Colorado Boat Considerations

vanish

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Yeah, I know I would be better off on a fishing forum, but there's a ton of crossover here and I don't want to expand my digital presence.

I got the nod to buy a real fishing boat from FireTiger. I know the market had been crazy (unsure if it still is?), and I am not in a rush, but I do need to narrow down what we are looking for and thus I come here asking for considerations I may have not thought about.

Backstory

Growing up, I spent a decent amount of time on smaller boats fishing mostly lakes in inland NY. My grandfather had a fairly nice 16ft deep V and my father has a 14ft mid V. My dad's boat is no frills, but it still get's the job done in many circumstances. He must have had it for 50 years. He does a lot of solo fishing. FireTiger and I have fished from a 17ft Coleman canoe for the last decade and have had an awesome time.

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What changed that we're now interested in a boat? Pretty simple, we have a daughter now. I suspect there will be another in our future. We have had her out in the canoe, but things were definitely cramped and neither of us was comfortable with the safety aspects of the ordeal.

How we'd use a boat.

We will almost exclusively use the boat for fishing (not into water sports) and if our previous styles carry over, our fishing methods tend to be: Trolling > Jigging/Drifting. We do very little casting. Species wise we chase just about everything, but probably lake trout > walleye > wiper > trout.

I would like to be able to fit four people (2 adults, 2 children), as I suspect that will be the family in a few years. I do not expect to take the boat out solo. In those rare cases (FireTiger is a pretty hardcore fisherman), I would expect to use the canoe or a float tube.

It gets dang windy here. With the canoe, this means we expect to be done for the day by noon and consider ourselves lucky if we are able to be out longer. It isn't the case with every location but it is pretty common.

We'd like shade, ie a bimini or similar. It is often very sunny here and we love that, but my wife and daughter are redheads and burn extremely easily.

Almost no way I am buying new. I can afford whatever we want, but current new prices seem absurd. I'd like to keep things under 30k if possible.

I want aluminum as there are times we'll beach the boat on gravel banks for overnight camping and to keep things lighter for towing. Outboard only. No need for jets here, just nowhere to use them. Probably walkthrough console. I've driven both console and tiller boats and prefer the wheel.

Tow vehicle will be an F-150.

While it would be nice to have this year, I'm not in a rush. We are already halfway through our boat season (as hunting takes over in September). I'd like to have something by spring 2023.

What I've thought thus far.

From my own research, the most common boat type fitting my needs is an 18ft deep V, something like a Lund 1875 Fisherman, Crestliner 1750 Fish Hawk SE or Lowe FM 1800 walk-through. These types of boats are very common here.

Further research has lead me to an alternative, but I don't even know what the style of boat is called. I'll refer to it as a Northwest style. Examples include North River 18' Seahawk and Thunder Jet 186 Rush. These boats are NOT common here, but I find the forward console leading to open deck space for fishing in the back very attractive. Additionally, this configuration creates more covered seating.

What I Want from you!

What have I not thought about? Any brands to avoid? Is my budget laughable these days? Do any of my conclusions not make sense?
 
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Redman

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Very interesting... I am in the same "boat" so to speak as you. My needs are a bit different because most of our fishing is in rivers. I am looking at an 16-18 ft aluminum preferably welded flat bottom or hybrid. I am torn between prop or jet drive. I am looking at Alumacraft, Tracker, and Lowe. If I was looking at a lake fishing boat it would be a Lund or Smokercraft. I should have bought one a year ago...prices are stupid!
 

targetpanic

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I think you are definitely on the right path with your train(s) of thought. I would definitely take a look at the Crestliners. I bought a 1600 Vision Side console last year and it is very well built (all welded hull and thick aluminum). Comparing it to comparable smokercraft or sylvan is almost laughable how much deeper and more rugged the Crestliner is. There are no Lowe dealerships around, but they always intrigued me. Not sure what other dealerships are around you but a good list to start with for walkthrough windshield deep-V boats Lund, Crestliner, Princecraft, Alumacraft, Starcraft, Starweld.
Many of the boats in the size you are talking will come with big motors. YOu may need a kicker to get down to trolling speed or alternatively use a bow mounted trolling motor with autopilot/spotlock etc.
If you are looking at walk thru you may want to consider a full fishing top as opposed to a bimini top.
Most all mfg have a track system for mounting accessories. I utilized mine for downriggers, rod holders, antenna mount etc. and didn't have to drill holes all over the place.
Look at all the layouts of each model and find one that you really like to fit your needs. (rear deck folds up to jump seats, step ups, storage, potential rod holder locations or downrigger mounts etc) My buddy recently bought a Tracker Targa 18...it's a beautiful boat, but there is a lot of wasted space or mounting locations for accessories become very limited.
As for the NW style aluminum boats, I have no experience whatsoever but they look like they will take a beating.
 

Northwoods

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It’s your purchase, buy what you like. With that said, for your intended uses a tiller is really nice.
 

Northwoods

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I would love if you went into more detail.
You have more boat control with a tiller. You also have a free hand which is nice if you are planning on doing some fishing while controlling the boat.
 

vanish

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Anybody out there own a NW style boat? I'd love to hear first hand your likes/dislikes. The more research I do, the more I am learning how prevalent they are in the PNW. Way more manufacturers than I realized. I feel like the North River Bayhawk 17.5 would be a good fit, but there aren't many for sale anywhere. That little bit smaller both directions would help in storage.
 

