Pontoon boats don’t exactly strike most of us as hard-core fishing machines; they can’t handle rough seas, they can’t probe the shallows, and many aren’t what you’d call “high performance,” but I’ve run across at least three pontoon fishing boats lately which quite frankly make awesome fishing machines. Yes, I know this sounds strange. No, pontoons aren’t ideal for many of you. But if the type of fishing you do meets a few specific requirements, you should consider a pontoon. Here’s why.
1. FAMILY ANGLERS can take out all the kids plus a few friends, on a pontoon. Many have passenger capacity of a dozen or more, and even more importantly, that big box allows you to get a lot of rods into the water on both sides of the boat from bow to stern. If you’re bottom fishing or drift fishing, it’s not unreasonable to hope to get all of those kids fishing at once.
2. STABILITY is nothing short of awesome. Although large waves can over-wash the deck and you need to limit pontoon use to lakes, rivers, and relatively protected bays, seasickness is rarely a problem and your comfort level remains high. Speaking of comfort, these boats are also rigged with big cushy lounges which make fishing breaks a real pleasure.
3. FISHING FEATURES are strong on some models. Naturally you have to choose carefully, but these days a fishing pontoon can be found with rod holders, rod boxes, electric trolling motors, fishfinders, built-in livewells, removable coolers, tackleboxes, raw water washdowns, and just about any other fishing feature you can think of.
4. COST is lower than that of a more traditional fishboat of equivilent size. In fact, you can find a 16-footer for under $10,000. Yes, that does include a motor. It may not be the most powerful in the world and cruising speeds may barely hit the upper teens, but it’s sufficient. And if you’re willing to spend more, there are some high-performance tri-toons out there which hit speeds in excess of 40 or 50 mph.
5. SELLING the purchase to your better half may be a lot easier than it would be, with a regular fishing boat. Those comfy lounges, pop-up changing rooms, swim ladders, and stereo systems may not be the features you’re most interested in, but they have a lot of value when it comes to convincing your spouse or kids that this major purchase would be in their best interest, as well as yours.Pontoon fishboats, like this Lowe 194 SF, can be a great option for many types of angling.