Best Fishing Pontoon Boats in 2024

Find the best pontoon boats for anglers in this special online guide.

Pontoon boats serve as terrific multi-purpose vessels. However, a pontoon boat can make a great fishing boat for some circumstances due to its roominess and stability. Some pontoon boat builders build fishing-specific models. This post will describe some great fishing pontoon boats and the features that make them great. 

Article at a glance:

5 Recommended Pontoon Boats for Fishing

I chose the following pontoon boats as examples of great fishing pontoons because they are offered as fishing models right from the factory.

Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 16 XL Select

Best For: Anglers fishing smaller waters and/or on a budget.

The Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 16 XL Select is ready to take a pair of anglers bass fishing or a larger party fishing for crappie. Actually 18’5” long (the deck is 16-feet), it is rated to carry a maximum of eight people (which would be crowded for fishing). Powered by a 20-hp Mercury outboard (optional 50-hp), the 16 XL Select will scoot across the lake in good time. A pair of swiveling bow fishing chairs, a stereo, and a Bimini top are standard. The console houses a livewell and rod storage.The optional fish package offers a fishfinder and trolling motor. It’s offered at time of writing at $17,000.

Pricing and Specs

Starting MSRP:$16,995
Max. Recommended HP:50 HP
Average Dry Weight:1,310 lbs.
Seat/Weight Capacity:7/1,090 lbs.
Fuel Capacity:6 gal.

What we like:

  • So much boat for so little money
  • Easily trailerable by  even a modest vehicle
  • Fore and aft boarding platforms make landing whoppers easy.

What could be better:

  • It’s a small boat, so windy days or large bodies of water may feel rough.
  • We’d like to see an aft fishing seat option or choice.

A boating course is a great way to gain confidence and boat-handling skills. A little practice now will make it look easy when everyone is watching.

Safety Tip Provided by the U.S. Coast Guard

Bennington 20 SF SPS

Best For: Full featured fishing pontoon boat for anglers.

The Bennington 20 SF SPS comes with two swiveling bass seats forward, in addition to a centerline fishing station in the stern. Multiple livewells, multiple rod racks, and locking rod storage firmly cement this boat as an angler’s boat. Fitted with the SPS performance package, Choose from a selection of optional Garmin fishing graphs so you can home-in on the structure where the big ones live. At time of writing the price was published as $41,269 with a 25-hp Yamaha outboard. (It’s rated for 115-hp). Mercury and Torqeedo outboards are also available.

Pricing and Specs

Price:$53,839 (with Yamaha 115)
Draft (max):NA
Dry Weight:1,819 lbs.
Seat/Weight Capacity:10/1,593 lbs.
Fuel Capacity:22.4 gal.

What we like:

  • Lockable rod stowage locker.
  • Livewells—big ones—at both ends of the boat.
  • Factory dual-battery option keeps trolling motors and graphs running.

What could be better:

  • We’d like to see fore and aft boarding decks, which make landing big fish easier than swinging or netting them over the perimeter fencing.

Princecraft Sportfisher 21-2RS

Best For: Anglers who prefer a family friendly boat.  

Offering durability and versatility, the Princecraft Sportfisher 21-2RS is a great pontoon for sharing your passion for the outdoors with family and friends. Like all Princecraft pontoons, it’s constructed with H36 aluminum for unrivaled strength. Rated for 10 people and for as much as 115-horsepower, it features two swivel fishing seats in the rear (hence the “2RS” in the model name) and a fishing station. A large livewell in the stern keeps bait frisky. The optional table in the bow makes for mealtimes and entertaining and a sturdy telescopic ladder provides access to the water. Other standards include a Bimini top, transducer brackets and more. This boat can be had for $30,361 with a 40-hp Mercury outboard. (Note: Freight and preparation are not included)

Pricing and Specs

Max. HP Capacity:115 HP
Approximate Weight:1,810 lbs.
Seat/Weight Capacity:10/1,346 lbs.
Fuel Capacity:29 gal.

What we like:

  • Sturdy construction using top materials.
  • Excellent mix of standard features for fishing and family.
  • Choice of Mercury outboard power and hull configurations.

What could be better:

  • Only available with one brand of outboard.

Alcohol is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents, and in many states a citation for boating under the influence goes on your driving record.

Safety Tip Provided by the U.S. Coast Guard

Starcraft CX Fish

Best For: Anglers seeking to combine fishing and luxury.

The Starcraft CX Fish is available in 21 FD and 23 FD models. This review focusses on the 23 FD. Two plush swiveling chairs and lots of wide-open fish-fighting space command the stern area. There’s a fishing center with livewell and rod holders and tool holders and more. While optional woven flooring choices are available, anglers should choose the vinyl flooring for easier cleaning. A number of fishing electronics options are available. Depth finders/graphs by Hummingbird and Simrad are available optionally. Trolling motors are also available optionally. It is 24 feet 8 inches long by 8 feet 6 inches wide. At the time of writing, it is listed at  $68,642 with a 115 hp Suzuki outboard (this ‘toon can be powered by up to 300 horses).  

