About 71% of our Earth’s surface is covered by water, and you must be itching to explore it all. Because what is the next water skill on your list to mastery? That’s right. Fishing.
In that 71% of our Earth lies the answer to your aspirations: an abundance of fish.
Recreational fishing is one of the most popular marine sports of all time and for good reason. It brings us out into nature and wildlife, gives us a reason to slow down, to be patient and present, to enjoy what is in front of us. Few activities beat the stillness, peace, and quiet that a nice fishing session offers.
The only way to make it even more immersive, even more relaxing? Doing all the above in your pontoon.
This is a unique boat that you have for yourself, after all, offering stability, style, space, and comfort. You have all the space you might need, be it for fishing gear, rod holders, snacks or even friends. Whether you take pleasure in harpooning, gill-netting, bottom trawling or using open nets, cages, and traps to find those winning catches of the day, it goes without saying that all this is far more easily achieved in a good, sturdy boat to aid you in your quest. As far as pontoons go, they make for some of the best fishing boats out there.
Not only due to their physical build, its shape and the advantages those offer, but because with the help of electronic navigation charts (ENCs) and fishing maps, your pontoon till becoming the ultimate, unstoppable machine—in the eyes of fish, anyway. Pair these tools and you will only plan your routes and find fish in ease from now on.
But that is getting more into the features end of things already. First, let us begin by looking through the different pontoon brands that offer the best options for us fishermen.
- 1 The Best Pontoon Fishing Boats
- 2 What Pontoon Boat Accessories Should You Have?
- 3 Some Additional Tips
The Best Pontoon Fishing Boats
To make the process of finding the best pontoon for fishing I recommend that you go with a genuine brand. There are many such brands out there, and they all compete for your attention and promote quality; ideally, you should buy directly from a brand so that you can take advantage of their warranty options.
Understand that each brand will naturally present buyers with all sorts of contrasting characteristics. Therefore the one that you choose ought to be the right call you can stand by—one that reflects both your fishing wants and needs.
Look below and you will find a handful of well-known brands that offer a warranty on their fishing pontoons.
Sylvan Pontoon Boats
Offering “head-turning luxury,” Sylvan has been in the pontoon boat building business since 1948. Sylvan has introduced a vast array of fishing vessels to its range.
Honorable mentions are;
- Mirage 8520 Cruise-N-Fish – Features Rear Fishing Station w/ Two Fishing Seats, and optional Humminbird Piranha Max4 Fish Finder (Ram Mount) and Depth Gauge. At almost 21 feet long, it seats 10 and comes with 115 Max Horsepower. For the entertainment, it is equipped with PRV250 Infinity AM/FM Stereo w/ Bluetooth.
- Mirage 8522 4-PT – Despite its length of 20 feet, Sylvan’s Mirage Fish 820 4-PT can get into all those tight and compact shallow bays where the big bass lives. Four pedestal-mount fishing seats are accompanied by built-in live well for the catch, a measuring scale, rod holders and rod storage rack. On top of that standard Bimini top is nice when trying to get away from the summer sun. Up to nine of your friends can enjoy standard 90 hp motor with a fuel capacity of 24 gallons.
- Mirage 8522 Party Fish Classic – Longest of Mirages listed here at 23 feet it features Rear Fishing Station w/ Two Fishing Seats and comes with the same optional features like the above two boats. It seats 12, comes with 150 Max Horsepower and 30-gallon fuel tank.
Below you can see a nice video review of Mirage 8522 Party Fish Classic.
Bennington Pontoon Boats
Now, this boat brand is considered to be one of the, if not the, best pontoon brands on the planet. These models offer notable hardware that makes fishing a total breeze, not to mention makes navigation much easier. For one, it features a fishing pedestal chair, which will give you a tremendous view, not to mention relieve any tension on your lower back. The Bennington also offers in-line engines and outboard steering controls, redefining what it means to sail comfortably.
If such comfort in both sailing and fishing are priorities for you, opt out for the following:
- Bennington 16 SFXP – Another great choice for the family, 17 foot Bennington’s 16 SFXP offers 2 pedestal-mount fishing seats up front, live well for the catch and a standard fish box, dual rod holders, and rod storage. It is made for the comfort of you and 6 of your closest family or friends. The motor is a little weaker than I would prefer, however. It is equipped with 40 hp and fuel capacity of 24 gallons. 40 hp does not seem like a lot but this vessel is made for fishing and relaxation and a nice Bimini top confirms that.
Harris Pontoon Boats
This one is an award-winning brand for a reason. Harris Boats strives to consistently reinvent pontoons with increasingly advanced designs.
- Harris FloteBote Cruiser 200 FS – It accommodates 11 passengers at 22 feet long. It features a rear workstation, providing you with more than ample room for any fishing needs. With its bow loungers, four pedestal mount fishing seats and 115 hp motor, this model is ideal for angling activity. And if you wish you can always upgrade to 150 hp.
