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Thread: Places I can fish with this boat in SE Ak?

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    Default Places I can fish with this boat in SE Ak?

    No matter what people say about "Size doesn't matter", it matters.

    I am a first tome poster but long time lurker so please forgive me if there was a better subforum for this question.

    I am planning a trip from Texas to Ak this summer. Plan to drive upthrough BC to Skagway and board the ferry. Will have my wife and two sons (7&9) in my crewcab with cabover. I have a heavy built flatbottom / jon boat with a 40 hp prop motor I want to bring. It is a 1660 with 24" sides and a 20" transom and 7' across the top. We plan to hit Skagway and over a months time ferry hop the ports down to Prince Rupert giving us appx 4+ weeks in Ak. My wife and I had lived in Girdwood for a while in 2001 and don't think the shoulder to shoulder creek/river bank fishing would be enoyable for my sons despite them both being avid bass & catfisherman. Anyway, we've never been to SE and really want to check it out.

    I have run this style of boat for nearly 25 years, mostly in rivers and lakes, large and small. Spent a fair amt of time fishing galveston bay here as well...enough to know when it is no fun/ not safe. I thought alot about renting skiffs but cost and convenience (wanna fish while traveling outside) brought me to post here.

    Where can I fish with my boat in SE in July? Do the protected waters give many fairweather fishimg days for this sized craft? Any recommendations or advice about fishing along this route would be appreciated. Thank you so much.
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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    No offense but my gut opinion is that jon boats never belong in the ocean. Yes, you might have those glass calm days, but even in protected waters it doesn't take much wind to kick up a 2-4' chop and swamp such a boat. Protected waters is a serious misnomer as you have to look at how long the fetch is. On paper you may be well protected from the ocean, but give the wind a couple miles of water and it'll have no trouble to kick up a 2-4' chop, or more. Give it 10 or more miles and it can kick up some serious chop.

    The real question is will you have the self discipline after having gone to the effort and expense of towing and ferrying that boat up here not to use it on questionable days. If you go with the attitude that weather conditions may never allow you to use the boat and you're ok with that, then bring it but be forewarned. If however you think the temptation to use the boat in questionable weather will be too great, then leave it at home and use the money you saved in fuel and ferrying the boat to rent a seaworthy boat for a few days.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

    If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.

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    I agree with Paul. What you really should ask yourself is is it worth risking you and your family's lives for fishing/boating. There is no more of a logical man than one who is taking on water or in an otherwise preventable deadly boating situation. Ask any of them at that decisive moment in time whether they would have made a different choice and the answer is always the same. Err on the side of caution and enjoy a great trip with your family.


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    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    If you wanted to use it on some of rivers (I have zero experience in SE) you might think about a prop. That john boat on any kind of chop will be a very long uncomfortable day. Something with a bit of a Vee sure helps a lot.

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    Thanks Paul, no offense taken. I really appreciate getting feedback from folks who fish around the area in small craft.

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    Thanks guys, I appreciate the feedback.

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    Look into charters in the towns you will be visiting. Bringing the boat on the ferry will not be cheap.

    Charters will also let you get out to fishing grounds not accessible to a flat bottom boat on even a good day.


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    It's not really the length/size of your boat that makes it not suitable for Southeast ocean water, it's that it's flat bottomed (and maybe riveted). I've been in 5 foot curling white caps in my 15' boston whaler with 30kt wind and made it home, but if I had been in a flat bottomed boat, the ride would have been probably impossible and very dangerous. It's all about how the boat will handle on the ocean in swells and chop. A flat bottomed john boat will plow over any chop and can't 'cut' through the waves due to it's lack of a keel or chines. The weather can change very sudden here. If you want to go out on the boat, It might be more feasible to go out in a charter in my opinion.

    That being said, you could have a lot of fun on the Stikine river in your boat!

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    Given the cost to bring the Jon boat on the ferry, assuming it's trailered, might it be possible to pick up a decent inflatable and motor? That might be a safer alternative that still allows you to fish and explore around.

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    Measure the overall length of your truck and boat and then hit the AMHS website to get an idea of total costs of the trip. Then compare that using just the length of the truck. You should see quite a difference. It may be more beneficial to leave your boat and schedule ferry stops at locations that have rental boats available. Just a thought.

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    Quote Originally Posted by smtdvm View Post
    Given the cost to bring the Jon boat on the ferry, assuming it's trailered, might it be possible to pick up a decent inflatable and motor? That might be a safer alternative that still allows you to fish and explore around.
    I was busy typing this

    "If you want to do some boating on the cheap in SE, leave the jon boat at home and find 15' Zodiac with a inflatable keel, you could prolly pick one up relatively cheap in Texas and could pay for it in money saved in transport costs on the ferry. Trailers add up quick. Yes you would have to deflate it and put in the truck or on a truck rack. It will be a lot more capable and safer than that jon boat...IMO....... Heck, you may be able to use the 40 horse you already have."


