12 Pontoon Boat Fishing Tips for Newbie Pontoon Anglers

There’s a lot you can do on a pontoon. And while a visit to party island might be fun now and again, you might find yourself looking for a more relaxing way to spend those days out on the water. So what better way to unwind and enjoy the view than by spending a few hours fishing?

While the pontoon boat isn’t always recognized as the angler’s boat of choice, there’s really no reason not to take it out for that exact purpose. And to make the experience even better, here are 12 pontoon boat fishing tips you might want to give a whirl.

#1 - Invest in Proper Accessories

Pontoon boats come out of the dealership not exactly designed for fishing. But that doesn’t mean you can’t customize it with the right gear. There are a bunch of aftersales add ons you can get to make your pontoon more fishing friendly.

pontoon boat rod holder

Rod holders come out on top as some of the most important pontoon boat fishing accessories you can get. These keep your fishing rods in place and let you handle multiple rods at a time. They also usually don’t need any drilling to stay in place, and clamp to your rails for easy installation. We recommend the Eagle Claw clamp on rod holder. Check out our guide to the best pontoon fishing rod holders for more options.

While you’re at it, a fish finder might also make it easier for you to locate a proper fishing spot.

#2 - Get Proper Fish Storage

An ice box like the Igloo BMX could be a suitable place for temporary storage on board. But if you want something to keep live bait as well, then you might want to consider installing a livewell. Our favorite is the Fishernomics Fishing Bucket.

Of course, pouring in buckets of water might become tedious over time, so it helps to consider a way to get water in and out of your livewell if your boat isn’t already equipped for that.

#3 - Protect Your Seats

Those vinyl upholstered seats aren’t going to look quite as clean and polished after a day of fishing. Water splashes, fish fluids, and all the stink that comes with it can give you a day’s worth of cleaning that you could possibly avoid with a few towels here and there. Constantly replacing pontoon boat seats can get annoying and costly too.

Before you set out for a fishing trip, make sure you cover up your seats with an extra layer of protection. Thick towels could be a great pick, while other pontoon boat anglers go the extra mile and throw on a waterproof tarpaulin sheet to keep things extra protected. The TARPATOP is a great choice and works really well to protect.

#4 - Keep a Long Handled Net in Handy

If you’re looking to get your hands on big fish, then it helps to have a long handled net at the ready. 

Unlike traditional fishing boats, pontoon boats have high railings that require anglers to lift their catch several feet out of the water and over the rails to get it on board. Unless you’ve been benchpressing in your spare time, a net just makes it easier to hoist your fresh catch over and into your boat.

If you want a good net, we suggest the SAN LIKE fishing net which is very reasonably priced.

#5 - Know Where to Go

You can’t fish just anywhere you want. There are designated areas where fishing is allowed, so you might want to check with your local authorities to make sure you’re not stepping over any regulations and rules.

fishing from a pontoon boat

Some areas even require a fishing license. Other than that, pontoon boats do not do well in rough waters, so the high seas are definitely out of the question.

#6 - Get a Spare Anchor

Even when your pontoon is anchored in place, you’re still likely to experience some drift. What most anglers do to prevent this is to get a secondary anchor that works to counter drift and keep your boat as stable as possible.

Make sure you consider the conditions where you’re boating to get an anchor that’s designed for the job. Have a read of our pontoon anchor buying guide.

#7 - Designate a Place for Fish Prep and Handling

Sure, you could always just hunker down into one of your seats and get to gutting, but imagine the mess that would make.

If you want to streamline your fishing experience and minimize the amount of cleaning you’d have to do afterwards, you could always get a removable utility table. These mount to your boat and provide a table space where you can do pretty much anything that requires a table - including cleaning out and gutting a fresh catch.

docktail boat bar

You can go with something like the Docktail bar boat.

#8 - Cook Up a Fresh Meal

And while you’re at it, why not grill that fresh catch? Cuisinart is one of the few brands that sells a grill that’s specifically designed to mount to your pontoon boat, letting you cook up a meal with nothing but the freshest fish you can get. 

Easy to install and a breeze to remove, this grill makes the perfect companion for family fishing trips. Check out the Cuisinart Grill or even more pontoon boat grills here.

#9 - Consider Proper Clearance

A bimini top can be a great way to keep things cool and shady on board, especially if you’re all about relaxation. But if you’re out here to catch some fish, then that bimini top can get in the way of the perfect cast.

Make sure you take it down for the meantime to give yourself some proper clearance, and to prevent damaging your rod or your top.

#10 - Get Comfortable

There’s lots of ways to fish, and while some people might like taking a load off while they wait for a bite, others prefer watching everything go down. And that’s when a leaning post might come in handy. 

Although they’re quite expensive, these posts provide the perfect comfort while you watch and wait for those fish to take a bite.

Check out Taco Metals Marine Leaning Post

#11 - Try a Trolling Motor

Trolling has often been considered one of the best ways to fish because of how it replicates the swimming movement of actual fish while you’ve got your bait in the water. Pontoon boats can be operated with a trolling motor, given they’re the right strength.

fishing trolling motor

Consider your boat size and make sure you get a model with a remote control (like the Minn Kota Terrova) so you can operate from anywhere on your vessel.

#12 - Keep the Essentials Close at Hand

If you’re like the rest of the population, then you might enjoy a cold one during the usual fishing trip. A cup holder within reach can make the whole experience even more enjoyable. We love the Wise Double Drink Holder. It's one of those pontoon accessories every 'toon owner should have.

You could also consider something with more space for bait, hooks, and other essentials so you don’t have to keep going back to your tackle box. Try something like this from Seachoice.

Gone Fishin’

A pontoon boat can be the perfect fishing vessel. But if you’re newbie angler and you want to streamline the experience, make sure you consider these pontoon boat fishing tips to get your pontoon ready for many fishing trips to come. Fishing from a pontoon boat is loads of fun!