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Big Dave2

Pontoon instead of boat?

24 posts in this topic

How many people here have a pontoon that they use to travel to different lakes with?

I am thinking about selling my 16' Lund Angler/w 50hp and getting a smallish pontoon, like an 18foot bass buggy type with the swivel seats in all 4 corners and a live well and such.

I like my boat, but it gets a little cramped when I take my wife and my 7yr old out in it, with all the gear, food and such that has to come along. My wife said she would probably come along more too in a pontoon because if she gets bored she can just lay down and suntan. I also like the idea of being able to fish with 3 or more of my buddies if the situation arises. My boat is basically a 2 man rig if you want to be comfortable.

I know that there are a lot of people that have pontoons on a lake lot where it stays tied to a dock all year but I am wondering about traveling with a potoon. I used to think that putting a pontoon in and out of the water must be a big hassle until I helped my bro-in-law load his on the trailer at the end of the year last year. I have to say it went on the trailer a lot easier than my boat does.

How do the travel down the road? I would think it would be no different than a boat, just a little bigger.

We basically just fish in our boat. Will I regret not having my boat for fishing, or do you find the pontoon just as easy to fish out of?

How about trolling or drifting?

Any other concerns I should think about before starting to look for pontoons?

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The only thing I would look for is getting the proper trailer for it. Don't get one of those silly things that the deck sits on and is only about 5 feet wide, those are not good for long distances, get a nice one that is wide and the floats sit on you will be much happier.

Wind does puch them around alot more than a regular boat, but you would get used to that and be able to compensate for it.

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1 year ago i got tired of being cramped and getting soaked not having a topper on my 16 ft lund boat.So i bought a 28 ft pontoon and sold the boat.I can load it and unload just as fast as i could the boat.My trailer for the pontoon is the narrow type that lifts it up on the deck.The only problem i had was getting the back of the pontoon to load up and be centered.I fixed that problem by putting some 1 1/2 flat steel on the bottom of the pontoom angled so it makes a guide on centering it every time.I only fish lakes within a 30 mile radius and have no problems with pulling it around with the narrow trailer.I can unload it in shallow water.My biggest problem is the pontoon and trailer take up the whole road and part of the neighbors when it sits idle at home.I do not miss the cramped up boat at all.I can anchor on a sand bar and have the other end of the pontoon over the deep water and can work the structure nicely.When i purchased the pontoon i bought it on ebay and pulled it 250 miles without a problem.

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Boat control will be your biggest hurdle. Lets face it your fishing out of a barge, thats relates to sluggish response. Add the high profile, canvas top, and wind = headache. Use all the tools you have to overcome all that.

Drift socks, bowmount AutoPilot, and backtrolling.

Being high above the water and wide platform can be awkward to troll with. Having to work around railings, canvas top poles and straps can also be a pain. You'd think soaking bobbers off a toon would be the cats meow as you can walk around at will. That there is a problem, you can't cover 360 degrees from one seat like you can a boat.

Trailering isn't a big problem but there is some added hassle, is it enough to make you not want to go out fishing for the day.

If a toon would get your wife to go with more often then all the disadvantages might be worth it, even more so if she'll be sunbathing.

Personally I'd get a bigger boat.

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ST, I was thinking just the opposite. All though I do enjoy having my wife with once or twice through out the year. The idea of "fishing" with my wife along more often is reason enough not to get a bigger boat. blush.gif

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Big Dave,

I've been running a 24' Godfrey tritoon for the past three season's and I wouldn't or should I say "couldn't" go back to a regular style boat!!! It's powered by a 140 HP Suzuki and cruises at thirty MPH with a top end of thirty five. It offers total comfort (your wife will love it) and considering its over all size is very versitile under many types of fishing situations. The tritoon also handles big water quite well, I use mine on Lake Winnipeg from time to time.

As for loading it on the trailer...."it doesn't get any easier"! I pull it with a Suburban so trailering to different destinations is not an issue.

If possible, buy one with marine grade vynal flooring rather than carpeting....the stuff is awesome and makes clean-up a breeze!

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Thanks for the replies already guys.

Catmendo, you kind of mentioned this but I was wondering how a pontoon does on big water like Mille Lacs?