Duck-Slayer

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great state of Idaho....
Here are my thoughts-
I’m into ducks/geese, Bowfishing, walleyes/rod/reel, and family fun. I have owned 4 different boats in the past 17 years. I live in Idaho where we have shallow rock/gravel rivers and big reservoirs with big waves.
1) bass boat-aluminum decedent, 5/10

2)1648 crestliner mod-V center console with a 60/40jet, good 7/10

3)1872 seaark mod-v tunnel center console Jon boat with a 140hp jet really awesome 8/10

4) seaark 2072 procat 200 with full windshield and full cover, 200hp prop with jet foot, very awesome 9/10
I would give in a 10/10 if the sides were 2” taller, 6” wider, 4’ longer. But they don’t make them that size. I’ve had this boat since 2016. 49-54 mph
Matt

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KB_

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If you spend most of your time on lakes, pontoon is a heck of an option.

I love fishing on pontoon boats. Especially with a fly rod. Even on good size rivers pontoon boats are freaking awesome.
 

Gellar

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I have an 17’6 crest liner sport fish that my parents bought new in 1998. It is rated for 7, but 5 or 6 or is realistic. Depending on how you are fishing 4 is max while jigging and trolling. 2 or 3 if you are casting. My boat has been from northern Canada to Saginaw bay to southern Illinois crappie fishing and everywhere in between. It’s about the perfect all around boat.
 

wolfpup

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I have a 1990 19' Starcraft Fishmaster aluminum hull boat. It has been fantastic boat. I have a large motor for travel and a small motor for trolling and a front mount electric trolling motor. With a boat I like to have 2 methods of getting back to the boat ramp so at a minimum 2 propellers for me. I also fish with my wife and 2 daughters. My daughters like to fish but aren't really in it for an all morning outing. So just keep in mind you might need a little extra place for items like toys and entertainment. The bimini top is a life saver for us. Since my fishing partners are mostly female, I can't tell you how invaluable the live well is ( we don't keep fish much so no issues there but simply drain, use, and fill back up) Now since this is a 30 year old boat, I also had a rotting floor which I replaced myself. Basic carpentry had me up and running.... not professional by any stretch of the imagination but for a family boat I paid $4,000 is hard to beat. I like a open floor so I got rid of as much clutter as I could with the remodel but here are my must haves. Aluminum hull ( most shorelines in CO are rocky) , livewell, bimini top ( shade is a must for littles) , 2 motors, rod holders, rod storage when not in use ( not required but I hate having to untangle before I fish), storage for life jackets.
 

vanish

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Still doing lots of research. The NW style boats seem pretty utilitarian for their cost compared to what I could get in a more traditional midwestern multispecies. We aren't dealing with a ton of bad weather, just wind.
 

vanish

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Things I should watch out for if I go look at this boat? The Tyee ticks a lot of our boxes. The hull is a little older than I've been thinking, but the main is a 2013.

 

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EKYHunter

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Get bigger than what you think you’ll need with a bigger motor than you think you’ll need. Very few people ever wish they’d bought a smaller boat or had a smaller motor. Whatever you decide, get the max HP motor.
 

Buschy

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Vanish,

Two years ago my wife and I bought a Tracker Pro Guide V-175 WT with a Mercury 150 4-stroke for fishing CO, NM and WY reservoirs. Very pleased so far.

We put on a bimini top, downriggers and MT Rockguard, as well as upgraded electronics, trolling motor and seats (air ride).
 

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Sytes

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Some really good people here have a great depth of info. We were looking in the same range $ for a 17'+, w/ must: Tandem axle trailer, and well, you know what we boat around. It's a "Coastal" boat and our purpose was for
1.) The high walled fishing area for family with younger ones, etc.
2.) Tolerance towards my lack of boat experience. (Reinforced aluminum, etc)
3.) Full soft enclosure for weather.
4.) Ability to tow (easily) with a 1/2 ton (22 Ram 1500 Laramie 4wd)
5.) As wife says - it's our "forever boat".
6.) Open to just about any area we may call home. May be a bit overkill in some areas though designed for the worst that we envision for our retirement areas.
7.) ...
We ended up paying far beyond our intended "max" 35k.
Had we not viewed possibilities for Ocean coastal areas, boats such as Bushy's and a few others here fitting the Lund, Starcraft, Bass Tracker, AlumaWeld, etc with the double window / walkthrough have full soft enclosures for weather - this is what we were dialing towards.
I dug into the center console options though the boss nixed that thought - we checked a couple out and a boat shop took us out on one... it wasn't for us.

Again, I don't know jack squat about what makes one better than the other... however, as you are rolling through info-overload for aluminum boats, so did we, a pattern became apparent for our interests and the boat we purchased stood out as THE boat.

We looked at pontoons briefly. They are VERY comfy though while enjoying our time on one - wind kicked up and... it was a challenge - much more-so than the boats mentioned above.

w/o ocean coastal interest: I like the 17'+... along the lines you're viewing - tandem axle was a stone etched requirement. Again though, I'm not speaking as one with boat experience. I depended on many people that held such experience and our own viewing - testing.

Best to ya! With one and another possible young one in the future, I think you're dialing in.
 

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