Fishing/cruising combo for pontoon beginners

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bigskies
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Fishing/cruising combo for pontoon beginners

#1 Post by bigskies » Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:29 pm

Greetings from Montana,
We are looking to purchase a fishing/cruising combo boat for use mainly on Flathead Lake here in NW Montana. This is our first pontoon boat and we are limited at our local boat shows (you can imagine). Just like most of us, its a huge purchase for us; we tend to buy the best quality we can find and keep it forever. There are lots of friends, lots of kids and we love to fish. We were able to view an 2008 bennington 2275 gsi at the show. We have been told that a 22ft supports 10 people requiring a 150hp on the tri toon and if we were to bump up to a 25ft, it would support 12 people and need a 200hp motor. We want to ski and tube and fish.

We would appreciate any comments in both directions on this boat and welcome any other suggestions on other brands that might suit us as well. I (the mom) am worried about towing the creature by myself which would be much of the time and am wondering about the 3ft difference in length. Does it matter much on the road, in putting in and taking out and is the extra 3 ft worth it on the water? We would be spending very long long days on the lake and wish there was some kind of diner type seating out there (don't laugh) that would work for all the kids at dinnertime because the little kidney shape tables seem very limited. Any ideas on this would be grateful.

With a bennington we get a great warranty so does it matter where we buy? If you find what you want, is there much bargaining power out there right now and have any of you had your boat shipped home?
We are new at this, and appreciate any and all comments and thought that a forum would be a great place before making the plunge. Lots of questions; sorry about that.
Kind regards

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oldmn19
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Re: Fishing/cruising combo for pontoon beginners

#2 Post by oldmn19 » Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:56 pm

Sounds like you know what you want to do with it, and all I can add is yes, 3 ft makes a big difference with a crowd on board. How often will you have a full load, a longer boat does make it harder to control when fishing with a trolling motor. How big is your lake, the horsepower recommendations your getting sound a little on the high side unless it's a BIG lake. I have a fish and cruise combo we like a lot. Can cruise with 10 people nicely. As far as feeding 10 no it's to tight. 4 people fishing is just fine, and feeding 4 is no problem. I think you have to decide which use is the most important to you and go with that set up.
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bigskies
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Re: Fishing/cruising combo for pontoon beginners

#3 Post by bigskies » Wed Apr 28, 2010 2:09 pm

Thank you for great reply. Focus should be on our main usage. Lake is huge. Flathead lake is the largest natural lake in western U.S. A 160 mile shoreline and water covers nearly two-hundred square miles of Montana; 300ft deep. Weather can get fierce. I was thinking HP recommendations were strictly for the performance but perhaps he was thinking requirements for lake size/distance and maybe weather concerns.
Thank you

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Stephen
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Re: Fishing/cruising combo for pontoon beginners

#4 Post by Stephen » Wed Apr 28, 2010 2:15 pm

They do make rectangular tables that would assist in your dining requests.

Here is a cheaper one at Cabellas:
http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templ ... stid=67122

Here are a few more options from everthingpontoon.com where you can get them much larger in size:
http://www.everythingpontoon.com/pontoo ... ables.html

They also make a table with recessed cup AND plate holders. Pretty neat, but I can't remember where I found it. It was quite a bit more expensive and it only held 3 plates and cups, I believe.
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smltooner
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Re: Fishing/cruising combo for pontoon beginners

#5 Post by smltooner » Wed Apr 28, 2010 3:48 pm

Stephen wrote:
They also make a table with recessed cup AND plate holders. Pretty neat, but I can't remember where I found it. It was quite a bit more expensive and it only held 3 plates and cups, I believe.
Try Overton's.
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Re: Fishing/cruising combo for pontoon beginners

#6 Post by jimrs » Wed Apr 28, 2010 9:30 pm

10 or 12 people on a poontoon boat or any boat is a lot of people. I would not even think to take that many people out at one time. If you are actually thinking of taking the whole family and friends out, remember these words DON'T.

After you and your family get used to the boat then you can start bringing a few but please don't go overboard. You never said how big your family is and how old are your kids. All these will make a big decision on what size boat, motor you will need. Your talking a lot of money to just get started then you need to maintain both the boat and the trips.

