the current market.
Boston Whaler 285 Conquest
+ Large, spacious, and luxurious: a proper all-day boat
+ Features two sleeping berths: perfect for families with kids
+ Protected helm and cockpit
+ Despite being more akin to a traditional I/O cabin cruiser in terms of comfort and amenities, retains every desirable fishing feature
– Very expensive
– In warm climates protected cockpit can get very hot
Boston Whaler’s 285 Conquest is a quality family day boat that is also capable of overnighting — or even weekending for two. However, it is substantially more expensive than most family fishing boats.
For the money, prospective buyers get a proper cabin complete with a TV, convertible berth, small galley with a fridge, sink, microwave oven, and stove, as well as an enclosed marine head featuring a shower.
One feature of note: the 285 Conquest, unlike most traditional fishing-oriented walkaround boats features an additional berth tucked behind the cabin steps as seen on traditional sterndrive cabin cruisers, which is both remarkable and also a sign of the outboard-centric times.
Also noteworthy is the completely enclosed helm station that more closely resembles a pilothouse, despite having the look of a walkaround boat and opening side doors.
As has become the norm on boats that once felt a bit Spartan, the 285 Conquest features plush modular seating as well as an aft cockpit that is spacious for activities like fishing and diving.
Behind the helm station, there is another wet bar complete with sink and fridge. On the 285 Conquest, storage for tackle is ample and there is also a live well, as well as in-deck insulated fish boxes.
A windlass and high bow rails are also included, which makes the foredeck and its lounge cushions extremely useable. The 285 Conquest comes with twin 250hp Mercury Verado outboards, 200 gallons of fuel capacity, is 27ft 10in long with 20 degrees of transom dead rise, and weighs about 10,000lbs fully loaded.