If Santa doesn’t bring you a boat, here’s how to shop for a new fishing vessel

Jordan Rodriguez with his new boat.
Jordan Rodriguez with his new boat. Courtesy of Jordan Rodriguez

’Twas the night before Fish-mas, the columnist wrote.

When beneath this year’s tree, Santa Claus left a boat!

OK, so I don’t have a full-blown fishing poem for you this Christmas. And technically, my boat arrived a few weeks before Old Saint Nick. But arrive it did, and it has to rank as my best early Christmas present of all time.

Boat ownership is a new experience for me. My family never had a boat growing up, and I’ve only been fishing from a boat on a regular basis for a few years. And while you can catch a lot of fish from the bank, boating really does open up a whole new world of angling possibilities.

This year’s “Fish-mas” present was more than a year in the making. I’ve been in the market for months, trying to find something that checked all the boxes on my wish list. What I wound up with is perfect — a 12-footer complete with a trolling motor and a nifty, custom-built fishing deck. It still needs an outboard motor, but I got a good deal, so I’ll have enough leftover cash to complete the ensemble this winter.

The new boat (it has yet to be named) hasn’t left the garage since I picked it up, so I won’t attempt to give any boat-owning advice yet. But if a boat happens to be on your Christmas list, here are a few things to keep in mind while you shop:

▪ Be patient: Just like fishing, angling for a boat often requires persistence. I looked at hundreds online, viewed a handful in person and even test drove one before finally pulling the trigger. But a boat is a big investment, so it’s important to get it right! Craigslist, newspaper classifieds, local boat shops and Facebook groups are all good places to go boat shopping.

▪ Have a plan: There are lots of nice boats out there, but it’s important to get the vessel that’s right for you. In addition to budget, you need to answer a handful of questions before you shop. What type of fishing do you plan to do with your boat? Will it fit in your garage or designated storage area? Is it light enough to tow with your vehicle? What accessories will you need to buy for it? Knowing these answers up front will save you time in the end.

▪ Buy from the right person: When I bought my boat, it didn’t take long to know I was buying from a fellow fishing fanatic. Tackle and photos of trophy fish covered every wall of his garage. The exchange of fishing stories came fast and furious. And it was obvious from the boat’s condition and custom add-ons that it had been well cared for. So thank you, Nick from Kuna! And know that your old boat is in good hands.

I hope Santa brings you a sleigh of your own this weekend — or at the very least, a stocking stuffed with sweet fishing gear. Merry Christmas, and tight lines!

Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at

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