Why fish ashore when you can go by boat? You can keep your feet dry, stay in shelter from the sun, wind and rain, and even keep your beer cool in a proper refrigerator. Going afloat needn’t be too expensive if you buy a good second-hand boat, and can only cost a couple thousand dollars for something that will set you free to explore fishing spots far from land.
- Smaller boats can get into shallower, smaller waterways. There’s a myth that bigger fish like deeper water. While sometimes true, fish are often more interested in where the best prey is than how deep the water is. Bass in particular will go into shallows that might be 2-3 feet deep when they’re after fry and other small fish that hide in weeds. You’ll often find people wade into these waters from the shore to catch the best fish – why not keep your feet dry and go in on a boat?
- You can get up tight creeks and streams. Another point of smaller boats is that you can get up narrow creeks that might not be accessible on foot, so a smaller boat can blow your choices as to fishing spots wide open.
The smaller boat competes with the larger boat here too, as you might not be able to use a motor due to the depth in these places – try paddling a 20ft cruiser up a tiny channel! You can get right up in the weeds where the big fish are after their own meals in these situations.
- You can access offshore reefs and shallows. Many islands have barrier reefs that protect them and these are often where the best fish hang out. There are also coral reefs in US waters that haven’t yet reached the surface to become islands so miles offshore, you can still find that fishing honey hole.
- The journey is as important as the destination. Many deeper water fishermen feel ‘as if they are fishing’ from the moment they leave the dock. Their lives and troubles stay ashore as they set out on the sea, river or lake, and the only thing that matters is what is now. Many larger boats have perfectly good refrigerators to keep your beer in, and your friends can enjoy a few brewskis as they choose. A well-equipped fishing cruiser will also have a decent galley so you can enjoy some of your catch as soon as you’ve hit it on the had – can’t get fresher fish than that!
- You can hide from the elements. Even smaller 20’ cabin fishing boats will have somewhere to hide from the heat and the weather. While not every craft has an air-conditioned cabin, you can certainly stay in the shade or out of the rain on many craft out there. On foot, perhaps in your waders, you don’t have that choice and could end up burned, soaked or both.
- Where do the fish you’re after hang out? Ultimately, your catch at the end of the day depends on your knowledge of the species you are after, how they have adapted to the local environment and where they like to feed. Bass are a classic case – in two different lakes they may behave completely differently. Your own experience of a given waterway (or that of a local guide) can mean all the difference in the numbers and size of fish you bring aboard. That could mean a smaller fishing boat one day for one fish and a bigger boat another day for a different species.
- Keeping all your gear in one spot. Everyone into fishing likes to explore the outdoor store for the latest gadgets and gizmos. While hiking out to a river on foot, weight is an issue as you can only get what you can carry out and back. Even smaller fishing boats have a fair amount of storage and your propulsion being gas, pedal or paddle you don’t have to worry so much about what’s on your back. While your family may growl a little at the odd little luxury for your pride and joy, at the end of the day in many cases you earned it so you can spend at least a little on yourself…
A sound second-hand fishing boat may not end up hurting your wallet, with a small vessel costing just a couple thousand bucks up to hundreds of thousands of dollars for a top end sport fishing boat with all the bells and whistles.
Some people have a flotilla of boats for different reasons – as with rods and lures it comes down to using what you need, when you need it. You never know – you may go up a tiny creek in your canoe to see what’s there and discover a large body of water that you never knew or could access before where fish normally die of old age and come flocking to your lures like bees to honey.