Pontoon Boats: What are They Good For? Fishing and Skiing and Floating. Oh My!

Pontoon boats are a great choice for a variety of activities, including fishing. Pontoons range from 16 to 30 feet and can reach up to 50 mph. These boats are often referred to as party barges. This leads many people to believe they’re only good for cruising and floating. Actually, pontoons are quite diverse. Let me read your mind and answer your first question. Can you fish off a pontoon boat??

Can You Fish Off A Pontoon Boat?

The short and sweet answer is yes. You can. They’re actually a preferred choice for many bow fishermen. Now that dessert is over, let’s see the meat and potatoes. The nitty-gritty on fishing with a pontoon. And everything else you can do with it too. But just because you can fish off a pontoon doesn’t mean you’re going to want to. Check out these pros and cons to help you make a decision


There are many advantages to fishing off a pontoon. First of all, pontoons have a large passenger capacity. A 17-foot pontoon boat can fit up to 8 people. Whereas a 23-foot pontoon boat can haul up to 15. You could take your whole family on a fishing trip. Or a group of friends. And still, have enough room for your coolers. And for everyone to walk around without bumping or hooking each other

Pontoons are wide and steady. This reduces the amount of rocking your boat will do when you’re walking around. Perfect for people who aren’t used to boating or get nervous on a boat that tilts. And there’s plenty of room for you to pick different areas to cast to. Or set your poles into rod holders. No more moving the boat five feet to reach a new spot


If you’re a hardcore fisherman, you’re going to want a boat that has a live well. Most pontoons do not come equipped with this feature. But, you can have them added if you are purchasing one new. Or you could buy a pontoon designed for fishing. This kind of pontoon will have live wells, tackle boxes, built-in rod holders, and anything else you might want

Another disadvantage for some people is that pontoon boats do not come with rod holders. You will have to rely on a surface or track-mounted holders. This isn’t a problem if you’re freshwater fishing. But beware if you’re going after large fish, especially in saltwater. These types of holders aren’t meant to withstand large weights

riding pontoon boat

Some pontoons have loud motors, which could cause a problem if you’re trying to fish. Newer models often don’t have this problem unless they are being run wide open. Which isn’t likely to happen if you’re fishing. You could choose to install a trolling motor made for pontoons for quieter moving

And if you’re a saltwater angler, you should know that pontoon boats do not have raw water wash-downs. And it’s very hard to install one

Are Pontoon Boats Good In Rough Water?

Pontoons are great in choppy waters. In fact, they handle better than bass or deck boats. If you’re an avid fisherman that isn’t going to run at the first sign of raindrops, a pontoon might be good for you. Even if you’ve got a foot or two of waves crashing into your boat, you’ll continue to have a smooth ride

V-hulls boats rock in waves, which can make for an uncomfortable trip. As long as the water doesn’t get too harsh, a pontoon will continue to glide through the water. But, pontoons are not recommended for rough waters. Due to the shape, when a pontoon hits a wave, it dives into it instead of over it. This can lead to capsizing if the waves are big enough

Can You Ski With A Pontoon Boat?

When you’re shopping for a boat, chances are you’re looking for one that can be good for fishing, as well as for water sports. Some common water sports activities are:

  • Skiing
  • Tubing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Kneeboarding
  • Slalom skiing (Skiing with one ski)

Even a small size pontoon is capable of pulling a tube behind them. What is important to remember is that your speed will depend on how much weight you have on the boat. If you have a smaller motor, you aren’t going to get much speed if you’re hauling eight people and three coolers

What Horsepower Do You Need?

A pontoon that has 150 to 250 hp is plenty to pull a wakeboarder while hauling passengers. You?ll only need to go 20 to 22 mph for any kind of water sport to avoid injury. For children, it’s recommended to stay around 10 mph. An added bonus about using a pontoon to haul your kids across the lake on tubes is there are fewer waves

Are They Safe?

Pontoons don’t throw up a lot of wakes. Meaning they don’t make the water behind them as choppy as a deck boat would. This can be comforting to people who prefer a smoother ride. For people who like to jump waves or get airborne, a pontoon might be a bit of a disappointment

Are They Easy To Turn?

Another possible downside for some people is that pontoons aren’t as easy to maneuver. So you won’t be able to take turns as quick as you would in a bass boat. For anyone who’s been on a tube, you know half the fun is being slingshotted across the water as the boat makes a sharp turn. Sorry folks, but that isn’t going to happen with a cruiser pontoon. Although you can look into getting a sports pontoon,  which handles like a V-hull boat. Sharp turns and all

Are Pontoon Boats Good For Saltwater?

You can use a pontoon for saltwater fishing if the conditions are appropriate. In severe storms, pontoon boats can be dangerous and are not recommended. And because pontoons don’t do well with big waves, you wouldn’t want to risk going too far offshore. Pontoons are great though for protected bays, inlets, and mangrove swamps

Pontoon Boat

Experts recommend using a protective paint for the bottom of your pontoon, as it’s made of aluminum. Saltwater is corrosive to this type of metal. You could also use sacrificial zinc anodes, which are mechanisms you place on the front of your boat. The saltwater will destroy the zinc, leaving your aluminum tubes alone. And remember to spray your entire boat down after every trip. This washes away any salt that may have collected

How Fast Do Pontoon Boats Go?

The average speed of a pontoon is around 22 miles per hour. How fast you go will depend on a few different factors:

  • Horsepower
  • Weight
  • Length
  • Condition of motor

A pontoon under 24 foot with a 90 horsepower engine will go around 28-35 miles per hour, with a small load. Or 36 mph with one person and perfect conditions. Whereas a 22-foot pontoon with a 115 hp motor can run 22 miles per hour loaded to capacity with 11 people. And with a medium load, it can reach 25 mph. And with one person, you can get up to 31 mph. But a 30-foot pontoon with a 115 hp motor will only go about 15 mph

What you have to remember about the estimated speed is that it might not always be able to go that fast. The heavier your boat is, the slower it’s going to go. The longer your boat is, the heavier it’s going to be. And if you don’t do preventive maintenance on your motor, it can get clogged with dirt or algae. This would lead to weaker horsepower and less speed

How Do You Like Me Now?

Pontoons are a great choice if you need a boat that has a large capacity, good speed, and is versatile. Whether it’s fishing, floating, or water sporting, you and your family or friends can do it together

Now that you’ve gotten the deets on everything a pontoon has to offer, leave your comments to let us know how we did. Did we help you decide that a pontoon is a perfect solution for all your water needs? Do you have experience with a pontoon you’d like to share? We love to hear from our readers. Don’t be shy