Fishing Pontoon Boats: A Short Guide
Fishing on a pontoon boat can be one of the most fun experiences to share with friends and family. There’s nothing quite like taking a boat out onto the lake with a cooler full of drinks, snacks, and plenty of sunscreen.
A pontoon boat allows you to enjoy a day out on the water to its fullest, and they can also make excellent fishing boats. But what makes a pontoon boat a good fishing boat?
Pontoon Boats vs. Fishing Boats
Before we get into what makes a pontoon boat good for fishing, let’s take a look at the differences between pontoon and fishing boats.
For this article, we’ll be looking at fishing boats that are specifically meant for lake fishing. This way, they are more comparable to pontoon boats.
Lake fishing boats, compared to pontoon boats, are not very large. They’re usually not longer than 17 feet unless you’re using a bay boat. They sit a lot lower in the water than a pontoon boat as they are not supported on top of the water by pontoons. They are also a lot lighter than pontoon boats.
Because they are lighter and sit lower in the water, fishing boats are very nimble and easy to maneuver. It’s easier for these boats to get into places that would otherwise be unreachable by a larger vessel.
Something else to note about fishing boats is their lower horsepower compared to pontoons. This is only because the pontoon boat requires a more powerful motor to push it through the water. Unless you’re trying to race across your lake, sheer horsepower on a fishing boat is not a huge concern.
What you should be concerned about on a fishing boat is if it has all the necessary accessories. These are things like livewells, rod holders, seating, and storage. Without any of these things, you’re just looking at a simple motorboat.
Pontoon boats, generally speaking, are almost the complete opposite of a fishing boat. They’re much larger and heavier than a fishing boat and are mainly used for pleasure cruising around lakes. Their larger size makes them perfect for taking out groups of friends and family for a trip to your favorite swimming hole.
The defining feature of a pontoon boat is, of course, its pontoons. These are the big, hollow metal cylinders that sit beneath either side of the boat. It’s what keeps the vessel afloat. Most pontoon boats have two of these, but there are plenty of models that have three.
These are excellent vessels for bringing a party out onto the water. They have plenty of seating; some pontoon boats can even carry upwards of 25 people, while many fishing boats can only hold up to 5. Many pontoons also come with accessories that emphasize their partying capabilities.
This can include an upper deck with an attached waterslide, advanced Bluetooth speaker systems, coolers, and a bathroom. These sorts of features are excellent additions to a pontoon boat and add a lot of extra fun.
Fishing Pontoon Boats
Now that you’ve gotten a look at the difference between the two types of boats, we’ll take a look at pontoon boats that are intended for fishing.
Fishing pontoon boats are essentially the best of both worlds. They combine pontoon boats’ high capacity and social aspects with all of the fishing accessories you’d see on a fishing boat. If you’ve ever wanted to go out on a fishing excursion with a lot of friends, these types of boats are perfect for it. After you get done fishing with friends and family, you can then sit back, relax, and enjoy a nice cruise around the lake.
While we can’t say for certain what fishing pontoon boat is the absolute greatest, we can tell you what the best fishing pontoon boats will have and look like.
Accessories – Probably the most important part of any good pontoon fishing boat are the accessories that assist you in fishing. When looking at these boats, there are three key things you should be on the lookout for: Fishing seats, livewells, and a trolling motor.
Fishing seats are a necessity because they give you the support you need while you’re reeling in your catch. You’ll preferably want a seat that can swivel around, if possible. Additionally, you should be on the lookout for boats that have multiple fishing seats on the front and back of the boat.
If you plan to keep the fish you catch, any good fisherman knows that a livewell is something your boat needs. A livewell is essentially a fish tank on your boat. It’s where you can keep the fish you catch until you’re ready to weigh them or turn them into trophies.
Trolling motors aren’t a necessity but can certainly be a boon to a more experienced fisherman. The purpose of these motors is to reposition the pontoon boat at a slow pace to not disturb the fish. These are excellent accessories for when you want to pull into your favorite fishing spot without scarring any possible trophy fish. Lots of fishing boats will usually have an electric trolling motor and a conveniently placed charging station.
