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Buying first fishing boat questions, please share what you wish you woulda known...

Post By: G-Lo      Posted: 7/14/2019 9:07:54 PM     Points: 353    
Hello all, I’ve been scouring Craigslist, OfferUp and whatever else I could find shopping for a first fishing boat the last few weeks. Not nearly the budget I’d like to work with but I’d like to get on the water with something decent. I’ve come across open bow fiberglass, bass boats, fish and ski, plain ol aluminum fishing seems the best values go within an hour of being posted so I’m trying to best equip myself with a direction of what I’m looking for and somewhat of a checklist to reference. Any tips, suggestions or help for what works in Colorado best is very much appreciated. I plan to fish bodies like aurora, Chatfield, Spinney, elevenmile etc and would like to have up to 3 adults on board. Rec boating sounds fun but this would be ideally be for fishing only. Also, what do you guys think about the nada outboard values? Garbage or a decent reference? Thanks in advance all
 Reply by: Goosehunter82      Posted: Jul. 14, 9:37:06 PM     Points: 48767    
If you don't mind sharing your budget that would help. It kind or sounds like you just want on the water. I think if you were a bit more specific in what type of boat you want that would also be helpful. Good deals are ou there but you have to be super quick. When I'm looking I'm updating Craigslist at least every hour. There use to be an app that would do it for you. It was usually a little behind doing it yourself but it worked. Also being prepared to make a cash offer when you do find one helps. As for nada for older boats and motors I've found it to be fairly low for the colorado market. We have less water than most other states here in Colorado. We also own more boats. Kind of wierd. Good luck with your search.
 Reply by: Ajax5240      Posted: Jul. 14, 10:11:10 PM     Points: 27258    
If your budget is less than $5k I’d tell you to keep saving. Better to spend a bit more up front than buy a basket case because it seemed like a good deal.

Find a friend that has owned a boat, bring them and drive it on the water. A boat can work just fine in a hose, but have a blown lower end. Ask me how I know.

Outboard engines are much easier to get through the ANS Inspection. By far. I won’t ever own anything other than an outboard here again.

For fishing, on windy lakes. Nothing beats a deep V aluminum. If you can find a welded aluminum, that’s the best. If you buy a riveted aluminum, put a new bilge pump in very soon. A good one.

More power the better.

More space the better

Boats are expensive as F.......
 Reply by: G-Lo      Posted: Jul. 15, 12:06:52 AM     Points: 353    
Thanks guys that is very helpful. My budget is 5-6k and hopefully that’s me on the water running well.

I’m all for the on water boat test but I haven’t gotten any seller willing. Closest was “I’ll consider it If it doesn’t sell in a few days”...then said nice looking boat sells in a few hours. But I’m still going to try for this.

Thanks again
 Reply by: RogBow      Posted: Jul. 15, 7:55:06 AM     Points: 1663    
For 6k I'd be looking into a 16' v hull with tiller motor. Getting on plane at high elevation would be a bonus but not likely. You should consider what maintenance will cost and a good trolling motor is important. Maybe in the fall you will find a deal in Colorado but a lot of people will drive to other states if needed.
 Reply by: FXA0      Posted: Jul. 15, 9:50:12 AM     Points: 165    
Shopping for a boat in Colorado is frustrating because supply is extremely low. It's a sellers' market. Most likely, you'll end up paying more than book value, especially for older boats, which is what you are looking for (in the $5-6K range). If you see something at book value, jump on it, and be there with cash. I have never personally never bought anything over book value, but those deals are rare. Be prepared to take off from work early...
Here are some pointers:

- Having a good trolling motor with GPS features (Minn Kota with i-pilot or MotorGuide with pinpoint GPS). I personally would rather not have a boat if I could not afford one. If my budget were $6K, I would buy a $4-5K boat so I have funds for either a used trolling motor ($1K) or a new one ($2K).
- For most people, A boat is a luxury item. You don't need one if you can't afford an extra $1K a year (or more), for gas (for the towing vehicle and the boat), boating fees, insurance, little fixes here and there...
- A 16-17 ft aluminum boat is probably your best option. I personally would not get anything with less than 60 HP. Keep in mind that some 16 footers have narrow beams and aren't as sea worthy as the ones with wider beams.

