Fishing from a boat is great fun for the whole family. It gives you access to those special fishing spots that can't be reached by land. Best of all, once you own a boat, every weekend is a family vacation. Many people are surprised by how affordable it is to buy a fishing boat. But with so many options available, choosing one that fits your needs and budget can seem a bit daunting. To help simplify the process, here are a few tips for first-time buyers. 1. How will you use it? Although fishing may be your primary activity, are there other things your family might want to do, such as water-skiing or cruising? Consider how many people you'll want to accommodate. 2. Where will you go? Do you plan to go on a lake, river or larger body of water, such as the Great Lakes or the ocean? If you plan to use your boat for overnight trips, look for one with a cabin, head and galley. 3. What's your budget? In assessing costs, factor in operating expenses such as fuel and maintenance, as well as dry-stack storage or slip fees if you plan to dock at a marina. If it starts looking a bit pricey, don't fret. A basic rowboat and trolling motor can be had for less than $2,000. You can also save by trailering your boat and using it for day trips. 4. New or used? If your budget is tight, a used boat is a good alternative. If you go for a new one, make sure it is National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) certified. 5. Financing. Boats can be financed for extended terms, which helps keep the monthly payment low. Get in touch with a National Marine Bankers Association (NMBA) lender for assistance. 6. Test the waters. Before you buy, rent a boat from a local marina and go fishing for the day. It's a great way to get the family hooked and helps you decide on the right boat for you. Fishing from a boat is fun for the whole family, and it might just be your new favorite outdoor activity.
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