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What kind of boat should I be looking for? 18 ft or so. Must be able to fish near the dams on the upper Mississippi and yet go up shallow rivers as well. I assume it’s a flat bottom but what are the best? Looking to stay under 17 k.
 

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Here in WV....you can't get close to the dams in a boat. You have to fish the piers if you want to get close to the dam face. There are buoys and markers to stop you about 150 yds or so back. They do pay attention. If you take a boat past the markers....the lock operators will call the DNR and they will come and ticket you. The only boats allowed past the markers are DNR boats. I have had them drive up to the fishing piers to check licenses.

For catfishing? If I ever get a boat, it will be a pontoon. I am not competitive fishing so I don't need to hole shot to get a fishing spot
 

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I don’t drive right up to dam wall. Sorry for misunderstanding. I get as close as I can while still following the law. I meant a boat that will still make me feel comfortable in turbulent 60’ water.
 

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What kind of boat should I be looking for? 18 ft or so. Must be able to fish near the dams on the upper Mississippi and yet go up shallow rivers as well. I assume it’s a flat bottom but what are the best? Looking to stay under 17 k.
I am no boat expert, so I really won't make recommendations. Generally speaking like most things in life you can't get the best of both world's. A bigger boat will perform better on the big water and a smaller boat would perform better on the smaller water. When I started looking for a boat a few friends pretty much recommended 18’ with a minimum of a 50hp motor with an electric trolling motor 24v 70lb minimum for handling the big rivers. I bought a Lund 1875 Crossover XS with a 150 HP and a 24V 80lb trolling motor. I haven't had it that long but I have had it on some pretty rough water on the Ohio River. It handles it just fine and actually even better than I expected. It is just under 19' and is a deep V style boat.

If this year was like last year boat demand will be very high and getting a boat may be tough. I looked for used for a while, but the prices were crazy. They were higher than book value. Boats that were a decent price literally sold in minutes and I had a couple that people called and offered more than the seller was selling for. It basically turned into an auction. I ended up giving up on the used market and bought a new one. Even the new market has some long lead times right now. From what I have heard some boat manufacturers are like 6 months out.

How shallow of water do you want to run? That may help with the recommendations.
 

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I had a G3 1860 powered by a 60hp Yamaha, I liked everything about the boat with the exception of the live well. While they called it a live well I would call it a bait well, just a small tank right in front of the side console. We caught a lot of fish from that boat, had it right up next to Ky Dam a time or two (gotta use common sense, if all gates are wide open don't get close). The wife started talking pleasure boat as the grandkids got old enough to go so we bought a new G3 Sportsman 200 and let the 1860 go. I checked the G3 web page, it appears they have added a live well in the bow so I think it would do what you are needing it to.
 

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I am no boat expert, so I really won't make recommendations. Generally speaking like most things in life you can't get the best of both world's. A bigger boat will perform better on the big water and a smaller boat would perform better on the smaller water. When I started looking for a boat a few friends pretty much recommended 18’ with a minimum of a 50hp motor with an electric trolling motor 24v 70lb minimum for handling the big rivers. I bought a Lund 1875 Crossover XS with a 150 HP and a 24V 80lb trolling motor. I haven't had it that long but I have had it on some pretty rough water on the Ohio River. It handles it just fine and actually even better than I expected. It is just under 19' and is a deep V style boat.

If this year was like last year boat demand will be very high and getting a boat may be tough. I looked for used for a while, but the prices were crazy. They were higher than book value. Boats that were a decent price literally sold in minutes and I had a couple that people called and offered more than the seller was selling for. It basically turned into an auction. I ended up giving up on the used market and bought a new one. Even the new market has some long lead times right now. From what I have heard some boat manufacturers are like 6 months out.

How shallow of water do you want to run? That may help with the recommendations.
Sounds like you like your Lund. How shallow can you go confidently?
 

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I think the real question should be how much can you afford to spend to repair your motor.

It is pretty easy to put your boat in the water, measure from the water surface to the bottom of the skag so you know when the skag would drag bottom. When on plane you should be further off the bottom.

Does that mean it is ok to run on plane? That is your choice. Myself, I like fishing time not repair time.

Just another 2 cents
 

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I think the real question should be how much can you afford to spend to repair your motor.

It is pretty easy to put your boat in the water, measure from the water surface to the bottom of the skag so you know when the skag would drag bottom. When on plane you should be further off the bottom.

Does that mean it is ok to run on plane? That is your choice. Myself, I like fishing time not repair time.

Just another 2 cents
I get nervous when I get under 10' when running the big motor. When I get to water like that I will usually be at an idle. Depths can change fast and there is more likely to be logs just under the surface. I usually trim my motor up a fair amount as well to hopefully avoid some of that.
 

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I bought an Alumacraft Center Console AW 2072 Tunnel Hull a few months ago and I love it. I've have a fished out of a little bit of everything and for family fun and fishing my 25 foot pontoon would be my favorite. Hard to beat cattin' and grillin' on your own floating island. But, for pure fishability the Alumacraft is superior. I still use my Gambler Pro Bass if I'm covering a lot of water (that old dog will run 70mph!), but the Alumacraft will run in 11 inches of water and handles bigger water chop just fine...

Unless you're going super shallow a lot an all welded mod v style boat would be my choice up there.

Peace,
Chad
 

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First off,
Boats that are designed to handle big water. Are not designed to handle shallow water and vice versa.

So you will have to compromise right of the bat.

Big flat bottoms will handle the big water. They ride ruff though.

If your close enough to the boils that you have to worry about boat size. YOUR TOO CLOSE!