The boats that you have mentioned are great Bennington is one of the best and you are not going to be underpowered.
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Re: Fishing/cruising combo for pontoon beginners

#7 Post by ROLAND » Thu Apr 29, 2010 1:34 am

Hi big skies..... you didn't say how much they were asking for that 08 bennington 2275. My son has an 07 Bennington 2275 and he loves it. In fact it was because of that boat that me and momma went out and bought a cheaper / smaller bennington, a 20 SFi... it's riggid for fishing and can accomadate 8 people without any problem, but truthfully on a 20 footer I won't venture out with more than 6 on board... rather be safe than sorry. Our little toon has a 75 horse power motor and we get about 26 miles per hour out of her.. No speed records but fast enough for the two of us. Bennington makes a great boat, but there are others out there that are really good boats. as for the size of the motor, as I've learned from this forum, get the biggest motor you can afford and that your boat is rated for... Its always nicer to have more power than you need, rather than the other way around... Good luck boat shopping... I understand there area lot of used ( but still almost new ) boats on the market so you might be able to hook up on a great deal..
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Re: Fishing/cruising combo for pontoon beginners

#8 Post by Bamby » Thu Apr 29, 2010 6:22 am

I wish I could suggest the perfect model boat that would suit your needs. But having a boat that both seats a crowd and has adequate facilities is probably going to force some compromises on your part somewhat. The boat I just sold was somewhat what you may be looking for in the since it had a live-well and a couple of fishing seats in the front with tons of other seating for passengers. But anyone other than the two fishing in the front would have to fish out of the side gate areas because very little other real estate was available because of all the furniture.

As far as taking out a big crowd of friends, its great for an afternoon for a few hours but I'm not sure about an extremely long day of it. We've done it for an afternoon or evening numerous times and always had a great time of it, and some wonderful memories. Its what you'd be comfortable with is what really matters.

Except for maybe fishing go with the larger (longer) boat for your needs. Their is really no advantage to trailering a shorter boat to a longer one. Fact is its much easier to back up the longer wheelbase of a longer trailer than a shorter one, a longer wheelbase is simply a lot more forgiving than a shorter one when making steering errors when backing up.

Wish I could offer more solid choices here, but to get what you actually want you may ether have to special order your boat like we did, or buy one right and customize it to where it suits your needs.
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Re: Fishing/cruising combo for pontoon beginners

#9 Post by WaltF » Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:15 am

Our toon holds 14 peeps and has 135hp.
We more often then not have 10-12 on the thing. :rofl
Will it hold em? Yup
Go fast? Nope
Out run a storm? Need a head start

Our lake isnt that big though... about 1-2 miles wide, about 10 miles long.

Keep in mind with 12 peeps the thing is riding much lower in the water too and its easier to take a big wave over the bow... :paranoid :rofl
Plus the speed is waaaay slower.
The difference just between 5 and 10 is alot...

We usually head down to a cove and beach it with that many on so everyone isnt packed on the thing all day.
Then grab some floaties n a beer! :thumbsup :alright
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Re: Fishing/cruising combo for pontoon beginners

#10 Post by GXPWeasel » Thu Apr 29, 2010 11:34 am

I agree with others in the fact that the extra 3 feen can make a BIG difference when you have people on board, and when you're on a lake as big as your lake sounds. Bigger boat usually mean more stability, and the HP numbers sound about right to me, for a newer boat, and either performance logs, or tri-toon. Especially if you are wanting to ski, and or tube behind the thing. Remember this though, you more than likely won't want to ski with more than 4-6 people on board, regardless of how many ponies or feet you have, because of the logistics. The extra people definitely change the way a boat handles.

That being said, we don't use our toon for skiing, ( because we don't have the powa ) but we do use it for knee boarding, and occasional tubing. Usually we have 6-8 people on board when doing so, and it can make turning a bear. 90% of the time though, ours is used for cruising, and floating whie enjoying the company of our friends and a beverage :drink

I myself wouldn't hesitate to take 10-12 people on my 26' toon, as long as the day was nice, and there were no more than 2-3 really little ones aboard. They would have to understand as well that this wouldn't be a speed boat, and we would just be cruising, and not tubing/knee boarding.

