Bass Boat Basics

Bass Boat Basics

People catch fish from every kind of boat imaginable, and virtually any boat that keeps a person safe, dry and afloat will do the job of getting them to where the fish are in some form or fashion.

But when someone gets the bug to catch bass consistently, sooner or later the conversation will turn to that uniquely American invention, the bass fishing boat


What Exactly is a Bass Boat?

The bass boat evolved in the American South, and its development closely followed the growth of the beloved sport of bass tournament fishing in that region. A bass boat needs to be able to navigate shallows and weed-choked backwaters, so a boat with a shallow draft was created.

Most bass anglers do plenty of repetitive, pinpoint casting to cover, and find it easiest to do that from a standing position, so a wide, stable boat with a flat casting platform in the front and rear was put on the bass fishing boat checklist.

Tournament bass anglers need to outrace their competitors and get to the fishing hole quickly, so many bass boats were equipped with large, powerful outboard motors, although far more modest ones will do the job quite well for the casual weekend angler.

For balance and operating safety, the bass fishing boat is normally a side console operated craft, with a steering wheel, throttle, and instruments built into a dashboard placed in front of the boat operator. 

A modern boat for bass fishing may have several other accessories to do its job. Live wells are important for keeping fish fresh and lively. Since many bass anglers use multiple rods, rod lockers keep them safe and orderly under the casting platform.

Depth finders are often mounted on a bass fishing boat so that the operator can see drop-offs and other lake bottom features that hold fish. Both front and rear casting decks are usually equipped with post-mounted seats to lean against and rest. 

bass fishing boat in the fog
Catching fish at first light from a bass boat in the fog.

Bass Boats Prices

Bass boats vary greatly in price. A new, top-of-the-line bass fishing boat can cost as much as $60,000 or more. An older used bass boat can be had as cheaply as $1000-2000, depending on age and condition. A very useable, fairly late model bass boat can often be found in the $8,000-15,000 range.

Like any other boat purchase, it’s important to ensure that the motor is in good working condition and has been properly maintained, the electric systems of the boat are functioning properly, and that the hull and other components of the boat shell are in good condition and watertight. 

Bass fishing boats are normally constructed of aluminum or fiberglass. Many bass anglers prefer fiberglass construction because it tends to absorb wave action better than aluminum and also transmits less sound from movement in the boat through the water, thus making it less likely that the noise will spook fish in the area. 


Bass Boat Alternatives

For those who only fish occasionally or don’t want to make a major investment in a boat, there are plenty of simple and low-cost alternatives to a bass boat.

Some bass anglers swear by a canoe or kayak, and those types of craft can be very useful in fishing shallow, calm bass waters.

An inflatable boat or raft can be poled or paddled to bass fishing areas and is a good choice for young anglers under the close supervision of an adult.

A jon boat can be used for bass fishing and has the shallow bottom feature that its larger cousin the bass boat uses. Many bass anglers who use jon boats like to line the bottom of those boats with carpeting to absorb noises in the boat while fishing. 

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