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I have a fishing buddy who just loves to use his pontoon. And I have gotten around to seeing it as a good option for family fishing. We have had on Mille Lacs in the rollers and no problems. Actually better than a regular boat and drier. We trailered the beast as far as URL from the Cities - no issues at all. The equation is simply boat control versus space/comfort. With a four stroke you can troll in a pontoon down to about 1.5mph. Throw out some drift socks and you can get even slower BUT if the wind is blowing those high sides make staying on course a bit difficult. If most of your fishing trips involve more than three in the boat get the pontoon. Just remember to get a good anchor for the front and back, a drift sock, trollimg motor if you can rig one (my friend's pontoon is not setup to mount a trolling motor) and get a four stroke for power. Last thing is to get a long handled net - you will really need that as pontoons sit up a lot higher.

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Quote:

How many people here have a pontoon that they use to travel to different lakes with?

I am thinking about selling my 16' Lund Angler/w 50hp and getting a smallish pontoon, like an 18foot bass buggy type with the swivel seats in all 4 corners and a live well and such.

I like my boat, but it gets a little cramped when I take my wife and my 7yr old out in it, with all the gear, food and such that has to come along. My wife said she would probably come along more too in a pontoon because if she gets bored she can just lay down and suntan. I also like the idea of being able to fish with 3 or more of my buddies if the situation arises. My boat is basically a 2 man rig if you want to be comfortable.

I know that there are a lot of people that have pontoons on a lake lot where it stays tied to a dock all year but I am wondering about traveling with a potoon. I used to think that putting a pontoon in and out of the water must be a big hassle until I helped my bro-in-law load his on the trailer at the end of the year last year. I have to say it went on the trailer a lot easier than my boat does.

How do the travel down the road? I would think it would be no different than a boat, just a little bigger.

We basically just fish in our boat. Will I regret not having my boat for fishing, or do you find the pontoon just as easy to fish out of?

How about trolling or drifting?

Any other concerns I should think about before starting to look for pontoons?


I have a rule when it comes to fishing gear... I call it the 80% rule... It states that "If I'm going to be taking advantage of the unique benefits of said project or procedure at least 80% of the time... Then it's justifiable."

****

Keep in mind, that I wouldn't take a small pontoon on any big water lakes, like Mille Lacs, Winnie, Main basin of Leech, URL etc...

And it also means learning new tweaks to your styles of fishing... As well as trailering... And buying the good trailer and not that skinny deck trailer death on wheels shopping cart.

Measuring that against having the family cruiser...

If it hits 80%...

I say do it...

If it makes the wife happy 3 out of 20 trips... Might want to give it more thought.

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My vote is for a bigger boat, I can fish 4 comfortably in my boat. There is a nice deck on the front if the wife wants to tan. The side are tall enough to make it safe for the kids. It will store, and pull easier then a pontoon.

This would be a different story if I lived on a lake, then I would go to a pontoon, and leave it on the lake.

Either way, you will be happier then the smaller boat you have now. Good luck!

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Another option is a Deck Boat style boat. They come in alot of different styles ranging from more of a speed boat style to almost a cross over between a pontoon and a regular fishing boat. You might want to explore some of the options that are more of a crossover. They will still have the higher flat sides so wind will push you a little more but I think that boat control will be easier then with a pontoon and they trailer more like a regular boat. It might be a good compromise. I have really like the ones I have been on in the past.

Something like this...

86064_102_pic.jpg

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I used to fish out of a 26' pontoon a lot. I would throw out a drift sock off the center front of the pontoon and backtroll for walleyes. I was amazed at how well I could follow a breakline. The drift sock would act as a axis point and the pontoon would turn quick. Worked sweet! I now have an 18' crestliner superhawk but somedays I really miss the old toon.

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I would go with the deck boat. I think they cost more than a pontoon though. I've never been on them, but have seen them on the lakes and they are sweet. Best of both worlds. Just my 2 cents.

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One of our guide rigs is a 24' Weeres. We use it with larger groups. It's set-up with a 4-stroke and a 24 volt system for the trolling motor. 2 graphs and good anchors. A drift sock is a must. I went with a bed trailer for the pontoons and it loads/unloads and trailers just as easily as my Ranger Z-20. Staying on a tight break-line during high winds can be difficult, but otherwise it works great for us.

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I have a 17' fishing boat, but I fish out of my in-laws 24' pontoon when I go to their cabin.

Comfort wise, you can't beat it. It's perfect for fishing with kids since it's so stable and you have the guard rails all the way around. It's really nice for lounging and relaxing on too.

My in-laws don't have a trolling motor or drift sock and it's a MAJOR pain trying to control that thing when there's any type of wind. Unless we're trolling, we pretty much have to anchor the front and back.

Pontoons are great family boats and provide the comfort of your living room out on the lake. I prefer fishing out of a "regular" boat, but wouldn't vote against the pontoon if that suites your needs.

