Pontoon boats offer the deck space to do whole lot more than just sunbathe and fish from. The three C’s of any Pontoon Boat trip should be ‘‘Catch them, Clean them and Cook them!” To do that your going to have to invest in a grill for your pontoon boat.
There are numerous options out there, so lets give you the best Pontoon Grill options we have researched, and then a few grilling tips for the fish you are hopefully bringing up onto that oversized deck!
When choosing a Pontoon Boat grill it is important to consider the size and model of your pontoon boat. A grill has to be fitted securely and be of the correct size to be operated safely. Pontoon boat grills are mainly rectangular or circular to accommodate either a larger cooking area or a reduced footprint
If you are in a rush and just want to know which grill we recommended then it is the Marine Kettle from Magma It offers 12-17sq inches of cooking area and hinged lid as well as being one of the more popular pontoon boat grills for a wallet friendly price of 170 USD and Up. (still needs brackets though) We have more details below or you can jump to check the price on Amazon by clicking the link below.
Why Get A Grill For Your Pontoon Boat
The beauty of owning a pontoon boat is the space you get compared to other power boats, and the options this affords you. A fishing platform, a party, a cruisers, a lunch spot, sunbathing platform, swimming platform and more. For us being able to fish and prepare lunch right from the lake, river or sea (inshore) is simply stunning.
We have articles on trolling for trout, kokanee and other lake species on the site. (links on the words) and most of our kayak fishing gear follows the same requirements as a pontoon boat set up if you are looking for advice.
You can pack your own food of course, and it is a safer option to do so in case the fish aren’t biting. Just remember to follow the safety rules and take home your waste and everyone will appreciate the feeling of a great meal while the sun shines and the breeze flows over the boat. There are few feelings like it. If you are looking for Pontoon boat ideas we have an article here.
Legality Of Grilling On A Pontoon Boat
Is is legal to grill on a Pontoon Boat. This includes fish you have caught and food you have brought. However this comes with some caveats. Some marinas prohibit open flames and smoke so if you are within their waters or on the dock ensure you are aware of the local rules.
Harbor Masters and Parks and Wildlife rangers are also authorized to ask you to stop if you are disturbing wildlife and other lake users or littering. The easiest way to avoid this is to not do that! This also follows that any anti social behavior can be stopped, not just a floating barbecue!
It is wise, and we practice this, of informing your passengers of the rules of the boat just so it is clear what is expected. It is your boat and you are the captain, I learnt the hard way that not everyone is as versed in what is acceptable on a boat and what is not! (A story for another time)
Safety Considerations For Grilling On A Pontoon Boat
By far the most important considerations you should have before cooking and grilling on any boat, including pontoon boats, is safety. There is a reason every sailors greatest fear is fire and you want to avoid being on the receiving end of finding out the reason for that. We have our top tips below.
Tips For Pontoon Boat Grill Safety
- Install the grill, most are installed on side rails, away from fuel sources, engines, machinery and electronics and wires. Also try to keep them away from gangways, or seats. Over the side installations help avoid build up of flammable gases in the bottom of the boat or engine wells.
- Only grill when the boat is stationary. Never while under power, not even trolling speed.
- Always have people watching the grill. It is not a microwave you can set and wait.
- Make sure it is securely fastened both when cooking and when under power. Check it before and after every trip as vibrations can loosen screws and bolts.
- If a gas grill check the pipes and connections and no leaks can happen.
- When you have finished cooking shut off / disconnect if needed the fuel source.
- Make sure it has cooled before touching, moving and storing the pontoon boat grill.
- Watch where the wind is to make sure any open flame / heat source is blowing away for the boat. You may have to anchor accordingly.
- Follow the manufactures guidelines for use.
- Do not disturb other water users or wildlife buy using your pontoon boat grill.
- Always dispose of your litter responsibly once you have finished. Do not tip it overboard.
- It is a cooking appliance, make sure you get it checked each season by a gas / electric safety engineer depending what model you have.
