Best Watercraft and Accessories
for Fishing in Alaska in 2016
Sea Eagle Travel Canoe
This new introduction in 2015 was a real winner in our opinion. Now anglers have the ability to transport a full-featured canoe in a plane or to fit it in the trunk of a car. When it’s blown up, it’s as rigid and stable as any hard-bodied canoe, and the removable skeg and double chines that run the length of the canoe increase its stability and tracking. It’s quick and easy to set-up. Marcus, Davis and Charles Weiner were a potent fishing team using this boat.
Danielson Outdoors Alaska FTC Crab Trap
This crab pot meets Alaska regulations. It is made of vinyl-coated steel wire and measures 24 inches long by 24 inches wide by 13 inches high. The Alaska FTC Crab Trap folds flat, making it easy to carry several of them even in small boats. This trap has four entrance doors, two escape rings and a fall-away rot cord to allow crabs to escape should you lose the pot. Note that in areas of heavy current, you should attach additional weight to these crab pots to keep them from drifting away. Danielson makes crap trap weights; alternatively, you could zip-tie a couple lengths of heavy rebar to the bottom of the trap to weigh it down. These crab traps are an excellent value for the recreational crabber pursuing Dungeness and rock crabs.
LeeLock MK-01 Trolling Motor Mount-Electric/Wireless Steering
With bow-mounted, electric trolling motors rapidly gaining in popularity for trolling up and down the West Coast, mounting such systems can present a challenge. Enter the LeeLock MK-01 Trolling Motor Mount. The MK-01 is made for bow-mounted electric trolling motors with wireless controls. It drops right into the LeeLock Quick Change Anchor Nest. We attached a Minn Kota Riptide ST-80 with iPilot onto it, and proceeded to enjoy trolling for trout and kokanee, silver and Chinook salmon like we never have before. What’s more, if you want to remove the bow-mounted motor and reconfigure for anchor fishing, swapping out the components takes less than three minutes. The MK-01 is one of three different electric trolling motor mounts made by LeeLock.
Leelock Magnum Skeg
The use of bow-mounted, electric trolling motors for West Coast salmon trolling is a game-changer. The LeeLock Magnum Skeg is a vital part of such systems. LeeLock is the only West Coast manufacturer that produces an oversized skeg for electric trolling motors. The LeeLock Magnum Skeg drastically improves performance of bow-mounted electric trolling motors. Not only does it improve performance, it makes a bow-mounted electric trolling motor much more efficient as well so your batteries will run longer on a given charge. The LeeLock Magnum Skeg shown fits a Minn Kota Riptide ST 80 with i-Pilot. LeeLock can make Magnum Skegs for other trolling motors as well.
Frabill Clear Rubber Conservation Net
With safe catch-and-release practices a serious priority for Fish Alaska staff, the Conservation series nets from Frabill are a firm favorite. This 17×19-inch model features 100% knotless mesh netting, a flat, linear bottom and tangle-free coating. The net issaltwater-safe.
Pristine Ventures Legend
We love how lightweight and portable this system is, which makes it really well-suited to travel to remote destinations. Sporting a huge 1,250-pound capacity, it’s a great choice for two fishermen on a float trip or for a single hunter to float-hunt caribou and even moose. At 13 feet long and 46 inches wide, this hybrid canoe/kayak has a big footprint on the water, which equates to low draft, and the boat when loaded can float in 7 inches of water. It’s built tough to take on Alaska. The boat can be rowed with either a kayak paddle or with a rowing kit and oars and is available in green, gray, red or yellow.
Scotty 250-pound-test Heavy Duty Premium Microfilament Braided Downrigger Line
This 250-pound-test braided downrigger line is a smart replacement for steel cable as it won’t kink, fray or rust. Plus, it is thinner, which results in less drag and line hum, and it eliminates electrolysis associated with metal cable. It’s available in 200-, 300- and 400-foot options, and each comes with a Coastlock Snap and Soft Stop Bumper.
Adventure Products EGO S2 Slider Reach Medium Landing Net
We tested the 17-inch by 19-inch hoop-size net, which is suitable for trout, char, grayling and pink salmon. We were impressed by the strength of the extension handle, which starts at 48 inches and can extend to 108 inches, and appreciated how easy it is to extend the handle—just press and hold the release button and pull on the foam rubber handle. We also like the net material—a lightweight, clear, PVC rubber-coated nylon mesh that is easy on fish and doesn’t produce too much drag in the water.
Promar Grande Catch ’N Release Net
We tested the model LN-501BT and recommend it. The soft, rubber coated mesh of this net is easy on fish; the basket is large enough to handle big salmon and is flat on the bottom, which makes it easier to unhook fish. It’s got a long, sturdy, telescoping handle (54- to 96 inches) and strong double-pin yoke.
Stearns Youth Extra Long Watersports
Our 8-year-old tester is tall and skinny and this jacket fits his 60-pound frame very well. It’s comfortable and the three straps and buckles allow the jacket to be secured for a tight fit. He wore it drift-boating, canoeing and fishing from the dock, and the Type III PFD could also be used when on personal watercraft or engaged in tow sports.
Mustang Elite Inflatable PFD
This low-profile Personal Floatation Device is lightweight, easy to wear all day and provides automatic inflation if you fall in the water. Due to its low-profile, this PFD does not get in the way when you are fishing or engaged in paddle sports.
