For most, fishing is a leisurely activity that you do with your kids, some buddies or in solitary. For others, it’s a lifestyle, a way of life or a full-time job. Regardless of how you regard the sport, there is some science to catching the proper, edible fish!
It all starts with having the right tools for the job; you need the right boat, the right boat features, the right rods, the right tackle, the right location and the right attitude! In this article we will cover having the right boat, which waterways are recommended, which manufacturers sell those categories and which fish species you can catch while using these boats.
The v-shaped hulls of CC’s make them perfect for cutting through the waves and make for a smooth ride. This means these boats are suited for catching bottom fish and pelagic species. The power of 1-4 high HP motors are guaranteed to get anglers out to open water FAST! Center console boats offers 360 degrees of walk-around space. Deep V boats, like CC’s, generally have a considerable draft height. This will limit how close to shore you may travel.
Center consoles can range from any size between 18 ft – 65ft. Larger CC’s are made to provide a safe and comfortable ride with the fuel capacity to get you out to the deeper waters. Models 23-35’ can make it to the Middle Grounds. The smaller models can still get you out on a decent run offshore.
These boats can be used in both freshwater and saltwater, but they are most widely used in saltwater because of the power and size. Some general features that come with most standard models include: bow and stern seating, console lean post, swim platform, freshwater shower, towing eyes, cupholders, coolers, livewells, fishbox, USB ports, stereo system and a small head station within the console.
Manufacturers We Sell: Grady White, Cobia, Pathfinder, Sea Hunt
Popular Fish Species: Wahoo, Tunas, Mahi, Snappers, Groupers, Snook, Tripletail, Mackerel, Cobia, Trout, Jacks, Amberjack, Sheepshead, Triggerfish and more.
Skiffs & Jons
Skiff and Jon boats have flat bottoms, allowing them to operate in mere inches of water. With their flat bottoms these flats boats can be taken into shallow inland saltwater during proper weather conditions; but more popularly into freshwater lakes, rivers and streams.
The element that distinguishes the skiff from the Jon boat is, Skiff’s will have a pointier bow while Jon boats have a squared off bow platform. To achieve a stealthy approach, flats boats can have the motors lifted and a push pole can be used to slowly creep into proper position without scaring the fishy targets away.
With minimal seating and comfort amenities, these Skiffs and Jon boats are made for relatively short fishing specific trips. The low profiles and large decks help to make fishing a breeze with this category of boat. Try taking your flat boat into skinner water near cuts, creeks and weed beds to catch some fish on skinny boats can get access to!
Bay boats are like Skiff and Jon boats because they are among boats that have the shallowest draft height. Bay’s do however have a deeper V shaped hull which gives them that larger draft height than flats boats. Due to the V shape and draft height push poles are out of the question for these boats as well.
These boats generally range from 17-25 ft long. If you are brave, they can go into 120-foot-deep water during the most optimal of conditions. It is not recommended to take these boats into deep water because the shallow V and shorter average length makes for a rough and unsafe ride. Bay boats are best used on Freshwater flats, lakes, deeper rivers and streams and shallow open saltwater.
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These boats are good for intercoastal or offshore, light fishing. Dual consoles are most commonly used for travel. Due to their large size, dual consoles and high edges, it makes fishing for big gamefish difficult. Anglers fishing off a dual console should stick to some of the more medium sized bottom fish, as to not bring on too much of a fight or too large of a fish without the space to fight them off. That means taking the kids out for a fishing lesson is still on the table.
With standard live wells, fish box and mounted rod holders, you are set to handle your share of recreational fishing. A lot of Dual Console models come with good sized swim platforms. These platforms make these models perfect for diving and spearfishing.
Manufacturers We Sell: Grady White, Cobia, Stingray
Popular Fish Species: Red Drum, Flounder, Smaller Grouper, Smaller Snapper, Hogfish, Jacks, Small Mackerel, Perch, Small Porgy’s, Sea Bass, Sea Trout, American Shad
These boats generally have special seating in bow area and generally designed for day cruising or water skiing or other towed watersports. Bow riders are best suited for inland waterways and calm lakes, not the open ocean. With little to no comfort amenities like a bathroom, these boats are Intended for short day uses.
