While pontoons weren’t technically designed for fishing, there’s really no reason for you not to try. In fact, there’s an entire market of fishing accessories designed specifically for pontoon boats, helping anglers convert their recreational watercraft into a full-on fishing vessel.
If you’re interested in giving your pontoon a new lease on life as a fishing boat, it helps to make sure you’ve got the right stuff to streamline the experience. Not quite sure how to do it? Consider this list of the best pontoon boat fishing accessories to convert your boat into an angler’s dream.
Think of the livewell as a sort of aquarium type fixture that keeps fish or bait alive while you’re on the water. The compartment holds water and a pump provides oxygen that keeps bait fresh for use. While a livewell is a typical fixture found on fishing boats, pontoons rarely ever have them. Fortunately, you can buy them as an aftermarket accessory, complete with a chopping board lid for easy use.
We recommend the Bait Saver Livewell System by Marine Metal.
2. Fishing Rod Holder
What’s unique about the pontoon boat that makes it particularly different from a fishing boat is that it doesn’t have a gunwale. That smooth upper edge of the hull is where rod holders attach, and because pontoons use sleek chrome rails, it can be tough to find fitting rod holders. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist though. Some brands have come out with pontoon-specific fishing rod holders that provide reliable grip even as they attach to smooth silver rails.
Try out the Eagle Claw Clamp-On Rod Holder.
3. Rod Storage
Your fishing rods require particular care, so it helps to find them a safe place to stay while on board your pontoon. A stiff fishing rod storage box is the ideal choice for pontoon boat storage because it provides rigid protection for your rods while you’re underway. And because they’re flat, they store neatly underneath the seats so they’re out of sight when you don’t need them.
Keep your fishing rods in a safe place by using a Fishing Rod Box by MTM.
4. Trolling Motor
A trolling motor lets you operate at speeds that a typical pontoon boat engine wouldn’t permit. And because trolling can be loads of productive fun for the serious angler, it’s worth considering a trolling motor. These can mount to the tail of your pontoon, and can be operated with a remote control or a pedal. They’re great for catching the attention of fish just under the surface, and creates the illusion of natural swimming bait.
We like the Foot Control Trolling Motor by MinnKota.
5. Bite Alarms
The beauty of equipping fishing rod holders along your rails is that you get the chance to work more than just a single rod at once. But when you’ve got all those various lines in the water at once, it can be tough to keep an eye on each one. And that’s why you might want to consider getting a bunch of bite alarms. These are designed to alert you when a fish takes a bite of your bait, so you know which rod needs your attention. Meanwhile, you can sit back and relax as you wait for the next nibble.
We recommend this Electronic Fishing Bite Alarm.
6. Depth Finder
One of the benefits of fishing with a pontoon is that you get to attach cool electronic gadgets to it, like a depth finder. This device works to give you a digital view of the water conditions underneath, and may help you find where there’s fish waiting for you to catch them. Just attach the device to your battery for power, and mount it to your console to get it up and running.
We love this Garmin GPS Fishfinder.
Sure, that massive fish might look enticing fresh out of the water. But give it a few hours on board under the hot, unforgiving sun, and you’re going to have yourself a stinky fish corpse, stinking up everything in its wake. To keep your catch fresh, a heavy duty cooler should be your go to. But if you were thinking about something that saves a little extra space, a cooler bag can be just as durable while maintaining ideal temperatures for extended hours on board.
We highly recommend the Igloo BMX Family Cooler. But if you have limited space, try out the Buffalo Gear Insulate Fish Cooler Bag instead.
8. Fishing Net
Who goes fishing without a fishing net? Perfect for securing that catch with greater ease, a collapsible fishing net can be a smart addition to your pontoon boat fishing gear essentials without eating up too much space in your storage. Designs that use telescopic handles further extend your reach which can be particularly helpful considering the height of a typical pontoon boat.
Try out the PLUSINNO Floating Fishing Net as it's compact & foldable for easy storage and transportation.
9. Collapsible Stool
Pontoon furniture isn’t exactly designed to let you fish, especially since they all face inwards instead of outwards towards the railing. Good thing there are cheap alternatives like a collapsible stool. Compact and portable, a collapsible stool provides you a comfortable place to rest your rump while you watch over your rod. Set it up close to the rails and keep an eye on your bait, and fold it up neatly for storage when you’re all done.
We like the MiniMax Telescoping Collapsible Stool.
10. Telescopic Reacher
Even the most careful anglers will drop a thing or two in the water. And because a pontoon boat can be pretty high up from the surface, it helps to have a tool that can make it easier to retrieve a fallen item. A telescopic reacher with a grabbing mechanism at the end can help you collect items that fall into the water without having to get out of your boat.
We've found the Vive Suction Cup Reacher Grabber very handy to have around.
11. Removable Boat Bar
An add-on bar can be a great fishing accessory because it gives you access to food and drink without having to step away from your rod. Mounting directly to your rails, these boat bars have all the provisions for drinks and even various plates so you can enjoy a meal and some cold beers while watching over your fishing rod. If you want to expand your drinking horizons, you might want to consider a boat bar that holds various bottles of drink at a time. Drink responsibly!
We like the Bar Boat Utility Table by Docktail if you need space for food. Otherwise the Docktail Boat Bar Cup & Bottle Holder will be perfect to hold your drinks.
