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There was a time when an angler in search of a boat for fishing big water just bought an aluminum boat with a seat cushion, tackle and an outboard engine.  Boy, have times changed.  With the advent of competitive fishing and new materials for crafting boats fishing is a lot more sophisticated.  A vital part of that sophistication comes in the form of the boat and motor packages offered by manufacturers.

Here in Illinois anglers should consider a big water boat when fishing on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.  They might be advisable for the larger reservoirs such as Rend Lake and Carlyle Lake.

The basic purpose of the big water boat is different from that of a bass boat.  To a bass angler, the boat is a casting platform and he moves his bait with the rod and reel. The big water angler uses his boat as a tool to move the bait.

Moving more often big water anglers benefit from the newer model 4-stroke engines.  Being able to use a four-stroke large engine to back troll allows better boat control.

Four stoke engines allow anglers versatility. Fishermen are able to roll and back troll with ease. The larger motors perform well and the quietness of the engine sound is a bonus.

The lack of noise from the four strokes can cause anglers to think they are going slower than is really the case.  They were accustomed to relating noise with speed.  Smaller waters and trolling speeds under a mile per hour can require the use of a kicker motor.  But, on large waters one can troll with just the larger motor.

For back trolling in big water, some anglers prefer the use of a drift bag out from the bow and the large four stroke engine.  With this set up it is possible to control the boat completely in waves more than three or four feet. The conversion from two stroke engines to four strokes is something whose time has arrived.  Once someone tries the four-stroke there is no desire to go back to a two-stroke.

Four-strokes tend to be more reliable than the two-stroke both in fuel economy and maintenance.

So what other elements are essential for a good big water boat?  Anglers usually begin with an 18-foot boat and the four-stroke engine.  Hold off on a kicker motor until you see how the engine meets your needs.

Rod holders are must.  A good drift bag and anchor are important to control the movement of the boat.  Most packages come with a good trolling motor on the front.  This is not a time to fudge on the cost and quality of a trolling motor.  Buy the best you can afford.  A long shaft on the motor is a good idea in that one can always lift up the motor but you cannot add to the shaft.

High thrust trolling motors do provide almost the same amount of boat control that can be obtained back trolling with a tiller motor.

A 24-volt electrical system is best for this type of fishing.  They cost more but are more reliable.

A fish locator, side scanner and G.P.S. system are important.  If you can get a unit incorporating all three so much the better.  It is a better investment.  Split screen units allow the angler to use systems simultaneously.  If you want to run one you can do that too.  These units have all the capabilities for mapping and all the other features that come with modern G.P.S. systems.

Finally, there is safety equipment.  Never skimp on the safety equipment, such as flares, life vests, etc.  You never know when you are going to need them and your life may depend upon it.

A basic big water fishing boat is a big investment.  Take time in making a decision and do so only after checking out as many makes and models as possible.  The up coming boat show season offers an excellent opportunity to compare costs and packages before buying.

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