Fishing is a multifaceted sport, one in which knowledge and experience are not necessarily required, but can make a world of difference when it comes to securing a successful haul. It can be a calm and relaxing way to spend a day on a lake, or a roller coaster of emotions ranging from the electric thrill of hooking a marlin to the crushing disappointment of snapping a line. Fishing can be a fun pastime, as well as a way to put food on the table.

In other words, it’s an inclusive sport that attracts people from all walks of life for a variety of reasons. While you don’t necessarily need a fishing boat to participate in this activity, owning a boat will certainly enhance the fishing experience and allow you a lot more opportunities, as opposed to merely fishing off a dock or shoreline and catching whatever comes close to land.

Buying a fishing boat can be challenging, though, especially if it’s your first time. It’s a big investment and you want to make sure you purchase a vehicle that’s best suited to your wants and needs. The good news is you don’t necessarily need to be an expert on depth gauges or top trolling motor batteries to buy the right boat. With some basic knowledge you should be able to make an informed decision. Here are a few factors you’ll want to consider before buying a sport fishing boat.

What Characterizes a Sport Fishing Boat?

Nearly any boat could serve as a fishing vessel, including a canoe or pontoon boat. If you’re a serious fisherman, though, you’re probably seeking a sport fishing boat that can get you where you’re going faster and hold up to the rigors of catching larger marine life than, say, your average river trout.

A sport fishing boat is a particular type of watercraft designed for use by anglers. Specifically, it is a motorboat, generally powered by an outboard motor or a hybrid inboard/outboard (I/O) motor setup. Some fishermen prefer I/O motors because they move the weight of the engine forward in the boat, which is better on choppy surfaces.

In addition, an outboard motor could get in the way when fishing off the back of the boat. However, inboard motors tend to require more maintenance and they could pose a greater fire hazard, so you have to observe additional safety precautions.

Aside from having a motor, sport fishing boats are often characterized by features that appeal to avid anglers, including chairs mounted to the deck, complete with harnesses and channels to secure fishing rods. They may include livewell systems to house your live bait, as well as fish boxes to keep your catches on ice.

Location, Location, Location

You know it’s important when purchasing a home or commercial property, but you might not realize the role it plays when buying a sport fishing boat. However, where you fish is an important factor in buying the right boat for your needs.

The body of water you fish on could determine the size of your boat, the motor you prefer, the electronics you’ll need, and a number of other factors. For example, the larger the body of water, the larger the boat you can get away with (and you’ll probably want).

If you’re fishing on a small lake or in rivers, a smaller boat (20 feet or less) with a flatter bottom will get you into shallow areas where fish hang out. Of course, smaller boats will limit the gear and passengers you can bring on board.

Fishing large lakes or ocean waters will require a bigger boat that can handle more chop and move you from point A to point B faster. What if you’re interested in both inshore and offshore fishing? You can find hybrid boats that offer a deep V in the hull, paired with a shallow draft. This allows you to fish in shallower areas, but still cut through choppy waters when necessary.

Cost

Cost is always going to be a factor when purchasing a big-ticket item like a sport fishing boat. However, there are ways to cut costs. You will need to consider both the upfront expense and ongoing maintenance. As mentioned above, an I/O motor could require more maintenance than an outboard, for example.

As for your initial purchase, the size and features you choose will impact the cost. If the boat of your dreams simply isn’t in your price range, consider purchasing a used boat. This could be a great option for first-time buyers since it’s a cheaper way to ease into owning a boat.