Not all of us have the budget to buy a full-sized boat. With that, the best small lake fishing boat will come in handy for regular trips. It’s easier to maintain and launch to the shore. You can also enjoy lake fishing without dipping into your savings. As long as you get one with the right features, you’ll barely know the difference.
You don’t always need a large boat to flex your angling skills. A small boat can get you a big catch if you pair it with the right tackle.
If you’re looking for the right boat to take on your next lake fishing trip, the following will be a great choice:
5 Best Small Lake Fishing Boat Options
OUR #1 CHOICE
OUR TOP PICK: Newport Vessels 11-Feet Inflatable Dinghy
Product Name: Newport Vessels 11-Feet Inflatable Dinghy
Product Description: If you’re looking for the best small lake fishing boat, you should consider the Newport Vessels 11-Feet Inflatable Dinghy. This is a USCG-rated vessel made from 1,100-denier PVC with a special coating. To make it last long, this is triple-layered with 0.9 mm material. Moreover, this has an aluminum frame with marine-grade wood flooring. Overall, you will get two aluminum bench seats, a drain plug, a foot pump, and multiple D rings. You can use the rings to attach a Bimini and other accessories to make fishing worthwhile. This is also equipped with oarlocks and holders, carrying handles, and a motor mount for your trolling engine. For this inflatable boat, you can use motors of up to 20hp, which is a lot of power for an inflatable.
Offer price: $$$
Value for Money
Aside from that, this is reinforced with polyester and anti-corrosive PVC. This makes the boat resistant to sunlight, rust, salt, and other destructive elements. You can take this to the nearby lake without having to tow a large boat. This can fit inside your car once deflated!
The Newport Vessels Inflatable Dinghy has four air chambers to guarantee its buoyancy. It can also support up to 1,519 lbs. of the maximum onboard load. This is a champ considering that the boat itself only weighs 150 lbs.
In addition, this is available in 8 to 11 feet versions to suit the size that you prefer. All of it has a high-pressure keel and V hull for the best tracking and speed.
Triple-layer for durability
24 mm aluminum frame
The straps to hang the seats are a bit weak.
Inflatable Sport Boats 10.8-Feet Fishing Boat
Another fishing boat I recommend is the Inflatable Sport Boats Killer Whale. This is a 10.8’ vessel made by nautical engineers for guaranteed buoyancy and performance on the water. It’s an excellent choice for lakes, rivers, and even open seas.
Moreover, this is made of a 24 mm aluminum floor and seats. It’s strong yet light to avoid excessive onboard weight. I also like the grab lines on the bow, which lets you balance during a strong wave.
Meanwhile, the boat itself is made of 1,100-denier PVC. It’s guaranteed to be oil, stain, and UV-resistant to make the boat last long. The white material doesn’t fade easily, so your fishing boat will look good as new.
Aside from that, this has an inflatable keel and a V-shaped hull. It also has three air chambers and can carry a maximum load of 1,268 lbs. onboard. All the seams of this boat are heat-welded to stay leak-free on freshwater or saltwater use.
This boat is USCG-approved and comes with the Certification of Origin that you’ll need to register the vessel. It’s also covered with a 3-year warranty for added peace of mind.
In addition, this boat is designed to accommodate up to 15hp of trolling motor power. When deflated, it can be stored in a 44” x 24” x 11” bag with a weight of 80 lbs.
Sea Eagle Stealth Stalker STS10 Fishing Boat
If you’re just looking for a two-seater lake fishing boat, you should consider the Sea Eagle Stealth Stalker. This is made to carry two adults for a total of 1,200 lbs. of load weight. Overall, this is 10’1” x 5’, which offers ample space to move around while fishing.
This vessel is made from 1,000-denier PVC for durability. Meanwhile, the flooring is made of 2-part wood, so it doesn’t sag when you move around. It’s also fitted with two seats for comfortable use. The chair swivels at 360 degrees with a 7” pedestal.
