The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's Mission 2020
Jan. 27 Lake Columbia Fisheries Management Plan Meeting | Magnolia
Jan. 28 The Art of Fly-Tying | Yellville
Jan. 29 BOW Women's Duck Hunt | Blue Mountain
Jan. 30 CWD Public Meeting | Batesville
Jan. 30 Grand Lake Fisheries Management Plan Meeting | Eudora
Jan. 30 Catching Rainbows, Trout Clinic and Fishing Derby | Little Rock
Feb. 1 Trout Day | Fort Smith
Feb. 1 Groundhog Day, More winter on the way? | Little Rock
Feb. 2 Bluebird Basics | Little Rock
Feb. 4 Learn to Burn Intro to Prescribed Fire for Landowners | Jonesboro
Feb. 9 Turkey Hunting Basics | Little Rock
Feb. 10 Women's Outdoor Network | Little Rock
Feb. 14 BOW Squirrel Camp | Casscoe
Feb. 19 Monthly Commission Meeting | February 19-20 (Little Rock)
Feb. 22 Intro to Fur Handling | Fort Smith
Feb. 22 Buy, Sell and Swap Outdoor Gear
Feb. 29 Intro to Turkey Hunting | Jonesboro
March 3 Beginning Fly-Fishing | Fort Smith
March 18 Monthly Commission Meeting | March 18-19 (Hope)
April 22 Monthly Commission Meeting | April 22-23 (Little Rock)
May 20 Monthly Commission Meeting | May 20-21 (Little Rock)
June 17 Monthly Commission Meeting | June 17-18 (Harrison)
July 31 BOW Fish Camp | Casscoe
Discover Boating | Buying A Pontoon Boat | Pontoon-Depot!!
By: Discover Boating
The pontoon boat has undergone quite an evolution in the past few decades, and what was once a simple boxy floating platform is now a luxury-laden pleasure-boat that can offer everything from a relaxing day on the lake to invigorating thrill rides. If you haven’t been on a modern pontoon you’ve got to step aboard one to believe just how amazingly advanced—and comfortable—the best pontoon boats have become.
Activities You'll Most Enjoy
Pontoon boats are loved in all corners of the nation because they can be used for so many different activities: watersports, swimming, day cruising, and of course just lounging about. There are fishing pontoon boats, performance pontoons with big outboard engines that will have you blasting across the lake or bay with the wind whipping in your hair, and luxury-oriented pontoons equipped with everything from a blender to a bathroom. There are big pontoon boats and small pontoon boats, you can get a pontoon trailer and explore far-flung waterways, and in all of these cases the options for what to do on your pontoon are essentially unlimited.
Perfect fishing platform
In some areas, you’ll discover that there are more fishing pontoon boats than other types of fishing boats. The reason why is simple: they are amazingly stable and comfortable, they hold large numbers of people, and they make an ideal fishing platform. Added bonus: modern fishing pontoon boats have all the angling accessories you need built right in, ranging from rod holders to aerated livewells to tackle boxes.
Used for skiing, tubing, and wakeboarding
If watersports are your thing, today’s pontoons won’t let you down. The best pontoon boats for skiing, tubing, and wakeboarding have tow-bits, storage lockers large enough to hold water skis or knee-boards, and swim platforms with large, stable ladders for climbing on and off the boat. They also have plenty of power and can give the kids a safe but spectacular thrill-ride. Even small pontoon boats usually have all the basics you need to enjoy watersports on some level.
”Party barge” to entertain family and friends
There’s a reason pontoon boats are often called party barges, and it’s quite simple: with oodles of deck space, excellent stability, and variable furniture arrangements, you can have a pontoon that’s just as ideal for relaxing as a lake-side patio. The one difference—and what makes a pontoon boat even better—is that you’re afloat instead of on land, and you can take the party wherever you’d like.
Pontoon Boat Brands
Explore brands to find more information on models and pricing.