Make sure you get a big enough motor so you can pull tubes, skis, etc. We have a 50 or 60 HP four stroke and it's a little underpowered.

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Buy a bigger fishing boat. We have both a fishing boat and pontoon. The pontoon is nice for driving around the lake, but I would rather fish out of our Lund.

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Last Monday AM I was on Mille Lacs with a buddy and we made a pit stop in Barnacle's while fishing the sand. While we were there, the rollers kicked up, and the conversation with a couple fellas at the dock (a CO conducting creel survey and a resort customer) turned to this topic.

One mentioned that a significant number of people who want to fish ML recreationally during less than ideal surface conditions are now going with the new breeds of large pontoons to deal with the rollers and let them fish when they want to, not when the weather says they can. This was confirmed as we motored out, I saw two 20+ foot pontoons out on the sand break, and they were the most stable boats out there in the 3-4 foot rollers. They did have large outboards and trolling motors on them, and were sporting two large drift socks each.

That said, a larger deep vee can't be beat TO GET AROUND on rolling big water and SCOUT STRUCTURE QUICKLY. The toon is clumsy when trying to quickly locate promising pods of fish on breaks. Depends on how hardcore you want to be - I think a deep vee is the way to go if you want to hit all the structure possible in the same day and not spend a lot of time and gas motoring. Thats another consideration - fuel capacity. Pontoons don't have as much compared to bigger sport boats, and they may consume more fuel than a hull boat for the same work.

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Had a deck boat about 5 years ago. It was nice but marginal as a fishing rig. It was a Hurricane 24' model. It was heavy as it was fiberglass and had a 200 hp merc on it. It was an awesome family boat and a great cruiser, it had a biffy and little wet bar and more storage than my house has... but it was really difficult to control in any kind of wind. I had a 65 lb bow mount and it struggled in a wind of more than 15 mph. If you go the deck boat route, go aluminum in the 19' range or so, you'll be much happier when it comes to trailering it and running it on the lake.

With that said I have neighbors up on Cass who swear by their pontoons. Most are in the 20-24' range. Some have motors as big as 90 hp. We do alot of crankbait fishing up there and they have almost no problem controlling the boat except for 'coming around' into the wind. I have a 20' Triton and I have to gun my kicker sometimes to do the same. They can troll 4 lines no problem and 4 large men can move around easily while fishing. They anchor and slip bobber fish extremly well and handle reasonably rough water O.K. when the need arises. We got caught coming back from lunch last summer in some 3' waves, one beauty of a pontoon was this...we hit a couple of rogue waves head on and porpoised the boat and water came in over the deck... well it instantly self bailed! Never felt unstable at all! another benefit is many of them have a biffy on board which is great for the family. Lots of room and comfort! I do cruise with the neighbors on occasion and went fishing with the kids once for pannies and that was perfect. I think an 18' would be perfect to trailer and fish small to medium size lakes, but if you plan on hitting Mille Lacs or other big water, I'd move up to at least a 20' and up the HP a little. Hillman's on Red guides with a pontoon.

I'd like 2 have 2 boats, a pontoon and my fishing rig, but that is not going to happen anytime soon... so for now, it's my fishing rig only. It is the driest and smoothest boat on rough water I've ridden in and it fishes 3 great and 4 O.K. The wife loves the ride and can lay out on the bow when we use it as a family boat.

It comes down to what you like and your style of fishing. If it makes sense to you and you like the idea, go for it. I'd recommend renting one a few times before you pull the trigger. That way you can see if it truley fits your style of fishing before you make the investment.

Good Luck!

Ken

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Thanks for all the good advise. I actually didn't expect to get so much positive feedback here about a pontoon. I thought most would have negative comments about the idea, then I could put it out of my head and get on with my life!

The thing is, I love to fish, but I am not nearly as hard-core as a lot of the guys here. I like to go out and have fun for a day. I go on a few fishing trips a year and my family and I go camping once a month or so. I have never brought my own boat to mille-lacs or any other big water lake and it would not bother me if I continued to do that. I have a buddy who has a bigger fish and ski boat thats a deep-v with 120 hp motor. If we go to mille lacs we take that one. I usually fish smaller lakes and my favorite place to go is the hoseshoe chain up near Richmond. My smaller boat is perfect for those places so I probably would never consider a deep-v.

I have never put my boat in the minnesota river either, but I am seriously considering trying that this year. If I got a pontoon I am not sure if that would be a good option, although I have known guys who have fished it with a pontoon.

