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Thread: What can a guy do, comfortably, with a smaller boat

  1. #1
    Member The Kid's Avatar
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    Default What can a guy do, comfortably, with a smaller boat

    Been going out with friends for a few years now and always have a ball. But also always have scheduling conflicts and just want to be able to get going and go whenever I want to. I've fished out of Whittier and Homer in the past, but I'm not really all that familiar with either area. I don't have tons of cash to spend but I won't buy some clunker that's going to strand me. My plan or thought right now is that I would rather buy a smaller boat with a newer outboard rather for around the same money as an older but larger boat and motor. Smaller boat is going to be easier to tow, load/unload, as well as maintain. I don't want or need a cabin, head, shower, or any of that, a soft top maybe. We won't be staying out overnight, and know full well the long range Montague type trips will be out.

    I see 18' Klamath and Bayrunner type boats for $5-$7.5k quite regularly and just wonder about the utility. I like the idea of being able to fish some saltwater when the weather is good, shrimp close to the harbor in Whittier, and still troll for lakers on Louise or cruise BigLake. I have done a small amount of running around inside Orca inlet at Cordova in a 16' Klamath with a 35hp Johnson and while I won't say I was comfortable, I'd also never seen the ocean just 2 years before and had never been on it so don't think my fears were well founded. It's been a few years and I've grown a little more comfortable with the idea of being on that great big water.

    I know a guy can pick up older Bayliners fairly cheap, but they are heavy, have a bunch of amenities I don't feel like I need, and just seem far more complicated to maintain and work on than an open aluminum boat. Although I've had bad luck in the past with outboards, my luck seems to have turned and I think I would rather have an outboard from a standpoint of familiarity.

    I know now that a boat like I'm talking isn't going to be the end all halibut boat, I don't expect it to be, but I'd like to know before I get in over my head wheather or not I'm having a pipe dream or me and the Mrs can stick close and catch some fish. Suggestions and experience is welcome. Thanks guys

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    Member Frostbitten's Avatar
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    I can't even count the number of halibut we put in out 19 ft Searunner ragtop. Pay attention to the weather, pick your days and have a blast!!!!!

  3. #3

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    You are on the right track with your choices...as mentioned learn how to read the weather/water and have fun.


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    I bought a new 15' inflatable a few years ago with a 20 hp portable 4 stroke, I can pull it up on shore to camp out of seward whittier and homer, it works great on the kenai, it works great on any lake, it sips gas and all together it ran me about $6,000 brand new.

  5. #5
    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    We bought an old zodiac 5 years ago after going our first year up here boatless. It was what we could afford to own and to operate. We took that thing to a lot of places in Alaska including Seward silver and rockfishing, Homer duck hunting and halibut fishing, deep creek halibut and king fishing, Deshka king and silver fishing, Willow creek silver fishing, Skilak lake duck hunting, Whittier out as far as Perry island shrimping camping fishing lots of times. I would have to check for sure, but I believe that we logged 2200 miles on that boat in two years. It still runs great, but it is not very comfortable and we have a small aluminum boat that has retired the zodiac. We bought that boat for $3500.00 with the trailer, top, seats, motor, oar, boat cover, etc. I put some time and money into it and it worked great.

    You can do and see a lot in a small boat in Alaska if you watch the weather.

  6. #6

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    The smaller the boat, the more local knowledge and caution required. But you can do a lot within those limits. It's those times that find you outside the limits that can getcha. Starting off slow and easy, getting to know an area and it's special requirements, you'll be fine. We used a 13' Zodiak for years, but always erred on the side of caution when timing our trips, not willing to "push it" when the weather started picking up. Never really had a scary moment, but I'm conservative as heck.

    Running a 20' aluminum center console now, I've had more scary moments in that simply because I let the weather get worse before I pull the plug. Frankly there's a pretty thin line between what would drive me to shore with the Zodiak and our current center console. I gotta say though, that we don't miss that Zodiak. The center console is a whole lot more comfortable and easier to fish from.

    Puzzle me this: How do you land a 100# halibut in a small boat or Zodiak? We did it, and in fact landed a few over 200# when we were killing them that large. Oops, no gaffs allowed on a Zodiak, and beware that hook sticking out of the corner of a halibut mouth when it comes alongside. It can all be done, but some tense moments when big fish are stirred into the mix.

