How Much Does A Fishing Boat Cost: Boats For Every Budget

At some point, most anglers contemplate the purchase of a fishing boat.  It is the next logical leap in taking your fishing game to the next level.  A boat lets you explore new areas and catch a larger variety of species.

As exciting as boat shopping is, few anglers really know how much a fully outfitted boat for fishing is going to cost.  You also need to consider that what you pay for the boat is not the final price tag.  Accessories, storage, maintenance, fuel and licensing are all recurring costs.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve started doing some research and are ready to start shopping before next fishing season.  Since money is priority number one, we all need to ask about the price.

So, how much is a fishing boat going to cost? On average a new, fully equipped, fishing boat in the 16 to 20 foot range with an outboard motor, trailer and standard features will cost between $18,000 and $45,000 depending on the make and model.  Additional expenses like insurance, licensing, maintenance and fuel can add up to well over $100 a month for the life of the boat.

Like I said, the final sticker price on a boat is seldom the last dollar you’re going to spend on it.  There are a lot of financial considerations when owning a boat.  We will spend the rest of this article going over the true cost of owning a fishing boat so you can determine the best boat for your budget.

A fishing boat for every budget

For every type of angler there is a boat that will suit your needs.  It just depends on how much you are willing to spend to have the comfort and features that you want.

Next, we’ll cover some of the most popular styles of fishing boats to give you an idea of what you can expect to pay as well as shed some light on other expenses associated with each type of boat.

Saltwater boats

Saltwater boats for inshore and offshore fishing are some of the most expensive fishing boats money can buy.  These specialized boats are usually made with durable fiberglass hulls with dual or center console cabins and an array of features and electronics suited for the demanding saltwater environment.  

Many offshore boats also come equipped with two motors.  Not only for power but for safety reasons.  If one motor quits running you have a back up to get home.  Two motors also means twice the maintenance and fuel costs as well.

Smaller vessels in the 16 to 20 foot range average $30,000 – $60,000 and larger, dedicated offshore boats may cost in excess of $100,000.  Brand and craftsmanship are main determinants of the final price.  Tidewater, Boston Whaler and Sea Hunt are popular brands to check out. 

Price for 10 Popular Saltwater Boats

Saltwater Boat Make and Model Base Cost (boat, trailer and motor)
Boston Whaler 150 Montauk$31,154
Boston Whaler 210 Dauntless$98,257
Boston Whaler 280 Outrage$265,730
Cobia 240 CC$81,060
Grady-White 191 Coastal Explorer$86,729
Grady-White Freedom 235$161,489
Sea Hunt Ultra 211$49,900
Sea Hunt Gamefish 27$124,688
Tidewater 198 CC Adventure$31,550
Tidewater 232 CC Adventure$66,700

* Prices are based on new MSRP with standard packages including boat, trailer and motor. Prices vary by location and dealer.

Bass boats

It’s no surprise that bass boats are the most popular boats in the US.  Millions of anglers chase largemouth bass in almost every state and for every type of water there is a suitable bass boat.

The popularity of bass boats means that manufacturer competition is stiff.  The result is more choices for you at lower prices.  You can easily spend up to $75,000 on top-of-the-line boats like Skeeter but there are plenty of full featured bass boats for less than $25,000.  Tracker, Xpress and Ranger boat brands all make budget models that are sure to put you on fish just as well. 

Price for 10 Popular Bass Boats

Bass BoatBase Cost (boat, trailer and motor)
Bass Cat Puma FTD 20$48,595
Crestliner 1750 Bass Hawk$31,338
Lund 1875 Crossover XS$36,651
Nitro Z21$47,815
Ranger Z518$37,895
Skeeter FX21 LE$70,485
Tracker Bass Tracker Classic XL$10,995
Tracker Pro Team 190 XT$22,495
Triton 21 TRX$63,995
Xpress X19 Pro$31,995

* Prices are based on new MSRP with standard packages including boat, trailer and motor. Prices vary by location and dealer.

Pontoon boats

These lumbering party boats may not be speed demons but they are comfortable to fish from and are excellent for multi-species fishing on lakes and protected bays.

Just like any other boat on the list, there is a staggering number of choices from budget models to high end pleasure crafts.  For the budget conscious angler, Avalon pontoon boats start at $24,000 for base models which are perfect for fishing.  Other brands, like Lowe, are around $15,000 for fully equipped models.

