Starting a fishing boat with a realistic budget is important when shopping for a fishing boat. Sit down with a pen and paper, calculator, or whatever you need to determine precisely what you can afford to spend on a boat. Whether you’re looking for a quiet day out in the tidal creeks or a fish-and-ski boat that can handle offshore trips with friends, thinking it’s practically about your needs is crucial.
Hull and Engine
Like buying a car, purchasing a fishing boat can be a large investment. It’s essential to take your time and choose the best boat for your needs and budget.
One of the most important things to consider is where you will be using your new boat. Getting caught up in all the bells and whistles is easy, but thinking about where you will go on your fishing trips will help you narrow down the options.
For example, boats are great for flats fishing in bays and rivers, but they need to be more suitable for ocean fishing. Fishing boats designed for saltwater have deeper hulls to handle rougher conditions. The type of engine will also affect the way your boat performs. Most freshwater fishing boats have engines with a short draft to skip over submerged rocks, logs, and other obstacles. Offshore game hunters need more powerful engines capable of handling tough sea conditions.
After determining the crew size you expect to have on board, it’s time to start shopping around. Don’t be afraid to be picky—from online retailers to local sellers, look for boat listings that check off your criteria list. Some fishing boats are finely honed to accommodate certain fishing techniques and species, while others are designed for specific types of waterways. Knowing exactly where you plan to fish can help narrow the selection process.
A multispecies fishing boat will provide versatility and durability if you fish in saltwater. This type of vessel offers seating that can be reconfigured to adapt to various environments, and it often features an automotive-grade windshield that will stand up to heavy spray and rough waves.
If you prefer a leisurely cruising experience, consider a pontoon boat. These steady cruising vessels are ideal for families and offer ample space to relax and unwind. These boats typically feature seating options like a Bimini top or T-top to escape the sun and are built for comfort.
A good fishing boat is designed to hold a lot of gear. Look for pull-out drawers that keep hooks, sinkers, pliers, lines, leader spools, and knives neatly stored and organized. It also helps to have cleats that push down flush with the gunwale and pop up when needed. This eliminates snags that can ruin fishing lines and cause errant casts.
Determine your budget and stick to it when shopping for a boat. This will help you avoid settling on a model that doesn’t meet your needs. If you plan to store your boat at a facility rather than home, choose one with a three-sided covered storage area.
The fishing you plan on doing greatly affects the type of boat to purchase. For example, if you want to run electric downriggers, you’ll need room on the gunnels and a power source. A fish box and living well are also important to have aboard your vessel to keep your catch alive and fresh while on the water. The location where you plan to fish should also be considered. Basing your boat purchase on where you plan to fish can save you much money in the long run. You should also consider whether your fishing gear impacts bycatch, habitat, and overfishing rates differently. You may reduce these impacts by using escape zones or excluder devices in nets or by reducing the number of hooks in your lines.