Drift vers cat?
Which would be the best for fishing the upper and midle Kenai, a drift boat or a cataraft? And why?
I have an 18', overly tricked-out cat that I've ran on the Kenai for years (I do strip it down for real whitewater and hunting trips). I bought it for the versatility since my wife restricts me to one boat (she ignores my canoe). Anyhow, I've used drift boats in the past and believe they are optimal for drifting the Kenai. If a drift boat owner could chime in here, I think the only drawback is the cat can handle a rougher day crossing Skilak if you go through the canyon. If you are just going to travel from gravel bar to gravel bar and not drift and fish, it may be a toss-up. However, the ability to manage your drift and anchor in those sweet spots easily with a drift boat has the edge.
That is just my two cents worth.
The info provided by DH above is 100% accurate, i believe.
I have four different rafts that I use for different purposes with my (big game) guide business. I use these same rafts on the upper Kenai River for my own recreational floats. They work 80% (??) fine. But if I had one boat dedicated for use on the upper Kenai River it would be a drift boat.
The rafts work fine, except when I would like to hold in one spot while out in the current. And the rafts are versatle and "shipable' for my business. But a drift boat would be most perfect if dedicated solely to the upper Kenai River.
But for the middle Kenai (below Skilak Lake), my one cataraft that is "motor capable" is very slow traveling upstream against the curent. Note that any/all catarafts only travel at about 11 or 12 MPH max speed, regardless of engine size. Therefore, I lose alot of fishing time during the short days of October, compared to the boats-both hard hulls and inflatables-that are designed for rapid upstream travel. For the middle Kenai, I prefer any boat with a transom and a "max HP Kenai moter".