 Reply by: Ajax5240      Posted: Jul. 15, 9:56:15 AM     Points: 27258    
If you cannot see it perform on the water, you are buying a boat with a 50% chance of needing significant repairs before you get to fish.

Granted some may not be motivated enough to go for a test drive to prove its condition as you are of one 15 people looking to buy it.. But worst case scenario you can ask that after you have agreed on a price, you go to the lake together. That way they know you are not a tire kicker. Would likely also be a great experience for you as a new boat owner to have the previous owner walk you through the basics of your new boat.

Totally agree on the GPS electric comment. The gas motor gets you to the fishing spot.. Then its all electric from there.
 Reply by: Gurnman      Posted: Jul. 15, 10:11:40 AM     Points: 434    
I just bought my first in april. 2002 17ft Lund with mercury 115.. Runs good on front range, couldnt get on plane at 8000ft though, i may be able to fix with a different prop, just more $. Try to get as many accesoories included in the sale as possible. Ancor, ropes, fish finders, cover, life jackets, rod holders, extra bearings, any thing the seller has, those things add up really fast.

If your looking to stick to mostly smaller lakes with 2 to 3 people i know of a 78' glastron 16ft tri haul with an 85hp 2 stroke johnson that is for slae. Currently not listed anywhere for sale. a really nice boat for less than your budget. Dont let the year scare you off its been very well maintained and runs good. Its been fished out of for 20 years just doesnt have all the fancy stuff or live well.
 Reply by: Ajax5240      Posted: Jul. 15, 12:33:39 PM     Points: 27258    
Don’t forget to look at neighboring states for boats. I got mine out of Wyoming for way less than it would have been here. Like $2-3k less!!

 Reply by: Ryan      Posted: Jul. 16, 9:14:22 AM     Points: 1960    
I've made flipping boats into a bit of a hobby - have sold 5 so far this year.

Others are right. Colorado is a sellers market. If you are willing to drive out of state, you will get a much better deal. But that costs time to do so, and you also might drive several hundred miles to be disappointed in what you are looking at.

NADA means nothing here. Really, nothing. If someone lists a decent boat at NADA or lower price, it will sell in less than a day. Especially this time of year.

It doesn't hurt to ask for an on-water trial. But don't be surprised if the seller isn't willing to do that. Their reluctance doesn't mean the boat has problems, it is likely more an indicator of how hot the market is. I've never done a on-water test in either buying or selling, and that is including boats that cost up to $20k.

To me, the "target" boat in Colorado is 16' - 19', full windshield, outboard powered. Aluminum seems to be more common and also sell easier here than fiberglass.

In your price range you are not likely to find a boat that has updated electronics or an iPilot type trolling motor. You will need to decide how important that is to you, and if you can wait to upgrade down the line.

I just finished updating my most recent purchase (I'm keeping this one for a while) with the new iPilot, and two new sonars. I spent about what your total budget is doing those upgrade. Just trying to keep your expectations in check.

My final advice is that any running boat is better than being on shore. For fishing, I started with a $250 old 12' John boat that I renovated. If you buy right (usually from out of state or wait until Fall when prices go down), you could likely flip and upgrade every season.
 Reply by: FXA0      Posted: Jul. 16, 9:53:51 AM     Points: 165    
^ 12 footers are death boats. I'd rather be on shore, with my friends, instead of drowning by myself. :)

Within your price range: [log in for link]
 Reply by: FXA0      Posted: Jul. 18, 10:22:45 AM     Points: 165    
Could be at book value: [log in for link]
It's hard to tell because there aren't enough details. I don't even see the model name... The owner could have done a better job on the ad (better pictures, more description). But it could be an opportunity for a buyer.
 Reply by: Ajax5240      Posted: Jul. 18, 10:55:34 AM     Points: 27258    
That is a beautiful boat, but it is an inboard/outboard.. My last boat was an I/O and I will never own one again in Colorado. As the engine uses lake water to cool and pumps it into the engine which is located inside the boat.. It is a pain in the butt to get through ANS without a seal. Basically have to go through decon any time launching without a seal.. Vs an outboard, you lower down, show them its dry, and away you go.
 Reply by: FXA0      Posted: Jul. 18, 11:14:42 AM     Points: 165    
I probably wouldn't buy an inboard/outboard either. I was just saying: here is something at book value.