Despite all said above, bow riders can be used for recreational fishing. You will likely have to customize the model to include a few fishing features or look for specific fish-and-ski models. These categories of boats are generally on the smaller side, ranging only 15-22 ft.
Walkarounds can range from 18-30 ft in length, but the more luxurious models can be as large as 50 ft. The key separation element is the walk-around path that offers access around all 360° of the boat. Walkarounds are one of the most popular fishing boats on the market. Most models come with most of these standard fishing amenities: secure perimeter access, a cabin with a berth and toilet for overnight fishing trips, escaping weather or securing gear.
Some other elements that make these boats perfect for fishing include an open cockpit more towards the aft, easy to clean deck options, livewells, separate bait wells, rod & tackle storage, standard fishing & navigation electronics at the helm. Walkaround models up to 21ft can run with a single outboard motor if preferred, but larger models will have 2 or more. With their versatility in size and power these boats can be used in freshwater locations and open saltwater.
Modified V Hull Power Boats
Modified V boats give flats lovers best of both worlds. With a slight center V or winged V’s of either side, they keep the boats draft height to its minimum while still providing some v’s to help cut through the slightly deeper water off the flats. These modified boats will still have a steady and stable deck that closely resembles their flats counterparts.
Most of these models will come standard with plenty of fishing features to ensure your shallow to moderately deep fishing trip is a breeze. Modified V hulls should remain in freshwater or shallow inland/ inshore saltwater. Even with their slight v and stable deck, they will not offer a smooth ride in open seas.
Boats made specifically for catching bass can be small, big or aluminum. This genre of boat was built for fishing for Bass. Popular bass boat features include low profiles, maximized casting decks and minimized seating. Although these boats were designed with Bass in mind you can catch fish from other freshwater species. They are even limited watersports you can participate in with a bass boat.
Bass boats can be a nice cheap boat for recreational fishing but are even more powerful for those who fish competitively. Important fishing traits include large livewells, multi. Fish finders, fishing positions for 2 anglers and highspeed performances. Bass normally prowl in fresh-water lakes and rivers.
These types of boats are built to be lightweight so even if you get a cheaper motor with less power, you can make it fast to any fishing hotspot. The unusually large amount of space provides each angler a side of the boat to fish on, leaving plenty of elbow room and casting space.
All-Purpose Fishing Boats
All-purpose fishing boats are the models that are just that, boats for all fishing purposes. These boats will allow you to fish in various ways, for many different fish species, as well as other water activities. All-purpose boats can be built using fiberglass or aluminum hulls and come in many shapes and sizes. This will give you as many options as your brain can handle. Luckily, most of these options will also save you more money than the larger, more specific models. This is the cheaper route but comes with more versatility options. Most models run from 15-20 ft and can fit up to 5 anglers on the larger models.
It is recommended that All Purpose fishing boats remain in freshwater, due to their small size and low profiles. Waters like rivers, lakes and calm bays are safe bets for these types of fishing boats. Some standard features you will find in your all-purpose boat are mounted rod holders, built in tackle boxes to store and organize your gear, aerated baitwells and other storage compartments.
When the fish stop biting or if the kids get restless, these boats come standard with tow eyes for watersports or tubing. They are also perfect for just taking a day cruise along your favorite water way and nothing makes your feel more impressive than pulling up to one of your favorite waterside restaurants in your own personal boat.
To most, pontoon boats are ‘party boats’ but they can be fishing machines if equipped right! The large deck w/ 2 or 3 pontoon tubes make for one of the most stable fishing platforms. Fishing pontoon boats are generally fitted with big outboard motors to give the floating platform a good push to get out to the hot fishing spots. In places where freshwater fishing is a big deal, you will likely see a lot of fishing pontoons over some other popular fishing boats due to being a giant, flat & steady platform. The pontoons large deck size provides the opportunity for more than 1-2 anglers to fish at a time.
Rod holders, aerated livewells and tackleboxes generally come in even the most standard of models. Although freshwater is highly recommended, cruising and fishing up and down inshore waterways can be equally as exciting. Just be sure to remain in the calmer waters, as the large pontoons will create quite a rocking motion if you must battle any waves.