As far as the type of pontoon goes, I could never afford a deck-boat so that is out of the question. What I would probably be looking at would be an 18-20' plain-jane pontoon. I am not much for all of the furniture and stuff inside. Just swivel seats in the corners and a console is all I would need. I can bring more chairs or mount more seats if I want them. I like wide open room to put coolers and gear. I would need a live-well and a trolling motor. I am not sure if I would even need the canvas top but it would be nice to be able to get out of the sun or rain once in a while. I also don't think I would need any more than a 50-75 hp motor. And I would get whatever trailer is best for hauling.

What do you guys think of that?

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Sounds good. I haven't had a pontoon on the river so not sure how they would handle. I would make sure to get a trolling motor with it. Also, I would go with the canvas cover. I just got a Bimini cover for my Alumacraft and it was really nice the first time I used it Friday and didn't have to get wet when I fished.

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I am a Snow Bird going to Lake Okeechobee Florida for the winter and I have a 24" Pontoon boat down there. Okeechobee is a very large lake and I have been out in 7" high waves with it with 8" of water coming over the entire floor but if you keep it into the wind It's not a problem.

I have a 70HP motor on it and it is plenty. We fish on the Kissimmee river and the Trolling Motor does real well as long as it is not too windy. I have a hard roof on mine which helps in the hot sun.

We fish for Crappie's ande if two of us fish we put out over 20 poles so it is much different type of fishing.

The biggest problem is getting the nachor to hold in wind.

I hope this info helps.

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( Note from Admin, Please read forum policy before posting,Thank-you.)

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Big Dave, I have 18' walleye boat that I share with bro here in the cities, but also a 20' old pontoon that I rehabbed at the cabin. We use it (pontoon) every day all day up there. It is plane Jane as you say, only a nice console and a nice captains chair, the rest of seats are just the plastic lawn chairs. That actually works great as you can put them anywhere, depending upon how many are with you.

I also put in vinyl floor instead of carpet, and I will never get carpet again (have carpet in the "nice" boat, but will get vinyl next tiime). Also put rod holders on for trolling, or just holding rods when you need them.

Here are the downsides from what I can tell.

-Wind is your enemy more so in pontoons than boats, as others have said. Pontoons are big wind sails, and it takes longer to correct and it is harder to drive when trolling, like a full time job trying to stay in your depth, and whenever you need to retie, you get totally messed up by the time you look down then back up. But, it isn't impossible, just waaaay harder than a boat.

-turning radius is pretty big. Even though you can goose it to make corrections, it is harder and turning is not as good. Now, I ONLY fish out of my pontoon at the lake, so its not a big deal, but I find myself saying "man could I catch more fish if I hard my boat instead"... I say that a lot, actually.

-You will want to keep it covered, or at least the console and captian seat, or the whole thing if it is nice one, and I have helped with full covers, and they are a bit of a pain since they are so big. I just cover my console and seat, and leave it sit in the water like that. Another reason I like vinyl over carpet wink.gif

But it is comfy trolling and having a pontoon full of kids or friends all having a good time. Also, I have two dogs, and the pontoon works better than a boat if you fish with pooches.

If you are going to travel a lot, then the bunk trailer is almost a necessaity. The problem with that is that you can't drop it off on the ground like the scissors trailers. But for me, even with a tandem trailer (borrrow it in spring and fall) it is just so darn tippy it makes me nervous - I have hauled it 200 miles and no probs, but man watching it bounce back and forth back there gives me the shakes smile.gif

I have 25 hp motor (96 Evinrude 2 stroke), and the pontoons are old (1976 vintage) so only about 20" diameter toons. I would try to get 23" at least. And I am a 2 stroke fan most the time, but on a pontoon I think I would go 4 stroke just to help it be as quiet as possible.

But I love my little pontoon, and would not be without one at the lake. But as for fishing, it is totally doable from pontoon, but if you are even medium hardcore angler, I think you will be saying "man I could catch more fish if I had a boat" smile.gif You simply can stay on structure better. But if you want a best of both worlds, by all means the 'toons are great! I say go for it! Get one with 75 hp and you can tube behind it. Less than that will be a slow ride....

Have fun! If you have any questions if you end up getting an old one you need to rehab, I have tons of advice on dos and don't-s wink.gif Fun project that can get spendy, hehe...

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On weekends I fish out of a 20' pontoon with a bowmount. Rod holders for trolling too. Works fine unless there is wind. That is its downfall. Otherwise very enjoyable and on calm days I can stalk the shallows like any other boat.

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