Are Pontoons the Perfect Fishing Platform?

By Capt. Cefus McRae

You might think there’s an ordinance that requires people who live on lakes to own pontoon boats. Virtually every dock has one. For the longest time, I considered pontoon boats as awkward contraptions for entertaining kids, grandparents and friends who came up from the city. They were slow and lacked the pizazz of a sleek fishing boat.

A couple years ago, I caved and got a pontoon, just to make sure we were abiding by the lake-living rules. This one is a tri-toon, meaning it has three tubes under the deck with a Honda 250 on the back, so it’s pretty fast with a top speed around 40 mph.

If I’m on the water, there will be a fishing rod within arm’s reach. So, I adjusted my thinking and made a few modifications to my pontoon. I installed a Lowrance Elite fish finder with a TotalScan transducer. I added several Scotty rod holder mounts around the perimeter and two on the back for trolling. I added some additional 12-volt outlets so I could run the pump on a Keep Alive bait tank and power my Hydro Glow underwater lights for nighttime fishing. I also mounted a 24-volt trolling motor on the front. Although it still didn’t look like a fishing boat, it was now set up to fish like one.

I also rigged everything for easy removal, which lets us use the boat for its more traditional purpose. The trolling motor has a quick-release plate that leaves a very low profile when the motor is removed. The Scotty mounts use removable and positional rod holders, so when they’re off, you are left with a very small footprint for the mount. The Lowrance stays on the boat, and the bait tank resides on the dock when not in use.

After fishing from the ‘toon’ a couple times, I realized it is actually a perfect fishing platform for inland lakes and shallow saltwater bays. There’s an abundance of room, lots of storage, comfortable seating and a bimini top that can be raised or lowered. It is super-stable, and you can fish 360 degrees around the boat. It can get into about 12 inches of water with the engine raised, and the trolling motor will pull all weekend on a single charge.

The only disadvantage is fighting fish when the bimini is raised. One might need to fight a large fish along the length of the boat, which would mean working the rod around the bimini structure. Typically, that’s not an issue. But if that’s the only downside, it’s a small sacrifice.

I’ve even run charters off the toon, and although I got strange looks pulling up to the courtesy dock, once we started fishing, folks realized how comfortable and fishable it is.
So, if you’ve got a pontoon sitting at your dock, liberate your mind from the stereotype. I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how remarkable the pontoon boat can be as a fishing machine.

Capt. Cefus McRae is host of the Nuts & Bolts of Fishing Series. Check out

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