Are Bass Boats Good For Shallow Water?

A bass boat driven up onto the beach from shallow water is shown in this file photo
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As fishermen, we know the importance of being able to navigate your boat in shallow waters. After all, the shallows will present a lot of opportunities to make a nice catch. But it’s essential to know the limitations of your boat. If you get too engrossed in fighting the fish, you can quickly bring the vessel too close to the shore. 

When you hear the sound of metal scraping along the bottom of the seafloor, you know you’ve done damage. In a lucky case, you’ll be able to get away with a few scratches on the side of the boat. On an unlucky day, you’ll wreck the engine and need to wait for help. To avoid damaging the ship, and your ego, you’ll have to pick a vessel that is suited to shallower waters. This decision can make a bass boat seem like an obvious choice, but how does it do in shallow water? 

What Is A Bass Boat?

The best place to begin our discussion is by looking at what a bass boat is. There are a few aspects that set this boat apart. First, it features an outboard motor that can get you to your destination fast and let you navigate more precisely. This type of engine is also typically able to run quiet, ensuring that you don’t scare the fish off. Also, in most models, there will be an aerated live bait well in the boat. The bait well will make sure that your fish will stay alive until you get to shore, giving you the freshest possible seafood. 

Bass Boat Hull Shape

The shape of the hull is one of the most significant benefits of the bass boat. Most other types of vessels have a V-shaped hull, making it easier for them to cope with the ocean waves. However, the bass boat has a flatter shape, with only minor curves. These smooth curves make it easier to fish closer to the shoreline, without damaging the vessel. Also, the flatter deck makes it easier for anglers to stand up, allowing you to put more power into each cast. The only downside is that it can be harder to control in rough seas. 

How Shallow Can A Bass Boat Go?

As we described, the design of bass boats typically caters to people who want to fish in shallow waters. And that is why the bass boat is one of the most popular types of fishing vessels on the market. However, there is still a limit on how close you can get to the shoreline. Skilled anglers should understand how much water they’ll require. Sadly, there is no simple answer to this question. It will all depend on the circumstances. 

There are, however, a few considerations that will have a part in forming an answer to this puzzle. 

General Bass Boat Weight Considerations

First, the amount of weight on the boat can have a significant impact on the amount of water you’ll need. Heavier boats will sit lower in the water. Therefore, you will need to stick to the deeper water to make sure that you don’t run aground. That is if you have a heavy boat.

What Affects Bass Boat Weight?

Several things can affect how heavy the boat will be. For example, whether or not you have filled up the live bait well with water. The amount of equipment you have onboard can also impact on the weight of the vessel. The type and size of the motor and the gas tank can also add a decent amount of weight.

Finally, considering the number of people you have on the bass boat with you will also play a significant factor in determining the weight of the vessel. 

Bass Boat Gear Weight Distribution

A picture of a semi-loaded fishing boat.
A semi-loaded fishing boat. Although this is a V-hull, they are often used for Bass Fishing. The hull of this boat is a bit deeper than a typical bass boat.

Distributing the weight of gear on your bass boat can also impact on how close to the shallows you can get. Because of this, avoid putting too many heavy items into the front of the ship. Having a heavy bow can make it harder to get into shallow areas. It can also make it harder to dislodge yourself if you get stuck. 

How To Handle Shallow Water In A Bass Boat

The way that you drive the vessel is one of the most significant determinants of whether you’ll get stuck in shallow water. Even in the best conditions, you should approach shallow water cautiously. Maintaining a low speed will reduce the chances that you don’t accidentally lodge the boat in debris. 


If you know you will be going into shallow water, you should make sure to carry a push pole. Often, this will be all you need to dislodge yourself from debris and allow you to navigate back to a safer depth. The pole will also ensure that you don’t need to venture off the boat yourself. In some areas, it might not be secure, as sharp branches and dangerous animals can be lurking in muddy waters. Imagine how bruised your ego will be is you get hurt while trying to dislodge a beached boat. 


In some cases, you might also want to use a jack plate on the engine. This equipment will let you lift and lower the propeller. So, when you know you’re going into shallow water, you will be able to raise the propeller. Increasing the height of the propellor will reduce the chances that you will damage the engine. It can also come in handy if you are driving through seaweed or other debris, preventing the propeller from getting tangled up. 

Bass Boat Launching In Shallow Water

Finally, the most common place you’ll encounter shallow water is when you are trying to launch the boat into the water. It is essential to see where you’re going, so you can steer accurately. So, why do boats back into slips? The main reason is convenience. When you back into the slip, you will be able to drive forwards to get out again. It also makes it easier for your passengers to get onto and off the boat. When reversing into the slip, make sure to go slowly. It will make it easier to steer the ship backward, which can often take a lot of getting used to, even for the most experienced driver. 


Traveling into shallow water will give fishers a fantastic chance of catching something. To make this easier, we looked at the bass boat and why it is the best equipped for shallow water fishing. We also looked at some driving techniques you can use to approach shallow water safely. So, now you will be able to get close to the shore, without beaching the boat. 

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