About 90% of us live less than an hour from a navigable body of water. That means that boating is a great means of entertainment that requires just a little travel time. Believe it or not, boating can greatly reduce the amount of stress in your life as well. A National Marina Manufacturers Association survey of over 1,000 American households listed boating in the top-three of all stress-relieving activities. One of the top activities among boaters is fishing. We’ve all been told that fish is good for you. Learning how to buy a fishing boat allows you to catch your own fresh fish thus improving your health as well.
Many people would love to have a boat in their garage, but they think they can’t afford it. While buying a fishing boat can be expensive, there are actually many options out there when buying a boat. Almost all boat dealers offer financing for your boat, and lots of the time, you can get payments under $200 a month. Many new boat owners will buy used as their first fishing boat. A lot of times people upgrade their boats and sell their old boat. This can be a great way to get into your first fishing boat without spending a lot of money. Let’s look at what exactly certain boats are. Sometimes the types can get lost on beginners and not all boat are well suited for fishing, so we’ll look at some of the most common boats.
These boats are the most common of ‘fishing boats’. Most fishing boats are powered by outboard motors and many have a trolling motor mounted on the bow. Bass boats can be made of aluminum or fiberglass. Aluminum is lighter and easier to maneuver, needing a smaller motor than a fiberglass boat. An aluminum boat is easier to transport and requires a smaller vehicle when towing on a trailer. The most common size of fishing boats range from 16-20 feet long and provide anywhere between 50-200 HP. Almost all have live wells for storing your catch as well as separate compartments to store rods, reels, and tackle. Aluminum boats can be a little cheaper than fiberglass with prices between $5,000 and $30,000 new depending on the bells and whistles. The most popular size of aluminum fishing boat is 17′ with a 50 HP motor. Fiberglass boats are designed to be flashier. They come in a range of colors and are capable of much higher speeds than aluminum boats. Fiberglass boats can handle rough waters more easily and are high performance boats. If you want to fish professionally, you want a fiberglass boat. The price range for buying a new fiberglass boat is usually $10,000-$75,000; depending on options. Most popular is an 18 foot boat with a 150 HP motor.
These are great boats if you like to enjoy relaxed boating with a lot of people, but still want to be able to fish. This is a definite consideration in choosing the right fishing boat. Pontoons are lightweight and designed to make maximum use of space. They have wide open decks with lots of seating so they can accommodate large numbers of people or several fishermen at the same time. Depending on the size of motor you have, it’s not uncommon to be able to use a pontoon boat for skiing or tubing as well. These boats are also very appealing because they are usually lower priced than other boats and have a variety of uses. They are easy to customize to your unique needs as they are made in a variety of models. Pontoon boats are great for socializing and can be used on lakes or even larger bodies of water. One drawback is that due to their size; the smaller inlets, backwaters and channels where the big fish hang out are usually inaccessible for fishing. In my opinion, this is the greatest of ‘all-around’ boats.
House boats are designed to be a home away from home and are most often used as weekend getaways for families and friends. They are floating homes with a 360 degree swimming pool surrounding them. They are best suited for inland waters and lakes. This makes ideal for fishing open waters, just like on a pontoon. Many houseboats have all the comforts of home. There are sleeping cabins, a kitchen or galley, even air conditioning. Common sizes of houseboats range from 20′-65′ with an average cost for a new boat at around $60,000. They are ideal for long vacations and slow cruising. For fishing they have the same size restrictions as a pontoon.
Also known as speed boats or motor boats, these are made for skiing, inner tubing or wake boarding. They can have either outboard or inboard motors alike and are capable of fast speeds. They make a minimum of wake that is ideal for skiers. Ski boats range from 18′-22′ and can cost an average of about $25,000 new. They are generally used on lakes, but they can also be taken on larger bodies of water. If you want to have boat for fishing as well as recreation, this is a great boat. However, cost and storage are strong considerations to think about. Ski boats are designed to stow fishing gear.
This boat is traditionally called a “runabout”. They are popular with many boaters because of their versatility. They range in size and features, some having a freshwater supply and bathroom. They are perfect for water sports including skiing and wakeboarding as well as cruising. Top speeds can vary from 30 mph to 70+ mph. Some manufacturers have hybrids that include fishing features. Bowriders are between 16′-24′ long with prices of $8,000-$40,000, for a new boat. Most have an inboard motor, but some can have outboard motors as well with between 50-400 HP. Very nice boats, but not laid out very well for the fisherman.
These boats are powered by the wind that hits their sails and generally doesn’t have any type of mechanical propulsion system. Sailboats come in three categories: Day sailer – A day sailer is a small boat designed for comfortable sailing but without sleeping accommodation. It has a roomy cockpit and can have an outboard auxiliary engine. Cruiser – A cruiser is a medium-sized or large boat that has a cabin with sleeping quarters, toilet, and galley and generally has an auxiliary engine built inside. Racer – A racer is a boat designed for speed and ease of handling, often at the expense of comfort. The two popular styles are the racer-day sailer designed primarily for racing and secondly for day sailing, and the cruiser-racer designed mainly for overnight cruising and secondly for racing.
In learning how to buy the right fishing boat, you will first want to consider what types of other activities you will be doing. Do you want to get into waterskiing? Will you only be fishing in your boat? Would you like to take overnight trips have large amounts of people along with you? Another consideration when choosing a fishing boat is to make sure that it is affordable for you. You won’t want to strap yourself with a payment that will cause financial problems for you. Figure out how much you want to spend and find the best boat within that range.
Here is a quick look at what you might expect to pay as a boat owner in addition to the cost of the boat and trailer. This is VERY important since you need to make sure that you’ll be able to operate your boat once you get it, so factor in these costs before you even start making a choice. Expenses may vary by your region, but this can give you a rough estimate. · Damage/liability insurance: $400-$800 year · Towing insurance $100/year · State registration $50-$200/year · Routine mechanical maintenance $1000/year · Major mechanical repairs $500-$4,000/year · Fuel $100-$1000/month (although at the time of writing this gas was nearing $4.00 per gallon, so add around 25%) · Miscellaneous expenses $750/year · Marina storage $200-$800/month · “Dry” marina storage $200-$400/month · On-trailer storage $60-$120/month.
Remember to match your boat to your skill level so that you aren’t stuck with a boat you can’t drive easily. You will also need to think about what type of water you are going to be boating on before you buy a boat. If the only place close to you is a small lake, you don’t want a 30′ cabin cruiser. Then again, if you want to cruise around the ocean, a 15′ power boat isn’t a good idea either. If you have the money or plan on keeping the same boat for a very long time, go ahead and buy it new. However, often your best bet is to buy a used boat.
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