Best Watercraft and Accessories for Fishing in Alaska

Pristine Ventures KorkPristineVentures-Kork.jpg
Scott Nicholson of North Pole, AK, purchased a Kork and used it on a remote 8-day float hunt for moose in interior Alaska and here’s what he had to say, “I liked the performance of the Kork; it is light, maneuverable and tough. On a father-and-son float trip in 2016 my two sons and I took a 55½-inch moose. We used two Legend rafts and one Kork. At first we split the moose up among the three boats. I wanted to see how the Kork would handle a heavy load, so we put all the moose, including the rack, and a 200-pound hunter and all his gear in the boat. It handled great!” Scott went on to say that he also used the Kork as a dinghy to go ashore from his saltwater boat in Valdez when spring bow-hunting for black bear and it performed admirably. If money were no object, Scott says he’d get two more Korks and have a fleet of three, because they weigh only 42 pounds, are easy to carry and to transport on a plane. We see this as an excellent solution for the angler who wants to float remote rivers.

Ego S2 Slider Large Guide NetEgo-S2-Slider-Large-Guide-Net.jpg
The net has a 40-inch ruler printed on the mesh bag, which is very handy for getting a quick measurement on bigger fish. The handle extends from about 28- to 60 inches, giving the netter a long reach, and it has a comfortably shaped ergonomic grip. It has a PVC-coated mesh bag that produces little drag, doesn’t get tangled in hooks and is easy on the fish. The mesh bag zips off making it replaceable. 

Scotty Fishfinder Mount for Float TubesScotty-Fish-Finder-Mount-for-Float-Tube.jpg
We tested the mounting system on an Outcast Prowler float tube with a Lowrance Hook 4 Fishfinder and the system worked well. It includes a mounting plate for both sonar and transducer, which fastens to the mounting plates that comes with your sonar and transducer. Each mounting plate incorporates a slot to slide in a strap that you fasten around your float tube. The mount will work on most Lowrance, Humminbird and Eagle fish-finders. Being able to mount a sonar on our float tube definitely increased catch rates. 

Elec-Tra-Mate DownriggerElectramateDownrigger.jpg
We asked David Bayes, a busy charter captain in Homer, to test out this Elec-Tra-Mate downrigger in Kachemak Bay and he said “Elect-tra-mate has done for the downrigger what the Penn International did for deep-sea fishing reels.” Like your grandpa’s favorite set of Craftsman wrenches, this is a tool that can be passed down through generations. Fashioned after one of the most popular hand-crank downriggers of all-time, the now discontinued Penn Fathom-Master, the engineers at Elec-Tra-Mate have transformed a classic into a legend. Constructed of a hard-anodized CNC-cut aluminum frame with aluminum and stainless components, this downrigger has a re-settable electronic depth counter and construction. “Replacing my old Penn downriggers was a cinch,” our tester finished explaining, “as the bolt pattern on the Elec-tra-mate base matches up exactly the bolt pattern of my old Penns.” David gave this downrigger five stars.

Mantus 13-pound AnchorMantus-13lb-Anchor.jpg
Mantus anchors are available in weights from 8 pounds up to 175 pounds in galvanized- or stainless steel. We tested a 13-pound galvanized Mantus on an 18-foot Fish-Rite Rivermaster sled. Since we often use a 26-pound Columbia River-style anchor with this boat we were skeptical that a 13-pound anchor would hold in heavy current such as we commonly encounter while anchoring for halibut. Using other anchors in Cook Inlet current, we’ve occasionally broken free and drifted away from the honey hole we were trying to fish. What we experienced with the Mantus is that it set very quickly in sand, mud and gravel bottoms and it never broke free until we intentionally pulled the anchor. That’s pretty impressive. We used 3/8-inch braided nylon rope and 8 feet of chain with this anchor, same as we use with other anchors in similar conditions. The anchor’s galvanized coating is thick and we haven’t witnessed any corrosion to date. This anchor can be rigged breakaway-style with a short length of chain and zip-ties to facilitate getting it off the bottom should it become fouled. Mantus Anchors carry a lifetime warranty, structurally, and a 3-year warranty for the galvanized coating on the non-stainless versions.

LeeLock Columbia River Nest Quick ReleaseLeeLock-Columbia-River-Quick--Release.jpg
This small piece of equipment will make a huge improvement in your day on the river. The Columbia River Nest Quick Release slides and then pins into either the Columbia River Quick Change Anchor Nest or the Columbia River Bolt-on Anchor Nest once the anchor has been dropped. Simply use the same pin that was holding your anchor in the nest by placing it through the hole in the Quick Release. Hook your anchor line by way of a loop tied with a slip knot to the hook in the Quick Release. The pressure of the boat against the anchor will keep the Quick Release in holding position until the release line is pulled. With a line attached to the stainless steel carabiner ring you can pull the Quick Release thereby releasing from your anchor from almost anywhere in the boat without moving from your place. No more running to the front of the boat, climbing through the windshield, releasing the anchor and then hurrying back to your rods. 