    But you beat me to it so.....
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    Hey thanks guys. Yes, I had considered an inflatable that would handle my 40hp tiller motor, just wasn,t sure about fishing from one. My cabover camper is designed like a toyhauler in that the entire bed is open and the rear lifts up. This allows a flatboat to be slid in, transom first with the trailer flipped oVer into the boa upsidedown with the tongue removed and the outboard laid in the bottom. Overall it would add about 7' to the overall length for ferrying vs the 21' when trailered. I have looked at many options, and having used a ferry some when I lives in Washington knew it could get spendy. As long as you flag the overhang then it is legal.

    I have looked at a number of charters and had some experience with thise from Ninichik and Homer from when I last lived in Ak. They can be a good value, no doubt about it and I had planned to schedule at least a couple to learn some of the local techniques and learn some about downrigging. I also looked at rentals available (this was before I enen considered taking my own jon boat) and found many of the places rented 14'-16' Lund open skiffs with 25'-40' hp motors. They typically seem to reign you in pretty tight on hours and availability (during high season).

    I have never run a Lund but used to own an aluminum Arkansas Traveler which lookes similar in design, to my eyes at least. There is no doubt that it sliced a chop and rode more comfortably than a flat jon. I have worked on a commercial shrimp boat out of Port Sulpher in Louisiana and various work skiffs with a commercial gator trapper, all just to say that I know there is a big difference in how hull types run.

    So, the more I thought about the small Lunds with 25 hp motors being rented, that is what got me to thinking. "Where are these boats fishing?". Coming from outside, must pics you see show smooth water or low chop inshore....they also show blue skys too which I know it rains most days there like Seattle. Everyone has made excellent points and I am so appreciative of the local knowlwdge. I am mostly just providing some of my thought process now so that if someone else in the future could benefit from the info.

    I will look into the inflatable option some more now, everything is a comprimise and that is ok as long as I can meet my mission parameters. Any advice on inflatables? Thanks everyone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by smtdvm View Post
    Given the cost to bring the Jon boat on the ferry, assuming it's trailered, might it be possible to pick up a decent inflatable and motor? That might be a safer alternative that still allows you to fish and explore around.
    Best post of all, to include AKGRAMPS. Leave the Jon and get a nice raft, well worth it IMO, and "much" safer.

    Enjoy - its a ton of fun.
    Last edited by tzieli22; 02-06-2014 at 08:01. Reason: Typo
    Tony

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    Quote Originally Posted by tzieli22 View Post
    Best post of all, to include AKGRAMPS. Leave the Jon and get a nice raft, well worth it IMO, and "much" safer.

    Enjoy - its a ton of fun.
    Thanks tzieli22, definitely looking at other options now. I have used aluminum flat boats, semi-vees and full vee bottoms in the past as well as fiberglass boats/ bass boats/ skiboats and work skiffs, I've used mostly outboards but a couple of inboard/outboards and a couple of larger inboards only. I've also put a few hours in on small rowboats and canoes around lakes. I just have zero experience with inflatables....never having seen one in use so I just don't know anything about the pros and cons.

    I guess my biggest concern about an inflatable would be ruggedness, size to accommodate my wife, myself and two boys with camping/fishing gear. Lack of knowledge about construction. In reading about them there seem to be many brands: zodiac, Achilles etc with many others of different construction and many price points for what seem to be similarly sized boats. If I bought one it would be new - I am not averse to buy used, but there just is no used market within a few hundred miles of me that I can locate here in Texas (though I used to see them commonly for sale in peoples yards around Anchorage). It would need to be able to handle the 40hp Tohatsu 2 stroke Tiller I already own and be able to stow in something of a reasonable space (like the size of a couple of foot lockers?). I would basically have to order one sight unseen and have it delivered. How do folks inflate and launch these things at boat ramps without a trailer? I assume they take a while to inflate/ mount the motor/ load gear. I guess I mean, how do folks manage this without stopping up a launch ramp and pi**ing off a bunch of folks. (I really, really hate it when folks dilly dally at a busy launch ramp). Thanks again for any advice.

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    Petersburg. Lots of great sheltered areas to use that boat. Wrangell Narrows, south Mitkof Island, Stikine River, Duncan Cannal(to a point,) all have good salmon, crab, shrimp, and halibut. There a number of boat launches to chose from depending on weather. I grew up fishing out of a 12' lund as a kid rarely had a real problem.

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    [QUOTE=macncoke;1365295]Petersburg. Lots of great sheltered areas to use that boat. QUOTE]

    Hey Macncoke, thanks a bunch. I really appreciate the insight.

