Buying a Bay Boat - any pointers?

Discussion in 'Horn Depot' started by Thunderhoof, Apr 21, 2010.

  1. Thunderhoof

    Thunderhoof 250+ Posts

    So I have the saltwater fishing bug. And I know, I know, boats are a bad investment. But they are a helluva lot of fun.

    Any of you guys have any pointers on bay boats? I tried looking to see if there was a "compromise" boat, one that would be primarily a bay boat with the ability to get offshore a little. Seems like most people think that when you buy a boat like that, you've just bought a boat that does neither inshore or offshore fishing very well.

    So, it looks like the thing to do is to buy an inshore boat and pick and choose calm days to take it a little offshore. That or just do the charter thing for offshore.

    I don't care about going fast, but I'm not looking for a jon boat, either.

    I'd be primarily headed for the Corpus/Rockport area to fish.

    Anybody have any pointers on brands, things to look for in used boats, etc?
  2. brntorng

    brntorng 2,500+ Posts

    What kind of bay fishing do you intend to do? Mostly specks or mostly reds? Personally, I prefer sight fishing for reds on the flats and would get a very shallow draft boat. If that's not your thing, you could get a more traditional center console bay boat. However, the deeper the draft, the more limited the territory you can access. There are several good models available and with the economy being what it is, I'd shop for a used late model boat. There's quite a few people out there trying to cut their monthly payments. Once I found what appeared to be a good deal, I'd check out that particular model.

    LITNIN HORN 1,000+ Posts


    Boston Whaler...without a doubt. They are unsinkable. Will work offshore and as a pleasure boat at the lake...water skiing, etc.

  4. 01 grad

    01 grad 250+ Posts

    I don't mean to discourage you, but... You need to either already know the area waters, have a friend willing to spend lots of time showing you, or are willing to spend even more time learning them yourself. Otherwise you will end up one of the many well-meaning weekend warriors who decided to purchase bay boat because they love bay fishing, but unfortunately end up either anchored off a main channel fishing for hardhead or grounded on oysterbed/sandbar with ruined lower unit.

    Texas flats (area in bay you'll be doing your fishing) are extremely shallow. Boston Whaler will not work. The answer to your question is a either a Shoalwater or Flats Cat. When buying used, the motor is pretty much all to be concerned w/, have it checked thoroughly by a mechanic before buying.
  5. NickDanger

    NickDanger 2,500+ Posts

    I disagree with every single bit of advice so far on this thread.

    Not really, but you're going to hear a bazillion different ideas.

    While I'm not violently opposed to the bay/gulf combo concept. If you want a boat that will be halfway comfortable and safe in the Gulf it is going to be expensive and it is going to draft pretty deep in the bays. That really doesn't have to be a problem as there are LOTS of places to take a regular boat and still get into flats fishing and sightcasting. You have to take into consideration who will be going on the boat with you. If you want to please the wife or be safe for the kids (or vice versa) if you have any of those types of anchors, it should factor into your decision.

    Everyone has their favorite brand and I have mine, but I was doing a type of fishing you aren't if you are asking the original question. I needed something to take a lot of gear (generator, food, etc.) a LONG way down from Corpus towards Mexico to camp out in a cabin in the water.

    Since you say you have recently been bitten by the bug, pray tell what it was about it that got you and that might make it easier for people to give good advice.
  6. NickDanger

    NickDanger 2,500+ Posts

    Oh, and I'm no tournament fisher, but speed is NOT irrelevant.

    LITNIN HORN 1,000+ Posts


    You apparently don't know much about Boston Whaler...they virtually invented the tri-hull shallow water boat.

  8. 01 grad

    01 grad 250+ Posts

    I don't want to get in to a boat brand arguing match and hijack the OP, but suffice it to say that there is a reason you do not see them on the bays of the Texas coast. Never said anything about the quality or history of Boston Whaler boats, just that they are not the right boat for inland texas bay system, which I fish often and am familiar w/. My advice.
  9. pulque

    pulque 1,000+ Posts

  10. SippeeKup

    SippeeKup 25+ Posts

    Forget trying to go offshore. There are really only about a handful of days during the year when the mosquito fleet can run offshore. And even then, it is inevitably during the week (especially on Mondays and Tuesdays). Plus, you will spend a bunch of money on heavier gear thinking you are either going to troll for kings or catch snapper at the nearest rig.

    Trust me, I speak from experience. You will end up either wanting a boat that allows you to go offshore more often, or you will want a boat to run skinnier.

    Get yourself something that will run skinny. Sitting anchored in the middle of the bay chunking live bait can be fun, but only for so long. You will eventually want to get up in the clear skinny water and see those fish. The Texas coast is extra beautiful up in and around the skinny stuff.