Raymarine Dragonfly 7ProRaymarineDragonfly_7_Front.jpg
The Raymarine Dragonfly is a stand-alone, affordable Fish finder/Chartplotter with CHIRP sonar and CHIRP DownVision technology. The new Dragonfly comes in a variety of sizes and we tested the Dragonfly 7Pro with its 7-inch screen. They’ve solved the mounting issue with a ball-mount system that is secure and easy to use. The same high-quality CHIRP sonar and DownVision picture remains, all delivered through a single transducer. There is a single cable that connects the unit to both power and the transducer. The sonar and DownVision images can be displayed simultaneously. In fact, several pre-programmed pages are available including one that will show sonar, DownVision, and mapping pictures on the same screen. The 7Pro has numerous mapping options including Navionics, Raymarine LightHouse and C-Map by Jeppeson. The Chartplotter function can store up to 3,000 waypoints and 15 tracks. The 7Pro also has built-in Wi-Fi capability and users can stream Dragonfly sonar data to smartphones or tablets through the Raymarine Wi-Fish mobile app. Of note, the 7Pro’s CHIRP sonar image is perhaps the best we’ve seen in this price range and is better than some units costing significantly more. Waterproof to IPX6 and IPX7 standards, our unit has been rained on, splashed with salt spray in rough water and basically left out in the elements for nearly the entire time we’ve owned it with no problems. Ease-of-use is a major positive factor. It is the kind of interface most people can figure out by playing around with the various menus. Perhaps the only negative thing we can say about the 7Pro is that it has just a single micro-SD card slot. Normally, you operate with a mapping chip plugged into the slot. To store or backup data such as waypoints or sonar images, you must take the mapping chip out and put a blank micro-SD card in, save your data to it and then put your mapping chip back in. 

Lowrance Hook 4 Fish FinderLowrance-Hook-4-Fish-Finder.jpg
We thoroughly enjoyed using this unit on a float tube in 2016; it helped us catch more fish. The 4-inch color display is easy to read, even in bright sun, and provides a high-resolution image of the subsurface world. It features CHIRP sonar with DownScan Imagining, which combine to give anglers a highly accurate view under their boat. It’s user-friendly, allowing one-finger operation, and includes a multi-window display so you can choose from your pre-set pages, and it also offers a three-panel view. Lots of other features make this a value-packed unit.

Starbrite Star Tron Marine Enzyme Fuel TreatmentStarbrite-Star-Tron-Marine-Enzyme-Fuel-Treatment.jpg
One of the most expensive problems that can happen to outboards is engine damage due to ethanol fuel issues. Star Tron eliminates and prevents these problems, even if the fuel has been sitting for months. Star Tron breaks down excess water and sludge to sub-micron size, allowing it to be safely burned away during normal engine operation. Star Tron cleans the entire fuel system. It will stabilize fuel for up to two years. It can be used in all gas outboards and inboards. Though a little goes a long way, there is no danger from overdosing. It is made in three different formulations. We use the standard small-engine formula in which one ounce of Star Tron treats six gallons of gas. We add the appropriate amount to the gas tank every time we fill up. We’ve been using it for three years with our Evinrude ETEC-90 at our dealer’s recommendation. So far, we’ve enjoyed flawless engine performance.

Lowrance HDS-7 Gen3 Insight Med/High/LSS Lowrance-HDS-7-Gen3-Insight-Med-High-LSS-.jpg
The HDS-7 Gen3 Fish finder/Chartplotter is an astonishingly capable unit, limited only by the users’ desire to learn and use its many features. For starters, it has a touch-screen but it can also be controlled via buttons, which is really helpful if it’s mounted on an open boat as touch-screens can be finicky when wet. It utilizes CHIRP sonar and Lowrance’s StructureScan HD and can display the high resolution CHIRP sonar image simultaneously with StructureScan images both below and to the sides of the boat. It comes with a number of different page views already programmed into the unit, but users can custom-build pages as well. It is plug-and-play compatible with other Lowrance products such as Broadband Radar and Smartsteer control for MotorGuide’s Pinpoint GPS system, among others. It is NMEA-2000 networking capable, has a single Ethernet network port and is capable of displaying video with an optional adaptor cable. It has an internal GPS antenna and the GPS supports WAAS/EGNOS/MSAS connections. It is compatible with an expansive selection of mapping options including Navionics and several others. The GoFree App enables wireless connectivity with smartphones and tablets, enabling you to view and control the unit from them. You can make your own personalized, detailed maps using Insight Genesis. It has two micro-SD card slots, so you can run mapping software and have the second slot available to store data. We’ve used the unit for eight months and performance has been flawless. We installed ours with the new Lowrance TotalScan Skimmer all-in-one transducer and it is no longer necessary to install two transducers to use CHIRP or broadband sonar simultaneously with StructureScan HD down- and side-imaging. 

Cortland Bamboo Teardrop Trout NetCortland-Bamboo-Teardrop-Trout-Net.jpg
This fish-friendly net features a clear rubber mesh bag that does little damage to the fish. The bag is 16.5 inches by 10 inches and is big enough to handle about a two-foot trout. It’s a compact net for easy transport and comes with a lanyard so you can attach it to your vest or float tube and not worry about losing it. 5ah 4.5 Float Tube Mount produces the most effective fish finder mounting systems for float tubes (and other craft) that we’ve seen on the market. The 5ah 4.5 Float Tube Mount Kit has their standard transducer mount, strap, battery box and universal mounting plate. Inside the battery box is a five amp-hour battery that can run most four-inch fish finders for at least 16 hours. Our tester upgraded from the 2.9 amp-hour system to the five amp-hour system to get more run time out of a single charge. The 5ah system is now his system of choice for float tube and pontoon boat fishing. The kit will work with virtually any fish finder on the market that has a display of 3- to 5 inches.