Spring seems to have arrived a bit early, though this could be just a teaser. After all, this is Chicago and it is still February – sport show time.

While the Chicago show has come and gone, Indianapolis is coming up this week and Milwaukee at the beginning of March. Show time is when most people look at and purchase their first fishing boat. So this would probably be a good time to pass along some advice on choosing a watercraft, based on my years of experience selling boats.

Fishing boats come in many sizes, colors, and configurations. Fishermen need to do some soul searching and decide where most of their fishing will be, how many people are normally going along, how often they expect to go fishing, and how the boat will be used for other family times.

A 16- to 20-foot boat is fine for fishing on inland lakes. Will a son or daughter or a fishing buddy come along? How often will the boat be used, as opposed to sitting in the driveway? Will the boat have a double use pulling kids who want to do some tubing?

Have I muddied the water enough yet? And there is still a lot to say about outboard motors, trailers and all the possible accessories, and electronics.

Before going any further, it is important to investigate the possibilities for boat storage. City ordinances spell out what is allowed. Once that is decided I can recommend a boat that can serve as a starting point.

A versatile boat with a good configuration for fishing – and enough of a layout for family boating as well – is the Lund 1775 Impact with a 125 hp outboard. This boat has a great deep V hull for handling almost any water, and the 125 hp motor that moves the boat down the lake will also pull skiers or tubers when the family needs a break.

The 1775 Impact, a good mid-range boat that will last for years, is useful for comparison  shopping. We can talk about all the extras next time.

Until then…keep a tight line.