Big Game Boats

Bobby Byrd & John Cochrane
Big Game Boats
Late night marlin bite. Angler in fighting chair. Gonna be a beautiful evening offshore.

Choosing the right boat for big game fishing in Texas

Well, we hope some of you have been able to get in on some of the winter wahoo action this season, but the weather has been pretty tough. Making the run to bluewater in the winter is not always easy and it takes proper planning. You need to have a relatively fast, seaworthy boat to get you out and back safely between cold fronts. This month we thought we would talk about your boat choices and what some of your options are when it comes to big game fishing off Texas. There are many different kinds of boats to choose from, but the two most popular choices are gasoline outboard and diesel inboard. In general terms, the outboard option entails a fast, racing boat kind of ride to cover the long distance to the deep water, with fewer amenities. The inboard diesel is a more conservative, usually slower choice, but with much more comfort and stability. Not all outboards run out at 50+ MPH, especially if they want to have any fuel left when they get there, but most provide a generally fast, open, hang-on, "spray in your face" trip to the edge. Bean bags, goggles and slickers are standard equipment.

In the not so distant past, outboards consumed a lot of fuel and were not nearly as reliable as they are now. The motors didn't like hours of trolling and they made the cockpit a noisy, smelly place to be, but the newer outboards are quieter and burn more cleanly than their predecessors. Four-stroke outboards have taken outboard dependability, noise and economy to a new level. Sometimes you have to look back there and make sure the tattle-tale is squirting because you can't hear the engine running! Now, larger, more seaworthy outboard boats are built to handle multiple high-horsepower engines and lots of fuel. With the speed and increased fuel efficiency, these boats have become very popular with the younger crowd that wants to get out there quick, but are willing to give up a few amenities. Bean bags instead of couches, lots of hand-grabs, goggles and slickers for the spray. Don't get us wrong, there are some very nice outboards with air-conditioning and lots of creature comfort, but they can't quite compare to the stability, spaciousness and overnight comfort the bigger inboard diesels provide. Most are open, center console boats with the main objective of getting out there and back as quickly as possible. Unless you keep your boat in slings or a dry-stack storage facility, you also have to deal with trailering and launching your boat.

If you want to get off the bean bag and trade your goggles in for Costa del Mars, you will find many twin diesel models to choice from. These boats have been around for a long time, especially when talking about venturing far offshore. In the past, they too were fuel burning, smelly, heavy, slower rides to the fishing grounds. Now, newer, lightweight, high horsepower diesel engines have made these vessels faster and more economical than ever. From express, flybridge and even enclosed bridge models, these boats offer a lot that their earlier counterparts did not. An added bonus is the safety of carrying around hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel versus gasoline. Larger inboard diesel boats are hard to beat for comfort and overnight staying power. Some are equipped nicer than many people's homes! We can tell you that staying overnight on a nice big diesel sportfisherman when the weather is right, is a great experience. After a day's fishing, a hot shower, cooling off in the air conditioning with your favorite beverage, watching the game on Sat TV while cooking steaks in the cockpit, with a couple of lines drifting behind the boat is pretty hard to beat. Night fishing for tuna or swordfish is a lot of fun, so is sleeping in air-conditioned comfort after a long day of fishing. Not everyone can afford one of these battleships, but the price for the larger triple engine outboards is approaching and sometimes equal to what you can spend on a new or late model diesel inboard and have a totally different boat. The choice is yours and we know many friends that fish on either style boat with great success.

As far as fishing goes, both type boats catch fish. Most seasoned blue water fishermen would probably opt for the diesel, versus an outboard powered boat, mainly because of the distance involved in fishing off our coast and the comfort level. The older we get, the more we like this option! However, the latest big outboard boats are increasingly sophisticated, well equipped fishing machines. The outboard is also a great choice for the fisherman with a smaller budget or one that wants to take his boat home with him where he can work (and play) with it more easily. There's a lot to be said for keeping your boat at home or stored nearby. It's a lot easier to maintain it at home or in an enclosed storage shed, than having to drive down to a coastal marina and work on your boat in the water. Also, keeping the boat in a covered shed away from the elements is a definite plus. During hurricane season you have fewer worries if your boat is away from the coast, and if it isn't you can hook on to it and get it to a safe place.

Most offshore fishing techniques have been based on inboard boats and their equipment, but these methods work well on both style boats. On an outboard, when fighting a fish, an angler does have to deal with the engines hanging on the transom, but most learn quickly to fight the fish from the bow or side of the boat, especially when the fish is close. Outboards also don't back up very well, so having the angler on the bow lets you point the boat in the direction of the fish and go! The popularity of stand-up tackle and related gear is perfect for the outboard enthusiast and it has revolutionized the ability for smaller boats to compete with the big boys equipped with fighting chairs, bigger cockpits and heavy tackle. Outrigger technology has also come a long way and most bluewater outboards now are equipped with heavy duty riggers that do a great job when trolling. Electronics come in smaller packages now and are more waterproof than earlier models. Technology has come a long way. Many outboards have more sophisticated electronics than most bigger boats had just ten years ago.

Which style boat do you choose? Blasting off with your buddies to the 100 fathom curve with your hair on fire, or, sitting back while the auto pilot takes you to your destination. Both options get you to the fish. If you need help making your decision on a boat or want to find out more about big game fishing in Texas, visit us at Tops-N-Towers or come by our booth at the Houston Fishing Show, March 5-9. We're always happy to answer your questions. Byrd & Cochrane is an authorized broker for Fox Yacht Sales, the Texas dealer for CABO and Riviera Yachts. Fox has an extensive inventory of brokerage boats as well and we will be glad to help you find a boat or sell yours. We specialize in sportfishing boats and motor yachts. Come by and get a great deal on your next boat. For more information call our office at 281-291-0656 or check out our website at or