How much draft is too much for flats fishing?

Pioneer180Pioneer180 Posts: 124 Officer
My 18' boat (Pioneer 180SF) factory spec draft is 11". Can I fish "some" flats with it and a trolling motor? Or is that considered too deep? I hear of dedicated flats boats with 4"-6" draft but I also see some big (22-24') ones with a lot more. I have never fished any flats (just got boat 7 month ago) but would like to know if I can go and try the Key's back country or if it is crazy to do it in this boat. Opinions appreciated. Thanks.


  • Gary S. ColecchioGary S. Colecchio Posts: 24,922 AG
    Depends on how deep they are.
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  • RStyleRStyle Posts: 1,397 Officer
    If it is really 11" it should be good to go...................
  • polliwogpolliwog Posts: 255 Deckhand
    Most shallow guys are poling the flats in a ft of water,so the troller would be bottoming out in that water,. If you stay in the channels its ok . Have a push pole on board to get out of trouble. :crossed
  • Pioneer180Pioneer180 Posts: 124 Officer
    Depends on how deep they are.

    Well I guess they will need to be at least a foot deep. Please pardon my ignorance in this area but as I have said I am new to this. What is the average flats depth let's say for good drum and trout fishing in south FL? Keys, Flamingo and Pine Island? Will most of the good flats fishing is at less then 1.5'? Or 1'-2'?
  • Pioneer180Pioneer180 Posts: 124 Officer
    polliwog wrote: »
    Most shallow guys are poling the flats in a ft of water,so the troller would be bottoming out in that water,...

    Didn't think about that. Thanks. I see I need to learn more on this :fishing
  • SCFD rtrd.SCFD rtrd. Posts: 1,382 Officer
    Pioneer, don't get all hung-up thinking that you have to fish in 6" of water to catch Reds and Trout. I guess it depends where your fish. If the fish are getting lots of pressure from fisherman, then they move way up shallow to feel safe, but they won't stay there if they are not pressured or if the water is too cold or too hot. Fish will visit shallow water at night and early morning to look for food, but as it gets lighter they move to whereever the food is. I have a 23" bay boat an catch plenty of fish in 14 to 16 inches of water. When the water gets hot during the summer or too cold in winter, they will move off the flats to holes that are 4 to 6 ft. deep.

    Your boat and trolling motor are just fine for catching Reds and Trout. Just keep some back-up stuff like a push pole and wading boots if you get stuck in a flat
  • DONY 1DONY 1 Posts: 557 Officer
    You'll be fine. If it floats you can fish it. Just keep an eye out for which tide you're fishing. I've learned to raise my motor to a certain height and if it catches bottom I know I've only got a couple more inches to play with. And having a pushpole is solid advice. Good luck.
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  • ChuckDChuckD Posts: 1,474 Officer
    Some good advice on here, but it all depends on almost daily what is going on. They're not always shallow and honestly, I rarely catch fish in less than a foot of water. Have I? Sure, always? No. I've had a boat that would do 4" with two people on one side, but it was usually getting to somewhere else, not essentially to catch them in 4" of water.

    Just learn your areas and you'll figure out where your boat can go, etc. Like mentioned above, if you can't get to them shallow in a spot, find out where they go when they leave and catch them there!
  • haydenfox!#$haydenfox!#$ Posts: 2,382 Captain
    Fishing in shallow water aught not be your concern, running in shallow water is. Trust I know :cry If you know your area and your boat drafts as you say, you're good to go. Follow these other fellers' advice...
  • capt louiecapt louie citrus countyPosts: 9,937 Moderator
    Your good to go. A "flats" boat can and will get you into trouble just like a truck that has 4 x 4 on the side of it. You may need to go a little farther to get where you want to go but that's better than tearing up your boat and the flat you are trying to cross. Like said , learn the water and know the tides.
    Fish can't swim on dirt.
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  • P.cliffordP.clifford Posts: 226 Officer
    That boat will be fine. The suggestion to get a pair of wading boots is great. I get out and walk all the time. I real shallow water a thirty dollar pair of boots is more stealthy than a fifty thousand dollar boat. Have fun
  • mastercastermastercaster Posts: 1,259 Officer
    12" draft is pretty shallow for most areas.

    Your poling skiffs are the ones with 5-8" drafts, specifically for poling super shallow areas. At that point draft is not the only important trait, the boat needs to have a small footprint and a quiet hull.
  • Pioneer180Pioneer180 Posts: 124 Officer
    Thanks all for the replies. I appreciate it. Now I feel more motivated to try it. I can't wait to get my TM :)
  • Buccanr1Buccanr1 Posts: 437 Deckhand
    Couple things about Flamingo.
    You do indeed need a shallow boat if you are going to sight fish, anything over 11" draft and you are limiting youself to those flats.
    Do not attempt to wade fish in flamingo. You wouldnt need boots, you would need snowshoes because the ground is so soft.

    You can however catch plenty of trout and reds in some of the deeper waters to the western portion of flamingo.
  • WildLinesWildLines Posts: 551 Officer
    there are only a handful of flats boats with a true draft of 12" or less. to get less than 11" you will need a micro skiff and a lot of those are in the 7-8 inch range when setup to fish and people in them

    I mean, pull out a ruler 12" of water is super skinny.

    if you can draft REAL world 15" or less you are set and I am not talking about the brochure depth I am a refering to real depth.
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