Pricing and Specs

Max. HP Capacity:300 HP
Approximate Weight:2,750 lbs.
Seat/Weight Capacity:12/1,695 lbs.
Fuel Capacity:60 gal.

What we like:

  • Stern and bow decks make landing big gamefish easier
  • Option for vinyl flooring makes great sense given the potential slime and blood of fishing.
  • Aft fishing center is well done

What could be better:

  • A provision for more rod storage would better please fishermen.

Lowe SF 234

Best For: A great mix of fishing and pontooning.

Lowe’s SF 234 does a great job of being a 50-50 boat. It offers fishing features in good measure while still offering enough luxuries to enjoy pontooning. The bow and stern both feature a pair of  swiveling seats. The bow boarding gate is undercut to allow use of a trolling motor. There is a wide platform at the stern which makes landing big fish and safely releasing fish easier than doing so over the fencing. A large rod locker with drink holders and work surface graces the stern area. A large livewell is forward of the helm console. A bow rod locker secures your outfits. This 24’3” pontoon is available with up to a 250-hp outboard. It is listed at time of writing for $42,952 with a 115-hp Mercury. 

Pricing and Specs

Max. HP Capacity:150 HP/200 HP with TL
Approximate Weight:1,865 lbs./2,125 lbs. with TL
Seat/Weight Capacity:2,388 lbs./ 2,746 lbs. with TL
Fuel Capacity:24 gal. / 30 gal. TL

What we like:

  • Four position fishing 
  • Lots of standard fishing accessories
  • Aft swim platform provides ease of landing and releasing fish

What could be better:

  • You only have one choice of engine brand.

The weather changes all the time. Always check the forecast and prepare for the worst case.

Safety Tip Provided by the U.S. Coast Guard

What to Look For in a Fishing Pontoon Boat

Fishing can carry with it some demands on the boat used. As such, look for the following features when shopping for a fishing pontoon boat. 

  • Bow and/or Stern Decks: These make landing a big, feisty fish easier. They also make releasing fish to live another day easier.
  • Easy-Clean Floor Covering: Fishermen should eschew woven floor coverings in lieu of vinyl, EVA foam or carpet like a bass boat.:
  • Livewell: No bonafide fishing boat is without a means to keep fish and/ or bait alive
  • Rod Storage 1: Rod holders that can be used while fishing are important, especially if trolling or while fishing with inexperienced anglers.
  • Rod Storage 2: Racks to store rods on te boat out of the way are great. Bonus points if this storage locks-up you rods. 
  • Electronics: A good graph (fishfinder) is necessary fishing tool. Many can now display engine data and control a trolling motor, lights, the stereo and more. 
  • Trolling Motor: In addition to quietly moving around a fishing spot, today’s trolling motors possess the ability to hold the boat in place,as though anchored. This is especially important for pontoons, since they blow around with the wind more than other boat types. 

Closing Remarks & FAQs:

Pontoon boats are not tournament angling boats, but they can make admirable fishing craft. In fact,they can make sense of family fishing, since a pontoon boat offers space for luxury and comfort to go with the fishing if desired.

Do pontoon boats make good fishing boats?

When a pontoon boat is properly equipped with accessories such as a livewell, rod holders and swiveling pedestal seats in the bow or stern, it can make a good fishing boat. A fore or aft deck outside the fencing allows better landing of big fish and better live release of any fish.

How much do fishing pontoon boats normally cost?

Fishing pontoon boat models generally cost less than comparable “ luxury” pontoon boats. You can purchase a fishing pontoon boat for less than $20,000. However, larger fishing models, with larger engines, and fitted with special performance pontoon systems can cost $40,000, $50,000 or more.

Is it hard to fish from a pontoon boat?

The high side fencing can make it more difficult compared to a bass boat, multi-species boat, center console or other lower-sided boat type. Side-arm casting and flipping are not readily accomplished because of the fencing,for instance.And, landing and releasing fish may be more difficult because of the height. Fore and aft decks extending beyond the fencing help obviate some of these disadvantages.

Are pontoon boats good for saltwater fishing?

Pontoon boats can be used to fish in saltwater. Be sure to wash your pontoon boat thoroughly after use in saltwater.

What fishing features can you add to a pontoon boat?

Features that will add to a pontoon boat’s fishability are many. Add a livewell to make sure you can keep live bait alive and to keep your catch alive. Also, you will want to add rod racks to securely stow your fishing rods. I recommend you add a quality GPS/ fishfnder (a.k.a., “Graph’) so you can find the best fishing spots and find the fish. A trolling motor is another accessory I would heartily recommend. A trolling motor can do more than move your pontoon boat quietly so as not to spook fish. Today’s trolling motors offer the ability to hold the boat in place without anchoring.