The “GulfShore” design and layout from Young Boats in both the 20 and 24-foot version has been gaining traction among guides along Florida’s west coast and as they’ve increased in popularity, naturally the demand for a larger model was bound to arise. In response to this demand the new 26 GulfShore was born. Why a 26-foot model of what might appear to be a boat more ideally suited for backwater and near coastal fisheries? The reasons why this size and style make so much sense are numerous; starting with the ability to carry more passengers. The seating arrangement on the 26 GulfShore provides comfortable Llebroc helm and companion seating for six passengers. Arranged in a unique style that is reminiscent of the seating you might find on an airboat with double rows lined up fore and aft, four riders are seated safely and comfortably within the recessed center cockpit deck. Above and behind them is an elevated Helm Riser with twin seats for the driver plus one. The helm pod features a panel complete with all switching, controller for twin PowerPoles, electronic digital gauge displays and a 16-inch Simrad unit equipped with sounder, plotter and radar. From this elevated helm position, you’re really offered so much of a vision advantage which is one of the most attractive features this model provides. As a sight fishing tool the GulfShore 26 allows the driver to locate surface cruising fish and then direct his anglers on the forward casting platform where and when to present a bait.
The next benefit to having 26-feet of boat is sea-worthiness. This is a boat capable of running further offshore than its smaller sisters while doing so more safely and comfortably. Blue water fishing is definitely on the table aboard this model and as we experienced on our test day she is as capable sight casting to pods of surface cruising Sailfish as she is pitching to Tarpon on the beach or Snook in the mangroves. Rigged with three live wells below the helm station, a 50-gallon at center deck flanked by a pair of outboard 30-gallon tanks and a pair of small pitch wells under the forward casting deck; your bait holding capacity is sure to exceed your demands most days. All bait tanks are fed via adjustable flow Hooker pumps.
The elevated forward and aft decks also provide valuable real estate both above for casting lures or baits, and below for numerous storage options. Working from the bow towards the center are an anchor locker forward, a large compartment behind this holds multiple batteries to power a 36V trolling motor, aft of the battery box are a pair of 160-quart insulated compartments which can divide the task of storing food, drinks, or icing your catch. An additional pair of insulated 200-quart compartments are featured in opposite corners at the transom. Tackle storage is available within the pedestals for both rows of passenger seating and a pair of massive 320-quart dry storage compartments are located to port and starboard framing the outside of the forward fish boxes.
From a running and fishing perspective, although unconventional at first glance; anyone with a good deal of fishing experience will immediately recognize the functionality built into every inch of this boat. As a guide boat its layout is ideal to offer comfortable seating and a stable work space when the fish show up to play. This effectiveness translates directly over to the needs of serious recreational anglers as well. A day spent catching multiple billfish by pointing from the helm where my anglers should cast left me wanting more time aboard the GulfShore 26.
GulfShore 26 Specifications
Length: 26-feet 6-inches
Beam: 8-feet 9-inches
Draft: 16-inches (12-inches running)
Weight: 4500-pounds (dry)
Maximum Horsepower: 350