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Chitown-Angler

Joined: 07:34pm - Jul 18,15
Posts: 116
Location: Evanston

Post Posted: 04:53pm - Feb 18,20 
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I am curious what those that fish the big lake consider good options for smaller boats.
I am interested in fishing within 5 miles of the shore and within the harbors with a small crew of 1-4 total. I'm not a big boat guy (usually fish the big lake from the kayak) so I want to go small while still going safe.

Any recommendations?

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Salmon Unlimited Member
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Joined: 07:23pm - Sep 3,04
Posts: 1059

Post Posted: 06:17pm - Feb 18,20 
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No bright line answer for this one.

But...whatever you choose, be sure it can handle anything the lake may throw at you. In my experience - the roughest water is typically closer to shore. So staying withing a few miles of the harbor mouth isn't a strategy that can compensate for a boat that may not be totally seaworthy (or a boat that you don't have a 100% confidence in).

I've fished for years out of a small boat, and had a great time just about every time I got out. So it can be done, but don't underestimate what the lake can throw at you even when you are close to shore.

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Chitown-Angler

Joined: 07:43pm - Nov 21,14
Posts: 983
Location: United States

Post Posted: 07:19pm - Feb 18,20 
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My old boat was a 17.5' crestliner deep v and was always confident with it.My new one is 18' and basically the same setup.Most important at least to me is to have a second kicker motor so you can always get back to the launch.

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Chitown-Angler
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Joined: 09:32pm - Feb 12,03
Posts: 7827
Location: Not quite over the hill, but has a breathtaking view from the lofty perch.

Post Posted: 07:35pm - Feb 18,20 
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Went from a 16'6" with 75hp up to a 19' lund with 130hp main and 6hp kicker, the boat handled way better in the heavy stuff. But I don't like fishing in the rough so size don't matter unless emergency called for it. And yes if it gets rough and you did not have the foresight to get off, the bigger is better but still not fun to fish the rough stuff.

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Chitown-Angler

Joined: 05:29am - Jun 13,18
Posts: 86
Location: quincy, ill

Post Posted: 07:56am - Feb 19,20 
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We have a 16 ft Lowe that we have used in the Apostle islands on Lake Superior and up in Door county. Very lite and tow-able. 30 hp. Nice boat but it really needs to be 1 ft waves or less... Have a 18'6" LUND with a 115 and 9.9 .... Heavier but still easy to tow.... Can stand up and walk around...... We have left the harbor at North point on a "sheet of glass" water... full throttle... only to fight coming in at 8 MPH in waves 6 ft plus....WATCH THE WEATHER...... closely....... Marine radio .... Wear your life jacket..... Don't do you know good hanging on your chair, or worse stowed away...... Emergencies can happen faster than you can put it on..........We have a 20 ft Mirror craft Cruiser too. 175 hp.... a tank of a boat .... loves the gas station,,,, heavy., but very stable ...... eats 4 footers like nothing.... THINK safety...... Get boat inspections ,,, there free...........

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Chitown-Angler

Joined: 03:33pm - May 3,13
Posts: 158
Location: Darkside

Post Posted: 08:05am - Feb 19,20 
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I fish a 175 Alumacraft Trophy and it can handle waves bigger than a person cares to fish in. If your experienced with boating and stay aware of waves, weather and forecast a small boat will fish fine.

I like the Trophy because of the high sides and no storage compartments to trip on at gunwale, other manufacturers have similar setup.

The 175 Trophy would be crowded for a 4 man crew trolling but doable. It’s perfect for 1-3 people trolling big lake. I wouldn’t personally recommend a tiller for big lake trolling.

Check out Walleye Central classified adds to get an idea for small boat market prices.

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Salmon Unlimited Member
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Joined: 01:17pm - May 2,19
Posts: 54
Location: Gurnee, IL

Post Posted: 09:01am - Feb 19,20 
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Have a 19' Lund deep V with a 150HP Merc four stroke on it. Handles waves bigger than I'd want to fish in. The model is called the "Crossover", which has higher sides, better for big water.

Very nice boat, but the resale market is sky high for newer vintages- that's why I bought new. You could get an older Tyee (also high sides) that trolls very well, at all price points since they've been around forever. Just make sure the transom is solid.

Mine does fine (and so do I) fishing up to 5-6 footers. Beyond that, it's just no fun to fish anyway, but the boat can take it.

I was out in 6-8 footers last year because I had a friend in town and he wanted to get out. The boat did fine, but it was like being on an elevator and couldn't even stand up without falling over. That's not fun for anybody.

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Chitown-Angler
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Joined: 01:58am - Jul 3,05
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Location: south chicago/NWindiana

Post Posted: 09:04am - Feb 19,20 
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Thunder Jet 186 Rush rides better than most aluminum 20' boats fits in a standard garage when equipped with a swing Tonge SAFE rugged and reliable
low 30s boat motor and trailer pictured here on the left

other modeles included in this link https://issuu.com/nextprecisionmarketin ... 4/66785875
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Frank aka honda cat
Master Captain USCG 50ton
Great lakes and In shore salt water
After its all said and done.... ITS ALL ABOUT THE FUN!

