We are both dedicated kayak anglers and don’t own a power boat. That being said, there are occasions when visitors come to town and want to get out on the water. Depending on the size of the crew, we usually end up renting either a pontoon boat or a smaller center console skiff. There are several rental marinas in the Englewood area and we have, over the years, tried most of them. While we are not ruling out the future purchase of a boat, we have found advantages to occasional renting.
There it is, occasional. We have friends who own boats and rarely use them. We have other friends who go out almost daily. The daily bunch definitely is not in the market for a rental boat. But for the occasional boater, renting a dependable boat from a reputable marina makes a lot of sense. Boats, especially if used in salt water, need a lot of maintenance. This usually comes due when all you really wanted to do is go fishing. Busy lifestyles often conflict with maintenance time.
Consider the expenses involved with owning and using a boat. License fees for a boat and trailer, insurance, Sea\Tow fees, gas and storage, if needed, really add up. Of course, smaller boats get better gas mileage but the average 18 foot boat gets less than 10 mpg. You must have the required safety gear plus other fun things like GPS and depth finders. Around here most owners will add a jack plate and trim tabs. Anglers will appreciate a bait well and rod holders. Comfort add-ons like cushions and a T or Bimini top will cost extra and need replacement periodically. All this and we haven’t even considered the engine yet, but let’s not even go there now.
For a little more than a hundred dollar bill, you can rent a boat for a half day with all these things taken care of. That is about what 3 kayaks would cost to rent for a day. Some marinas have live bait available at the dock. One 16' Carolina Skiff we rented recently had 2 circulating live wells. Some marinas sell snacks, ice and beverages to take along in their cooler under the seat. Rod racks? Check. GPS? Check. All that and you don’t have to deal with impatient folks at the boat ramp while learning to launch your boat.
A whole day boat rental is less than twice as expensive as a half day but you may be surprised how much territory you can cover in a half day. We love our kayaks but once launched, we find ourselves pretty much stuck in one area. A skiff allows you and your friends to “pick up and move” if the first spot you picked is not producing. Another good thing kayakers notice about boats is they don’t blow around like kayaks do. And then there’s the comfort factor of being able to stand up and walk around that feels good even for kayakers with iron butts.
Rental boats have disadvantages too. Most kayakers have found ways around the area bays and creeks that boats can’t use. The average kayaker in a rental for the first time will be surprised at how much water it takes to run a boat and motor. A minimum depth of two feet is about what most small boats require with the motor down to avoid tearing up the seagrass on our flats. You won’t find a boat that will go in 4" like a kayak.
Pontoon boats are better than a skiff for mixed outings with several anglers and or sun seekers. They are considerably slower than a skiff so your range will be limited and they aren’t as good in waves and wakes when bigger boats pass you. Pontoon boats also will blow across a flat faster than a skiff. For comfort and deck space though, they can’t be beat.
So, even if you are a devoted kayak angler, consider rental boats if you have folks visiting that aren’t comfortable in kayaks. It feels kinda like cheating when you fire up the motor but it sure feels good going into the wind.
Kimball and Les Beery, authors of Angler’s Guide to Shore and KAYAK Fishing Southwest Florida, contribute this excerpts from both Waterproof books to promote the excellent fishing available in the Englewood area. These books are available locally at Old Florida Gallery on West Dearborn & www.anglerpocketguides.com & www.amazon.com as a download or hard copy