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    Member theultrarider's Avatar
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    I bought a 20' Bayrunner new in the mid nineties. Mine was a walkthru windshield with a soft top. 50hp Yamaha 4 stroke with 35 decals :-). I loved the boat as long as you weren't in a hurry. The hull will handle big water very well. Just dont be in a hurry or it will beat you to death! Other than the nose, they have a very flat bottom. You need to slow down and keep the nose on the water. That said. That boat has many many hours on it all over Kachemak bay and cook inlet. Typical run was 30 miles one way. Likewise it has been all over Seward. Pony Cove often. Even the chiswells when the weather was right. Day harbor the other way over to Johnston Bay. Then started running Whittier and got into the sound. Put a puller on the boat and landed lots of shrimp. Been to Montague countless times with it. Even out into the gulf off of the south tip. Coming out of whittier. Landed lots of kings in the kenai as well as reds. Finally blew up the 50 and put a new 90 on it. That was a whole new boat with a 90! That is what should be on one. It handled SO much better with the correct motor. We all ran 35/50's on them to stay kenai river legal. Tell you what. I sure dont miss the river. More people and less fish. Best thing I ever did was commit to the salt and vet off the river. The boat does have its limits. But is extremely versital. I even camped on mine in the sound. I had a pair of cots that were tall enough to set up over the seats. And with the top up I had an instant tent camp. It will run bigger water than what you care to really fish in regardless of what boat you are in. Very fuel efficent and like you mentioned, very easy to tow and maintain. They are a great starter boat til you start wanting to camp on board. That was the main reason I sold mine or I would still run it today. Good luck finding a rig. Of course, keep a good eye on the weather and respect your limits. Odds are the boat can handle more water than you can.

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    all ideas sound due able read the weather an be carfull out there Anchor point is great to launch at fish are close to point an if you launch the boat your self don't get to close to the water I ahve seen TK's in the water over 24 hrs [covered] so be carfull an have fun an watch the weather
    SID [ I fish the point for a lot of years ]

  9. #9

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    Ok...I'll bite! lol.

    I would recommend taking a quick look through my youtube channel. I fish mainly out of a Kayak. But I think it is representative of what a small watercraft has access to. You can see the variety of species, but maybe more importantly the water conditions that can occur during that time of year. https://www.youtube.com/guidesak

    The quick run down is I have fished out of it every month of the year. I have effectively caught targeted species April through December. The only fish I feel I don't have some access to that a larger more seaworthy vessel might is ling cod and larger rockfish. Kings, Halibut, and Cohos in the ocean comprise a majority of the fish I target.

    A lot of my fishing is in Lower Cook Inlet. For that I recommend getting either a trailer with high guide rails so you can tractor launch or a vessel and rig combo that you can beach launch yourself.

    Over the past three years, I think I can only recollect one time where the weather made it impossible to launch out of Whittier, Seward, or the lower inlet. Could have still gone to a lake or river! Get good at reading the weather. Be safe and understand one of the price you pay for saving money is you just have to say "no" even after a 4 hour drive through traffic one way. I've done it twice so far this year. Having said that, I feel safe and I have been fortunate enough to catch a few fish.

    Get the best you can for the dollars you have (duh, Capt Obvious). I guess what I am saying is get a solid high quality 16 footer before buying a beat up 10 year old engine 20 footer. You can pick your days and there are many. You can catch fish off a smaller platform if that is your concern about making an investment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by theultrarider View Post
    I bought a 20' Bayrunner new in the mid nineties. Mine was a walkthru windshield with a soft top. 50hp Yamaha 4 stroke with 35 decals :-). I loved the boat as long as you weren't in a hurry. The hull will handle big water very well. Just dont be in a hurry or it will beat you to death! Other than the nose, they have a very flat bottom. You need to slow down and keep the nose on the water. That said. That boat has many many hours on it all over Kachemak bay and cook inlet. Typical run was 30 miles one way. Likewise it has been all over Seward. Pony Cove often. Even the chiswells when the weather was right. Day harbor the other way over to Johnston Bay. Then started running Whittier and got into the sound. Put a puller on the boat and landed lots of shrimp. Been to Montague countless times with it. Even out into the gulf off of the south tip. Coming out of whittier. Landed lots of kings in the kenai as well as reds. Finally blew up the 50 and put a new 90 on it. That was a whole new boat with a 90! That is what should be on one. It handled SO much better with the correct motor. We all ran 35/50's on them to stay kenai river legal. Tell you what. I sure dont miss the river. More people and less fish. Best thing I ever did was commit to the salt and vet off the river. The boat does have its limits. But is extremely versital. I even camped on mine in the sound. I had a pair of cots that were tall enough to set up over the seats. And with the top up I had an instant tent camp. It will run bigger water than what you care to really fish in regardless of what boat you are in. Very fuel efficent and like you mentioned, very easy to tow and maintain. They are a great starter boat til you start wanting to camp on board. That was the main reason I sold mine or I would still run it today. Good luck finding a rig. Of course, keep a good eye on the weather and respect your limits. Odds are the boat can handle more water than you can.
    If I was looking for ONE do it all boat that's the one I would buy! I was hunting one for a while but decided to go the two boat route, interestingly I still only own one boat...