SunChaser Pontoon Boats
SunChaser is another respectable brand offering lifetime +6 warranty. The masterminds behind SunChaser pride themselves on presenting their quality anglers.
- SunChaser 8520 Classic Fish EXP – With its impressive dual rod holders, four pedestal-mount fishing seats, stern fishing station and integrated tape measure, this could well be considered the best pontoon for fishing. It is 20 feet long, has 150 hp and carries 20 gallons of fuel. SunChaser 8520 Classic Fish EXP has a removable table with two table bases, a flip-up changing room and enough space for optional Porta Potti. And to finish it off it has a great stereo system and enough space for 10 passengers and Bimini top to hide under.
Alternatively, you can also choose the SunChaser 8522 Cruise-N-Fish, Oasis Fish 2018 or Geneva Fish 2018, if you are looking for more customization.
Starcraft Pontoon Boats
If you’re searching for the best pontoon for fishing that guarantees value for money, Starcraft could be the brand for you. A legendary company with a history of more than 100 years has done it again. They have a wide selection of pontoon boats for any occasion and below are two of the best fishing options.
- Starcraft EX 20 F4 – A 20-footer, big enough to fit 10 of your friends and has enough power to make the ride exciting and fast. Equipped with 125 hp, 200 hp if you opt out for tri-toon, this is one of the strongest boats on my list. I only wish the fuel capacity was a bit larger than 20 gallons. Nevertheless, you will enjoy fishing with this boat that comes with 4 pedestal-mount fishing seats, two on each end, road storage, two live wells and enough space for all your gear. A Bimini top is a nice addition to your Irish friends.
- Starcraft EX 23 C SG – A bigger cousin of Starcraft EX 20 F4, Starcraft EX 23 C SG is a 24-foot boat that offers enough room for 12 people. You can opt out for a standard 150 hp motor or upgrade to a tri-toon max of 250 hp with 30-gallon fuel capacity. I’m a fan of large fuel tanks so this one gets a thumbs up from me. Finale, like the boat above it, it comes will all the bells and whistles that good pontoon fishing boat should have.
You can pursue a wide selection of Pro-Grade Deep V Fish Boats at a Lowe Boats showroom, such as the FM 1810 Pro WT with MotorGuide W75 (60″/75#/24V) Wireless Trolling Motor and the FM 165 Pro WT with Lowrance HDS-7 Gen2 Touch Fishfinder.
Sun Tracker Boats
This brand claims to provide the “Best Factory Warranty in the Pontoon business.” One notable Sun Tracker fishing boats include the SportFish 22 DLX, better known for its four-stroke command thrust. If you are more interested in speed and better navigation, feel free to also consider the Fishin’ Barge 24 DLX, featuring navigation lights and the wraparound sports console.
1972 was a great year for boating, and fishing, for that was the year we met the first ever pontoon manufactured by Avalon. There are several great choices to pick from. Like the last brand, one of Avalon’s fishing pontoon boat models includes the LS Fish, whose main value is the set of USGC navigation lights. Furthermore, the GS Fish is another great choice—especially if an opportunity to work with the fish and better inspect them. The GS Fish comes with a rear fishing center. There is also the Catalina Fish, that comes with livewell and rod holder.
What Pontoon Boat Accessories Should You Have?
It is important to remember that pontoon boats that have been designed with fishing in mind may not actually look all that different from your typical pontoon boats at a glance. This is because most fishing-centered features are intentionally designed to be sleek and subtle.
Nevertheless, keep in mind that although it might not look like much, it can make a clear and significant difference in how well an angler is able to find and catch fish. That’s what we’re after, after all!
To best ease the process of finding the best pontoon for fishing, cultivating a better understanding of the specific features you ought to keep out on the lookout for is a good a place to start as any.
When putting all together, a rugged fishing machine should combine various angling amenities. Some of these may include…
A device that steers your boat for you, frees you up to focus on other fishing tasks that require more attention. While you do that, the autopilot technology will steer according to preset turn patterns, exercising optimum control. If you are technically savvy person order a system like Garmin’s GHC 153 Autopilot Control from Amazon.
Not only does a quality sonar sensor depth finder effectively capture both temperature and depth measurements, letting you better navigate the fish’s home, it also tracks the fish themselves, providing you with their location. If anything will crank the odds of you getting a catch to the max, it is this feature right here. Luckily, this is also a relatively easy gadget to acquire if you would like to shop on your own.
We have recommended several good depth finder options here and even put together an easy-to-follow guide for proper installation.
Swiveling Fishing Chairs
When fitted to the bow, chairs with a swivel feature make a world of difference. These chairs will rotate 360 degrees and provide you with a clear view of the waterways. You will have maximum ability to look around and spot any bitters. A slick swivel chair may often be a little on the pricier side. Try to negotiate that cost in your original boat purchase negotiations instead.
