What makes the ultimate catfishing boat is in the eye of the beholder. Given the vast differences in waters and situations faced by the faithful across whiskerland, it’s a good thing boat makers offer nearly limitless options in size, hull designs, bells and whistles, layout, seating, storage, and more.
To help you find a platform that fits your style of fishing, we’ve assembled a selection of six top picks in various shapes and sizes of catfishing boats. If you don’t see a perfect match, check manufacturer websites, boat shows, and local marine dealers to find the ride of your dreams.
I like the center console design, but the boat is available as a side console as well. Both are rated for up to 60 hp, and can haul when appropriately powered. While the 20-gallon livewell isn’t big enough for monster blues or mudcats, it’s plenty big for keeping bait lively as needed, or for keeping a few eater channels gilling until cleaning time. If you choose to add an extra holding tank, there’s room between the console and foredeck.
Like all Alumacrafts, the All-Weld series is one tough customer. Its .102-inch hull is supremely sturdy—I crossed logs, rocks, and other rough terrain with mine, with no ill effects to its seaworthiness. Just keep in mind like any 16-footer, space is at a premium. Thankfully, there is lockable forward storage, additional room beneath the dash, and aft in the battery storage and fuel tank compartment. And, if you need more storage or space for your cattin’ adventures, the company offers All-Welds to 20 feet in length.
Standard 2200 features include a 41-gallon fuel tank, portside rod locker able to accommodate 9-foot sticks, anchor box, and a 100-gallon, 62-inch-long stern livewell that features dual pumps and ample space for more than one trophy cat. Catfish Edition extras include a 4.5-gallon aerated port bow baitwell with timer, a washdown system, 12-volt bow outlet, and special catfish graphics.
At 18 feet 9 inches, with an 83-inch beam, the boat offers elbow room without being bulkier than a battleship. The tiller model weighs less than 1,000 pounds. Rated for outboards to 90 hp, the 1800 easily hits speeds of 40 mph. Storage is impressive, and includes a 9-foot rod locker. The 15.5-gallon aerated livewell stretches 46 inches, big enough to handle its share of beefy kitties. There’s also a separate baitwell for keeping minnows lively.
The .190-inch-thick, all-welded aluminum hull’s 6-degree deadrise might not slice rollers like a deep-V, but it handles most river conditions with ease. A 92-inch beam and 28-inch side height give you room to move around while setting lines and battling big fish. Standard features include sprayed bedliner flooring and deck, 18- X 52-inch welded platform, foam flotation, and 28-gallon fuel tank. Upgrades include an aerated livewell, heavy-duty bottom skid plate, EZ Clean intake grate, and windshield.
Available in side- and center-console setups, the rig is rated for outboards up to 175 hp and carries a 30-gallon fuel tank. Its 60-gallon aerated livewell holds an admirable catfish collection. Upgrades include a 30-gallon filtered baitwell (center console), 7-foot rod boxes, bimini top, accessory rails, and various Humminbird sonar/GPS units.
With a 102-inch beam and 23-inch-high sides, there’s ample room for multiple anglers, and the welded aluminum walk-through windshield offers shelter from the elements. Plus, both driver and passenger enjoy Euro-style adjustable seats.
The X24 is also loaded with hard-fishing features. Standard amenities include a Humminbird 788ci sonar/GPS unit, 101-pound-thrust Minn Kota Terrova trolling motor, three-bank charger, and a 125-gallon insulated livewell with 500-gallon-per-hour fill and recirculation system for keeping big cats lively all day long. There’s ample storage, including a lockable rod box, and the rig even comes with a washdown station for easy cleanup.