Inflatable Boats for Fishing

I developed a passion for saltwater fishing after moving to New England and taking up the sport as a hobby.  While my wife continues to view it as a hobby, the pursuit might qualify as an obsession due to the amount of time I spend thinking about fishing, researching, planning trips or actually fishing.  Hey, what can I say, it makes me happy and there’s nothing quite like spending time on the water and hooking into a nice fish.  Saltwater species offer a real thrill and challenge.  To simplify the process, I have focused on catching one species, Striped Bass.

Inflatable boats for fishing

As with all pursuits there is a learning curve.  Because the fish migrate, fight hard, and sometimes behave unexpectedly, it takes a lot of time and effort to become confident in catching these fish.  Learning where the fish are and getting to them are paramount challenges.  After getting skunked on about 20 consecutive trips early on, I’ve had a couple years of decent success, which I would define as catching fish on most outings.  On some of those early attempts I remember seeing huge flocks of birds working bait for hours only a quarter mile offshore, which would have provided epic fishing if I could have only gotten out there.  For more access, I moved from surfcasting to kayak angling in 2011.  That helped boost my catch rate, but I found myself in situations where I spent most of my time on the water paddling to or from fishing grounds, fighting wind and current, or getting caught in dangerous conditions.  There is still a major problem with kayak fishing in my opinion in that you spend most of the time paddling around instead of fishing.  Sure it’s tranquil and good exercise, but I needed a way to get to out the fish quickly, move around at will, and maximize my time on the water.

Enter the Kaboat.  After much research and even seriously considering center console fishing boats, I chose the Saturn 16’ SK487XL model, which is the 4-chamber special ops version in black.  Why a Kaboat?  Well in short, it was about affordability, flexibility, and mobility.  First, the model was in-stock at a local dealer so I could see it and feel it first-hand.  The extra chambers will provide peace of mind for the types of fishing and environments I plan to be in.  I would have been fine with buying it online, but the boat was in stock and discounted.  The boat is impressive and hardly what people think when you mention inflatable boat.  It’s funny that friends and family first thought I was insane to even consider putting a motor on what they thought was a glorified pool toy and head into coastal waters.  That’s a big misconception.  These boats are super tough, reliable, and safe.  I bought the automatic high volume, high pressure air pump, which runs on a 12v battery and literally takes about 8 minutes to get the floor and tubes inflated to full operating pressure.  This is the same model pump sold on  The air floor feels like plywood when fully inflated to 11 psi.  The outboard I chose is a new 9.8 HP Tohatsu short-shaft manual, weighing only 81lbs.  I consider this size still portable and the boat really should fly with it.  A local dealer was used for the motor so I can have it properly maintained and serviced.  Be careful, I found there are scam websites for small outboards with prices too good to be true, so do your research and fully vet the sources.

I expect to rig the boat for fishing, which will include air floor protection, rod holders, live well, fish finder w/GPS, and a landing box (to keep thrashing fish contained while unhooking).  It’s hard to say how fast the 9.8hp engine will push the boat, but I’d imagine well in excess of 20mph, which is plenty fast enough to get where I need to go, fight currents, and properly troll in a variety of conditions.  The extra-large tubes on the SK487XL should provide good stability and I’ll add a foil if needed to get on plane quickly.  The 4” draft with engine up will allow me to be stealthy, explore shallows, and row into fish without spooking them.  I’ll be able to launch virtually anywhere in fresh or saltwater.  Storage is obviously no issue and the total cost of ownership is unbeatable.

Lastly, it’s a bonus that I can bring family and friends on the water, explore new areas of coastline, find remote beaches, and teach my daughter how to fish.  We’re sure to have many memorable experiences together.  Can’t wait to get on the water this season!

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