Another potential value: [log in for link]
Apparently, a portion of the floor needs to be replaced. However, they are asking $2,800 or best offer... If you are handy + as long as the motor runs properly + there aren't any major flaws in the hull, it could be worthwhile. Personally, I wouldn't touch it because I am not mechanically inclined... but for the right buyer, it could work.

A little underpowered, but appears clean and at book value: [log in for link]
That's a good stater boat, if you don't mind topping off in the high 20 mph.

 Reply by: Ryan      Posted: Jul. 19, 9:30:06 PM     Points: 1960    
I wouldn't consider a boat with a soft floor. Even just one bad spot can turn into a whole new floor. Which also would make me suspect of stringers. Even if it is "just" the floor, it is a HUGE project.

 Reply by: esoxrocks      Posted: Jul. 20, 10:46:44 AM     Points: 2486    
^^^These guys pretty much covered it. While a given seller may be reluctant to do an on-water test...I think I would hold out for that. As mentioned on-water performance can be very different than a driveway start-up. Getting a lot of accessories is nice but I ended up replacing the electronics, trolling motor, and charger within the first season. That said, the boat also came with a custom cover, Bimini top, electric down-rigger, rod holders, bumpers, etc. which have all been very useful. The biggest “flaw” was a 1” crease in the hull above the waterline. I meant to have it professionally fixed right off, but the temporary patch has never leaked a drop...and I have never gotten around to it. I replaced the water pump when I bought the boat (just to be sure) but other that doing normal maintenance it has been pretty much problem free.
 Reply by: Wacokid57      Posted: Jul. 24, 1:44:25 PM     Points: 11    
you might try the nebraska or omaha FB Marketplace. I saw a 16 lund center console 60 hp with cover for 5K. Nebraska has a lot of lakes, and a lot of boats.. If you have ever been on Spinney, Antero or 11Mile when the surf is, you will wish for a deep V . And riveted aluminum boats almost always leak. I have had good luck with Flex Seal, liquid in the can.
 Reply by: fishmohr      Posted: Jul. 24, 5:50:05 PM     Points: 74    
I have two electric trolling motors that need a new home. 55 pound thrust and a 80 pound auto pilot. Great starter motors. The 55 is like new. The 80 needs some work but it still runs. Spot lock on a new 112 thrust put them in the corner of the garage. Looking to sell to someone just starting out. Also, have several LMS 350 that still work. Not sure how much they are worth but we can talk about it.
 Reply by: Abel1      Posted: Jul. 25, 7:59:44 AM     Points: 528    
I have made this mistake 3 times. I told myself I wanted one and that I would use it all the time. Once I owned them then reality set in. All 3 were just as new when I sold them as they were the day I bought them. Seeing yourself on Spinney is one thing. Dragging your boat to and from there from town is another. Seeing yourself on Chatfield is one thing. Getting there/fighting the dock traffic/fighting the ski boats and trying to get back off is another. You probably get my drift. I'm not trying to discourage you but be honest with yourself. Some of the best times I had in these boats were in my driveway. There are some die hard boat users out there and you may turn out to be one of them. If so I envy you. I don't get the opportunity to fish much and most of the time its off the shoreline. But I try to get out to a new place or 2 each year and when I do I rent a boat. Those pontoon boats would be a bugger to drag around but for a day of fishing they can't be beat. Money saved along with storage space. And when your done you just park them at the dock and hop in car and your done. I think I love boats more when they're in someone else's driveway.
 Reply by: FishingJunkie      Posted: Jul. 25, 9:34:27 AM     Points: 1816    
I'll jump in: Abel is right - my fishing friends have had the most fun on MY boat. However, if you do decide to buy, get a light 16ft or larger aluminum Deep-V boat with a closed bow (windshield) with at least 60hp motor.
 Reply by: FXA0      Posted: Jul. 25, 10:15:10 AM     Points: 165    
My fist two boats sat quite a bit. My third one was used quite a bit, during the short time I had it. I am on my fourth boat this year and, so far, I mainly fished from the boat. Here are the reasons why my first two boats sat:

1. Inexperience: I had never been on a boat before, and none of my friends had either. This lead to many rookie mistakes… If you have never been on boat before, try to get on one or two before you pull the trigger on a boat.