Pontoon Boat Ownership Costs
Buying a modern pontoon boat can be just as expensive or as economical as you’d like, and there are pontoon boat prices that fit every budget. There are even some mini pontoon boats that cost far less than the most affordable new cars. When you research out the ownership cost of a specific pontoon boat, an important factor to figure in is storage or mooring costs, if you can’t keep it on a pontoon trailer at your house. Visit our Boat Loan Calculator to learn more about what fits with your budget.
You’re not likely to encounter maintenance costs on a new pontoon boat for several years, beyond basic care items like cleaning supplies. Its engine, however, will have a regular required maintenance plan. These vary from model to model and manufacturer to manufacturer so to figure out just how much you’ll spend on items like oil and filter changes, you should refer to the manufacturer recommendations. Note that most pontoon boats on the market today and the engines that power them carry substantial warranties that should protect you from unexpected maintenance costs for years to come.
The main operational cost for a pontoon is fuel. Just how much you burn will depend on the size of the boat and engine, how often you use it, and how far you run it. You may also want to plan in insurance costs (see Insuring Your Boat for more information.
Of all the different boat types out there, pontoons have seen some of the biggest technological advancements in recent years. Today many boast touch-screens at the helm, and seats with space-age fabrics that are resistant to UV light, mold and mildew, and staining.
As pontoons have become more advanced they’ve also become better-equipped. You can find models with rather extreme stereo systems, fully-equipped wet bars, and even things like automatic sunshades that rise at the press of a button. In fact, if you look at the list of optional features on a high-end pontoon you’ll see that often goes on for pages and pages.
Pontoon Boat Brands to Avoid – Read This Before You Buy
A question I’ve been asked a few times over the last year is if there are any pontoon boat brands to avoid. It’s understandable, as even a used pontoon boat is going to cost you a fair whack, so you don’t want to end up making a mistake.
But here’s the thing; I personally would not avoid any of the current pontoon boat brands.
Virtually anything that has been manufactured in the last couple of decades will have been engineered to the highest standards and passed the relevant safety ratings.
Where pontoon boats will truly tend to differ will be the quality of the fixtures and fittings plus how they have been constructed overall.
It’s very easy to get distracted by all the shiny functionality you see on the deck. When looking at a pontoon boat, don’t just take in the seating, carpets, accessories, tech, and gear that gets thrown in.
You need to do your own due diligence by looking under the console and deck to see what the workmanship is like.
As an example, some pontoon boats will have rails and decks that have been screwed in. Other will be bolted through. Through bolting will give you a much better boat that’s going to last a lot longer, possibly with a reduction in overall maintenance costs.
Another thing to look at is the brackets on the pontoon tubes. The M shaped brackets are much better. But don’t stop there, also look at how the welding has been done, and on used boats, look for signs of damage and patching.
These are just a couple of tips; there’s a lot more to it.
You will need to do a lot of research before deciding whether a certain pontoon boat brand and model is one that you avoid or choose to go with. That includes talking to other pontoon boat owners.
To help you with your decision-making process, I’d like to refer you to some of the more in-depth content on Pontoonopedia that I encourage you to read in full before you pull the trigger on a purchase.
Must-read buyers guide for buying a new pontoon boat
If you are looking to buy new, and don’t know what pontoon boat brands to avoid, then this buyer’s guide won’t tell you that, as all brands make great models. What it will do is give you some insight into:
- What to avoid when buying new.
- Size and capacity considerations.
- Pros and cons to buying a new pontoon versus used.
- How you know if it’s a good pontoon boat or not.
- Which factory options you should choose for you.
I suggest reading the entire buyer’s guide in full before you start your search this year.
What to look for when buying a used pontoon boat
I’ve put together a checklist of questions and things to avoid when buying in the used market. This includes aspects such as:
- What will you be using the boat for?
- How much deck space will you need?
- How to search for great deals and prices.
- What elements on the pontoon boat you need to check out.