Aside from that, this has four built-in rod holders so you can fish with ease. There are also two Scotty mounts included that you can use to connect accessories like camera or anchor locks.
Moreover, this inflatable boat is compatible with up to 4 hp of trolling power. You can use motors that are either electric or gas-powered.
The Sea Eagle Stealth Stalker also has raised oarlocks and carry handles. The motor mount is already built-in for your convenience.
Another thing that I like about this is that all Sea Eagle vessels have Hull Identification Numbers (HIN). It serves as the ID number of your boat, which is unique for that specific unit.
When deflated, this boat is only 31” x 40” x 9”, which can easily fit on your truck or hatchback. It’s also lightweight for just 78 lbs. when stored.
Pelican BASS Raider 10-Feet Fishing Boat
If you’re not a fan of inflatable boats, you should consider the Pelican BASS Raider. This is a 10-feet, two-seater vessel that packs a ton of features.
First, its shell is made from the impact-resistant RAM-X material. It’s built to last and can accommodate up to three people, though the seats are only two.
The best thing about this boat is you can stand on it while fishing. For this size, it’s quite impressive. Meanwhile, the seat swivels so you can push it out of the way.
Aside from that, you’ll enjoy multiple storage compartments on this boat. You can stash all your fishing gear in the cockpit. I also like that the seats are elevated so that you can use the space underneath. It also sets you higher from the water surface.
Moreover, the motor mount is already pre-wired, so you only need to install the trolling motor. You can also use it to set up a sonar to spot where fishes are located. It’s a perfect choice for lakes and coves.
Overall, this boat has a 600-lbs. capacity on its 145 lbs. build. The only issue I have here is it takes more effort to transport. Other than that, this is an excellent boat for lake use. It’s easy for two people to move around, which is a big perk if you’re going out of town to fish.
Pelican Boat Intruder 12-Feet Fishing Boat
My last pick for this roundup is the Pelican Boat Intruder. This is a 12-feet fishing boat made with the same RAM-X material as the BASS Raider above. It’s a Jon-style boat that’s very stable and reliable when it comes to fishing.
Moreover, this has molded bench seats and a motor mount. It’s also equipped with four vertical rod holders readily positioned for fishing rods.
Aside from that, this has a shallow draft design with a flat hull. It ensures better stability while you’re on the water. This is paired with multiple storage compartments where you can stack your fishing equipment.
I also like the multiple carrying handles that make it very easy to move around. It also has an oarlock receptacle to prevent dropping your oars into the water.
This is a roomy boat, so you probably need a trailer to carry this around. It also has a flat bottom, so storage and loading would be much easier.
Just note that this boat isn’t pre-wired like the first Pelican I reviewed above. But for a lower price, I think that’s already a fair bargain.
If you have a good sense of balance, you can fish standing up on this boat. It has ribbed flooring, which makes it easier to balance on mild to moderate waves.
Overall, this can support up to 420 lbs. of weight, though I can stretch mine to 600 lbs. on a flat lake. If you’re expecting big waves, I suggest that you stick to the weight limit or less.
How to choose the best small lake fishing boat
When shopping for the best small lake fishing boat, it’s important to consider the following points:
✔️Inflatable vs. rigid
Fishing boats are available in either inflatable or rigid versions—both works, but with significant differences.
Inflatable fishing boats are convenient since they can be stored in a bag. Also, it’s usually cheaper than rigid types. However, inflatable boats are prone to punctures and may have a shorter lifespan, depending on the specific unit you’re going to get.
On the other hand, rigid fishing boats are ideal if you don’t want the hassle of inflating and deflating a vessel repeatedly. It’s ready to launch, not to mention that you can set up accessories semi-permanently.
The only downside with rigid fishing boats is the hassle of carrying them around. For larger ones, you’d need a boat trailer. Smaller vessels can be mounted on a car’s roof, but it will take a lot of effort. This is aside from the potentially higher cost.
