14' Aluminum Valco
I'm coming up to fish the Kenai in early June and staying through July. I'm pulling my 29' trailer and truck topping my 14' aluminum boat with a 25 hp 2 stroke mercury. I've got down riggers and GPS with sonar.
Am I nuts to think I can take this boat out in the water for salmon or Halibut? I realize that to go out 5 to 10 miles in such a small boat would not be recommended. I'm thinking 2 to 3 miles out of Homer. Or mayby drifting some of the larger rivers. I feel like I might be getting myself in trouble using such a small boat, I'm just not sure as I've never been up that way. I fish my larger trailerable boat in the Monterey bay here in California and see lots of smaller boats out there but I don't know if it is a do able thing in Alaska. Are there calm days in Alaskan waters where a boat this size would be perfectly allright?
Again I am not thinking of traveling a long distance. Just a few miles out into the bays around Homer, Seward, Valdez and Kenai. And of course can halibut be caught this close in? Do you guys ever see boats of this size out on the water?
Thanks for any replies.
Kenai in a little boat.
The 14 footer is not a problem, but the motor being a 2 stroke is. Check the regs for motors on the Kenai.
We use a dinky skiff during dipnetting on the Kenai and Kasilof. It's a 12 footer with a 6hp 4 stroke. I would not take it out on Kachemak Bay or anywhere farther from shore in Cook Inlet than I'd like to swim back in.
Check the results here:
Other salt water adventures in a small boat.
There are rare days when Cook Inlet, Kachemak Bay, Passage Canal, and Resurrection Bay are flat calm, and you might be tempted to give it a try. Conditions can change all too quickly, though.
I've taken a 16' fiberglass lake boat with a 25 horse out of Seward almost all the way out to Agnes Cove and across to Cape Resurrection, but I was nuts to do it. Things can change pretty fast and you are in serious trouble out there. I was with my dad around Cape Aialik as a kid and we couldn't get back around the Cape back to Seward for three days in a 33 footer.
One day while I was crewing on a commercial gillnetter out of Kenai, it was absolutely flat calm and we ran out to Kalgin Island like it was glass. The next day we were pulling sets through seas where the entire net between waves was out of the water from the cork line down to the lead line.
You can get lured into something when the conditions are nice and find yourself far from safety in a very short time.
I know of people who used to cross Kachemak Bay in a 14' deep hulled skiff to McDonald Spit. I wouldn't want to hook into a barn door halibut in one though.
I like Valco skiffs, but I'd be real "tender" about when and where I used it. You sound like an experienced boater, asking all the right questions, but conditions can change up here real quick. I've used a 14 foot zodiak for 30 years, along with other boats. But I'm a real fair weather sailor in all of them.
Truth be known, weather that's too rough for my zodiak is too rough for a 24-footer, comfort-wise. I'm just not prone ot beating myself and my family up on rough seas. I watch the weather forecasts closely, and knowing that forecasts often miss the mark up here, I'm also conservative. When the breeze comes up, I'm heading for home. If it goes back down again, fine. I can make a second trip. If it doesn't go back down, I'm usually off the water long before it gets rough.
If you're conservative and watchful, you'll probably be fine. If you're planning to land any big halibut, get yoursel a harpoon and rig the line to a buoy. Let the butt fight the buoy till it's tired, then beat in its head before bringing it aboard. Better yet, cut off any you can't land with a dipnet, and you'll have much better eating and lots better fish stories.
Yes it can be done
The Kenai River has a 4 stroke restriction during your time frame. As for halibut, every year I see a bunch of guys camped (with 5th wheels and motorhome) down at Ninilchik that take off out of the Ninilchik River for Halibut in 14'-16' boats. There's a campground down there with hookup. You have to be really careful with the weather and tides. Those guys usually get a few halibut and don't run too far. Take a drive down there and check it out. In July you have a better chance of decent weather than say May in Cook Inlet. Listen to the Marine forecast and watch the weather. Like everyone says, it can change pretty quickly. My friend and I used to launch a 16' lund off the beach as the tide flooded and took out as the tide ebbed. We only fished 2-3 miles out from shore. You can also do this down at Anchor pt. There's a spot for you to launch in the Anchor River but you will need some local knowledge to do that. You don't have to fish far from the shore to catch Halibut in Cook Inlet. My neighbor always rows his drift boat out and catches plenty of halibut. I think he's nuts. But he thinks I am nuts too.
Really? Oars? He must hit the tides just right.
I am going to try take my Zodiac out of ninilchik/whiskey/Anchor this spring and summer a few times.....hopefully catch a couple chickens.
I used to take my 14 foot Hewescraft skiff with a 20hp jet frequently in the ocean. I trolled in Seward, but never past Caineshead and always wrapped it up quickly before the afternoon winds picked up. In Cook Inlet I never went far, just far enough to get into some deep water near Deep Creek to catch some fish. If there was any wind or waves I didn't even bother going as I knew that the boat could easily get swamped and I'd be in big trouble quite quickly. I also knew everything would get soaked and it would be miserable. I figured by carefully choosing where I was going to go, I could always just beach it if things got that bad. I never had to. While others have offered good advice on the safe side, taking skiffs out like yours can be done and has been done many times. Sometimes I am surprised at how far out I see them and I don't recommend doing what some of those guys do as they are pushing it. Looking back, I always felt reasonably safe on fair days in the boat and if I didn't have the much bigger boat I would do it again with little hesistation.
I'd say you'd be OK if it wasn't for that **** Mercury, seen them break down more times than I care to remember
I went out in a 12 foot zodiac about 10 years ago off of the Anchor. The 2nd boat got around a 110 pounder or so up and my buddy Phil stood up and started whacking the fish with the gaff. I was for sure he was going to punch a hole in the side of it. Besides that, it got a little rough and we made sure to keep shore in site. I wouldn't say it was within swimming distance though. No anchor, just drifted.
Originally Posted by Bullelkklr