boatThere’s nothing wrong with shore fishing for bass or pike; I’ve done in for years. However, a boat does have its advantages on the water, such as enabling you to reach specific places you can’t get to on foot, getting out to deeper waters, and covering a lot of water in a few moments. To some people, though, a boat is nothing more than a money pit, while to others, it’s a means to an even greater end: catching more fish. If you’ve considered picking up a boat for your fishing excursions, here are a few factors to consider before you make that first purchase.

You’re not just buying a boat—you’re making an investment. Go with a bare bones frame and you’ll need to be sure to grab all the necessary components to accompany it. Nowadays, though, you can find great, ready-to-fish rigged boats complete with a motor and trailer, at virtually any marine retailer. This streamlines your shopping experience and as a result, makes it more enjoyable and more affordable. Bass boats can run from $10,000 to more than $50,000, with aluminum boats generally coming in at a lower price than their fiberglass counterparts. Anglers seeking more tournaments will want to invest in a model with a few more bells and whistles, but weekend warriors and summer vacationers will do just fine with tried-and-true aluminum boys.

Each boat you look at will offer its own unique details, with a wide variety of features and specs, but the components you should give a little more attention to are the beam, fuel capacity, and dry storage. A boat’s beam, or its width, is just as important as its length. The wider a boat, the more stable the fishing experience. Where fuel capacity is concerned, the waters you fish will be a factor. Big water anglers will want to look for a tank capacity of at least 40 gallons. A boat’s dry storage might seem less important to some, but bass fishing requires a good amount of gear, and you’ll need to be able to store it, as well as have easy access to it on the fly. Buy a boat with too little storage and you may regret it later. I suggest laying out all your equipment before even looking at boats, in order to give yourself a visual sense of how much storage you’ll actually need.

It's important to select the right motor size, as an undersized motor will have to work harder to power your boat and, thus, will require more maintenance. Be sure to research and ask questions at the store in order to be sure your motor has enough power to pull the weight of your boat and passengers and cargo, as well.

You can’t take your boat out without the right trailer to get it to the lake. Key elements to look for here are safety features, load guides for easy loading, and corrosion-resistant materials. Lastly, protect your boat from the elements with a reliable boat cover.

Perhaps the most important part of buying a boat, however, is making sure you enjoy the experience. Give yourself plenty of time to thoroughly consider your options and look at various models. Don’t rush yourself and know what you’re looking for and the process will be much smoother and enjoyable!