By Mike Willis
If you have ever been boat shopping, you quickly learned that there are endless options to choose from when selecting your perfect vessel. Picking your boat type is a tough choice as most have very specific uses. Picking the wrong kind of boat can result in a lack of use on a substantial investment.
It has been said that the two best days for a boat owner are the day that he buys his boat and the day that he sells it. With some proper preparation and careful selection, it doesn’t have to be this way.
If you are looking for a freshwater boat that will allow you to fish, and still have fun with the kids, consider looking at a pontoon boat. Pontoon boats are not just party barges; they are excellent choices for families. Many might be surprised to learn that they are pretty good for fishing off of as well.
Fishing from a Pontoon Boat
There is nothing more reassuring than having your kids “fenced in” on a boat. Short sides on other types of boats leave you uneasy as kids stumble from bow to stern. With the pontoon boat sides acting as handrails, kids can fish right from the edge of the boat without creating panic among adults. There is plenty of room on the deck so everyone has a generous amount of space to cast.
Many fishermen in the northwest outfit their pontoon boats for trolling. Trolling with a pontoon boat is typically done on large lakes. Running downriggers off the back of these boats is an excellent way for the whole family to get in on the action. When trolling well into fall and early winter, there are enclosure kits that are available as well. These enclosures are perfect for retaining heat and blocking wind. Some anglers even put in a small heater to knock the edge off.
On the pontoon boat, you can still have your live well and trolling motor. There are also endless options for rod mounts. Regardless of how you are using a pontoon boat, you will appreciate the incredible amounts of storage.
Just Having Fun
There is no better way to enjoy the lake than with a pontoon boat. With friends and family lounging around, this boat will allow you to pack in plenty of good company. With tables for eating snacks and cupholders everywhere, these boats are built for the family.
You can also pull tubes or skis with a pontoon boat. The key to success in pulling tubes and skis is purchasing an adequately sized outboard. A 70 HP outboard is the minimum that you need to pull a tube comfortably. A 90 HP will allow you to pull skis and is ideal for tubes. A 115 HP will allow you to pull a skier with a boat full of people.
The downsides of a pontoon boat are that they are not very maneuverable when compared to ski boats and other fishing boats. They are also pretty wide, so navigating narrow channels can be a challenge.
Overall these boats are easy on the wallet, safe, versatile, and fun. Whenever you are buying an all-around boat, there will be some sacrifices. However, what you gain when purchasing a pontoon boat far outweighs anything lost. If you have never been on a pontoon boat, consider renting one this summer. Renting is the best way to try something out before committing to a purchase.
Now go be a family man and get yourself a boat!
(h/t Great American Wildlife)