Lowrance Elite-4 CHIRP Fishfinder/Chartplotter
The Lowrance Elite-4 is an easy-to-use 4.3-inch fishfinder/chartplotter that combines CHIRP Sonar with DownScan Imaging technology, a super-bright, LED-backlit color display, built-in GPS antenna and high-definition mapping options. This unit packs a lot of capability into a small unit, perfect for small boats and inflatables. The screen is easily viewable in direct sunlight and with CHIRP technology, fish returns and structure are vivid compared to non-CHIRP fish-finders.
Odyssey Marine Battery Model 31M-PC2150
The 31M-PC 2150 battery has both massive starting power and amazing deep cycling capability—up to 400 cycles at 80% depth of discharge. With 1,150 cold-cranking amps and a reserve capacity of 205 minutes, this battery shines as either a starting battery or as a deep-cycle trolling motor battery. We used two of them to power the 24 volt Minn Kota Riptide ST-80 with iPilot electric trolling motor. We were amazed at the longevity these batteries provided. We once forgot to plug the batteries in to recharge after a 10-hour fishing day trolling for salmon. We fished a second day of eight more hours of trolling and still had plenty of juice left in the batteries. After a full season of use we’ve observed no degradation to date in the power of the batteries. Granted, we take good care of them and leave them on a smart charger while not in use. We fully endorse these batteries.
www.FishFinderMounts.com 2.9ah U2 Float Tube Mount Kit
The 2.9ah U2 Float Tube Mount Kit is designed for mounting small- to medium-sized fish-finders to float tubes, pontoon boats and other inflatables. It can be used to mount Lowrance Elite 3-5 series, Humminbird 300-700 series and Raymarine Dragonfly fish-finders. The 2.9ah battery will power some of these units for a full day’s fishing. We mounted an Elite-4 CHIRP fish-finder/chartplotter on ours. In hindsight, we should have selected the U3 Float Tube Mount Kit as the chartplotter/GPS seems to use considerable battery power, and the U3 comes with a larger 5ah battery. The mounting kit takes less than a minute to attach to a float tube and can be removed even faster. The U2 Float Tube Mount Kit is the simplest, most effective way to mount a fish-finder to a float tube or pontoon boat that we have seen.
Minn Kota Riptide ST-80 electric trolling motor with iPilot
Bow-mounted, electric trolling motors are a rare sight in the Great Land. However, such systems are a game-changer for saltwater salmon trolling, for hovering over a pinnacle while bottomfishing, or for trolling a contour line for lake trout. We used the Riptide ST-80 with iPilot for hundreds of hours this summer trolling for Chinook and coho salmon. We are here to tell you, with the wireless control provided by iPilot, trolling has changed our lives from being a slave to the kicker motor to hands-free operation, even in somewhat windy conditions. With iPilot, you can point the boat where you want to go, hit the autopilot mode, and the boat will go there with no input from you as it has its own GPS built into it. You can bait hooks, tie knots, joke with your buddies and troll more efficiently than ever before. Not only will autopilot mode control direction but iPilot has a cruise control feature that allows you to very specifically adjust your trolling speed. The iPilot also has a feature called Spot-Lock. Spot-Lock is like a virtual anchor. When activated, the motor will attempt to keep you on a GPS coordinate. Imagine fishing a deep-water pinnacle for lings or black rockfish and being able to stay on top of the structure without anchoring, or being tied to a kicker motor. You can also record tracks and re-run them from start-to-end or end-to-start. The Riptide ST-80 is saltwater rated and puts out 80 pounds of thrust. We used and abused this motor in both salt- and freshwater and it’s still running as if new.
Fusion MS-RA205 with FUSION-Link
NMEA 2000 connectivity marine stereo
Our tester’s boat is an open sled. He wanted a weather-resistant, durable, compact marine stereo system with Bluetooth capability to put in it. The Fusion MS-RA205 compact marine stereo he installed has been subjected to torrential downpours, blazing sun, freezing temps, salt spray and probably fish slime, but it still works as well as the day he installed it. With the optional Bluetooth dongle, he’s able to connect an iPhone or Android device to play music anywhere. With an AM/FM radio antenna, he can listen to the radio as well, including VHF frequencies (can’t transmit). The radio has more capability than he’s used, such as the aforementioned VHF reception, plus Sirius reception and NMEA 2000 networking capability. He’s completely satisfied.
Evinrude ETEC E90DPGL
After owning 4-stroke outboards for many years, Contributing Editor George Krumm re-powered his Fish-Rite Rivermaster with a 90 horsepower ETEC last year. He says, “I’m super glad I did. This motor is a tiller, and I can adjust the idle up or down with the push of a button. It has power tilt/trim, and there are buttons to control it both on the tiller handle and on the cowling. The hole shot and power is awesome, fuel economy is easily on par with the 4-strokes I’ve owned and might be better than some. It starts as soon as I turn the key, every time. I was worried it would smoke and smell; it doesn’t. Plus Ican winterize it in the water or on the trailer in a matter of about two minutes—the motor fogs itself during this process. Finally, there is no factory required maintenance for three years. I highly recommend the Evinrude ETEC to anyone who is thinking about re-powering.”