The popularity of pontoon boats is rapidly increasing and their usability as fishing vessels are being tested more and more. A seasoned angler may not agree that a pontoon boat can serve as a hard-core, dedicated fishing boat but the pontoon boat’s versatility in function and usage makes it a serious contender.
Pontoon boats serve as wakeboard, sunning platform, cruiser, water-ski boat and gives specialized fishing boats a run for their money. Of course, for custom-purposes such as lake and river fishing or salt-water fishing, any one will bet on a Center Console fishing boat or a Bass Boat or a Convertible Boat along with the all-purpose aluminum boats that are ever popular.
A look at the factors necessary for fishing boats to be ideal for the purpose can reveal many aspects where pontoon boats can or cannot meet the requirement.
In terms of efficiency, handling and speed pontoon boats can offer performances close to V-hulls and attain speeds of 50+ mph range. Especially tri-toons, which are rigged with monster outboards and can also bank and carve out like V-hulls. Pontoon boats can be a very cost-effective alternative to customized fishing boats too.
In closed and protected areas where there be a slightly bumpy wind chop but no open waves pontoons have a great advantage over most other fishing boats. On wave chops of about a foot or two, they tend to ride smooth out the bumps and ride neatly leveling smoothly from nose to beam. The pontoon’s overall stability is a major factor in its favor when compared to other boats and this is a huge plus for fishers who particularly enjoy drift fishing.
However in large open waters with big waves, a pontoon’s very abilities can be disadvantages. The absence of up-swept bow, spray-reducing fins to meet large oncoming waves results in water washing over the deck and the ride can become very uncomfortable with spray lashing on. Therefore, it’s important to think before-hand the conditions and location of fishing; shallow bays and inlets are best for pontoon fishing.
Pontoons were originally designed as pleasure and leisure boats and certain specific items that find place on serious fishing boats can be missing on certain pontoons. For instance, bass boats, center consoles and other dedicated fishing boats have live-wells which are very essential. Fishing pontoons are therefore overcoming that handicap by adding live-wells as options for customization; some pontoon boats also have raw-water wash-down options, which is another area in which some fishing pontoons fall short. This is not a serious issue in freshwater fishing but saltwater fishing is a completely different area altogether.
Another challenge faced by pontoon boats is the fact that they don’t have traditionally formed gunwales with the result that surface or track-mounted rod holders are the only option. Pontoon boat manufacturers may provide flush-mounted holders as options but these are largely more suitable for saltwater fishing than fresh water fishing.