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Old 08-02-2011, 04:43 PM   #1
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Default Boat advice

I hope I have this on the right board. Please let me know if I do not.

Moving to Pensacola area soon and it will be the first time living near a coast. Avid freshwater fisherman here inland and starting to get that itch about being able to fish salt water. I have surf fished and done the charter fishing thing. My question is this. Could I get some recommendations on a good starter boat for salt water fishing? Since I am new, do not want to get crazy. I really only want something on an entry level that would allow me to safely fish within sight of shore. I have a lot to learn but I think I could get on snapper, sheeps, small sharks, pomps, bonita, mackeral, redfish, specks, etc with such a boat correct?

I would not want to venture too far out for wreck fishing, etc until I learn a lot more about it so really do not need a boat capable of that. Just something that could be launched easily and be able to safely do the type of fishing I mentioned above.

I would love some experienced recommendations and input on what type of fishing could be done with those recommendations if you guys and gals have the time to chime in.

It just seems to me that a lot of the smaller boats are kind of specialized for certain fishing (bay, etc) and I wonder if this is true or if there are boats that can handle different things well?

Just starting the learning process is all and I figured instead of talking to people trying to sell me a boat I would see if the good people on these boards could get me started in my thinking process.

Have considered a kayak set up for fishing but think I would prefer a boat since I have a wife and son that would enjoy it as well.

Thanks a lot for any advice.
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Old 08-02-2011, 04:59 PM   #2
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First, let's start with your budget. A lot will depend on that. Not just how much for the boat, but how much for gas and how far out do you plan on going?

I'm kind of stuck waiting on friends when it's time to go offshore. Gotta split the gas cost. I can't fork out $200 every weekend for gas. If you stick to the bay or really close to shore/the pass, gas won't be so bad.

Same deal, too, if looking to stick around close by. 15' to 17' fine for the bay and calm, nearby gulf days. Deep V for sure. Center console, cuddy, walk around cuddy, deck, pontoon, all your choice and preference.

Offshore to just a few miles past the pass, 17'(for the brave) to 24'+.


I'm in a 21' Cuddy "walk around the sides if you feel like risking falling in" Cabin. I've been perfectly happy in the bay and just had a good run a few miles out in the gulf with plans to test it's fuel capacity limits. I'm biased, but think that 19'-21' is the "sweet spot" for boats as a combo bay/gulf rig depending on design.
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Old 08-02-2011, 05:07 PM   #3
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Gas money is not really an issue. If I want to play I will have to pay. lol As far as the initial cost of the boat. I will want used to save some $$ and depending on how flexible the boat is as far as what can safely be done with it. I am guessing we will set our budget in the $3k-8k range for a first boat. Of course spending less is good so not excited about the high end of that budget unless it buys a lot of boat. lol I just want to get started, learn ocean boating and be able to catch a good variety of fish. I can wait to go offshore as I do not think I would be comfortable with that right away anyhow. I see a lot of skiffs for sale in that area and wonder if that is a popular boat for the type of fishing I hope to do? I do not want to just redfish. I want to be able to go after other species within sight of the shore also (if possible). It looks like the kayakers on this forum catch a lot of different species and I have to think even a small boat is up to that?

Thanks
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Old 08-02-2011, 05:53 PM   #4
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My name is Matt Condon and we run a shared use program in Destin, FL called Signature Shares. This is by far the best way to go for the most cost effective way to boat. Our boats are larger and more capable offshore boats. But, my recommendation to get started in the sport of Saltwater fishing would be to join a club - I believe there is a Freedom Boat Club at Sportsman's and a Legacy Boat Club in town somewhere. They have a fleet of very basic boats but I think would work fine for what you are considering. Matt
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Old 08-02-2011, 06:49 PM   #5
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19' to 21' will get you in the bays and in sight of land in the gulf on good weather days it won't be long and your going to want to head out to the big fish a 21' cape horn with dependable motor 20 miles offshore no problem but you need the eletronics GPS,depth finder fishing gear I think your budjet may be a little lite
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Old 08-02-2011, 06:52 PM   #6
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Im sure it is. A guy can hope though right? lol Just noticed a lot of skiffs and stuff in that price range and thought it might be a good boat. I may have to up the budget but if that is the case it will have to wait until a bit after the move. Moving is brutal.
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Old 08-02-2011, 08:13 PM   #7
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A 17' Cape Horn is great all around fishing boat. Plenty of space for a 17fter. She will draft shallow enough for inshore stuff and can easily be taken offshore on good days with some experience on your part. A 19ft Cape Horn will handle pretty much any offshore stuff youd want to do with a single engine.

Alot of it is boater confidence/experience. People take 17ft boats well past 20 miles, usually with a buddy boat though. This time of the year you have to worry about pop up storms which can ruin your day real quick.

I just purchased two Aquasport 170's (dont ask why I have two and one will be fore sale if youre interested). They are both '76 and a great combo boat for this area. People down in Tampa love them. I was reading a Boating Magazine article from the '70s about the 170 and they took her from Miami to Bimini and back which is about 50 miles one way...yes a 17ft boat!

If you can spend around $8000 you can get a really good boat right now.
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Old 08-02-2011, 08:31 PM   #8
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osborne- starter boats are way more about the seller than they are anything else, meaning you will have to find a seller who has taken care of his boat. if your price range is between 3 K and 8 K then you end up around 5 K. for 5 K you should be able to get an older boat in the 18 foot range. such a boat would be fine as a first vessel. it will likely be ten or more years old and require some elbow grease to get it how you want it, but the hull, motor, and trailer should be basically intact. you mention being within sight of land on your outings. truth be told many of the expert anglers on this forum routinely run over productive fishing grounds while travelling offshore (out of the pass). you don't have to go that far to have a whole world of experience, especially with your wife and child on board. get yourself a portable grill and a pack of hamburgers and head over to Ft McRea one day and tell me you don't have the time of your life with your family. boats are easy to appraise- take a look at the boat and the owner and you should be able to tell if you are making a good decision or not.
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Old 08-02-2011, 08:56 PM   #9
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JD7 - pm sent. Thanks everyone. I knew I could learn a lot here. Welcome any and all comments. Thanks again.
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Old 08-18-2011, 12:48 PM   #10
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It's going to surprise you what you need to comfortably get around the bay. I have a 16' cape horn and IMO that's the bare minimum you need to get around in chop and to make it out to places like the pensacola pass. unless you plan on missing a lot of days due to 10-15mph wind (which are frequent) make sure you get 16+ and must be a deep v. Also make sure it's got a t-top. Many bimini setups will get in the way of rods.
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