Hopefully this helps you out a bit, and good luck.
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Re: Fishing/cruising combo for pontoon beginners

#11 Post by badmoonrising » Fri Apr 30, 2010 8:06 am

jimrs wrote:10 or 12 people on a poontoon boat or any boat is a lot of people. I would not even think to take that many people out at one time. If you are actually thinking of taking the whole family and friends out, remember these words DON'T.

After you and your family get used to the boat then you can start bringing a few but please don't go overboard. You never said how big your family is and how old are your kids. All these will make a big decision on what size boat, motor you will need. Your talking a lot of money to just get started then you need to maintain both the boat and the trips.

The boats that you have mentioned are great Bennington is one of the best and you are not going to be underpowered.
I do, regularly. Canal Days there is on average 10-12 at any given time depending on who we make come on board to get beads or not. :rofl :rofl Some beads require a topless photo with the captain, some require lap dances. :drink4 :rofl :rofl

We had 11 sleep on board during CD '07. Upper deck, floor, hell you could walk from the stern to bow and cop a feel several times "unintentionally". :donno
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95jagman
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Re: Fishing/cruising combo for pontoon beginners

#12 Post by 95jagman » Fri Apr 30, 2010 2:15 pm

I looked at the Bennington but bought a Sylvan.
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Re: Fishing/cruising combo for pontoon beginners

#13 Post by jafo9 » Fri Apr 30, 2010 2:59 pm

BMR has a dining table, heck he has a dining room. :lol3

I had waltF's exact boat and we quite often had 14 people and a dog. usually half that number were young kids, but i never felt unsafe. we didn't go anywhere fast, but that wasn't the point.

i'll second alot of the above comments and throw in a few of my own. you will never regret getting too big a motor (except when you are writing the check). bigger is usually better on the water, particularly on big water with the potential for big waves. a bigger boat will have longer toons and usually offer more flotation, particularly with a 3 toon setup. remember, there is a distinct difference between 3 toons and a 3 toon performance package. the biggest issue with towing a longer toon will be the rating of your vehicle. we pull our 25ft with my wifes '10 expedition which is rated around 9500 lbs, but in reality, without a weight distributing hitch its only rated at 6500. so look at your owners manual carefully. a longer boat will be harder to get back on the trailer if there is a moderate to strong wind since toons in general tend to act like giant sails. as far as fishing, we chose to maximize seating so we didn't look for any boat with a fishing setup. ours has a "L" sofa in the rear and 2 sofas in front with a bow filler seat that makes it one giant wrap around sofa. however, we still fish from it just fine. we just don't have any fishing seats or live wells. the problem with fishing seats is that they are often outside the fence and not approved for seating while under way. if you want to routinely haul lots of folks, this may be an important consideration.

there are several brands where you really can't go wrong. bennington is always on the short list of top toon makers.

a few other thoughts. if i were buying new, i would strongly consider the double bimini option and even perhaps the full enclosure. not that i'm dying for them, it just seems alot easier to get them with the boat new vs. finding one 3-4 years down the road. when we bought our current boat, it had the "entertainment center" with sink, storage and a 12volt fridge. we really didn't want it but it was already on the boat (bought used). we toyed with taking it off but after a few outings with the fridge we were hooked. the sink is still useless, but having a fridge has been very nice and frequently used. i know i'm spending your money, so that is why it is so important to prioritize what you and your family want prior to the purchase. that's the great thing about used boats, if you find it doesn't fit your needs, sell it and buy another one. your depreciation on a 4-5 yr old boat will be alot less than a new one.

good luck and tell us what you decide.
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WaltF
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Re: Fishing/cruising combo for pontoon beginners

#14 Post by WaltF » Mon May 03, 2010 8:00 am

On the money jafo9! :nana

With 5 or less on our toon we can haul around pretty fast now that i have the right prop! Hit about 25ish.
On Sat just me n the wife went fishing, and it felt like we were flying... heh :rofl

Once 12 clowns climb aboard, maybe 15? heh... still, its the peeps that make your day, not the speed! :drink :nana
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Re: Fishing/cruising combo for pontoon beginners

#15 Post by curtiscapk » Mon May 03, 2010 8:53 am

Walt what prop are you running? :donno
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