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‘Tooning’ your fishing

Fishing the Midwest

Modern outboards push a pontoon as fast or as slow as an angler or boater might want to go.

In my over fifty years of fishing, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to fish from a variety of boats and boat styles. Some were outstanding fishing rigs, others not so much. Fishing partners and I have shared space in flat-bottom jonboats, high end bass boats, deep-vee multi-specie boats, canoes, runabouts, and pontoons. I always enjoyed fishing from pontoons from time to time. The extra space allowed for lots of movement and equipment. However, I had never fished from a pontoon rigged for fishing until recently. Fishing the Midwest television host and fishing guide Mike Frisch is doing some of his fishing from a pontoon this year for a variety of reasons. He invited me to join him in his pontoon recently. I did, and I’m glad I did. I learned that a pontoon set up for fishing can provide a really good fishing platform.

Mike has older family members and friends that are more comfortable fishing from the stability and ease of entry provided by a pontoon.

Mike every now and then guides groups of three or four anglers, and the extra space is appreciated. And if you’re fishing a two or three line state, just think how many crankbaits you could troll or slip-bobbers you could fish effectively from a pontoon.

The knock on pontoons has always been that they’re not set up for fishing, and that probably used to be true. However, more and more, the people who make pontoons are learning how to do just that. The Bennington 22GFS that we fished from was set up for fishing from the factory, and Mike added some features that has amade it even more fishable.

A bow-mount electric Minn Kota motor enables trolling or precision casting, and it does a better job of positioning the ‘toon than you might think or even believe. The Spot-Lock feature on the electric motor, the Talon shallow water anchor, or a traditional anchor allows the casting angler to hold in position so casts to a school of fish can be accomplished effectively. Mike’s pontoon also employs state-of-the-art sonar. He can scout underwater structure or locate weedbeds to the side of his craft as effectively and easily as with a traditional, top-of-the-line fishing boat.

The rig that we fished out of came with rod-holders, but Mike added some rail mount rod-holders to expand his trolling effectiveness. The additional rod-holders make it possible to present a good number of lines very efficiently and effectively.

This pontoon has two large, circulating livewells: One for bait, the other for your catch. There is also a built-in tacklebox.

Pontoons are most effective when a front-trolling, casting, or anchored position is called for. Backtrolling isn’t as effective from a pontoon.

Mike’s boat is powered by a Yamaha 200 SHO engine. It’s quiet, fuel-efficient, and pushes the boat to a top speed of about forty miles an hour. An angler can cover a lot of water, and the rig handles moderate chop very well.

I’m not sure if I’m ready to give up a traditional fishing boat. But from my day on the water with Mike, I also know that pontoons can provide an outstanding fishing experience and I certainly wouldn’t shy away from considering a pontoon to be my only fishing platform.

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