2. Money: as I said above, if you don’t have extra cash laying around, you might want to think twice about buying a boat. I fish a lot in Kansas and Nebraska. Even in Colorado, I usually fish 2 hours or more away from home to get away from the metro area zoo. Often times, I had better use of my cash than towing my boat for 5 hours, one way. You’ll need an extra 30% in gas money for your tow vehicle. And gas for your boat. And money for little things here and there for your boat. Thins add up. Would you rather spend the money on extra tackle? Or more fishing trips? If you already have enough funds for those things and extra cash for owning and operating a boat, then go for it. If not, think about what you would rather spend your money on.

3. Driving the boat: driving a boat is not like driving a car. I know, I know: no $!*, Captain Obvious! Boat control is very important because being in the strike zone matters. Even being at the right angle from the strike zone matters sometimes. This is where a GPS guided trolling motor makes a difference (for the vast majority of anglers). It will help you stay on course and allow you to stay in place, without having to drop an anchor. On my first two boats, I spent too much time driving and not as much time fishing. It’s no fun when the strike zone is 3-10 FT from shore and you are constantly trying to keep your boat there, especially on a windy day. Meanwhile, your friends are just fishing away, with no worries about your boat getting too close to the gnarly rocks on the shoreline… :)

4. Putting away the boat: putting the boat away at the end of long day of fishing can be a chore. Every little thing you can do to make that easier will seem like a huge difference. I usually ask my friends to tidy up the boat as much as possible while I drive the boat back to the boat ramp. Or I’ll clean up and have one of my friends drive. Having retractable transom/trailer tie downs will only save you a couple of minutes, but you’ll appreciate every minute saved, and not having to look for them. If fishing alone, tidying up your boat before heading back to ramp will make the task shorter when you get to shore. Two small sessions is better than 1 longer one. Other boaters will also appreciate your spending less time putting your boat away. Once you get home, you have to put away the boat for good. Depending on your situation, this can be an ordeal to. Can you just back up your trailer straight into a garage or a driveway? Or is it going to be more complicated than that?

5. Deciding to fish mainly from the boat: if you buy a boat, it may better to simply decide to fish mainly from the boat. You’ll have all the gear you need on the boat. This has helped me offset some of the downsides of fishing from a boat. I used to carry my fishing stuff in a back-pack. I would move things back and forth from the boat. Now, everything is in the boat. It reduces clutter in my vehicle and I don't have to worry as much about not having what I need. Storage space on a boat matters. That's something to keep in mind when shopping for one. Once you have decided to fish mainly from the boat, you’ll spend more time organizing your boat and improving processes to make boating a more enjoyable experience. My friends still carry their tackle in their backpacks. That adds clutter when they get on my boat. If I’m taking people who only fish occasionally, I’ll usually tell them not to bring anything. They can just used my fishing rods and my tackle.
 Reply by: esoxrocks      Posted: Jul. 26, 6:25:42 PM     Points: 2486    
^^^ good points. Around here, especially if you are mostly relegated to fishing on weekends like me (i.e. if you have to work for a living) it takes initiative to get your ass moving and jump through all the hoops necessary to fish from a boat. Frankly, sometimes I just like the simplicity of bank fishing, so sometimes that’s what I do. That said, fishing from a boat is almost always more productive for me, so if I’m serious about catching fish, I’ll be dragging the boat or kayak to the lake....hassle and all. So, while it’s wise to consider the downsides of boat ownership, and while it may be hard to justify the cost and work involved, there’s still nothing like fishing from a boat.
 Reply by: Hawaiian Punch      Posted: Jul. 26, 6:45:07 PM     Points: 6239    
FXAO has a great #5 point.I do the same drill ever time I get to a lake.
: un hook the boat(winch/safety chain/tie downs/remove transom saver) put up bimini,turn on electronics,asemble rods and prep tackle.Get inspected,hit the ramp running.
Pet peve: People that back down the ramp,and block traffic while they prep their boat/unload gear from the truck.
 Reply by: Ryan      Posted: Jul. 26, 11:41:22 PM     Points: 1960    
There is a significant difference between “boat owners” and “boaters”.

Boat Owners say things like “the two best days of your life are the day you buy a boat and the day you sell a boat”. Or “do you know what BOAT stands for? Break Out Another Thousand”.

A Boater thinks the two best days in their life are Saturday and Sunday when they are out using their boat. And that BOAT stands for “Best Of All Times”.

