The Benefits Of Fishing From A Pontoon Boat
Pontoon boats offer a unique platform to enjoy a wide variety of activities. Unlike their early predecessors, newer models benefit from lightweight construction materials and have evolved into a class of their own. As a result, modern pontoon boats come in a fantastic array of sizes suitable for small streams, lakes, and even larger bodies of water, including the ocean. This makes fishing from a pontoon boat possible in a variety of different places.
Their design allows them to carry heavier loads than conventional boats, and their extreme stability and open floor plan sets them apart from traditional vessels. Their versatility is apparent when you visit a dealer and see the assortment of sizes and layouts equipped for entertaining, water sports, and fishing.
Pontoon boats can vary from small one-person models with a hand-operated trolling motor to tritooned double-decked versions nearly 30′ long and capable of 60+mph with twin 400hp engines.
Versatility in any product is a big plus, but how must the seating and layout be addressed when making a pontoon more fisher-friendly?
Also, what accessories are needed to ensure your pontoon will accommodate both the casual or even competitive angler in your family? Several essential items are necessary for any fishing style, but a few amenities can make for a more relaxing and enjoyable fishing experience.
Pontoons for Fishing
I spoke with Melissa Williams at Buck’s Island Marine on the upper end of Neely Henry reservoir in Southside, Alabama. She is the Buck’s Island Senior Sales Rep. there and she shared her thoughts about several excellent options that come standard with a fishing pontoon or can be added to almost any pontoon boat.
Buck’s Island Marine has sold a lot of traditional bass boats in their 70+ years in business, but the size and versatility of pontoons have significantly increased their popularity. As a result, the family-owned company now stocks models with two or four swiveling fishing chairs with bait stations, live wells and tackle storage. They also offer several models with the newest electric outboard options for lakes with motor restrictions.
“Our most popular sized pontoon is in the 20- 22′ range fitted with 90- 115 hp outboards,” Williams said. “Many customers prefer these boats because their size and layout make them ideal for spider rigging. Multiple rail-mounted rod holders are easily positioned on the four corners or sides, making it easy to hold numerous rods for push-fishing or long lining.”
Maintaining precise boat speed is vital for controlling bait or lure depth when trolling, so Williams highly recommends adding a premium wireless bow-mounted trolling motor with GPS to make navigation and speed control a breeze. A detachable mounting bracket also makes removing the trolling unit a snap for those times when entertaining or skiing is more of a priority. She also mentioned a remote anchoring system could be handy when drop fishing.
Add a GPS-enabled fish-finder compatible with your electric motor, and you have a great fishing rig with lots of elbow room and even shade with the addition of a Bimini top.
Pontoon Fishing Boat Accessories
Swivel Fishing Chairs
A pair of swivel fishing chairs is the best accessory for transforming any pontoon boat into a fishing rig. Some fishing models have two mounted chairs on each end and many crappie fishermen take advantage by placing multiple rod holders near each corner for spider rigging.
Every optimistic fisherman needs a live well or cooler to keep their fish in. Their spacious decks make it easy to find a convenient location for temporary placement, or you might find that a table-top or padded chair-top cooler is a better choice. In addition, several manufacturers offer ice chests and live bait stations conveniently mounted near their fishing chairs.
If you need to add a live well to your setup, a bilge pump, a hose, and a few PVC fittings make for a relatively easy DIY project that won’t take up much room, especially if retrofitted underneath an existing hinged seat.
The typical railing setup on traditional pontoon boats encompasses most of the deck area with gate access at each end and maybe to one side. However, the preferred layout for a dedicated fishing model has a walk-through design where the rail sets back from each end. This configuration allows easy travel from one end to the other and is preferable when playing a large fish.
Choosing a suitable trolling motor for a pontoon boat can make a tremendous difference in your ability to find fish and stay on them.
Making the right decision in a trolling motor is not that difficult, but knowing a few key details can help your decision.
A bow-mounted trolling motor with a detachable bracket is one of the best investments for making any pontoon boat more fishable. Going with a premium model that has wireless connectivity and GPS tracking makes maneuvering and trolling a breeze.
If you already own a fish finder, especially a newer model, it makes sense to check if it can interface with a trolling motor. Newer GPS models can make navigation and speed control easy with several wireless steering options.
The traditional method of matching trolling motor size to any boat is to figure two pounds of thrust for every hundred pounds of boat weight. However, because of the boxy nature of a pontoon, it’s better to add ten or even 20 more pounds of thrust to your final equation. Then, match your motor with a good 24v or 36v system, and you’ll have plenty of power and run time to fill your cooler.
Stowing your rods in rail-mounted vertical rod holders is easy, or you can bring hard cases that slide under your seating or mount horizontally on your railing. Likewise, several portable or deck-mounted options for tackle and hardware will satisfy almost any serious fisherman.
Factory-installed options offer many storage options, such as locking rod boxes mounted between the railing and seating.
Under-seat storage on most factory-installed chairs provides ample storage for life jackets and other gear. A changing area can also be added for those needing a little privacy.
Benefits Of Fishing From A Pontoon Boat With Kids
Introducing children to fishing can be a fun but sometimes challenging ordeal. So what better, safer, or more stable platform to introduce them to one of the greatest pastimes? The railing on most pontoon boats completely encloses the main deck, and the access gates can be locked so that the little ones can roam when boredom strikes or the fish don’t cooperate. They can also stretch out or grab a snack while you continue to fish and keep an eye on them.
Drink holders abound on most models and are conveniently located near most seating or can be easily attached anywhere on the railing. Some newer models even come standard with electronically cooled drink holders for the ultimate in chilled beverages. In addition, the roominess of most pontoon boats easily allows for Bluetooth speakers and even a television or video-game console for those times you need a little extra diversion or to keep up with your team’s score.
The exterior railing on pontoons allows for creative mounting options and is roomy enough to attach a small kayak or paddleboard. These can come in handy when the fish are biting, but your teenagers want to be a little more active.
Saltwater Pontoon Boats
Several manufacturers offer saltwater pontoon models that stand up to the harsher ocean environment. They’re built with corrosion-resistant materials and require no more maintenance than the typical fishing hulls. However, a freshwater rinse and wipe-down prolong their integrity and appearance.
Tritoon models fare better in moderate waves, and their shallow draft allows fishing close to shore and over shallow sandbars, and they’re often able to sneak into inlets where deep-V fishing rigs can’t reach.
Robust rod holders are required because of the species involved, but carrying a few friends or family along while bottom fishing or trolling along the beach can be enjoyable whether the fish bite or not.
Several rail-mounted grill options can elevate your outing on a pontoon boat. Can there be a better ending to a day of fishing than to anchor in some secluded bay, clean your catch, fire up the grill, and break out the plates?
Trailering A Pontoon Boat
Launching and loading most pontoons is no more complicated than the average bass boat, and single-axle trailers work fine if most of your towing is to local lakes or rivers. However, Williams strongly recommends a double-axle model if towing a larger boat or if you’re traveling greater distances to your boat ramps.
Does the idea of a large, stable deck with tons of elbow room that can comfortably accommodate your entire family and a few of their friends appeal to you? Do you need a boat that won’t break the bank but will allow two to four people to comfortably fish, ski, or enjoy the fresh air and sunshine? Then a pontoon boat may be an option that you and your family need to explore!
Full Disclosure: This post may include affiliate links. There’s no extra charge to our readers for using these.