Picking A Boat
By Bob Lusk
How do you pick a boat for your pond? Depends on a number of things. User groups, age, usage, pond size...factors explicit to your individual situation.
Over many years in the pond business, I have seen some pretty creative thinking when it comes to boats.
The most obvious conclusion is this... there is no "perfect" boat.
Big lake owners almost always have a work barge. Often no more than a pontoon boat beefed up with a thick wooden deck and no rails, these heavy duty workers serve a multitude of purposes such as liming, adding fish structure and even swimming platforms anchored in deep water. Work barges for work, fishing boats for fishing.
While the easiest boat of choice might be a small jon boat, many lake and pond owners don't like the instability of many small aluminum boats.
If you are a serious pondmeister focused on fishing, you want a boat that's stable enough to walk in, with plenty of storage for rods and tackle. Plus, a recirculating live well may also play a valuable role, keeping fish healthy and thriving for slot fish, or for transport.
Manueverability is also important. If you can't drive it around your pond, don't buy it. Small, two man plastic molded boats were quite the rage in the late 1980's, but you just don't see as many of those now as years past. They are certainly maneuver able.
Canoes can be fun to fish from. Just don't stand up.
Kayaks are state of the art for one man fishing. While the concept of kayaks may be a bit intimidating, the market has compensated by designing user friendly boats. Several models are propelled by pedaling rather than rowing, and the captain sits atop the boat, not wedged in the middle like two feet in a plastic glove.
One of the most intriguing boats I have ever seen was built from an air boat body; wide with extremely shallow draft, perfectly flat. It was made of welded aluminum, stuffed with plenty of lightweight Styrofoam to make the boat ride high in the water. The boat was specifically designed for a man and his wife in their late seventies. They were totally focused on stability. Their goal was to walk out on the dock, step onto their boat, take a seat to fish, and never feel the swaying motion of a normal boat. This boat was like walking on a living room floor.
There are electric powered deck boats. Plug them in, batteries charge, then silently move around the lake stalking your favorite fishy.
Wooden rowboats tickle the fancy of people looking backward into the future. A wooden rowboat is romantic, easy to fish from. You can read a book in a wooden rowboat, or cast the latest Strike King spinnerbait. Or, you can simply row around, pondering your pond and your life.
Got kids? Consider a paddle boat. Relatively inexpensive, stable, and easy to maneuver. Great choice for kids who simply want to enjoy the water and expend a little energy.
But, let's face it. Most people want a boat for fishing. Comfortable seats, trolling motor on the bow, gas powered outboard on the transom. Ability to cast from all sides without hooking your pal on your backcast. The most popular fishing boats are still wide beam aluminum flat bottom jon boats. Safe, lightweight, easy to handle.. .a perfect choice for the fishers of the pond.
Fiberglass, plastic, wood, aluminum...lots of choices in lots of models to choose.
Over the last few years, several companies have diversified into one of the most practical boats on the market today. Small pontoon boats have begun to show up on more ponds around the country. Shorter, wider versions of the age old aluminum deck boats seem to be a popular choice of pond owners today. Heavy, stable, versatile...qualities many pond owners today look for.
So, there you have it. Caveat emptor. Let the buyer beware. You have lots of choices out there. Don't be sucked into the tempting want ad in the local paper. 14 foot aluminum v-bottom boat with 15 hp outboard, $400, obo or will trade for good bird dog.
For each thoughtful boat I see on a pond, there are several others which didn't fit the needs of that particular landowner. Those boats usually end up on the end of that ad above, or as fish structure, or simply upside down, unused, on the shore of the pond.
Reprinted with permission from Pond Boss Magazine