- What state the engine is in and how many hours it’s done.
- What the fixtures and fittings are like.
- What additional features will you need.
- How to compare prices and get better price.
- Whether a manufacturer warranty is important or not.
- How to ensure you get a log of receipts and work done.
- Taking a used pontoon boat for a test drive.
- Asking for proof of ownership and the seller’s reputation.
- What you need from a survey and insurance.
To read the guide in full so you know what pontoon boats to avoid when buying used, read the full used buyer’s guide.
Some pontoon boat basics
If you’re still undecided on whether to take the plunge, you might want to get to grips with some pontoon boat basics. I have listed advice on:
- Passenger capacity.
- Launching and driving.
- Beaching and anchoring.
- Parking in slips and marinas.
- Safety basics and tips.
- Trailer and towing basics.
- Fishing set-ups and layouts.
For more detailed information on each point, go check out my pontoon boat basics 101.
Making your final selection on a pontoon boat
There’s also a lot more information you need to get to grips with on how to make your final selection. This selection guide includes advice on:
- How to choose the right pontoon boat for your needs.
- What size you need depending on your plans.
- Whether you will need a fishing set-up, or just leisure, or both.
- How much your ideal pontoon boat should cost.
- What makes a good quality pontoon boat design.
- Question to ask the boat dealers before you buy.
Selecting the right pontoon boat for a family
And finally, if you are family-focussed, and looking for something to suit your and your brood, I’ve put together a guide specifically for this market. Tips include:
- Why plenty of seating is of paramount importance.
- How a pop-up changing room will be needed.
- The protection a decent Bimini will offer.
- How storage space should be a huge consideration.
- Why vinyl flooring might be better than carpeting.
- How watersports might change which boat you buy.
- The types of inflatables you can buy.
- What safety gear you will need for your family.
- Why a boarding ladder will be essential for kids.
Read my family-friendly guide to choosing a pontoon boat if you have kids.
The last word…
So there you have it. If you’ve read through all those guides you will now be in a far better position to choosing the best boat and brand to suit your needs. As mentioned, currently I wouldn’t say there were any pontoon boat brands to avoid. It all comes down to suitability, budget, and your individual needs.
With Some Changes, Pontoon Boats Make a Comeback in The US!
Pic By: A pontoon boat at the Baltimore Boat Show at the Baltimore Convention Center (Kenneth K. Lam / The Baltimore Sun)
Written By: Baltimore Sun
Back this hitch up into the water, untie all the cables, and rope step onto the vinyl floor, and get yourself a coozie, Let's go….
Long before the pop-country group Little Big Town introduced its No. 1 hit, "Pontoon," pontooning has been a part of the boating community in the United States.
Its roots go back more than 60 years to a Minnesota farmer named Ambrose Weeres, who came up with the crazy idea of putting a wooden platform on two columns of welded steel barrels and spending his lazy summer afternoons fishing on a nearby lake.
But those no-frills pontoons, like Hula Hoops and Silly Putty, seemed to be a fading remnant from a simpler time.
Now, they're making a comeback with a few modern frills.
"It's exploded. Pontoons are selling much better than fiberglass boats," said Brian Schneider, whose Tradewinds Marina in Middle River has been selling pontoons for many years now.
In an industry that was struggling with a weak economy, pontoon boat sales now account for half of Schneider's income in boat sales.
Using the same Minnesota-based boat manufacturer that made the pontoon for Little Big Town's music video, as well as, for Kid Rock's video of the 2008 song "All Summer Long," Schneider said that popularity of pontoons is based largely around the fact "they're almost 100 percent usable space."
Who said anything about skiin'? Floatin' is all I wanna do, well you can climb the ladder just don't rock the boat while I barbeque…
Dan Naleppa of Salisbury is considering buying one of Schneider's pontoons after seeing them at the Baltimore Boat Show.
"It's like you're riding in your living room," Naleppa said while attending the show.
