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Every year I face the same dilemma: Should I attend the St. Louis Boat Show at the America’s Center in Downtown St. Louis. I mean, I love going to check out the new boats, but I always leave realizing that I will never be able to afford one of those new boats.

All the big bass boat manufacturers show up with their best products, and they are nice…VERY nice. But I have trouble with the prices they are asking. A new boat from any of the big boys is going to run between $35,000 and $48,000. That is just crazy! How these can be more expensive than cars is beyond me.

Let’s start with the heart of a boat…the motor. A new 200hp Mercury will cost around $20,000! Then you have a fiberglass frame…a few compartments, a trolling motor and electronics. Generally, that’s about it. I guess it all comes down to what a person is willing to pay. Demand for the product is the driver.

I currently own a 1988 17.6’ Champion bass boat. It has a 115 hp straight six Mariner motor, and I have not had any trouble with it since taking over ownership in 2000. The boat will run about 45 mph which is plenty fast for me. I paid $6,000 for it from a friend of the family. He was the original owner and always took immaculate care of not only his boat, but also everything he owned.

While my boat is not the fastest one on the water, it gets me to where I need to be on the lake and back. I almost always catch fish when I venture out (I do get an occasional “skunking”) and it allows me to fish tournaments without feeling inferior. In fact, there is no better feeling than coming in to weigh in realizing that I have beaten at least one of the guys in the $40,000 boats!

Even thought the boats at the show are out of my price range, I still enjoy viewing the new features that each manufacturer dreams up from year to year. I will probably take the family down this year and let the kids get in the big boats. But each year, I always leave feeling a little disappointed. Perhaps this year I will find an area of the show that is dedicated to pre-owned boats that have been traded in by the big boys who have just purchased a new, expensive new model!

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