Figure on fishing, recreation when shopping for new boat

A boat angler definitely has the advantage over one ashore. I’ve learned a lot about buying a boat a

On weekends, when I was a teen living in Albany’s Westland Hills, my best friend, the late Ed Buhler Jr., and I would take our fishing tackle, sleeping bags, and a dozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Royal Crown soda, and hike or hitchhike the three miles to Six Mile Waterworks on Fuller Road.

And once school was out for the summer, we’d do it even more often. I don’t think there was a portion of that little lake we didn’t fish from the shore. At night, we’d sleep under the bridge in the event of rain and be back at it at sunup.

Every once in awhile, when we had the money, we’d rent a boat — and then we really caught fish. It was then we both realized a boat angler definitely has the advantage over one ashore, and we promised ourselves that we would own a boat someday.

My first boat purchase came the summer of 1969 — a 14-foot alum­inum runabout powered by a mighty 30-horsepower Johnson outboard. Since then, I’ve had no less than 14 boats, including a number of high-powered bass boats with outboards up to 250 hp. All those boats were fishing machines first, and pleasure boats second. Having made all those purchases and having worked with several local marine dealers over the years, I’ve learned a lot about buying a boat and would like to share it with those who might be thinking about becoming an on-the-water angler.

Before we begin, let me explain some of the reasons a boating angler has such an advantage.

Mobility is most important because it allows searching for productive waters. If they’re not biting where you are, fire up the motor and try somewhere else. Another major advantage is the ability to troll, an excellent way to find and catch fish.

The reason I consider most important is that you can make fishing trips a family affair. Having a boat doesn’t necessarily mean fishing all day, something I found out when my kids learned about water skiing. Seclusion is another. I enjoy tucking into a little cove, tossing out a big bobber with a big shiner beneath it, and just kicking back and relaxing. Be sure you set your rod low in the boat or in a secure rod holder. I’ve lost two pike rod/reel setups, due to relaxing, with eyes closed, a little too much.

What you should buy? The first question to ask yourself and your spouse is what fits your family budget. And speaking of spouse, when approaching the subject of a boat purchase, I suggest including how much fun it would be for the two of you and the kids to be on the water, and be sure to use the word “bonding” if there are kids involved. And don’t forget, your children will be learning something they can enjoy and pass on to their children.

If this approach fails, try suggesting that if you took the kids out fishing for the day, she’d have that day all to herself. This com­bination should get you in that new boat. And “new” means new to you; because there are some very good used boats for sale right now.

Assuming you’re looking for a family/fishing boat, I’d suggest an open-bow boat at least 16 feet long, with console steering. It doesn’t necessarily need a front pedestal fishing seat, but it’s best because your boat should also include a bow-mounted electric motor. The outboard motor should be at least 50 hp or whatever the boat is rated for. I know from exper­ience that underpowering a boat generally leads to unsatisfactory performance, and you and your family will want more speed. Buy a boat with its maximum-rated horsepower.

Pros and cons

One of the most important dec­isions you’ll have to make is whether you want an aluminum or fiberglass boat. There’s no one answer to this question, because there are merits and disadvantages to both types of construction. You must judge which fits your sit­uation best.

Aluminum boats usually cost less, because it takes a lesser quantity of material equal in strength to a fiberglass boat.

Aluminum weighs less, which means better fuel economy on the water and over the road on a trailer, but aluminum is not as rigid as fiberglass, and generally will not give as good a ride. Aluminum hulls generally dent, but do not chip or, make a hole when bumped as fiberglass sometimes does. Fiberglass is also much more quiet on the water, but, very importantly, welded hulls come with an excellent warranty.

The two major advantages of fiberglass hulls are flexibility and maintenance; and their appearance is “prettier.” As for hull repairs, fiberglass repairs are almost invisible, whereas aluminum are not.

When buying a boat, do not take the trailer for granted. The most economical isn’t necessarily good enough. Mechanical problems with trailers can be dangerous and costly, and the wrong trailer could be very aggravating and/or back-breaking when launching and recovering a boat. My recommendation is a drive-on trailer. Driving your boat on at the end of a long day of on-the-water fun is definitely much more enjoyable that standing in the water and cranking a manual winch.

Proper equipment

As for other electronics, every boat should have at least one depth/fish finder. I prefer two, one on the dash to use while operating the gas motor and one up front by the trolling motor for use in fishing. It’s always good to know the depth for fishing and safety.

Speaking of safety, here’s a list of safety equipment required in New York state.

One personal flotation device is required for everyone in the boat. Children under 12 must wear the PFD whenever the boat is under way, and it’s really a good idea for everyone else, also. You’ll need a Type 4 throwable floatation device with an attached rope, fire extinguisher, bow and stern lights, sound- producing device that can be heard at least a half-mile away, an anchor with rope that is at least 5–7 times the depth of the water, distress flag and a flare kit.

For more boating information, check out the DEC Web site here.

There are lots of good bargains on boats, new and used, this year. It’s definitely the right time to become the captain of your own boat. For more information on boat operation and safety go to,

Categories: Sports

Leave a Reply