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Fishing Boat Choices



Let's consider fishing boats. We can reserve the discussion of runabouts, ski rigs, and personal water craft for some later time.

Here in the Ozarks we are familiar with purpose built boats. The classic White River jon boat and similar float boats are examples of craft built for a particular purpose.


Today, the jon boat concept has altered to include a motor mount, swivel chairs, and a beam that allows a falling angler at least a chance of landing in the boat.


Other purpose built boats thrive in the Ozarks. Many people float the Buffalo, War Eagle, and Kings, to name a few examples, in canoes and kayaks. Inevitably, purpose built boats from other locations come to the Ozarks. Like thousands of others, they often stayed. You see drift boats from the West coast every day on the White River.

Other boats we see often now days are mutations of older ideas. Look below at the 1950 and 1985 Skeeters.



The V hull has also evolved. A couple of years ago I was at Bull Shoals during the PWT and was blown away by the V hull rigs those competitors used.

So, to start the discussion, let us exclude fishing guides: not from the discussion, but from the considerations below. Why? Because boat decisions by fishing guides are based upon different considerations than personal buying choices. They may have three jumbo size novices to fish in a heavy chop. That requires a vastly different boat than even the 1985 Skeeter shown above. Besides, customers paying $300 or more per day expect the guide to have the "best" equipment.

For similar reasons, let us exclude the top tier professionals. Many of them don't buy their boats. The boat at no or low cost is one form of sponsorship. The boat and motor manufacturers supply the biggest and baddest rigs to showcase their wares. Others buy the hot rigs as one way to acquire a more lucrative "skin" i.e. a sponsor whose name is blazoned on everything. Regardless, boat choices are driven by considerations other than purpose, size, and speed alone.

Once those groups are excluded, there remains a very large and interesting group of us out here buying boats. Some of us fish tournaments. Some of us don't.

Answer the following questions, to yourself, and then reflect on the answers.

1. How many hours per year are you actually in your boat and on the water?

2. How often do you fish alone?

3. How many hours per year do others spend in your boat and on the water?

4. How much did the boat, motor, trailer, and accessories cost you?

5. Multiply the hours number by ten and divide that number into the total cost for BMT and accessories. Is the result less than $10?

6. Recalculate the cost of the boat by adding slip rental, tag, taxes, insurance, gasoline, lubricant, and maintenance. Divide by ten years worth of hours again. Is the result less than $20?

7. How fast will your boat travel at WOT?

8. When the lake is calm, do you ever travel at less than WOT?

9. How long is the lake you fish most frequently?

10. When was the last time you traveled more than 20 miles on the water in one day of fishing for any reason other than you wanted to try something different?

11. If the answer to number 10 was yes, why?

12. If the answer to number 11 was a tournament, why?

13. Other than the fact your boat handles like a pig with only 150 HP, why did you buy the 225HP (or larger)?

14. Is your boat longer than 18 feet?

15. If the answer to number 14 is yes, why?

16. If your answer to number 15 is survival on the Lake of the Ozarks, we understand. If not, please explain your answer to number 13 to us as if we were six year olds.

17. If your boat weighed half as much as yours, what would a reasonable power package be?

18. Is there a boat with near the length of yours and half the weight?

P.S. Some of my answers to the above questions are justifiable only by using manly retorts like, "Because I can!" and "Because I want to!" I just thought that in light of $4.00 gas this summer, we might want to rethink what we drive. BTW, the Supreme in the picture was mine. I sold it for a much larger boat. :blush:

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As an update to the above, in 2010 I sold my Xpress center console and bought a smaller Alumacraft Nvigator 165 with an Evinrude Etec tiller.

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