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Classics: Mako 23

“Mako … you’ll find them where the fish are!”

Illustration by Jim Ewing.

In the early 1970s, Miami builder Mako Marine was making a big splash with small fishing boats — and that catchy slogan. One of its models was a departure from the norm. The Mako 23 was a 23-foot center console with an inboard. In fact, the 225-hp power plant was available in gas and diesel versions that gave the boat a cruising speed in the upper 20s and a top end around 40 mph. (The boat also was offered with outboard and sterndrive setups.)

Mako was known for its capable fishing boats, which eventually included walkarounds and express models, and the company publicized its fleet by holding tournaments. The inboard Mako 23 was a hit with anglers. The engine placement gave the boat a different ride in rough water than an outboard-powered hull. The center of gravity was farther forward and low, and the boat developed a reputation for offshore work.

The low-slung hull had a flared bow and was buoyed with foam flotation. The wide console had a wood-trimmed helm and twin pedestal seats behind a big windshield. There was rod stowage on the console, rod holders along the gunwales and a raised casting platform forward.

The self-bailing cockpit had a clean, uncluttered transom from which to fight fish, a built-in fishbox and teak covering boards. Options ran the gamut, from full canvas to a portable head.

Today, the inboard Mako 23 is a classic, one of the models that helped popularize the center console design — perhaps America’s most popular fishing boat.

— Steve Knauth

This article originally appeared in the July 2017 issue.