Best Fishing Pontoon Boat Example – Ranger Reata 223F
Now that you know what features to look for when it comes to pontoon fishing boats, we’ll take a look at the best example of one. The Ranger Reata 223F is exactly the type of boat you should be looking for if you want to combine the pleasurable aspects of a pontoon boat with the accessories of any great fishing boat.
Before we get into the specifics of why the Reata 223F is a prime example of a fishing pontoon boat, we’ll take a look at some of its most important features from a glance and list them off. This way, you’ll have a better idea of what you’re looking at.
Measurements: Size can certainly be a determining factor when it comes to boat rentals, especially if you’re going out on the water with a big group. The Reata 223F is 25’2″ long and 8’6″ wide. With these dimensions, it can hold 11-12 people.
Pontoon Diameter: This boat’s pontoons measure 26 inches in diameter, which are plenty large to support it in the water.
Horsepower: This pontoon has a maximum hp of 200. Perfect if you need speed.
Fuel Tank: This boat can hold 52 gallons of gas.
Fishing Features: This boat comes with a myriad of features to make fishing easier, including:
- 15-gallon livewell on the aft of the boat.
- Fishing station on the aft of the boat with tool and rod holders.
- Lockable rod box on the starboard end of the deck.
- 12-gallon livewell on the port bow with rod and drink holders.
- Reclining chairs are located at the aft and bow of the ship next to the fishing stations.
What It’s Like to Use the Reata 223F
This boat has a very sleek, black exterior that is sure to make a few heads turn while you’re zipping around the lake. Even the pontoons are painted black to match the scheme. This boat essentially looks like a fishing pontoon boat for secret agents.
Once you step on this boat, you will be delighted by the interior. The floor is luxurious and made from a cushioned, woven material. Many pontoon boats tend to have a very rough or coarse floor that is nice to look at but is very hard on the feet. Additionally, do use a cushioned or soft floor but it can very easily become damaged.
The seating on this boat cannot go without mention. We were not surprised with how comfy the leather seating was, considering the overall quality of the boat. It was very cushiony and plush while still providing necessary support. This is doubly true when using the captain’s chair and the very convenient fishing chairs on the front and back of the boat.
The interior of this boat also comes with a plethora of led lights that are close to the floor. Whether you’re out late with friends or trying to catch that stubborn fish, you won’t be tripping over anything on deck. Additionally, the interior has extra deep rain channels near the couch to keep your storage areas dry. There’s also a convenient phone charging station, with USB and 12 Volt outlets.
The captain’s seat is something we’ll cover a little bit later in this review, as it deserves to be talked about on its own. For now, we’ll look at the fishing chairs and stations next to them. Again, the chairs themselves are very comfortable. Not only are they soft, but they also recline. A fishing trip on this boat will no doubt be the most comfortable one you’ve ever been on.
The fishing stations themselves were designed with convenience and ease of access involved. Within arm’s reach of every fishing chair is a cupholder and a rod holder. You’ll be able to relax with your favorite drink while you wait for that big fish to take a bite of the bait.
These fishing stations also come with livewells close by that are time aerated. You’ll be able to store your biggest catches so you can bring them home to cook them up or get them ready to hang on your wall. The livewells are pretty spacious, with the front one having 12 gallons of space and the back one having 15 gallons. Unless you’re hunting for a monster sturgeon, you’ll have plenty of space.
Another feature that expert anglers will love is the battery-powered trolling motor attached to the front of the boat. Using this will give your bait the slow presentation it needs as it goes through the water. The space for the motor is pre-wired. Additionally, this boat comes with a charging station for the moto if it dies while you’re on the water.
The final fishing feature on this boat is the rod box located on the starboard side of the boat. This feature is perfect for people who want to store their favorite or different types of rods. This way, they won’t be in the way of other people or risk the chance of falling off the boat. It really shows that Ranger went the extra mile to provide for people who love fishing.
If you’re looking for a pontoon boat that will get you to your favorite fishing spot as fast as possible, you’ve found the right one. The Reata 223F has a maximum horsepower of 200. This is one of the highest possible horsepower found in commercial pontoon boats. Just make sure you don’t have too much fun zipping around the lake, or you might scare off all of the fish!