Certainly if your living room is stocked with plush couches and other accoutrements, though Naleppa said the 25-foot pontoon he is thinking about buying will not have a barbeque, minibar or some of the other amenities that seem to find their way on what many consider to be the best kind of party boats.
"They've come a long way," Naleppa said. "They're pretty roomy and they can go fast. I also like the fact that you can ride them year 'round, unlike some of the inboard-outboard motorboats I've had."
While a lot more high-tech than "The Empress" and the other boats that Weeres, who became known as "Mr. Pontoon," built en route to being inducted in Minnesota's Marina Hall of Fame, the modern pontoon industry has seen a revival in recent years. They're cheaper to make, easier to maintain, less than half the weight of comparably-sized fiberglass boats and more environmental-friendly because they typically need smaller engines.
"It seems like they're everywhere now," said Matt Finklestine, who sells pontoon boats in Lake Raystown, Pa. "Nothing is going to be a smoother ride than a pontoon boat because you don't ride on top of the water, you ride in the water. They're light, they're easier to trailer. The fiberglass chips don't break off and it makes it much easier to clean."
According to Finklestine, whose Full Performance Marine sells "everything from jet skis to 45-foot yachts," he has seen a resurgence in the past years. Finklestine said his 15-year-old company has gone from selling around two dozen aluminum pontoons in 2005 to five times that last year. The lakes around central Pennsylvania are among the most popular for pontoon boating.
"The difference between a pontoon and a regular boat is that with a pontoon, you have a lot more room. You can fit on twice as many people and you can pretty much cut the cost in half because they're very easy to make," Finklestine said at the Baltimore Convention Center, where a couple of his company's higher-end pontoons were on display and for sale during the Baltimore Boat Show.
Reach your hand down into the cooler, don't drink it if the mountains aren't blue, try to keep it steady as you recline on your black inner tube
The basic concept of the pontoon hasn't changed much since Weeres first introduced his boat, it's now a vinyl deck rather than wood attached to aluminum barrels, but pontoons have certainly been upgraded over the years to include everything like woven vinyl flooring for what essentially becomes the best under your feet feel, plus is slip resistant.
The size of the boats haven't changed (typically between 15 and 28 feet long) but they can be custom fit for whatever you need, fishing, cruising, skiing or racing.
The cost depends mostly on the size of the motor used, ranging from $15,000 to $80,000, according to industry experts. Pontoons can go as fast as 55 mph, but most are built to go a lot slower.
"The difference between a 50 horsepower and a 250 horsepower could be $20,000," said Finklestine, whose company typically sells pontoons with 90- to 115-horsepower motors. "A 28-foot fiberglass is more than $100,000, double what a pontoon costs."
Finklestine said pontoons are perfect for someone who "wants to fit a lot of people on the boat, wants some room for his kids to run around on and doesn't care about having the fastest boat on the lake."
Naleppa said he is looking forward to having his pontoon out on the Chesapeake Bay, as well as the Wicomico River and down to Ocean City this summer with family and friends, and was told that a 25-footer can comfortably seat around 10 and as many as 17, about double what can fit on a fiberglass motorboat.
Though mostly used on lakes, some pontoons have now become stable enough to operate on open bodies of water such as the Chesapeake Bay because of advanced technology. Schneider said he took "a gamble" bringing pontoons to local sailing aficionados who might be fearful that the pontoon would capsize in rougher seas.
Schneider said Premier Pontoons' development of a "PTX" center tube "lets the pontoon boats handle like a fiberglass boat." Though he doesn't recommend anything under a 20-footer on the Chesapeake Bay, "they're very stable, you've just got to get the bigger pontoons."
5 mile an hour with aluminum side wood panelin' with a water slide can't beat the heat, so let's take a ride on the pontoon makin' waves and catchin' rays up on the roof jumpin' out the back, don't act like you don't want to party in slow motion, I'm out here in the open Mmmmmmm...motorboatin' on the pontoon!