I bought a boat last year in your price range.

I narrowed it down to 3:
Lowe roughneck 2070
Seaark rivercat 200
Crestliner retriever
 
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If your going 18ft I'd say make the small step up to 20ft. I've used boats of many sizes from my current boat that I've had a while which is a 1654 (16ft long 54" wide at the bottom) with 20" sides roughly, it's an older excel hull it's 1/8" thick so pretty stout. I have a 60/40 tiller steer jet on it, I've used it on the ohio below mcalpine, other stretches of ohio river too, I've also had it on lake st claire in michigan in pretty good waves, and it runs my primary water of white river a lot which has lots of shallow riffles especially late summer. It isn't ideal in rough water, but I've made it work in some rough situations, but there have been times in really rough big water I had to say screw it and not go. One of those times was while I was at fort lee VA I made the drive to VA beach area. We wanted to get out on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel to fish around it, but the water was just too rough we had to stay in sheltered inshore areas. The benefit of my boat it's been small enough when on my own I've been able to push it off high centered logs, or off of shallow gravel shoals I've drifted into or accidently run on to.

I've used and been in a friends 1860 a lot it's an older lowe roughneck mod v (bit a v in front but goes to nearly flat bottom in back) with a 60hp yamaha. It's a good boat can handle a little rougher water than my boat in general by just being larger, but it couldn't take a hit or jump a log like my boat. It's just not as thick of hull and doesn't have as much bracing in the hull. The stringers are stamped aluminum ones that run cross ways, my hull they are rectangular tube running length wise with some crosswise bracing as well. His being a console steer and having a rear and front deck where as mine is an open tiller steer with small front deck with storage boxes running down the side leaving the hull open mine has just as much room in the hull even though it's smaller. With a heavy load of three guys and hunting gear his drafts less water despite being bigger, this is due to the fact that his hull displaces more water. So bigger boats in fact float shallower depending on load. Light load my boat drafts a little shallower, but not by much. It's not much harder to launch on my own than my smaller boat. How ever if it gets high centered on a log or stuck on to a sand bar it's a bit more of bear to get off due to being bigger. Frankly if your considering 18ft I'd just make the jump to 20ft as I explain below.

So another good friend of mine that I hunt and fish with a lot has 2060 (20ft long 60" bottom width) with an old 70hp evinrude 24" high sides it's a flat bottom he had built by a custom builder out of Louisiana called Uncle J Boats. It's an open hull tiller steer has tons of interior room to arrange seats, rod holders, coolers, hunting gear, or camping gear however you need to. It's a heck of stout hull 3/16" bottom and sides, longitudinal rectangular tube bracing the thing is a tank. My next boat will most likely be an Uncle J, their builds blow big manufacturers welded hulls out of the water as far as construction and durability. But you need to know what you want to get if you go uncle J he doesn't just do cookie cutter manufactured builds. They build the boat that you speck, and will do about anything. Surprisingly enough despite how stout and big the hull it's no harder to launch or maneuver than my other friends lighter and smaller roughneck 1860. What is really surprising is how shallow the boat drafts even when we've had it loaded down with a hard side duck blind, decoys, four guys, and hunting gear we've still been able to idle around 1ft of water. He has a jack plate on the boat just fyi that helps with going shallow. My buddy is pretty daring with where he will take that boat running on plane, but that's because he has some parts motors laying around if he were to break something in the lower. But it's surprising where we've been able to get that boat in shallow water, and it handles big water quiet well. Now being a flat bottom it can be a little rough riding in bigger waves, but cause it's so long it does better than you'd think. Even with just that 70hp it can still plane out a heavy duck hunting load with the right prop and run right around 30mph. I have to say after having spent so much time in his boat, helping him rig/set it up, my next boat will be an uncle j 2060, but I'll probably opt for the mod v front to help cut waves a little more. The downside to Uncle J they are always back logged on builds so don't be in a rush for one, but I don't think you'd be disappointed in one.

If your fairly handy you could get just a hull and trailer from Unlce J and hang your own used engine on it, wire it, and rig it yourself in be in a 2060 for your price range. Now if your not handy at all a new motor, and having rigged/wired up will set you back more. No way around it a new outboard isn't cheap. If your on fb Uncle J has a page on there, he also has a website, there is also an Uncle J boat owners and fans page on facebook too. Just for reference I'm not affiliated with them or sponsored or anything just been very impressed with my buddies boat. I've welded up patches on my fair share of boats, and my buddy I put his J and my boat through the ringer duck hunting it's impressive what it has held up to. A lot more than I'd ever want to put a roughneck, grizzly, alweld, weldbilt, or seaark through that is if we're talking the .090"-.100" thick hulls. Seaark does offer .125" (1/8") thick hulls on it's larger boats their pretty stout.
 

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a great shallow running boat that can take big water and that would a fine cat boat

Cant tell ya how many times I have watched this video, watch the end to see the boat being built,, been building boats for a hundred years now,, first boat to have outboard jet,,, the have the 1st ob jet ever built sitting in there factory showroom
 

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Yepper, I too wanted a boat that would handle 'anything'.
I settled on a Ranger Center Console, 19' aluminum. No carpet, you can use a powerwash on it.
It gets in and out, I haven't gotten wet yet (unless quartering the waves), whitecaps look like the lake is snow covered.
I put a hydraulic jack plate on it to facilitate shallow water and can do about 2' or so of water.
It has level flotation- one of the things that sold me was the video of fishing out of it with 6-inch holes drilled in it.
I'm on the third year with it now and no complaints.
You might find a used one for your 18G. New price was much less than I was expecting.

Good luck!
 
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