Are Pontoon Boats Good for Fishing? [Upsides & Downsides]
Pontoon boats have become pretty darn popular in the past few years. Perfect for partying, relaxing, and enjoying sun and fun with family and friends, a pontoon is the ultimate recreational boating vehicle of choice. But for as versatile as a ‘toon might be, they’re not exactly too popular when it comes to fishing.
Are pontoon boats good for fishing? Ask any fisherman and they’re going to tell you that a bass boat is the go to for fishing. But does it really matter what kind of boat you use? After all, a pontoon will still get you out on the water which is all you really need a boat for if you’re fishing, right? Well, in this guide, we’re learning the ins and outs of fishing with a pontoon, and why it might be just right for you.
The Upsides of Fishing On a Pontoon Boat
To answer the question - yes, you can go fishing with a pontoon boat. In fact, there are a bunch of advantages to using these versatile vessels when you go out to fish. Equipped with more extensive features than the average boat, a pontoon offers a range of benefits for fishing enthusiasts.
How many hours do you usually spend when you’re out fishing? On a good day when conditions cooperate, you might find yourself on the water from dawn to dusk. Or at least, you probably want to spend that much time on the water - if only your boat was comfortable enough for it.
Well, with a pontoon, you probably can. Spacious and fitted with a range of furniture and fixtures, a pontoon provides maximum all day comfort for extended hours of fishing. With lots of space to move, provisions for dining, and even a place to nod off while you wait for a nibble, these boats provide all you need for a whole day on the lake.
A boat that’s moved too easily by choppy waters or that bobs and sways with your every move can scare away fish and make it difficult to catch anything. More than that, if you do manage to hook a fighter, the subsequent tug-of-war could cause you to capsize - especially if it’s a big one.
A pontoon boat is typically much more stable than the average boat, providing relative motionlessness even as you walk on its deck. This stability prevents rattling fish or scaring them away as you move around your boat.
Let’s admit it - fishing on a tiny bass boat can feel lonesome, and may even get boring at times. That’s why most fishermen prefer bringing a buddy or two along to make the experience just a little more exciting. With a pontoon however, you could definitely bring more than just a couple of friends.
These super spacious boats can accommodate the entire gang, letting you bring your family in tow for a special family fishing day. Equipped with seats, spacious floors, and tons of storage options, a pontoon boat can turn your average, everyday fishing excursion into a trip for the entire family. Of course, the extra space also means more room for added fishing gear.
Pontoons can be particularly ideal for fishing because of their speed - or lack thereof. Since most pontoon boats aren’t exactly designed for high speed performance, they’re great for cruising through calm waters without disrupting the fish below.
Another thing, the boat can produce significant forward propulsion even with just a few seconds in gear. If you were hoping to find a spot in the water without the noise or the disruption, switch into neutral and the pontoon should still steer and move with the residual forward movement generated by a few seconds of turning the motor on.
The Downsides of Fishing On a Pontoon Boat
Now, there are a few reasons why fishing on a pontoon boat still hasn’t caught on as a trend. Since they’re not exactly designed for the angler, these boats may lack certain features and functions that are supposedly ideal for fishing.
Handling and Size
Pontoon boats aren’t the most maneuverable boats out there. Since they’re pretty big, they don’t do so well with tight turns. And because maneuverability plays a big role in navigating choppy waters where there’s an abundance of fish, you might have to limit the rivers you can visit because of the sheer difficulty of steering.
But aside from just being tough to maneuver, a pontoon boat’s size also makes it a challenge to access tight channels. There are certain types of ecosystems in fresh water channels that fish tend to thrive, and these are often far too narrow for full-sized pontoon boats to access.
A pontoon boat will place you a good several feet from the surface of the water. This is one of the main differences of fishing on a bass boat versus fishing on a pontoon. And that means that you’ll have to sacrifice some control and power when reeling in a big catch.
The added height can make it difficult to pull a fish up out of the water and increases the risk of a snapped line. The added feature of a railing also means that it can be tough to reach out into the water as you collect your catch. Overall, the design just calls for more physical effort which most fishermen might not want to deal with.
In general, pontoons just aren’t designed for fishing. Case in point - the absolute lack of gunwale rod holders. In fact, they don’t even have gunwales at all. Instead, pontoons have railings which means that if you were going to mount a rod holder, it should be designed to clasp onto a sleek, metal rail.
Fortunately, there are quite a few available. We recommend the Eagle Claw AABRH Clamp-On Aluminum Boat Rod Holder as it fits perfectly on most standard sized pontoon rails, but also comes with an adjustable clamp to provide a tighter, more secure grip.
Also the PLUSINNO Fishing Boat Rod Holder also makes a suitable choice, offering a more adjustable, compact design with superb grip and durability.
The biggest issue? Pontoon boats are typically designed for freshwater use only. So an angler interested in both fresh and saltwater fishing might find that a bit of a problem. But that’s not to say that you can’t bring your pontoon into saltwater systems all together.
There are some pontoon boats that can be used in all types of water conditions. But it helps to read through your manual and ask the manufacturer to make sure you’re taking care of your boat properly after every exposure. Even then, it helps to make sure you’re boating in a more protected area like a saltwater bay, inlet, or a mangrove as opposed to the open ocean.
Finally, it helps to make sure you’re taking care of your boat in the best way possible. Proper cleaning solutions like protectant and restorer can help prevent the damage that saltwater can impose on a boat. Another thing to consider when fishing on saltwater with a pontoon is to replace your carpet trailer bunk glides with rubber instead to minimize abrasion.
Other Considerations When Fishing With a Pontoon
Aside from the pros and cons, there are a few other considerations worth thinking of if you want to use your pontoon for fishing. Remember - they’re not designed for fishing per se, so they’re not going to come with certain fishing boat features.
For starters, motorized boats designed for fishing often feature a washdown feature. These work to help you give your boat a good rinse after a day on the water. For any pontoon owner, it’s no question that a boat should get rinsed of debris and saltwater after every use to minimize the risk of damage and mineralization.
That said, a pontoon will typically come without the washdown system, which means you either have to install one or go with the old bucket and rag style. For advanced anglers, the latter might be much too tedious.
Lastly, there’s the livewell. Intended to pump water straight from the natural source beneath you to keep your fish alive and fresh as you head back home, livewells are commonly found on fishing boats - rarely on pontoons. In fact, you’re not likely to find a pontoon boat that’s fitted with a livewell straight from the manufacturer, so you’re going to have to set-up a makeshift one if you really want it on your vessel.
Check out the Marine Metal Bait Saver Livewell System.
So, are pontoon boats good for fishing? Sure, the experienced fisherman might not feel too at home on a pontoon, but home is what you make it. With the right accessories and customizations, a pontoon boat can work just as well as any other fishing boat you’ll find. And because they’re spacious, stable, and oh, so comfortable, you can spend longer hours on the water as you spend the day to fish.