My $2500.00 Budget Fishing Boat Experiment
Ok, don’t get me wrong. I love driving an hour or two at most, finding a nice quiet spot along a peaceful shoreline, setting up my lawn chair and casting to my heart’s delight. If I have to go to the bathroom, it’s a good excuse to go find a fresh coffee and snack too. But there are those times when I’ll look out across the water and see a really nice spot that I just can’t get to. That’s when my inside voice-that sometimes talks out loud- says:”Oh man, with a boat I could go where I want!”
Mitchell Lake

For many people the cost of going out for a day of some fishing on the water is beyond their reach. I know I can’t afford a $50000.00 fishing boat or a $1m cottage. The question I posed: if I assigned a target price could I build something to get me out there affordably,  safely and enjoyably?
The challenge I gave eventually settled on was simple: can I keep the cost of getting out on the water and fishing below $2500.00. This may sound exorbitant but fishing can be expensive. ‘True’ fishing boats often sell for between 25 and 45 thousand dollars in the 16-18’ range. This benchmark would include supplies, equipment and boat. If you think It’s easy- you’re wrong!
I hunted the classified ads on-line for a 14-18’ aluminum boat, preferably in a package with trailer and outboard. I started looking in August of 2016. There is a lot of junk out there being advertised as ‘great condition’ and ‘no leaks’. Live by the adages: ‘buyer beware’ and ‘if it looks too good to be true, it probably is’ when hunting for that older used boat. If at all possible, do a water test.
I finally found a boat that met most of my requirements- everything is a trade off- in early March 2017. A 1987 Springbok 16’ aluminum boat with trailer. The price was within my budget and after a long conversation with the seller over the phone- he admitted,prior to me driving all the way, that a tree had fallen on the rear port side causing some denting in the aluminum but that he never had a leak. I bought the boat in mid-March during a snow storm so I had to take the sellers word that it didn’t leak as gospel- thankfully it was and the boat doesn’t. I did crawl around in the snow to look at the rivets along the bottom, but nothing speaks like watching for water to dribble out around the bottom of a boat on a warm day- I was lucky! The price was negotiated down $1400 to $1000.00 and came with title.
the purchase
’87 sprinbok 16

My next search was going to have to be for propulsion. That search eventually led to both an outboard and a set of oars. I found a 1974 9.9hp two stroke long shaft that came in at $500.00 out in the west end and a set of hand-made oars for $75.00. Both would be required. The oars were made a little longer than normal and better suited for my size boat- custom made by a guy in Oshawa who does nice work. The outboard fulfilled two notches off my list: 1. Affordable and running. 2. Allows entry into hp restricted lakes/tournaments. OK, I’m heavy on item 1 vs 2.
74 9.9hp Johnson O.B.
Once all the infrastructure was in place for my fishing boat, the accessories took centre stage. After years of fishing off the back of other people’s boat, I was finally going to get a casting deck of my own! Being that I am on a budget, and naturally pretty cheap, I started looking around for salvageable/recyclable materials could reuse or repurpose. I have/had a wood pile in the back corner of my garage and a suspended shelf made with a ¾” 4×8 complete sheet of plywood. These would all be sacrificed in order to create a casting deck. 2 mismatched bar stools in the garage also met their end for the common good of my new- to me- boat. The plywood became a casting deck/storage locker and one section of flat flooring while the bar stools were combined to create a new casting seat. A second piece of wood-part of an old panel- became the rear flat floor and some old Styrofoam was recycled to give some sound dampening under the flat floors. A trip to Home Depot returned 3 2x3x8 boards and a bunch of hardware- just under $40.00.
casting deck/storage