In some locations and states there are rules on which fish you can catch and grill. It does differ from state to state and how much it is policed will vary as well. However these rules are in for a reason and may be there to protect fish during spawning, or to give juveniles chance to grow. Asking at your local chandlers, marina or Boat shop and they will be able to advise.
Location of the Grill on a Pontoon Boat
As mentioned in the safety tips above location of the grill is important on a pontoon boat. Most now are fitted to side rails of pontoon boats, This is to ensure space saving and more importantly safety. It is more difficult to knock over and if the brackets fail ( has been know) the chances are it will fall waterside rather than into the deck. (avoiding both of these is preferable of course!) GASS
It is important to keep it away from machinery, wires and electronics as it does kick out a lot of heat and that has the possibility of causing problems to sensitive equipment. Another reason to keep it out the way is fishing lures and hooks have a habit of finding there way to the most inopportune of places.
Getting it tangled or accidently hooking and then casting a burger is unlikely what you intended. Though you get that on YouTube and you have a money maker!
Features Of A Pontoon Boat Grill
There are a few features that make a good pontoon boat grill great. Some are extras and other need you to consider both your model and size of boat and the grill you are thinking about.
Size Of The Pontoon Boat Grill.
Size matters when it comes to a boat grill. It needs to fit well in your vessel and not to take much space. The grill should not be too small either, it must be big enough for you to cook easily and comfortably. You need to find the goldilocks range (just right). you can consider how many people you will entertain at one time vs how much space you actually have.
Make sure you take measurements and ask in forums for advice from boat owners with the same model as you to see what other pontoon boat owners are using.
You want the Grill to last you many seasons. They are not a cheap purchase (nothing on a boat ever is) Check the construction material and the reviews of people who have has the grill for more than one season. You need to get the one that is sturdy and rust-resistance, and be low maintenance as well.
Generally speaking choosing Stainless steel will suit well. Also be aware of rust and corrosion if you are using your pontoon boat on coastal or tidal rivers. Nothing kills equipment quite like saltwater.
Shape of the Pontoon Boat Grill
There are many styles of grills to choose from, the two most common are circular and rectangular ones. Rectangular grills have a wider cooking surface and you can cook more food at once, but circular grills are lighter, compact and often have better wind resistance. However their capacity is less due to reduced cooking surface.
It will come down to boat size, or spare space size on the boat, and your personal circumstance and preferences.
Gas, Electric or Charcoal Pontoon Boat Grills
Electric Boat Grills:
Although these are the safest options for grilling on any boat including pontoon boats, they require a fair amount of power. They usually run of A/C power which means a generator. I had one on my boat (a cabin cruiser) but that fed of the engines and generator. It is unlikely you have the power on a pontoon boat.
However if you are attached to shore power it may become an option, and although you should check, it doesn’t have open flames or smoke so may be acceptable to marinas. For this reason is is difficult to find them for pontoon boats.
Charcoal Boat Grills
More traditional, and many say better tasting food, they are not quite as convenient as gas (or electric). They have the advantage of being cheaper as well. However, they also create waste and have a habit of sending small embers into the wind just asking to land on your Bimini.
Propane Gas Boat Grills
The majority of Pontoon Boat owners go for these. They are cleaner and avoid flying embers they also provide instant cooking, instead of waiting for charcoal to get hot However they are more expensive and come with moving parts, pipes and connections that you will need to ensure are in good working order before each trip.
Recommended Pontoon Boat Grills.
Now, just before we get into our recommendations, remember the word boating is like word wedding, put it before any other word and it seems to give carte balance to increase prices. This mysteriously seems to happen the closer to summer it gets! However there are still bargains to be hand, and we have tried to research those for you here.
Magma Marine Kettle Charcoal Grill
The Majority of boat grills brands and models come in 2 forms, the charcoal and the gas version. We will link to both for you here.
The Magma Grills have been around for a while and are popular with boaters and these versions works both on table top and on a rail. You do have to purchase the boat rail bracket separately though so remember to do that. This comes in three sizes, 13, 15 and 17 inches. ( called party size) In truth the 2 inches don’t make that much of a difference apart from price, the 17 inch one though. That’s about 200 inches extra cooking space.