A deck boat is a step up for when a bow rider is just too small or too simple for your family’s needs. The deck boat offers more deck space and slightly higher profiles for added safety. They typically range from 18 – 28 feet in length and can fit up to 14 people, fitting more than standard Bow Riders. Deck boats also offer options for added kitchenettes and head compartments, which the smaller bow riders don’t have the space for.
You can find deck boats made with aluminum hulls or fiberglass hulls, whichever fits your preferences. There are specific models of deck boats that focus on fishing, especially. They can be outfitted with pedestal seats, livewells, rod storage and fish boxes. A lot of deck boats also come standard with a tower for towing the family’s favorite water sport toy. Deck boats can be run in both freshwater and saltwater. Waters with slight depth are no match for these versatile deck boats.
Manufacturers We Sell: Stingray, Sylvan
Popular Fish Species: Freshwater & Saltwater Catfish, Bonefish, Bumpers, Smaller Inshore Cobia, Croakers, Red Drum, Gulf Kingfish, Flounder, Inshore grouper, Inshore Amberjack, Jacks, Lady Fish, Leatherjacket, Mackerel, Perch
Aluminum Fishing Boats
Metal fishing boats are perfect for anglers who are looking to fish the shallows, navigate through debris laden waters, or shove off from a remote landing. Smaller aluminum bats can fit in a truck bed or on a roof rack, like a kayak. Larger models are built a little stronger and with more angling features so they can be taken into a bit deeper water.
Aluminum boats generally come w/ 3 different styles of bottoms. They can be flat bottomed with a blunt bow like a Jon Boat. These boats can also come in a modified V style or have a deep V hull. If you go with the modified V or deep v, that does limit how shallow you may go, but does allow for you to travel to deeper sections of lakes, rivers, streams and bays. Aluminum boats with any sort of V hull will have a smoother and drier ride if the water is choppy.
Light-weight boats like these generally range from 8-24 feet and can fit up to 8 people. Aluminum hulls allow for more rugged use like shallows, reservoirs and impoundments. Hitting the bottom in an aluminum fishing boat tends not to be as devastation as if you were to run aground in a fiberglass hulled boat. Smaller and lighter models offer the option to operate the boat by using oars or a very minimal outboard motor. These models should remain in calm freshwater. Most aluminum models come with very minimal ‘modern amenities’. However, if you are willing to pay for upgrades, your boat can be made into a competitive fishing machine.
Popular Fishing Amenities to Add to Your Boat
Most boats come with atleast the bare minimum. However, if you are willing to spend the money, newer & bigger models will have considerably more fishing appliances. Most standard equipment will consist of livewells, bait wells, rod storage and possibly a few mounted rod holders.
More expensive models and upgrades can include a single or multiple fishboxes to icing you catches. A bait prep station w/ cutting board & tool storage is among one of the most luxurious fish amenity upgrades! If you plan on cutting bait of cleaning your catch on your boat, we highly recommend a freshwater washdown system. This washdown system will clean your gear, your decks and allow you to rinse your cleaned fish with some fresh clean water.
On specific fishing models it is not uncommon to see a plethora of rod holders, rod/ tackle storage and livewells/ fish boxes. Another must have to make your fishing trips easier are fishing electronics. Fish and depth finders are among some of the top choices, so you are sure to catch fish and not run aground.
The rest of your gear can be interchangeable. Bring the right rods, lures, bait and line to catch your specified targets. If you are going into deep water, you may want to bring enough waist fighting belts for all anglers on board. While gathering all your fishing gear you can’t forget to pack your snacks, beverages and most importantly, your life vests!
While just about any boat can go in just about any body of water, most models have ideal water types and water ways. Shallower boats should remain in freshwater or shallow saltwater. Boats with deeper V hulls are the models that can make it out to the deep water for the big bottom fish and the pelagic species. The location and depth of water will help in guiding you to the proper gear & tackle to catch your target species.
As most boats can travel in various water depths and regions, it is hard to say which fish you can catch with which specific boat; however, we have supplied some of the most popular fish that are caught in the regions that each category of boat is recommended to prowl around. Whether out in freshwater or saltwater, be sure to flush your outboards after each fishing trip!