Yes, they look boxy, are limited to relatively calm seas, and aren't built to the rugged standards of offshore boats - but dang these pontoon boats are fun to fish from!
The Bass Buggy 16: Amazingly inexpensive, and ready to fish.
I didn’t fall in love with pontoon boats easily, nor naturally. In fact, where I grew up they were mostly fodder for jokes. But in the past five or six years they’ve become such a large part of the marketplace that I’ve been forced into testing them – and I have to admit, these things are a ton of fun. They’re super-comfy, ultra-stable, and many can run like the wind. If you spend a good deal of fishing time in protected waters, you should give pontoon boats a try. Here are three that aim to please.
1. Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 16 – The best thing about this boat is its price: the boat-motor-trailer package starts at $10,000. That shockingly low figure gets you a 20-hp four-stroke outboard, a Bimini top, two fishing seats, an aft lounger, a roto-molded console, and a forward console seat with a livewell. No, its performance won’t set the lake on fire. Uh-uh, it won’t be the biggest nor the fanciest boat in town. And you’ll never, ever take it through the inlet. But any way you cut it the Bass Buggy 16 is one sweet deal, and for bass and crappie fishing on the lake, or drifting for fluke in the back-bay, it’s a sure-fire winner.
2. Lowe 194 SF Sportfish – The Lowe 194 is big enough to take a crowd fishing, yet small enough to take off the dock single-handed. It comes with four pedestal seats, and has a gigantic L-shaped lounger that will hold the rest of the crew. Total capacity is 9 people, and the 194 can take up to 90 horses on the transom. Standard fishing perks include rod holders, a 13-gallon aerated livewell, a Lowrance X4 fishfinder, and a built in (but small) 28-quart cooler.
3. Avalon Catalina Fish 24 - Avalon is a big name in pontoons, and although that’s mostly because of their high-end super-luxury party machines, it doesn’t mean they don’t make a model for we anglers. The Catalina Fish 24 is so big it has a forward fishing area with four chairs, and an aft one with two more pedestal seats. In other words, it’s a drift-fishing machine which would be awesome for fluke fishing, bottom fishing, and other types of fishing where lots of people put out lots of lines. Plus, it can take 135 horses on the motor pod, which will get you the hotspot in no time. Just be careful when ordering the optional features. There are so many uber-cool items to get it would be easy to push the price tag high (you could easily double the approx. $18,000 base) getting things like the rolling Ottoman/cooler, the mister system, and the underwater lighting system.
Lowe builds plenty of fishboats, and they put that knowledge to good use in this pontoon boat, as well.
The Avalon: it's time to go fishing in luxury.
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