Guide to Fishing From a Pontoon Boat (Pros and Cons)

Man fishing from a pontoon boat

Fishing from a pontoon boat has revolutionized the angling world in recent years. As boat owners continuously sought vessels tailored to their needs, the rise of modern pontoon boats has been nothing short of impressive.

These boats, characterized by their spacious deck and unparalleled stability, have quickly become a favorite among novice and seasoned anglers.

In this article, we’ll explore the advantages of pontoon fishing, address potential drawbacks, and offer fishing tips. Let’s start!

Can You Use a Pontoon Boat for Fishing?

Pontoon boat used for fishing

Yes, you can use a pontoon boat for fishing. In fact, pontoon boats are becoming increasingly popular for fishing due to their stability, spaciousness, and versatility.

The versatility of modern pontoon boats makes them a good choice for a temporary fishing vessel. Designed not just as a leisure vessel, these boats can be transformed into a top-notch fishing platform. 

Their design makes for an ideal fishing experience, offering ample room to ensure every angler on board has tons of elbow room. 

Additionally, the expansive deck space of most pontoon boats is a big add-on for those who enjoy fishing in groups.

However, it’s not just about space. With the right fishing boat accessories, such as adequately installed rod holders and a state-of-the-art fish finder, your pontoon boat may become your favorite fishing paradise. 

Are Pontoon Boats Good for Fishing?

Yes, pontoon boats can be effective fishing vessels. In fact, pontoon boats have become a favorite in the fishing community due to their stability and spaciousness. 

Their adaptability is a key feature; with the right fishing accessories, such as different rod holders or an advanced fish finder, they can rival specialized fishing vessels in certain scenarios. 

Modern pontoons, as I’ve observed during some of my marine expeditions, now come with features tailored for the avid angler. 

Some of the most notable ones I’ve seen include livewells to keep your catch fresh, drink holders to keep you hydrated, and even specialized storage spaces for your gear.

During a research trip on Lake Tahoe, I landed a memorable rainbow trout from a pontoon. 

Similarly, on the Mississippi, the boat’s design allowed us to explore shallow coves, where we observed various aquatic species in their habitat.

While once seen as leisure boats, I have personally experienced how these pontoons have proven versatile and efficient for fishing endeavors.

Pros of Fishing From a Pontoon Boat

Group of friends about to fish from a pontoon boat

Fishing from a pontoon boat has gained significant traction among enthusiasts in recent years. But what exactly makes pontoon boats appealing to anglers?

Here are some advantages of fishing from a pontoon boat:

  • Stable platform: One of the primary advantages of fishing from a pontoon boat is its stability. The boat’s design, especially those adopting the tri-toon design, provides a stable platform that minimizes rocking. This stability is especially true when fishing and reeling in large catches.
  • Roominess: When it comes to space, pontoon boats are unparalleled. Their expansive deck offers much room, allowing anglers to store all their fishing gear, from rods to coolers. This spaciousness means you can bring along family or friends, turning a day of fishing into a social event. The large deck also ensures that everyone on board has plenty of room to move around without feeling cramped.
  • Versatility: Modern pontoon boats are not just about comfort; they’re also about functionality. Many of these boats come equipped with essential add-ons and features tailored for fishing. From installed livewells to keep your catch fresh to outboard motors and trolling motors for better control, the versatility of these boats enhances the fishing experience. Some notable pontoon boats offering these features are those from Lowe Boats and Bennington.
  • Protection from elements: Many fishing pontoons come with a bimini top, providing shade and protection from the sun and rain. This feature ensures that anglers can continue their fishing activities even in less-than-ideal weather conditions.
  • Durability: Made with sturdy materials like aluminum and PVC, these boats are built to last, especially when given the right care and maintenance. Their construction ensures they can withstand the rigors of fishing, making them a reliable choice for those who spend a lot of time on the water.

Understanding the advantages of pontoon boats can significantly enhance your fishing experience. Their blend of stability, space, and versatility makes them a top choice for many. 

However, like all boats, they have their strengths and areas where they might not be the best fit.

