By Colin Mahoney
The tipping point, when I knew it was time to buy the first boat for my family, came on a charter fishing trip off Marco Island in Florida. I’d brought my two daughters, ages 5 and 7 at the time, out on the captain’s 21-foot Maverick skiff. He was a little apprehensive about whether they’d enjoy the trip at such young ages, but he didn’t have to worry. Before we even left the marina, they were already reaching in the livewell to play with the baitfish. Soon, they were reeling in snook and loving every minute out on the water.
Back home in Massachusetts, I began shopping around. I knew I wanted something that was first and foremost a fishing boat, but would also be a comfortable and safe family boat. I ended up choosing a Cobia, which perhaps not coincidently, is owned by Maverick Boats, makers of the shallow-water skiff we fished from in Florida.
The 2015 Cobia 256CC I purchased is a 25-foot center console with a deep- V variable dead-rise hull designed for offshore fishermen. We’ve used the boat for chasing striped bass, bluefish, and false albacore, as well as for bottom fishing, and I look forward to eventually getting it out to the tuna grounds. It is a great platform for fishing, with a recessed bow rail and unencumbered bow-to-stern deck, making it easy to get around and enjoy 360-degree fishing from anywhere on it. There’s also plenty of storage, including under-gunwale rod storage, two in-deck fish boxes, and a 28-gallon livewell. I really like the padded gunnels and toe rails for extra safety and comfort when fighting fish in rough seas. The leaning post tackle station has drawers and storage for all of my fishing gear, helping keep the boat neat and uncluttered.
Speaking of keeping the boat neat, one of our favorite things to do in it is to jig for squid, and then use the squid as bait for fluke fishing. As you can imagine, jigging for ink-squirting squid with two kids can get really messy, which brings me to another favorite attribute of the Cobia 256—it’s really easy to clean. A saltwater wash-down and self-bailing cockpit make it simple to rinse away ink and slime before it gets baked on in the sun. And of course, less time spent cleaning means more time enjoying time out on the water.
• Length: 25′ 06″
• Maximum HP: 400
• Weight: 4000 pounds (w/o engine)
There are many center console fishing machines on the market, but what really sold me on the Cobia was its family features. I really like the pull-down bench seating in the stern that folds out of the way when it’s time to fish. The bow seating with forward-facing backrests is also very popular when we are cruising with guests onboard. There’s even a head in the console that we use mainly for storage, but it’s good to know it’s there if needed.
What sealed the deal for me was the value factor. I’ve had friends on board who own higher-end fishing boats, and they have been really impressed by the fit and finish of the Cobia. The builders paid a lot of attention to details such as the hinges and fasteners, which are all screwed into mounting plates. Everything on the boat feels very solid and well made. There are also several smart designs that make the boat especially user friendly – full bilge access behind the fold-down stern seat and easy access to the fuel filters.
The hull on the Cobia is relatively light, but it’s still seaworthy and feels sturdy in heavy seas. I get excellent fuel efficiency with such a light hull, but the big flare and deep-V up front help it cut through waves and deflect spray, making for a dry ride in almost all sea conditions.
On our third or fourth outing, I had my family onboard and we were making the crossing from Cape Cod to Martha’s Vineyard on a day when the wind was blowing 25 knots, putting up true 5-foot waves in a confused sea. I couldn’t believe how well the boat ran, and felt totally comfortable making the crossing. I looked back at my two daughters sitting comfortably and safe on the fold-down stern seating and knew I had made a great choice.