The casting deck was finally set on top of the existing benches forward. I did a lot of research online and decided that boat structure/integrity would be compromised by cutting out/at the original benches. Utilizing them kept said integrity while giving more rigidity to my casting deck- I’m a big guy. I also opted not to put the deck just below the gunnals for stability. The 2×3’s were cut as cross members and sill beams along the benches for mid point support. A combination of ‘L’ and ‘U’ hangers (6 ea) were riveted/screwed in to the sides of the existing benches. Because of the short distance (approx. 23”) between benches, I didn’t use any vertical support, I ran cross beams every 16” O.C.
bar stools to casting stool
My casting stool is a combination of the seat from one donor, the pedestal from another donor and the base from an old sign donor. All were already in my possession so I’m happy to say: no cost!
A run to Canadian Tire with my niece’s better half got me the employee discount for a battery, trolling motor, gas tank/connections and 2 rods. These purchases were only done when the actual items were also on sale. Much appreciated C.S.!!!!!!! Lesson learned: know or get to know somebody because it really does come down to who you know sometimes.
A quick paint job on the new deck using leftover paint and I’m ready to sea test. I will paint the exterior, someday….
September 15-18 2017 my beautiful wife and I went on a short fishing trip to Loughborough Lake for a long weekend. The boat trailered great, over 300km each way, and didn’t leak the entire time we were on the water there. We had a great time. My boat was parked next to boats ranging in value from $12-50k and mine took me to all the spots they were going to. Ok so maybe it took us a little longer to get to the fishing holes but hey, for the money difference, we enjoyed the ride there a little more (read longer).

Mine is in the lower right hand side and yes the dock did fillup with other boats eventually.

The admiral has claimed the casting deck! Very stable to walk around on though!
Costing break down:
Item Buy/Owned Cost Supplier
1987 springbok 16′ with trailer & 2 seats-no peds buy $1,000.00 Kijiji
1974 9.9 hp 2strk OB long shaft buy $500.00 Kijiji
Gas tank, hose & fittings buy $130.00 Can Tire Sale
31 group deep cycle battery buy $160.00 Can Tire Sale
32# shakespeare trolling motor buy $112.00 Can Tire Sale
Nav lights buy $25.00 Princess Auto Sale
hardware buy $30.00 Home Depot
cleats buy $9.00 Princess Auto Sale
seat pedistal buy $13.00 Princess Auto Sale
2×3 x8′ lumber buy $9.00 Home Depot
oars buy $75.00 Kijiji
spinning rod Daiwa/Ugly Stix buy $160.00 Can Tire Sale
bait casting rod abu garcia/UglyStix buy $150.00 Can Tire Sale
tackle Docs Lures Pro Pack buy $60.00 Docs Lures Inc
net buy $60.00 Can Tire Sale
GPS owned $0.00 Bass Pro Sale
fishfinder small portable owned $0.00 Bass Pro Sale
4×8 x3/4 sheet of plywood owned $0.00 wood pile
misc other pcs of wood owned $0.00 wood pile
styrofoam partial sheets 2×8 x2″ left overs from other owned $0.00 stuff


Things like the GPS and fish finder are luxuries. So is the 2nd rod/reel combo. You really don’t need them and not having them won’t deter from an enjoyable day on the water. I haven’t even set up my fish finder yet. Years of shore fishing tell me more about where the fish will likely be than trying to decipher some of these fish finder screens. The GPS is an old garmin S76 mono chrome I’ve had for 12yrs. And if truth be told, if I’m out far enough that I can’t see a shoreline landmark in this boat, then I’m out too far already! Life jackets and required safety equipment are transferred from my sailboat to this one when we go out, so I have to list them as ‘owned’ already. Whatever savings are accrued from the former, should be applied to the later.
In summary, I have to stress that fishing is fishing. Whether it be from a shore line or from a boat, the experience is to be enjoyed! If you’re not having fun- in a zen sort of way between bites- you’re not doing it right! The moral of this story is: if you’ve dreamed of pushing off and drifting around on your own yacht but don’t think you can afford it, think again! It may be more ‘do-able’ than you think. A little time searching and doing, along with some savings applied, can lead to an enjoyable day on the water for the whole family in your very own boat. If, on the other hand, this is beyond your current means, then don’t sweat it, a day on the shoreline casting a line is one of the most relaxing things I can think of.
Let your fishing excursions be that zen release your body and mind need. Enjoy any time out with family, friends or that peaceful getaway for yourself. In today’s hectic world a little down time can go a long way. Maybe my next article should be ‘Zen and the Art of Casting’!

Rick Corcoran
Pres. Docs Lures Inc.

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