It’s not too early to start boat shopping

fishing boat

There’s never a bad time to shop for new boat. Why? Glad you asked.

I know, there’s snow on the ground, and it isn’t going away for a while. So why is this even close to being the right time to buy something that can’t be used for at least three months?


It’s all about price and being ready for spring, rather than waiting until spring to buy, then waiting for a couple months at least for your new boat to be built and delivered.

That’s right: months.

The more popular boats, especially aluminum fishing boats, are typically sold quickly at mid-winter and early spring boat shows, and that means dealers have to order more, and many boat builders get backed up very quickly.

I am a Lake Erie fanatic and a spring crappie chaser and have been for several decades. My summer inland fishing starts in mid-March at the latest, followed a few weeks later on Erie. My boat needs to be ready when the bite is starting, not when it’s over. So the logic is if a new fishing boat is in the plans, now is the perfect time to shop.

Models in stock

Most boat dealers have a few unsold 2019 models in stock. By following the boat market for years, I’ve come to understand the big picture and here’s how it works. Call them what you like; left-overs, non-current models, unsold or whatever. In fact, the 2019 and 2020 boats are most often no different at all.

Sure, every boat builder strives to build boats that are attractive to buyers. That’s a given. So each year a shopper might see a brand new color scheme, a clever storage compartment or an electronic upgrade: things that justify the expected annual price increase. But are they really that much different?

To be sure, the upcoming boat shows are excellent places to sign on the dotted line, but so is right now. Believe it; dealers don’t want non-current models hanging around. So deep discounts are truly deep.

Buying now

Like what you see? Then ask for some additional reasons to buy now. Suggest a guarantee that your purchase be stored carefully and for free until it is delivered in the spring, that all new boat warranties are applicable and that your brand new rig will indeed be brand new when you take delivery.

So what if you see the right 2020 boat while you are shopping? Go ahead and buy it, but get in writing that any upcoming boat show incentives, specials, rebates and goodies will be included in your deal.

Serious boat buyers are already seeing nationally advertised prices online and in sale flyers and magazines. Understand that you what you are seeing with that very attractive price is often a bare boat minus shipping, prep and sales tax.

Add a few simple and wanted options, an extra seat for your buddy, extended warranties and more, and you will begin to understand that it would be an extremely rare dealer who could deliver a boat at the nationally advertised price. Read the small print.


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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.



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