I’m a boater through and through. Owned one all my life and can’t imagine life without one. But I think me and people like me are vastly outnumbered by Boat Owners. Just look at how many like new, low hour boats are out there for sale. But that’s ok with me.
 Reply by: Hawaiian Punch      Posted: Jul. 27, 2:25:35 PM     Points: 6239    
Ryan . . . . .All the more better to get a steal of a deal!
 Reply by: FXA0      Posted: Jul. 28, 1:51:44 PM     Points: 165    
If there were "many like new, low hour boats are out there for sale" for sale, the Colorado boat market would not be a seller's market. There's more nuance to life than binary thinking such as "boaters" vs "boat owners." There's at least one more dimension to it:: anglers. Anglers pursue their hobby through whatever means necessary, with whatever means they have. A boat is simply not needed to fish. Then there is what I would call the "birther" dimension. No, not those birthers. :) The ones who were practically born on a boat vs those who grew up without a boat. For one group it's almost impossible to imagine themselves without a boat. The other group may come to appreciate fishing from a boat, but they may also conclude that fishing from shore is just as much fun, and much simpler and enjoyable in many instances. Nothing wrong or right either way.
 Reply by: Freestone303      Posted: Jul. 29, 2:53:19 PM     Points: 442    
I'm one of those people who grew up fishing from a boat (in the South East), we were out all the time. I have only ever fished from bass boats, mod-v aluminum and an occasional flat bottom jon.
I moved away after high school (decades ago), I have been boatless ever since, fishing from them only on the occasional trip back home. I was a fly fishing junkie when I came out here back then.
Now that I am a home owner and have (outside, uncovered) space to accommodate a boat, I am in the market. My inclination is to stay with what I know, I've always wanted a sparkly glass bass boat of my own.
There are several things I am completely unfamiliar with in regards to being a boat owner here. Like are the proper procedures for storing a fiberglass boat outside year round (boat cover + tarps), winterizing, the whole ANS process.
Everyone says go with a Deep V, Is that because most people prefer trolling? They just seem so cumbersome to me. Don't get me wrong, I will fish for trout and walleye, but I'm more of a bass guy these days. It seems like working a jerk bait or pitching jigs wouldn't work from Deep boats. Most of what I have looked at have minimal casting decks, high gunnels, virtually no rear casting deck. Is a 17-18' bass boat that ill-equipped for Southpark or Granby within reason?
 Reply by: FXA0      Posted: Jul. 29, 4:44:05 PM     Points: 165    
^ Deep V hulls handle rough water better. You are right, casting space on most deep V hulls is limited. For glass boats, I'd look at the Ranger Fisherman series (619FS, 620FS, 621FS) or Triton Fishunter. Those have storage boxes on the sides that you can stand on to cast. There aren't too many fiberglass deep V models out there that provide adequate casting space, and those boats aren't cheap. A potential alternative would be a saltwater boat. Some of those have huge casting decks. An all fiber glass boat without carpet would also weather the elements better, since you are parking it outside.

There are more options on an aluminum boat. Take a look at models with storage boxes on the sides and/or a casting deck in the back, like a Lund Impact/Explorer/Rebel, Alumacraft Competitor/Navigator, Crestliner fish Hawk, Tracker Pro Guide... I almost never troll. I have a Lund Impact with the optional rear casting deck.

Or you could go with a bass boat and stick to fishing on calmer days. There are bass boats out there. It can't be that bad? I have never had a bass boat.

Regarding outside storage: I personally would not store a boat of any significant value outside. I did park my first boat outside with a boat cover and tarp for about 1 year. Somehow, water always gets in. And that's not just my boat. Every single boat that I looked at in early spring that was stored outside had some water that got in. And then there are insects, rodents, etc... I got lucky during the time I stored my boat outside, but I know of a couple of people who hatched plans to destroy the entire population of rodents in the neighborhood... :)
 Reply by: RogBow      Posted: Jul. 30, 8:37:28 AM     Points: 1663    
Boats can be great if you know what you're getting into.
 Reply by: GoNe_FiShIn_11      Posted: Jul. 30, 9:12:16 AM     Points: 6205    
Fxao- you should make a blog about all this. That's some seriously great info you are putting out.

Or build one off of this forum. This is what everyone should read when considering boat ownership.

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