Cons of Fishing From a Pontoon Boat

While pontoons offer heaps of benefits for fishing, it’s essential to be aware of some of their limitations. Recognizing these can help anglers make informed decisions and ensure a safe and enjoyable fishing trip.

Here are some disadvantages of fishing on a pontoon boat:

  • Not ideal for big seas: Pontoons are designed for stability in calm to moderately choppy waters. However, in big seas or very rough waters, the boat’s decks can get washed, making it less ideal. It’s essential to understand the limitations of your pontoon boat fishing experience before adding this vessel to your fishing arsenal.
  • Limited speed: For anglers who enjoy troll fishing at higher speeds, a pontoon might not be the best choice. While they are great for fishing at a leisurely pace, if speed is a priority, a v-hull boat or another type of fishing boat might be more suitable. This is especially true for deep sea fishing, where quickly reaching specific offshore spots can be crucial.
  • Size and maneuverability: Larger pontoon boats, while offering more space, can be challenging to maneuver, especially in tight spots or shallow waters. It’s essential to be aware of the boat’s size and how it might impact your ability to access certain fishing spots. 
  • Maintenance: While pontoons are durable, they require regular maintenance, especially since pontoons are often exposed to freshwater or saltwater conditions. Regular washdowns, especially after saltwater exposure, are crucial to prevent corrosion and maintain the boat’s longevity. In addition to maintaining the deck, maintaining the boat’s motor is also crucial.
  • Not always equipped for serious fishing: While many new boat models are tailored for fishing, not all pontoons come standard with fishing-specific features. Anglers might need to invest in additional add-ons or modifications to transform it into the best pontoon fishing vessel. This hikes up the required initial expense.

While pontoon boats offer a unique and comfortable fishing experience, it’s vital for boat owners and anglers to understand their strengths and limitations. 

By doing so, you can ensure a successful and enjoyable day of fishing on your pontoon.

How to Set Up a Pontoon Boat for Fishing

Man setting up a pontoon boat

Setting up a pontoon boat for fishing is an art that combines both functionality and comfort. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned angler, the right setup can significantly enhance your experience. 

1. Prioritize Safety

Safety is paramount when on the water. Before even thinking about fishing gear, ensure your pontoon is equipped with essential safety equipment. 

This includes life jackets for each passenger, a first aid kit, fire extinguishers, and a horn or whistle. Additionally, ensure that the railing around the pontoon is secure to prevent any accidental falls. 

Regardless of how experienced an angler you are, safety should always be the primary concern. This is especially true when setting up a new vessel for fishing.

2. Install Essential Fishing Equipment

The modern pontoon boats you can buy today are versatile, but to truly optimize them for fishing, certain add-ons and installations are necessary. 

Here are some equipment to consider when setting up a pontoon boat for fishing:

  • Rod Holders: Rod holders are indispensable for any angler. Depending on your pontoon’s design, you can opt for clamp-on or rail-mounted rod holders. They not only keep your fishing rods secure but also provide easy access when a fish bites.
  • Fish Finder: This tool is a game-changer for serious anglers. By installing one near the boat’s helm, you can easily locate fish underwater, making your fishing trips more productive.
  • Trolling Motor: For those who enjoy drift fishing or want to troll in specific areas, a bow-mounted electric motor is essential. Trolling motors offer better control and allow you to navigate the waters silently so you don’t scare away the fish.
  • Livewell: Not all pontoons come standard with a built-in livewell. If yours doesn’t, consider investing in a portable one. It’s crucial for keeping live bait fresh and storing your catch during the day.

Equipping your pontoon with these essential items ensures that you’re prepared for any fishing adventure. 

Whether you’re after crappie in freshwater or challenging bigger fish in saltwater, these tools will enhance your chances of a successful catch.

Watch this video to get a sense of a fully decked-out pontoon that is set up for fishing:

Convert Your Pontoon Into a Fishing Machine

3. Optimize Storage Solutions

With all the fishing gear, bait, tackle, and personal items, space on a pontoon can quickly become limited. Think about adding storage boxes or compartments specifically designed for fishing equipment. 

