The key operation cost for any fish and ski boat is going to be fuel, and that cost will be influenced by how often you use the boat and the boat’s size. A larger boat will require an engine with more horsepower, which will naturally use more fuel. Other operational costs include annual registration and insurance, trailer registration if required in your state, and off-season storage if you can’t or don’t care to store the boat at home. Speaking of trailers, before making a purchase make sure your vehicle has a tow rating that can handle the weight of the fish-and-ski boat and trailer you are considering.
Fish-and-Ski Boat Technology/Materials/Features
Fish-and-ski boat models offered by a boat manufacturer that primarily builds fishing boats may be either constructed of aluminum or fiberglass, but will almost certainly be powered by an outboard motor. These boats will retain most of their angling amenities. The “ski” features will include a removable pylon for attaching a tow line for skiers and tubers, the added wind protection of a full windshield and consoles, a boarding platform to make it easier for skiers to get in and out of the water, padded vinyl covers to convert the bow casting platform into a sun lounge or seating, additional lounge-style seating in the main area of the boat, a deluxe audio system and a cooler for snacks and beverages. These boats will remain skewed towards the fishing side of the fish-and-ski equation.
Fish-and-ski models based on a runabout or deck boat—often called ski-and-fish boats—will add some key features to support casual angling to a fiberglass boat designed primarily for family boating, with either outboard or sterndrive (inboard/outboard) power. Some manufacturers will present these boats as distinct models, while others will group the fishing features together in an option package that can be ordered with the boat. The typical fishing package may include a basic fishfinder with GPS features, a mounting location and wiring for an electric trolling motor (often purchased separately) and its batteries and charging system, removable fishing seats and a way to convert the bow seating area into a casting platform, fishing rod and tackle storage and in some cases a livewell. These boats will retain their sporty styling and cruising comfort features.
Outboard power is growing in popularity over sterndrive power in the fish-and-ski category. Because the outboard motor is attached to the rear of the boat, rather than located inside the boat as with a sterndrive, there can be more room in the boat for seating and leg room. An outboard is also typically quieter than a sterndrive engine and transmits less vibration to the boat, and can be easier and less-costly to maintain and to prepare for off-season storage.