You can pick this up in both charcoal and gas versions and they come with a lid to convention cook as well as grill, the lid is built so it wont slam shut with wind which is a useful feature on a boat.
It is also made of stainless steel, which is easier to clean and longer lasting in saltwater environments. It is a well regarded grill and the addition of a fixed lid both saves space and time. The additional expense of a bracket to fix to the boat is an annoyance but most grills are subject to this. It small form factor and popularity make it one to consider.
- Can use 1lb propane canisters
- Needs sperate mounting system
- Stainless steel construction
- Hinged lid to prevent slamming
- Heat adjustments to allow slow cooking
- Comes in charcoal, gas and stove combo models
Kuuma Mountable Gas Grill.
Kuuma By Camco Mountable grills seem to a mixed bag. The more expensive model, which we haven’t tried for full disclosure, has not been that well received, however the two below. (charcoal and gas) fare much better.
Both versions will require you to buy (surprise, surprise) a mounting bracket. However they do make them in house and you can add that to the order. They also have ones that attach to rod holders which increases flexibility.
They offer 160sq inches of cooking space on the charcoal and 125 on the gas version which is not a lot, but frankly a pontoon boat is not a commercial kitchen and fish / burgers do not take that long to cook. It is also made of stainless steel so is suitable for salt as well as freshwater environments.
There are more expensive versions of these two pontoon boat grills but they are reviews as less than these more wallet conscious models. You can check them out here. If you prefer a rectangle from grill then this is the go to. Otherwise the Magma is better regarded and actually offers its own rectangle form grills as well although for more money.
- 15 / 160Sq Inch Cooking area
- Charcoal and Gas versions
- Needs Rail mounting bracket
- Needs a learning curve for regulating gas
Cuisinart Portable Tabletop Grill.
This looks a little like a George Foreman Grill. It is not designed by boats but can be fitted to a pontoon boat rail with the add on brackets from Arnall. It works well though seems a little small when you get it. DOn;t be expecting to cook up a banquet.
It has reviews that mention the plastics melting when left unattended ( don’t do that anyway!) which is a concern and something to monitor if you own or purchase one.
there is also discussion over the evenness of cooking across the grill, so you may have to monitor this to make sure your freshly caught trout is evenly cooked!
This is a fair and good looking grill. It has ample space for a small group to barbecue up lunch, but will need some adjustments and handy work to make it fit a boat rail. The stories of the plastic mounting raises concerns and double checking with the latest model and manufacturer would be recommended here.
- 145sq Inch Cooking Area
- 17lb, is heavier that others
- Needs a little adjustment / brackets to fit onto boat rails
- Plastic not the best idea on a grill
- choice of colors
Tips for Grilling Fish on a Pontoon Boat
This is going to be shorter than you might expect. With most fish, especially lake and river fish, the simplest option is likely to be the best one. If you are grilling your fish you should always clean / fillet it first! This may sound obvious but so many make the mistake of not doing it it is worth mentioning.
You will need the following on the boat.
- Olive oil
- 1 lemon
- Few cloves of garlic / or ready made jar
- Black pepper grinder
- Thyme / Rosemary to garnish
and it is a 2 step process. Presuming you have cleaned descaled the fish already.
- If the whole fish rub olive oil into the skin. and pop half a lemon inside along with the salt and pepper, a sprinkling of garlic and the Thyme.
- Grill on each side for about 6-7 minutes and then let it sit for a minute.
You can thank me later !!!
Before You Fire Up Grill...
Which ever pontoon boat grill you decide to go for you wont regret it. It really is a must have add on to your boating experience. If you are lucky more and more boat manufactures are including them on their pontoon boat set ups, or at least as optional extras.
One of the best memories we have is pulling up a brace of brown trout, not too large, and with a simple drizzle of lemon and some black pepper, grilling the fillets with a little salad – awesome. Never tasted anything like it, my mouth is watering just thinking of it! Is it Summer yet!!!
Just remember to follow the safety guidelines and catch a trout for us as well!!!