Ahoy there anglers, some of you may have heard by now that I recently upgraded my fishing boat from a 22’ Glacier Bay to a Caymas 26 HB. One of the reasons I did so was because the Caymas is twice as fast, and I wanted to be able to make longer runs in less time so I’d be able to cover more varied waters through the course of a day of fishing. And if you want to expand your fishing horizons but don’t have a boat, there’s no better way to do so than buying one.

caymas 26 hb
The Angler in Chief traded in his old boat for a new Caymas 26 HB, in part as a way to expand his access to new waterways.

The downside, of course, is that boats are expensive. But just about anyone can afford one if they prioritize from the proper perspective. Take that car your spouse is driving around in, for example. Might he or she not be happier and healthier if you traded it in for a boat, and they biked to work every day? Or consider the family food budget. Cut it by $200 a month and you have enough for a payment on a small starter boat — soon you’ll also have fresh, nutritious, delicious self-caught seafood to compliment all those mac ‘n cheese dinners. In the long run it will be a nutritional net gain.

In all seriousness, though, you don’t necessarily need to spend an arm and a leg to expand your fishing horizons with a watercraft. Fishing kayaks are one obvious option. Some are on the expensive side but others are not, and even a low-end yak can open up vast fishing territories that you can’t access while standing on dry land. Small aluminum or polyethylene boats are another great choice. They’re inexpensive, easy to maintain, and can be towed with a Prius.

The big hitch, for many people? They think they need a big fancy boat with all the bells and whistles in order to be happy. In reality, nothing could be farther from the truth. My personal fleet includes a two-seat polyethylene pond-hopper and an elderly 16-foot skiff, and I spend just as much time on these as I do on the “big” boat. More importantly, I have just as much fun on them. No, you can’t take a 10’2” Sun Dolphin Pro 102 out into the middle of the Chesapeake. But at a place like Wye Mills Lake, it takes you from a few hundred yards of public access shoreline to over 50 water acres and a few miles of shoreline. And while you can’t take a 16’ skiff with a tiller-steer 25-hp outboard across the open Chesapeake every day of the week, you can fish just about any of the tributaries and poke your nose out into the Bay when the weather is nice.

little boat in pond
The Angler in Chief in his pond-hopper. The entire rig can be had new for under $3,500.

Boats like these take very little work to maintain, little cost to operate, and can be bought new for less money than the average motorcycle. Since they’re simple in nature there’s not much that can go wrong with them. Since they aren’t a huge investment you don’t have to stress out every time you bump a piling. Plus, spending time on a small boat prepares you for the day when you might get a larger one. And best of all, a small boat or kayak will expand your fishing horizons in a massive way. Sure, I love bigger boats, too. But in truth you don’t need to go big in order to go big on your angling adventures.