12. Waterproof Bag
Even with extra care and precaution, the act of fishing can and will get your boat’s deck wet for most of the experience. So you should expect that a bunch of the stuff on board will get wet throughout the day. Of course, you won’t want your food, snacks, or clean clothes to get wet with water and fish entrails, so a waterproof bag should be at the ready. Keep your food, clothes, and other essentials like electronics safe and dry by tossing them into a durable, waterproof bag.
We recommend the Waterproof Dry Bag from HEETA as it's lightweight and includes a phone case!
13. Smartphone Pouch
You’d be surprised how many lives have been saved from injury or even death by way of a waterproof smartphone pouch. These nifty little plastic bags provide a waterproof seal that lets you use your phone when you’re all wet or even submerged. That’s how countless people have managed to phone for help after having fallen into the water. And since most modern-day fishermen will want to use their phone while they wait for the next bite, you might as well keep your phone safe in case it gets wet or goes overboard.
To keep your smartphone nice & dry, try out the MoKo Floating Waterproof Phone Pouch.
14. Tackle Box
Keeping all of your essentials organized is one of the joys of fishing. And you can’t do that without a suitable tackle box. Of course, they all pretty much look the same, and they all serve the same purpose. But not all the choices you find will satisfy your standards. Consider something a little more durable, and opt to buy a tackle box that comes with the promise of longevity so you won’t have to keep on replacing it down the line.
Try out this Flambeau Outdoors 3 Tray Tackle Box to keep your gear organised.
15. Cup Holder
What’s the fun in fishing if you can’t enjoy a few drinks while you’re at it? Most pontoon boats have built in cup holders that go with the rest of the furniture. But it doesn’t hurt to fix a few more where you expect to stand while you wait for a bite. Cup holders come in all shapes and sizes, but the ones that incorporate extra space for other essentials like tackle, a utility knife, lures, and a flashlight serve double the purpose.
The Kemimoto Boat Caddy Cup Holder is perfect for your pontoon boat.
Yes, you read that right. How about adding a grill to your pontoon for added fishing fun? You’d be surprised at the wonderful assortment of compact grills you can get for your pontoon, letting you cook up a fresh catch straight from the source. But some of the most impressive designs mount directly to your rails, saving you floor area and giving you a cool new area to cook up a fish for yourself or for your buddies.
The Cuisinart Grill is fantastic as it can be mounted on the railing with stainless grill bracket.
17. Anchor Winch and Mount
When you finally find that perfect spot to fish, you’re going to want to keep your pontoon in place over the water. That’s possible with an anchor, but if you really want to take it a step further, you might want to consider an anchor winch and mount. Designed to bring an anchor back on board with the push of a button, an anchor winch makes it especially easy to retrieve your anchor from being submerged. A mount on the other hand provides a space for your winch and anchor off to the back of your pontoon for easy storage and use.
We recommend the MinnKota Deckhand Electric Anchor Winch.
18. Bait Board
Whether you’re preparing bait or gutting a fresh catch, there’s no going wrong with a bait board. Sure, you could always just rest a chopping board on your lap, but there are designs that make the experience even easier by mounting to your rails. A rail-mounted bait board provides more stability and thus more safety when handling a slippery fish and a sharp knife. And because they’re made from durable, smooth material, they’re also pretty easy to clean and maintain.
We've found the RailBlaza Bait Board & Large Fillet Table to be super handy to have on the pontoon.
19. Key Floats
Again, it’s not impossible - and even pretty common - for fishermen to drop things into the water. The most inconvenient items to accidentally drop overboard? Small, solid items like keys. If you’ve got some important items on your person that you really don’t want to lose, then key floats can be a handy accessory. Just use them as you would any keychain, and they should keep small items afloat until you can reach and get them.
We highly recommend DriftFish Floating Keychain.
20. Umbrella Mount
The harsh sun can be pretty unforgiving especially when you’re spending hours waiting for a bite. But if you want to keep an eye on your rods without being burnt under the glare of the midday sun, then a mounting pontoon umbrella can be a smart choice. Just set it up against the rails when you need it, and enjoy the cool breeze under the shade while you fish your afternoon away. Just make sure to collapse the umbrella and put it back into storage before you head back for the dock to prevent damage from wind resistance.
We like the SPF 50+ Adjustable Umbrella with Universal Clamp.
21. Life Vest
This should come as a no-brainer, and should be available on your boat at any time whether or not you’re fishing. But it helps to emphasize its importance anyway. The strong pull of a large fish can easily toss you over the rails if you’re not careful. And when you consider the slippery floors on a pontoon, it becomes easy to see how that’s possible. Keep your life vest on at all times especially when you’re actively working a rod to prevent any accidents.
The Stearns Classic Life Vest is a must have!
22. Non-Slip Mat
What kind of floors does your pontoon have? Most boats use a version of vinyl, which can be great for recreational use. But once all that flooring gets wet, you lose a lot of traction. So when you have to battle it out with a fighter as you pull on a rod and try to reel in, you might not be able to plant your feet as firmly as you prefer. Installing premium, non-slip floor mats where you plan to stand and fish can give you greater leverage as you reel in your catch and may even minimize the risk of accidents and untoward incidents.
We recommend the Gorilla Grip Non-Slip Roll to keep your items in place.
Over to You
Fishing can be loads of fun, even on a pontoon. All you need to do is make sure your boat is ready to face the waters for a fun day of fishing. Sure, the average pontoon boat isn’t specifically designed for fishing. But there are tons of products out there that can help you evolve your recreational watercraft into the most efficient fishing vessel you’ve ever seen. So go ahead and try out our recommendations for the best pontoon boat fishing accessories and experience your beloved boat in a brand new way.