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Joined: 06:23pm - Apr 7,08
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Location: Naperville, IL __ Boston Whaler Conquest w/twin Mercs

Post Posted: 11:38am - Feb 19,20 
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Right around 18 to 19' the size of the boat really jumps up. You get the wider beams, Deeper cockpit and bigger gunnels. I would say the bulk of these style boats will have at least 115hp on the low end and most 150hp plus. Not sure I would want a boat smaller then this 18' plus class and this class you can pretty easily fish 2 to 4's. Rough days how far you head offshore is just how much of a beating you are willing to take. Nice days I wouldn't hesitate to go 20 miles out and have done it many many times in a 18'er but Never on days with a chance of thunderstorms. 20 miles out if you see a storm building its probably to late to run to shore before it hits.

A huge feature for me is a self bailing cockpit. If you fish rough days you will take a wave into the boat once in a while and I don't want to rely on a pump to get the water out. Boats meant for big water All have self bailing cockpits.

The ride in any 18' boat in chop its going to be rough and everyone that has one will say "it rides like a much bigger boat" but reality is they all ride like a 18' boat. The more deadrise the better but most in this size boat will be a pretty flat bottom and a heavier boat will ride better then a lighter boat but difference will me minimal. Fiberglass will be a big heavier but also probably more expensive but the saltwater boats a built better in most cases.

Wide Gunnels are great for mounting riggers and rod holders. Lots of room in the back is nice for fishing but the further back you drive from the better then ride. Its why most center console boats have so little room in the back.

A no wood construction really helps when buying used boats because you dont have to worry about water/rot issues which is what really destroys these smaller boats. Lastly dont buy a boat that doesnt have Tinned Copper Wire. Cheap poorly constructed boats that have just standard copper wire typically cheap out on all sorts of other stuff on the boat and boats like that do not hold up to the beating Lake Michigan will throw at them.

Hope this helps. Good luck in your searches. It can be a lot of fun or a nightmare.

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Chitown-Angler

Joined: 07:27pm - Jun 23,13
Posts: 466
Location: Palos Park

Post Posted: 05:29pm - Feb 19,20 
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The question should be, "I have a budget of $xxxx, what size, brand, design, etc. boat should I be looking at to primarily or exclusively fish lake Michigan.

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Chitown-Angler
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Joined: 01:58am - Jul 3,05
Posts: 2714
Location: south chicago/NWindiana

Post Posted: 08:45pm - Feb 19,20 
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dare you to compare a Thunder Jet come out for our demo days at Hammong marina decide for your self

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Frank aka honda cat
Master Captain USCG 50ton
Great lakes and In shore salt water
After its all said and done.... ITS ALL ABOUT THE FUN!

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Chitown-Angler
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Joined: 07:38pm - May 9,05
Posts: 1414
Location: oswego, il

Post Posted: 07:23pm - Feb 20,20 
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IMHO, 4 people is crowded for an 18ft boat. It can be done but it's crowded. I have a 1750 crestliner I have had it out 15 miles. Just know the weather. 4 would be one in the way all the time.

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Chitown-Angler
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Joined: 11:10am - Mar 12,10
Posts: 584
Location: Stickney , IL.

Post Posted: 08:50pm - Feb 21,20 
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ToddM ,,, I agree . I have a 192 Fazer , Smokercraft . Aluminum with main and kicker . Its 191/2 ft . 4 people is crowded . It's a Deep V and will handle Lake Mi. and I can launch in 14 in. of water . ( Roller Trailer is HUGE ) It's an old / narrow boat . The newer ones are MUCH wider , more stable . So shorter / smaller is not necessarily bad . Anything larger than that , you start with weight issues for pulling , and tandem axle trailers w / surge brakes .

1 thing that I WILL say about the Big Lake . Error on the side of SAFETY . SHE can get NASTEY IN A HURRY . Live to fish another day .

Good Luck and Safe Trips ,,,,, Walldady

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Chitown-Angler
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Joined: 01:58am - Jul 3,05
Posts: 2714
Location: south chicago/NWindiana

Post Posted: 06:36am - Feb 22,20 
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Not all 18"-20" boats are created Equal
every one has a budget . You can not Imagine until you stand or better yet fish in a Thunder jet 186 Explorer HD what potential they have .
For a lot of Good reasons out top seller in 2019 and 2020 and cost is the biggest reason you just get a lot of fun for your money
BUT IF THE BUDGET WILL BEAR IT WE MAKE ONE OF THE VERY BEST PILOT HOUSE BOATS ON THE MARKET TODAY
Call first the hardest part of being a thunder Jet dealer is keeping a good variety of Thunder jet boats in stock .
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link to full line catalog
https://issuu.com/nextprecisionmarketin ... mzOHG2d8lY

White explorer hd with HD galvanized tandem axle trailer w/brakes and LED lights and spare tire WITH ALL OPTIONS INSTALLES AS PICTURED ABOVE 77500.00 this is not a stripped down base price this is out the door only thing not incudes is sales tax as applicable .

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Frank aka honda cat
Master Captain USCG 50ton
Great lakes and In shore salt water
After its all said and done.... ITS ALL ABOUT THE FUN!

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