“Buying a fishing boat is a wise investment,” said no sane financial advisor, ever. But we LOVE to fish, we LOVE our fishboats, and from the mental health perspective buying a fishing boat is the wisest thing you could possibly do. So, we anglers will seek out the nicest fishing machine that we can pretend to afford, thank you very much. And if you perpetually peruse the center console market you’ll realize that some brands do tend to offer a better deal than others. A standout in the bang-for-your buck department is Sportsman Boats, which regularly seems to deliver a far more comprehensively outfitted boat than most others carrying the same price tag. You don’t believe it? Then check out the new Open 252 Center Console.

sportsman open 252 center console fishing boat
The Sportsman Open 252 comes with a L-O-N-G list of standard features all included in the base price.

Critical in your comparison is to remember that some builders advertise a cost and then charge extra for “options” that fish-heads like you and me would consider must-haves. Add ‘em in and the initial cost gets inflated, sometimes even doubled. You won’t have that problem with the Open 252 because the list of standard features is exceptionally long. We’re talking about big-ticket items, like a complete electronics package with a 12” Garmin GPSMAP 1243xsv MFD, GT12M CHIRP through-hull transducer, VHF 115 radio and antenna, and Apollo RA670 eight-speaker stereo system. Or consider family perks like the bow cushion set with removable filler, removable bow seat backrests, and a freshwater system with transom shower. You get them all without checking any cost-adding boxes.

Additional standard features we anglers will love include a 30-gallon aquarium-style livewell; four flush-mount rodholders in the gunwales, five rocket launchers plus kingfish holders on the T-top and four rocket launchers on the leaning post; under-gunwale racks; a raw water washdown; two in-deck insulated and macerated fishboxes; and underwater lights.

The biggest surprise of all, however, may be that this boat comes equipped with the Seakeeper Ride vessel attitude control system. In a nutshell, sensors take up to 1000 measurements per second and adjust a pair of paddles on the transom (think: super-duper trim tabs) up to 100 times per second. The constant adjustments combat the pitch and roll created as the boat hits waves, reducing overall motion by up to 70 percent. Take a ride on a Ride-equipped boat and turn it on and off, feel the difference, and you’ll be sold on the system. Clearly Sportsman was, because as they’ve redesigned their line so the appropriate models have now been outfitted with the Ride. Standard.

sportsman 252 cc
The Sportsman Open 252 is ready for action - and fishing - from day one. 

With so many goodies included with this boat the biggest decision you’ll have to make will be the power option. The Open 252 can be had with a pair of 150s, a single 300, or a single 350. We don’t have numbers for the single rigs but Sportsman’s tests show a pair of F150s net you a cruise in the mid-30s and a top-end pushing up against the 50-mph mark.

Note that the Open 252 also has a few attributes that set it apart from other center consoles of this size. It has a 9’3” beam, so you have as much deck space as many boats with a foot or two more LOA. It comes with a three-sided tempered glass enclosure integrated in the hard top and D-tube pipework, not the usual windshield found on most moderately priced boats. And upholstery is covered with high-end Sileather silicon fabrics, which are ASTM-tested for UV, salt, and temperature resistance.

So: is buying a sportsman Open 252 Center Console a wise investment? We aren’t financial advisors, and we don’t recommend talking to one. But if you want to find a way to stay sane in this crazy world, it might just be the smartest move you ever make.

Sportsman Open 252 Specifications

  • LOA – 25’3”
  • Beam – 9’3”
  • Displacement – 4672 lbs.
  • Transom Deadrise – 21 degrees
  • Fuel Capacity –128 gal.
  • Max. Power – 350 hp
  • Area Dealer – Norfolk Marine, Norfolk, VA (757) 461-3391; Riverside Marine, Essex, MD, (410) 686-1500.