There is a wide selection of suitable boats available and plenty of magazines giving good honest boat test reports. Buying the boat is the easy bit. Where the problems start is in kitting the boat out and deciding where items are best stowed for ease of accessibility, but with the constant problem of maximising space at all times the main criteria.
Here's some of the lessons I've learned over the past 20 odd years of personal boat ownership regards stowage and the placement of gear that might help you make a better first time job of rigging your boat than I did in my first attempts all those years ago.
The cheque has been written, the boat is in the drive, and she's all ready for kitting out. First step is to get aboard and have a look around her. Familiarise yourself with the layout inside the cockpit and the cabin. Think how you'll be moving around working and fishing inside the boat. Consider that all essential equipment will need instant access, whereas less important items can be stowed in lockers or deep in the cabin towards the bow.
Let's take the electrics first. You'll need a VHF radio as a priority and navigation lights. To follow you'll inevitably acquire a GPS and Fish Finder sooner or later. I'd also recommend a CB radio for general boat-to-boat chit chat if you'll be fishing in pairs. You can criticise CB all you like, but for casual conversation it frees up the VHF channels and also gives you another potential lifeline home if an emergency arises and the VHF goes up in a puff of smoke.
Supplying the juice for all this electrical stuff is the next problem. Go for two batteries. One for starting the engine, and a separate second battery for feeding the navigation lights, radios, and GPS and Fish Finder units. Two reasons, it limits potential interference produced by the motors generator, plus gives you two battery options at sea if one should fail. Both batteries need to be in waterproof plastic boxes, but with air access to breath. The battery for the electronics can be housed in the cabin providing the cabin has no door and will only be used for daytime storage. The engine battery is best housed at the stern of the boat somewhere underneath the splash well.
When wiring out a boat, unless you or a mate are DIY capable have it done professionally, it will save time and money in the long run. All wire looms are best protected in plastic overflow piping and secreted under the gunnels where possible, or inside conduit screwed to the inner cabin bulkhead. Insist on everything being independently fused in a waterproof fuse box that has illuminated fuse lights to instantly show you which has failed. All connections need to be quickly accessible for both repair and upkeep. Switches also need to be waterproof.
In addition, have a live outlet socket box with at least six connections, but eight is better. This gives you additional connection points allowing the use of plug in hand lamps for night navigation along narrow creeks and for locating moorings and other hazards in the dark, or worse locating somebody overboard, plus other potential accessories.
Aerials for the radio and the GPS antennae are best positioned on a proper stainless steel gantry mounted on the cabin roof. This is a much stronger base for the aerials, which suffer whip when travelling at speed, and a gantry also gains you extra height. Remember an aerial has more range the higher it is. If you mount big aerials directly on the fibreglass cabin, inevitably, over a period of time, the glass will crack and weaken due to the whiplash effect of the aerial. I also mount two car reverse lights on the gantry. These are working lights for nighttime. One faces forwards and other down in to cockpit. I use cheap plastic back type lights as they are not prone to corrosion and are cheap to replace but reliable. The gantry is a good place to mount the radar reflector as well.
What goes inside the cabin? Obviously items that need protection from the elements but only in order of priority. The radios need to be quickly accessible. I find they are best fitted to the cabin roof by drop down brackets and positioned just inside and to one side of the cabin entrance. On the cabin ceiling they are out of the way of potential knocks and bumps than if placed lower down. Have the mic's clipped in to proper holders to avoid breakages.
A fire extinguisher is best bolted to the inside of the cabin, again within easy reach, but not in the way of your movement in and out. Just inside the door bulkhead is usually a good place. I also fit a second extinguisher somewhere else inside the cabin, maybe not necessarily so near the door, just as a backup to the first.
At the bow, I stow a large marine bag that carries spare waterproof clothing, first aid kit, spare life jackets and other personal items. At the side of this goes a flotation suit for each person on board. Also housed here is a small lifebelt, there for throwing to someone in the water in an emergency.
My boat has short bunk tops inside the cabin. On the right hand one goes a plastic box carrying my rough ground anchor, chain and rope which acts as the spare anchor also. I also carry a plastic bucket with a sealable lid holding a spares kit, jump leads, a hand held lamp, a torch and spare batteries, a length of plastic pipe, the manuals for my engine and GPS, and on top my flares for quick access. Alongside these is a second small plastic box containing some spare rope, fuel funnel and two small fenders. The plastic boxes are those used for storing kids toys in. They are tough enough and cheap enough.
On the left side just in front of the electronics battery box I house another plastic box with tackle items in, and a cool box for food. We wear our lifejackets for all travelling and manoeuvering situations, but once we're safely at anchor and fishing they are best stowed but immediately accessible just inside the cabin. I prefer to fish when at anchor without a lifejacket on when there are hooks in the vicinity. One puncture at sea and you're left without a life jacket at all.
Let's look inside the cockpit now. The GPS and Fish Finder unit need to be positioned in front and just to one side of you, preferably on the cabin top inside the wind deflector. This gives instant vision at all times. It also pays to get sun visors that clip on to your unit allowing clear screen vision in bright sunlight without reflection.
Compasses should ideally be placed as low down as possible to minimise roll, but this is rarely practical in most trailerable boats. Mine is housed on the cabin's right hand bulkhead directly in front of me when steering for instant visual contact. Remember to keep compasses as far away from metal as you can as this can falsify the true reading.
I use a clip-on lazy line for attaching the anchor rope allowing me to stay inside the boat and haul the anchor from the left gunnel. The anchor rope and anchor are housed in another plastic box positioned directly below the cabins left hand bulkhead at the front.
I have a boat hook and gaff (rarely used) positioned on snap hooks that are screwed in to the glassed-in gunnel supports on the inside of the left hand gunnel. My landing net is tucked underneath the gunnel on the right hand side, the handle again secured in snap hooks, sometimes called gunnel clips.
I carry two full 5-gallon fuel tanks, both positioned underneath the splash well at the stern on the right-hand side, and the auxiliary motor is on the left-hand stern quarter on a drop down bracket. The fuel tanks on the right and the auxiliary motor on the left help balance the weight distribution in conjunction with the cabin held items and trim the boat for even running under power.
My only other items are two more plastic boxes that take any fish we catch and store mackerel for bait during the day. Also a small plastic bucket with a rope on for hauling water in for washing down, and two wooden bait boards that fit neatly on to the transom. Lastly, I also carry a hand powered bilge pump for getting water out. These are simple and reliable, especially when used in conjunction with a frightened man armed with a bucket.
I have two stainless rod holders set in the stern quarter to take my shark or uptide rods, also screw on Breakaway plastic rod holders positioned on the grab rails on the gunnel tops for holding extra rods.
I also chose to have a helmsman's seat. I prefer not to sit in this for steering underway as it is too easy to miss floating objects, so I stand, but the seat is handy when fishing to give your legs a rest.
That's the complete rigging of my boat. I carry only what I need, though many items have multiple uses and important items like batteries, radios and life jackets I carry double of. Take your mobile phone too, but if you're a fair way off you might find a signal hard to come by, so don't rely on them.