If you’re used to offshore fishing, you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised when you head inshore and find the waters calmer and the depths shallower. However, your giant offshore boat will be overkill. You’ll need to switch to inshore fishing boats or bay fishing boats. Here’s what to look for:
1. Look for Inshore Fishing Boats with Dry Storage
Because space will be at a premium compared to large offshore boats, you’ll need more places to store your gear. But you don’t want your life jackets, phone, snacks, and other essentials to get wet!
That’s why you need a well-sealed dry storage area. It will help you stay organized, keep items from being underfoot, and increase your walking space.
2. The Best Bay Fishing Boats Have Seats and Coolers
Again, you want a boat that uses space well, so find one with coolers built into the seats. The cooler section may take up the underside, the backrest, or both. You will want food and drinks on the boat to keep your energy up and stay hydrated, but you won’t want them to be in the way.
3. Make Sure Your Boat Has Bait Wells or Release Wells
Both bait wells and release wells serve the same purpose – keeping water-breathing animals alive! The bait well is for live bait, so if you like fishing with fish, you’ll need one. Release wells are for keeping your caught fish alive in case you want to release them later or just ensure freshness.
The bait well and release well rely on pumping in water from outside the boat to keep a steady supply going. For the most part, the names of the wells are interchangeable, and many inshore boats have one well for both purposes.
4. The Fish Boxes Should Be Insulated
Speaking of freshness, any fish boxes on board should be insulated. That way, you can throw in a bunch of ice or freezer packs and know that your fish will still be fresh once you get back to shore. It’s a good idea to have separate fish boxes and coolers so that you don’t have your food and drinks share the space with freshly caught fish.
More Essential Features of Inshore Boats
Of course, you’ll want to check out any boats you’re considering in person. What you’ll find is a different experience than what you’re used to with larger boats! Inshore boats are between 17 and 22 feet long and are the sports cars of the boating world, with tight turning radii and high speeds without the need for monster power.
Bay boats are larger at 20 to 30 feet long, can handle rougher waters, and generally have more amenities, but they are still smaller than offshore boats. Which one is for you? Check them out in person and find out!