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    You would have to figure out cost and justify it against rental, but even in Juneau you can take that size boat out in several locales and be okay. Gastineau Channel and Auke Bay/Fritz cove always have something in them....hatchery Kings til early June, feeder kings year round, coho's by late July. Some butts to be had in a few locales as well, but not as hot as many others that are farther out. I've got a big aluminum boat now but i started out with a 16 foot lund with a 15 hp around here and you can still crab and troll and bottom fish. Don't let all the big boats zooming past you think that they are all heading to the happy fishing grounds cuz there is plenty to be done nearby.

    Let me know when you are in Juneau and I can give you a couple spots or bum you some crab gear.

    Petersburg and Wrangell would also have plenty of good fishing and crabbing in protected waters.

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    Wow, thanks CatchIt, that is exactly the kind of information I was looking for. Basically, wanted to try to get a list of coves, inlets around the ferry port towns where my family and I could reasonably explore, do some fishing in my 1660 jon boat. We are going to have 4-5 weeks to make the trip from Haines to Prince Rupert - roughly the first week of July through the first week of August.

    I have put the pencil to the ferry rides with truck alone, truck with trailer, truck with jon boat/trailer loaded in the bed and overhanging by 7'. I also have priced charters and small boat rentals available in the ferry port towns. Basically the boats I have found to rent that were comparable in HP (Lunds usually in the 12'-16' range with 15-30hp) seem to rent per 8hrs ($140-$200) depending on location. Then of course are subject to availability.

    It looks like I will spend appx $700-$1000 total extra to bring my own boat if I bed load it before getting on the ferry each time. About 2.5 X that amount if I were to just trailer it. Charters look to average around $1000 per day (+/- depending upon location/boat size/range/target fish). Renting larger (and undoubtedly more capable boats) boats for day trip fishing (18'Hewescraft) run around $350/day where and when available.

    So, based upon those numbers, if I were to bring my 1660 jon and use the high end $1000 cost extra, I could potentially have access to my own boat for the drive up, drive back and the appx. 35 days I will be in SE Alaska. Or for the same $1000 I could take a one day charter. Alternately I could rent a 14' Lund w 25 HP motor - 7 days.

    Several folks suggested an inflatable, and I am still interested in that option. What I have looked at so far is that for one in the 16' range that would handle my Tohatsu 40, I would spend $4k-$8k. But again, there are none here in East Texas I can look at or try and I don't know when I could use it again and I assume resell here in Texas would not be great.

    If I did end up taking my current boat, I would likely take the family out on a couple of half-full day salmon/halibut charters to gain some local knowledge about rigging/techniques and access to deep water halibut fishing. Money is not the only consideration, but it is one of them. Mostly I like having access to my own rig, when I want...I would think that would be especially handy in the land of the midnight sun and during high-season.

    How about POW and Ketchikan and Sitka? Sheltered places around there I could potentially explore and fish on fair weather days? I figure bad weather days are good days for shopping, exploring the towns.

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    When I was about 25 I went out with a friend in Seward in a 16 foot flat bottom river boat with a 35 hp prop motor. We trolled and fished at Caine's Head and did pretty well. In fact, that was when I caught my first king in the salt and man was that fun! Anyway, later in the day, the wind was blowing out of the South as it always does in the summer during high pressure and the chop coming back into Seward was really too much for the boat to handle. Mind you, the chop was only 2-3 feet with occasionally a 4 footer in there somewhere - a normal day even in the inner bay's protected waters. It took around 2 hours to make that 6 mile trip and we were totally soaked and freezing by the time we got back to the launch. It was amazing how much spray a stupid jon boat makes......I'm not sure how dangerous it actually was as we were always a stone's throw from the shore at all times, but it was uncomfortable as all heck. I think you can probably use that boat in very protected waters, but you are going to have to pay close attention to the weather, tides, and contour of the bottom or otherwise you might be on it. I'm pretty sure I would tow it with me as even in Alaska we do get good weather, but not so sure I'd actually launch it and use it unless the seas were perfect.

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    Member Anythingalaska's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by psychicrhino View Post

    How about POW and Ketchikan and Sitka? Sheltered places around there I could potentially explore and fish on fair weather days? I figure bad weather days are good days for shopping, exploring the towns.
    You could more than potentially fish off your boat near Sitka in the summertime. You can catch king salmon a 5 minute run out from the harbor, and get into some Dungeness crab another 10 minutes from that. Typically the sound is calm almost the whole summer (glassy, If you will). I can guarantee that you can get into some rockfish and lingcod too on a nice day. The fishing out on the coast here is exceptionally better than you will find on the inside Juneau/Ketchikan area. If you come over this way, give me a shout and I can set you up with some locations/advice, maybe loan you a dungy pot or two

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