Installing these solutions not only keeps your deck boat tidy but ensures everything is within arm’s reach when that big catch bites.

4. Consider Seating and Comfort

The number of people you anticipate fishing with will determine your seating needs. 

Swivel chairs are a great addition as they allow anglers to turn easily, and cushioned seats make the waiting game much more comfortable. 

Additionally, if you’re planning to fish during peak sun hours, it’s a good idea to have a bimini top installed on your pontoon if it doesn’t come with one already.

5. Enhance with Additional Features

Beyond the essential fishing gear, there are additional features that can elevate your fishing experience on a pontoon. 

The following features, while not strictly necessary, provide added convenience, safety, and enjoyment:

  • Lighting: Night fishing has its charm for many angling enthusiasts. If this appeals to you, consider installing deck lighting and navigation lights. This not only ensures safety but also enhances the ambiance and makes the fishing process smoother after sunset.
  • Anchoring System: A robust anchoring system is a great addition to any pontoon fishing setup. Whether you’re battling currents and winds or you’ve just found the perfect fishing spot, a good anchor ensures you stay put.
  • Sound System: While it might not directly impact your fishing, having a quality sound system can enhance the overall experience on the water. Whether you’re listening to tunes or tuning into a local weather channel for updates, a good audio setup can make your day of fishing even more enjoyable.

Incorporating these additional features into your pontoon setup can transform your boat into a fishing paradise. 

They offer a blend of functionality and luxury, ensuring that every moment spent on the water is both productive and pleasurable.

Tips for Successful Fishing on a Pontoon Boat

Fishing from a pontoon boat offers a distinctive advantage due to its design and space. 

To maximize your catch and enjoy the experience, consider these things when fishing on a pontoon boat:

  • Opt for freshwater environments: Prioritize freshwater fishing with your pontoon. The design of pontoons actually makes them ideal for accessing prime freshwater spots.
  • Make the most of built-in amenities: Utilize built-in livewells that many pontoons come standard with. Store your bait or keep your catch fresh. 
  • Embrace night fishing: If your pontoon has navigation lights, venture out at night. It’s true that some fish are more active after dark, so seize the opportunity to come across them.
  • Anchor for stability: Choose productive fishing areas and anchor your pontoon. A stable platform ensures you detect bites effectively and allows you to set your hook with precision.
  • Tailor your gear: When fishing from a pontoon boat, it’s essential to customize your fishing gear according to the specific species you’re targeting. Different fish have varied habits, preferred habitats, and feeding patterns, so using the right gear can significantly increase your success rate.
  • Use trolling motors quietly: If equipped with a trolling motor, move silently. Cover more water and pinpoint fish locations without startling them.

By following these imperative tips and maximizing the unique features of your pontoon, you’ll optimize your fishing experience and boost your chances of a successful catch.

Frequently Asked Questions

Pontoon boat in a river

Is It Hard to Fish From a Pontoon Boat?

No, it’s quite the opposite. With their stability and roominess, pontoons offer a comfortable fishing experience.

How Safe Are Pontoon Boats in Rough Water?

While pontoons are stable, they’re not designed for very rough waters. It’s best to stick to calm lakes or moderate waves when fishing on a pontoon.

Do Pontoon Boats Flip Easily?

No, pontoon boats are designed for stability. However, like any boat, it’s essential to understand its limits and operate within the environment and conditions it is designed for.

Final Thoughts

Pontoon boats have carved a niche in the world of fishing. Their blend of comfort, space, and adaptability makes them a worthy choice for both novice and serious fishermen. 

Whether you’re looking to enjoy a peaceful day of fishing in a bay or seeking a freshwater adventure, a pontoon boat might just be your best fishing companion. 

Remember, the key to an enjoyable pontoon fishing experience is to equip it right, understand its strengths and limitations, and, most importantly, enjoy the journey.

So, are you going to try fishing in this vessel? Let us know your thoughts about pontoon fishing by leaving a comment below!

Leave a Comment

You may also like