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    This is a good thread. I have a 21ft Woolridge classic river boat and just started exploring Resurrection bay last week. Key is good weather, paying attention, good running gear, know how to repair small issues, bring reasonable spares. I bought a MySpot several years ago for snow machining and like to have it more for the Family staying behind. They can see where I am and it offers option like a simple ok button. I was discouraged that you need to have an expensive ocean boat.
    For me staying a float, out of water is life. Going on weekends with good weather means other boats will see you and my plan is to stay seen. I swam once in Kenai lake on a hot 75 degree day, jumped off our small boat and swam for the beach. Maybe 200 yards.. I barely made it. Best survivable dumb thing I've done.
    Small boats are doable but...their is less margin for error so just stay responsible as possible and go for it.
    Our ancestors braved much worse.

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    Member The Kid's Avatar
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    Thanks for the insight guys. As I've said I don't plan on any great seagoing voyages, just short day or halfday fishing trips. I have a spot a friend showed me out of Whittier to shrimp that will be safe for a smaller boat in all but the worst of weather. Heck I don't even need to catch halibut, my wife is allergic so we have to stick with rockfish and lings. I'm really not sure why but I've always been more comfortable fishing in and operating a small boat. Strange because I've operated heavy equipment since age ten or twelve but big boats scare me, I think it may be that they are too comfortable and I'm afraid I'll ignore signs of impending weather with the sense of security they offer. I think I'll keep an eye peeled for a 16'-20' Bayrunner type boat next spring.

    The above poster who talked about staying in sight of other vessels. I like the way you think and have given some thought to this as well. Not that I want to rely on others, but I think this is a good thing for guys and gals in smaller vessels to think about. We all like to get out an away from the crowds but it is the ocean and it's hardly combat fishing to be within a couple hundred yards of someone in a popular spot.

    Thanks fellas, hopefully we'll be able to find a boat for us to get out and enjoy next summer.

  13. #13
    Member theultrarider's Avatar
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    Many places we play in the salt, there is no cell service. With that said make sure to have all current flares required by law. They just may save your life. That. And a good working marine radio with a QUALITY antenna. Most radio problems are not the radio but an antenna that has seen betters days. A new antenna will reach out many many miles. One that gets trailered alot often will only reach a mile or two after just a couple of years. Do a radio check with someone each trip to make sure you dont have an antenna that is coming apart inside. And of course keep an eye on the sky and your face to the wind. Be ready to get off.

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    you might think about a Tolman skiff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by potbuilder View Post
    you might think about a Tolman skiff.
    Another excellent choice! Great boats too.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Kid View Post
    ...I've always been more comfortable fishing in and operating a small boat....but big boats scare me....I'll keep an eye peeled for a 16'-20' Bayrunner type boat next spring.
    Any difference in handling a 20' versus a 16' will disappear just about the first time you use it. The extra length really helps flatten out chop for comfort and gives you a little more margin for safety. But after that, you'll just find the 20' version more "user friendly" for all the things you like to do in a boat- easier to move around, easier to spread out for fishing and avoid tangles, easier to stow all the extra stuff that accumulates. I moved up from an 18' to a 20' and you wouldn't think the 2' difference would be all that apparent. But it was a huge improvement in everything we do. Rode in a friend's 16' the other day. Though there were only 3 of us, it felt like we were always tripping on each other and everything else. I couldn't go back, even though there are typically only the two of us in our 20'.

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