    And then get an offshore charter once a year.
  11. Thunderhoof

    Thunderhoof 250+ Posts

    Thanks for the responses. I was almost certain that Nick would come through. [​IMG]

    What gave me the bug? Hmmm. For the past 18 months I have been lining up chartered trips for me and some friends. We've chartered three bay guides, done the houseboat thing in CC Bay, and taken party boats into the Gulf.

    I grew up around boats, but almost entirely freshwater. For some reason hunting consumed me for a long time. I'm 37 now, and though I still enjoy hunting it doesn't give me the thrill that it used to. At least not deer hunting. Birds still get me excited, and duck hunting has turned out to be fun, too. A bay boat would facilitate duck hunting at the coast, but that is really a secondary consideration at best.

    I'm married, and I value my pocketbook. I've been on the flats enough to know and see the dangers to boats and the people in them. I'm careful by nature, so I understand that it will take me time to learn my way around bay systems beyond what a chart can tell me. And I'm OK with that. I think it will be part of the challenge and fun. What did you mean when you said that speed is NOT irrelevant?

    As for target fish, of course trout and reds are there. Flounder, too, but catching and releasing trout and redfish would be primary in the bays. I wouldn't be opposed to targeting near-shore fish on calm days - kings, cobia, snapper, etc. If guys can paddle kayaks out to the nearest platforms, I'm certain that even a shallow draft bay boat could do that too. The key would be to pick calm days and be fanatic about watching the weather.

    So I've fished out of several center console boats. I liked a 23' explorer, but I really liked a 23' Haynie. It was a little pricey for a first boat, IMO (~$30K).

    I've looked into Pangas, too. There are a couple of manufacturers in the US (Andros and Panga Marine), but they don't seem very popular in Texas. They have reasonably shallow drafts (generally around 8-10"), and if you've spent any time in Latin America you know that the panga hull shape can take some fairly rough seas. They might not be the most comfortable boat, but they would get ya there, and get ya there efficiently as far as fuel costs go. The Andros boats are incredibly nice, but they are also in that $30K category. For a first boat I would be trying to stay down around $20K, if possible.

    In any case, it sounds like some of you guys do a little fishing. Thanks for the responses. I appreciate them.
  12. UTEE

    UTEE 1,000+ Posts

    Since I don't think this has been said yet:

    "The two happiest days of a boat-owner's life are the day he buys it, and the day he sells it."


    Of course, I've been a boat-owner for 15 years myself and I wouldn't have it any other way. But, it's still not too far from the truth...
  13. brntorng

    brntorng 2,500+ Posts

    I sold my power boat and bought a kayak. It's a great move for me. Much less maintenance (I'd rather be fishing than maintaining a boat). No waiting at the boat ramp. No licensing fees for boat or trailer. No gas. Easy storage. Plenty of productive areas to fish on the coast with a short paddle. Exercise. Peace and quiet. Green. Don't have to worry about losing my lower unit. Can you say "skinny"? While most of the people with bay boats are still waiting to get their boat launched, I'm stalking fish. And I'll have spent less for a top-of-the-line kayak than a bay boat will depreciate the moment you pull it off the lot.
  14. NickDanger

    NickDanger 2,500+ Posts

    Ever see the Dirty Dozen? Oddball says that his crew likes to think they can get out of trouble as fast as they got into it. You might need to outrun a squall, for example. The faster you can zip through the various ditches, the faster you can get to farther places. I don't mean to say you need to run WOT, but it's a plus to be able to. I have found a need for that capability on several occasions.

    Another thing to consider is the boat's ability to jump up on plane quickly and from shallow water. If you actually want to run through skinny water, you are going to need to be a shallow as possible and, for the most part, that means going fast. Not if you have something like a Curlew or Hell's Bay or Hewes, etc so much, but suffice it to say that speed IS one consideration.

    Haynie makes a very nice, very strong, somewhat spartan boat (which lots of people prefer). They are a little on the heavy side and a 23' might not toss you completely off out in the Gulf in July or August. I've looked at explorers a while ago and felt they were kinda cheesy. Like you'd always have broken or ill-fitting hatches, fiberglass spalling, etc.

    If you want to be able to get to lots of places and get out and wade, or just fish from the boat, you are headed in the right direction. If you want to motor from Corpus up to Rattlesnake (not sure why you'd want to do that) you are on the right track. You can get TO Baffin, but I don't recommend it for you to take your boat into it until you have spent a fair amount of time with someone who is very familiar with the Bay.

    If you are a slob and don't really like to clean a boat, there are plenty of boats that just won't clean up they are so utilitarian (like an old Majek).

    Many of my friends are vowing to get rid of their boats and just rent "next time". Something to consider as a way to see how you like the program.
  15. NickDanger

    NickDanger 2,500+ Posts

    I didn't mean to say the Haynie was a stripped down boat by any means. They are Really nice boats.

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