Once you’ve decided about the type, the next consideration is the size of the boat. It can be anywhere from 8 feet to 11 feet. The larger the boat, the higher the weight capacity will be. However, it will also be more expensive and heavier.
So how should you choose the right size? It’s important to know the number of people who will be riding the vessel. Aside from that, you should factor in the gears you’re planning to bring.
Lastly, you should consider how easy you want to boat to carry. Smaller boats are no-brainers if you want a portable and easy to maintain option.
When it comes to fishing, I always recommend stiff flooring. This way, you can stand on the boat without the risk of tipping over.
Aluminum and wood flooring is the best if you want a stable boat that can carry your standing weight. This is more expensive than inflatable types, but it’s worth the splurge if you’re going to ask me.
There are four common hull types used on fishing boats. The flat-bottom, round-bottom, V-shape, and multi-hull. The following are the definitions of each one:
- Flat- bottom. This is a very stable hull used for fishing in calm waters. It’s a perfect choice for lakes, rivers, and other small bodies of water.
- Round-bottom. This hull is designed to let the boat cut through the water smoothly. However, this hull is one of the least stable as it tends to rock to the sides when you move.
- V-shape. This hull shape is the most common among budget fishing boats. It allows the boat to tread through the water faster. It’s ideal for choppy waters or mild to moderate currents.
- Multi-hull. This hull is found on pontoon boats. There are two separate hulls, which can either be displacement or planing.
Another important consideration when purchasing a fishing boat is its weight capacity. You should never fill a fishing boat to the brim because it will sink once you start moving. The rule of thumb is that you should only occupy 80% of the indicated weight capacity of the boat. The remaining 20% is the allowance for your movement as you fish.
It’s important that the boat has ample space to store your tackle. It should be roomy enough to fit the anglers without feeling too cramped or ‘sinky’. If you’re fishing with multiple anglers, you might as well invest in a larger vessel.
✔️Trolling motor compatibility
Take note that you can’t install just about any trolling motor in a fishing boat. You have to ensure that the horsepower is compatible with the size. A very strong trolling motor will send your boat flying and tipping.
Usually, the boat size and trolling motor power are directly proportional. Also, many fishing boats, like the five I reviewed here, already have built-in motor mounts.
✔️Rod holders and accessories
Most importantly, there should be multiple rod holders, so you can keep your hands free while waiting for a catch. It should be fishing-ready, so you won’t have to purchase the holders separately.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is an inflatable boat worth it for fishing?
A: Inflatable boats are ideal for fishing if you want a portable and easy-to-maintain option. Just make sure that you pick a durable option that will last for years. Make sure that you choose one with multiple air chambers so it won’t sink easily.
Q: Is it worth it to buy a fishing boat?
A: While fishing by the shore is still fun, a fishing boat will give you more opportunities. You can reach deeper and better waters where you can hook a larger catch. Another benefit here is you can avoid the shore when it’s saturated with anglers. Besides, you can always find cheaper boats that can get you in the water.
Q: Can I stand up in an inflatable fishing boat?
A: It depends on the construction of the inflatable boat. If you have one with an all-aluminum floor and inflatable keel, you can stand up on it safely. However, if your vessel only relies on an inflatable floor, it may not be as stable as solid material.
Q: What is the best time to fish on a lake?
A: During summer, it’s best to go fishing in the early morning and just before dusk. Meanwhile, it’s best to go lake fishing at dusk in spring and fall. In some areas, you can go fishing all year round, depending on the type of fish you’re aiming for.
Q: Do fish bite when it’s raining on the lake?
A: Yes, fishes will still bite even if it’s raining. However, it can be challenging to go angling, especially if you’re launching a boat. If it’s a downpour, I suggest you stay by the shore. Taking chances on a small boat might become dangerous.
The best small lake fishing boat will let you explore the waters without draining your savings. These are cheaper vessels but not short of fun. Just make sure that you get one with the right size, features, material, and build. The five boats I reviewed above won’t disappoint on your next lake fishing trip.
What do you think of these fishing boats? Share your thoughts below!