Price for 10 Popular Pontoon Boats

Pontoon BoatBase Cost (boat, trailer and motor)
Avalon Catalina Quad Fish$37,800
Avalon GS FishS24,000
Bennington SF 20$24,349
Crestliner 180 Sprint$17,108
Crestliner 240 Rally DX$28,736
Lowe SF 234$24,792
Lowe Ultra 162 Fish and Cruise$14,695
Starcraft EX Fish 22 FD$22,299
Sun Tracker Fishin’ Barge 22 XP3$33,755
Sylvan Mirage 8522 CnF$24,299

* Prices are based on new MSRP with standard packages including boat, trailer and motor. Prices vary by location and dealer.

Aluminum multi-species boats

The classic design of aluminum boats makes them the most versatile fishing boats on the water.  Whether you go crabbing in the Puget Sound or walleye fishing on Lake Erie, there is an aluminum boat that will work for you.

Lund, Alumacraft, Crestliner and Lowe are among the most popular manufacturers of welded aluminum boats.  Shop around and you can find good deals on 16 to 18 foot boats for $15,000 – $30,000 depending on the model.

Price for 10 Popular Aluminum Boats

Aluminum Multi-Species BoatBase Cost (boat, trailer and motor)
Alumacraft Classic 165 CS$17,299
Alumacraft Voyageur 175 Sport$23,399
Crestliner 1750 Super Hawk$34,271
Crestliner 1750 Fish Hawk$29,251
Crestliner 1850 Commander Elite$39,048
Legend 18 XTR$39,999
Lowe FM 1800 SC$27,026
Lowe FS 1900$31,308
Lund 1800 Sport Angler$38,406
Smokercraft 162 Pro Angler XL$27,495

* Prices are based on new MSRP with standard packages including boat, trailer and motor. Prices vary by location and dealer.

Jon boats

Few boats have a dedicated following of hard core anglers like the Jon boat.  The simple aluminum flat bottom design comes in a variety of sizes and is easily customizable.  Whether you want to slide one in the bed of your truck or get a larger boat to convert into a bass fishing machine, the price is hard to beat. 

Most boat manufactures make a version of Jon boats and you can expect to pay around $2000 for the boat alone and up to $10,000 for a fully loaded, ready-to-fish boat.

There is also a huge inventory of used Jon boats that are perfect for anyone looking for a fun winter project.  I have seen them for less than $200 on Craigslist. 

Price for 5 Popular Jon Boats

Jon BoatBase Cost (boat, trailer and motor)
Alumacraft 1448 Jon$9,870
Lowe 1648 MT Aura$2,707 (boat only)
Lowe L1852 MT Jon$3,612 (boat only)
Tracker Topper 1236$895 (boat only)
Tracker Grizzly 1648 SC$10,395

* Prices are based on new MSRP with standard packages including boat, trailer and motor. Prices vary by location and dealer.


Fishing kayaks have certainly gained popularity in recent years.  As an avid kayak angler myself, I can attest to the versatility of fishing from a small craft that can easily fit on top of a vehicle.

It also doesn’t get any cheaper.  Pick up a simple kayak from Walmart for $150 and you can be fishing on a local lake the same day.  Storage is easy and expenses are minimal.  

Sun Dolphin and Pelican brand kayaks make several popular styles of fishing kayaks ranging from $400 – $900.  Most come with well thought out features for anglers.  

If small affordable boats are what you are looking for then our article showcasing the 7 best portable boats is a must read.

Price for 5 Popular Fishing Kayaks

Fishing KayakBase Cost
3 Waters Big Fish 120$899
BKC RA220 116$897
Hobie Mirage Outback$2,999
Old Town Topwater 106$899
Pelican Catch 110$1,299

* Prices are based on new MSRP with standard packages including boat, trailer and motor. Prices vary by location and dealer.

Other costs to consider


Not every boat needs insurance but when you shell out over $20,000 on a fishing setup you may want to consider protecting yourself against potential damage. 

Some states even require insurance once you have a motor boat with 50 horse power or more.  Comprehensive coverage can cost $300 or more annually, whereas liability insurance that only pays out for property damage or injury to other people costs an average of $100 annually.

If you plan on buying a bass boat in the near future, be sure to read our article on insurance costs where we compare current quotes from several insurance companies. 


Most motor boats with 9.9 hp or larger motors need to be registered and licensed for use on many public lakes, rivers or saltwater areas.  Boat trailers also require registration and current license tabs to drive on the road.  

Registration requirements and costs vary by state.  From our experience most license and registration fees are renewed annually for the boat and trailer.  You can expect to pay around $50 per year.


The cost of towing a fishing boat is one of the most overlooked expenses when anglers shop for boats.  This can add up to more than the rest of this list combined if you let it sneak up on you.  

