There are plenty of center console fishing boats out there that offer family features, but not many center consoles designed specifically as family boats that offer fishing features. If you put your family first and you’re looking for a fishing boat that fits the bill, strap the entire crew in and take them to see the Sportsman Boats Heritage 231.
The cockpit arrangement is probably the first thing they’ll like. Unlike most modern CCs, rather than a folding bench seat this boat features molded-in aft seating for four people, stretching from gunwale to gunwale with 10-gallon aquarium-style livewells under the port and starboard sides. On dedicated fishing trips, the side seat cushions and backrests can be removed for easier livewell access. And on non-fishing trips, everyone will appreciate the port-side “sandbar cooler” built into the swim platform, which is accessible from outside the boat. On the starboard side that same space is utilized for a stern anchor compartment. And on both sides, there are boarding ladders. Still, set all that stuff aside for a moment because what’s really going to get the kids all stoked up when they look around back there is the standard ski-tow pole that pops up out of the transom.
In the bow, again, the seating is designed with a priority placed on family time. Coaming bolsters and seat cushions are recessed for extra depth, so kids are kept low and surrounded by gunwales. Removable backrests sit aft for support when you’re facing forward, and the U-shaped wraparound seating (with stowage compartments underneath) has a removable insert that turns the entire bow into a sunpad. Or, add the support leg and that insert becomes a centered dinette table. There’s also a seat built into the front of the console, which naturally houses a head compartment inside.
The Heritage 231 is even designed with the family in mind when it comes to cruising across the Bay on a breezy day. You won’t find one of those common flimsy Plexi windscreens you have to duck behind, but instead, this boat has a full three-sided tempered glass enclosure that’s integrated with the T-top’s D-tubing and the console itself. Even more important, Sportsman puts the Seakeeper Ride vessel attitude control system on this model — not as a cost-adding option, but as standard equipment. The Ride system combines a computer brain, sensors, and trim-tab-like paddles to take tens of thousands of measurements per minute and make physical adjustments up to 100 times per second, to combat pitch and roll while underway. In testing on the Sportsman 232 Open, which shares the basic dimensions and specs of the 231 Heritage, the system showed a 50-percent reduction of roll and a 47-percent reduction in pitch.
While family comes first for this model, fishing doesn’t get shorted by any measure. You get four rocket launchers across the leaning post, five on the hard top plus a pair of kingfish holders, four flush-mount holders in the gunwales, under-gunwale racks, a 12” Garmin GPSMAP 1243xsv at the helm and a GT12M 350-watt through-hull transducer, and fresh and raw water washdowns. And that’s all standard-issue; notable options include a second MFD at the helm, outriggers, under-post tackle stowage, and bow-mount trolling motor rigging.
We know you love fishing or you wouldn’t be reading this right now. But hey, when push comes to shove, we also know that family comes first. And if you want to see your family having fun and growing closer… well, need we say more?
Sportsman Heritage 231 Specifications
- LOA – 23’4”
- Beam – 8’6”
- Displacement – 3600 lbs.
- Draft – 1’4”
- Transom Deadrise – 20 degrees
- Fuel Capacity – 106 gal.
- Max. Power – 300 hp
- Area Dealer – Riverside Marine, Essex, MD, (410) 686-1500.