Nevertheless, the slick swivel chair does add a level of comfort, maneuverability, and style that you likely will not find with the standard, built-in models on pontoons. The ever-popular option offered by Wise is an excellent place to start if you do find yourself wanting to go this route.
It is perfectly possible to catch fish even when rod holders are fitted on the pontoon rails. For many, that is even preferable. But wait—I’ll do you one even better: how about when you are grabbing drinks from the cooler! Tell me that does not sound like the lazy, bountiful fisherman dream!
The best part is that Wise also sells these bad boys relatively cheap.
Then again, it is always much better to factor fishing features into your original boat purchase when possible. Negotiation can often have you leaving with features you never even knew you wanted if you know what you are doing. Plus, you might even get a better deal this way.
Pontoons are already awesome watercraft with intuitive steering. Pair that baseline with a tilt steering mechanism and your pontoon will be so simple to navigate. Even a total novice could do it. If the autopilot is not your thing, and you like being in control while you fish, this is the best compromise you will find.
Want to catch the best fish? Use the best bait!
Both fish and bait can be kept much fresher throughout the duration of your voyage if properly stored. Get yourself a portable cooler. Without a doubt, the strongest and most durable coolers out there are the Yeti coolers.
If you are thinking about taking this pastime on more seriously, or will simply be fishing often with more and more friends, looking for a good time, then you may also want to consider investing in a dedicated livewell on board.
GPS Track And Chart Plotter
Use these innovative features here and you will be able to plan voyages around pre-marked fishing, even further increasing your likelihood of nibbles. Pair this together with your autopilot control system, and even a rod holder if you are up for it, and you will not even need to fish. Whoever said, ‘teach a man to fish and he will never be hungry again,’ clearly has never set foot into a rig like this one!
That being said, you should still probably know how to fish.
The engine type/size fitted on the best pontoons for fishing will vary. However, the typical rule for propulsion work is 4-6 HP per ton. Keep this in mind when you are purchasing your engine. This is one area where I would not recommend you try to save your money. If you do that two things might happen.
First, you might end up with a motor that is either too weak or too strong for your boat. In either case, you are wasting a lot of fuel and it will cost you money.
Second, low quality motors will not last as long.
Today’s high priced engines can usually save you money in the long run. Chose a motor power recommended by a dealer or manual. Then find a quality motor that has great fuel rating and you will be a happy ‘tooner.
The cockpit, captain, and passengers will be shielded from choppy waters and spray thanks to the shelter of a windshield. This is another one of those features that you will not ever fully appreciate until you really need it. A full windshield can be the difference between eating a quality fish or drinking like one.
You will tend to notice how the best pontoons for fishing all have docking lights mounted to the hull surface. This is because such lights make night-time docking a breeze. Shoreline Marine, a favorite of mine, can hook you up with some affordable yet quality lighting. Not to mention, your pontoon will just look so much nicer.
One of these allows for easy access on and off the fishing pontoon. If you use your boat for a lot of swimming and diving, or intend to be stepping out every now and then sporting a fishing suit, this feature is simply a must-have.
If you are looking to add a ladder to a boat you already own but don’t know which ladder is best for you, you can read the best pontoon boat ladders review I recently wrote. Hopefully, it can be of some help to you.
A solid anchor that can secure firmly in position on deep reefs will prove invaluable for sports fishing. But no matter where you’re going fishing, you’re going to drop anchor. Make sure your pontoon is fitted with a sturdy one! Read about what I think is the best pontoon boat anchor.
Some Additional Tips
You do not need to have an exorbitantly priced fishing lure to reel in the big fist. Ever heard of the $1 million diamond-embellished lure crafted by MacDaddy Fishing Lures? I believe there are far better uses for those dollars than one fishing lure.
Rods, reels, and lines aside, becoming a better angler is dependent on your trawling skills and, of course, the type of vessel you find yourself navigating. That is why it is important for you to invest in the best pontoon for your fishing adventures. If you can not afford the best and the latest buy used. Just make sure you know how to buy a used pontoon boat. Once you have the boat invest some time and energy into it.
Practice makes perfect, after all, so do try to research fishing hot spots in your area—whether online or just by chatting with local folks at the marina. Once you have got some ideas of where to go, use a GPS system to track popular fishing areas on a map. If you are a beginner, you will quickly see for yourself just how paramount such knowledge of these spots will prove. Why fish in areas with one or two fish, when you can fish in abundance?
Should you be planning on setting sail during winter or at a time when the seas are rough in your location, make sure you consider how to handle your vessel when the water gets rough.
And make sure you don’t leave home without a boat emergency kit! After all, preventative measures will ensure your safety when cruising around. The fish might not be able to hurt you—unless you are in the mood for some seriously big game—but they certainly will not be able to save you from your own carelessness either.
What’s more: a pontoon can double up as a party barge, so you can socialize with your fellow anglers after a day out at sea or on a freshwater lake.