Boats are heavier than you think and you need a vehicle that is capable of safely towing it.  Always check that your truck or SUV has the capacity to tow the boat you want before you buy it.  Otherwise you can end up in a dangerous situation or you just might be forced to upgrade to a larger vehicle.

Finding the weight of a fishing boat and trailer is tougher than you think.  That’s why we put together a comprehensive article listing 35 popular fishing boat and trailer weights.  Be sure to check it out before making any purchase.


Maintaining a fishing boat is no small chore.  Everything from tuning up the outboard motor to changing out wheel bearings on the trailer will rack up the bills.

Most maintenance costs go towards the motor.  Small outboard motors may need new spark plugs and gear lube and only cost a few bucks each year.  However, large inboard motors can really suck up spare cash in a hurry when problems occur.

Other common items to replace or fix include: boat seats, electrical devices, trailer lights, trailer tires, wheel bearings, batteries, and carpet to name a few. 

For most fishing boats you should set aside a minimum of $200 to $400 a year for minor repairs and general maintenance.

Fishing accessories

Once you get that shiny new boat home, I guarantee the next thing you’ll want to do is outfit it with the best fishing accessories you can afford.  Make sure you set aside some cash for a good fish finder, rod holders, trolling motor, and downriggers if you need them.

These types of things may not need replacing often but all together they can easily cost $2000 on top of the boat price.


We gas up our cars daily so we all have a pretty good idea what it costs each month at the pump.  Once you get a boat, it’s time to readjust the gas budget to allow for some extra fishing trips.

Depending on the motor size and how often you go fishing, gas is most likely going to be a minor cost compared to other expenses.  Still, each trip in the boat could burn through several gallons of gas each hour at full throttle depending on its size.

Cruising or trolling speeds use less fuel but frequent fishing trips can add up fast in fuel costs.  Give yourself at least $50 a month for fuel during peak fishing season.  Fueling up at marinas will cost you even more.

Obviously boats with electric trolling motors or kayaks do not have this expense to worry about.

New vs. Used fishing boats

Whatever type of fishing boat you choose, it will be significantly less money if you buy used rather than new from a dealer.  Just like cars, boats depreciate immediately once you tow them off the lot. 

Get the most for your money and try finding a well cared for used boat that will suit your needs.  It may require a little TLC to get into tip top shape but it will be a far sight cheaper than the cost of a new boat.

Most boats depreciate in value up to 50% in the first 3 years.  That of course depends on the condition of the boat but in general shopping for a 3 or 4 year old boat is going to save you a fair amount.  Do your homework to find one with a well maintained motor and it will provide years of excellent service.

Getting a good deal on a fishing boat

You aren’t going to find discount coupons in your Sunday paper for a new boat but that doesn’t mean deals don’t exist.  

Just like car shopping knowledge, timing and negotiating will work in your favor when making a purchase.  Let’s go over these 3 important components to getting a good deal.

  • Knowledge:  Whether you buy new or used, going armed with as much knowledge as possible is going to save you money.  That means doing cost comparisons, boat depreciation analysis and figuring out local tax rates, all of which will shave hundreds or thousands of dollars off the final price. 
  • Timing:  Anyone selling a boat is going to try getting top dollar for it.  However, sellers often are willing to sacrifice profits to move inventory or get out from under a financial burden.  Your goal is to show up at the right time.  Try shopping for a new boat in the fall when business is slow and they’re trying to make room for next year’s inventory.  When buying used, sellers who are downsizing, moving or are going through a life event will often agree to awesome deals just to get rid of a boat.
  • Negotiating:  It is your hard earned money that’s going to buy this boat so don’t back down when you think a price is unfair.  Countless books are written on the art of negotiation so I won’t pretend to be an expert.  Knowledge and timing are going to be your best weapon against pushy salesmen but you also need the will to walk away.  Most sales people know that people hate shopping around so if you are unwilling to walk away and go to another dealer, you will loose the negotiation every time.  Try pitting several dealers against each other to make them bid for your business.

Bottom line

There is no way to sugar coat it.  A fishing boat is not cheap but with a bit of research you should be able to find a boat that suits your needs for a fair price.  It is easy to get pressured into getting the best money can buy so figure out exactly what you need before going shopping.

The best way to determine how much boat you need is to look at the areas you plan to fish the most and how many people you normally have with you.  For solo anglers on small protected waters, a kayak may be all the boat you need.  Whereas salmon addicts fishing coastal waters with family and friends will need something larger and more sea worthy.  

Either way, any fishing boat will present new opportunities to make lifelong memories.