John Sampson Derby Trophy

January Fishing Boat Showdown!

Kevin Klein Kevin's Catch

This month kicks off a new year of fishing with a lot happening in the Northwest angling scene. A couple big salmon tournaments, the opener of blackmouth season in various marine areas, and, of course, the big Seattle Boat Show. You’ll be glad you didn’t winterize that fishing boat! Your calendar may be packed during the show, but after is a great time to get out on the water; all you need is a stout and able vessel.

We’ll cover what to look for if you’re in the market as a new boater and fisherperson, or a hardcore angler looking to upgrade to that boat of your dreams. Fishing boats have come a long way from the little tubs with old outboards we used to ply the salt with. It’s an exciting time to see what’s new or revisit the tried and true. Whatever your budget is, there’s a vessel out there for everyone.

For the new year, I’ll be changing up the monthly column a little bit. Instead of a standard rundown on what to go fish for, where, and how; I’ll try to cover an interesting topic to help make your boating and fishing time more enjoyable. We’ll hit on some of the where, when, and how, but switch it up a bit. No stale leftovers in 2019!

So, with the big show upon us, let’s talk boats. Maybe this is the year you’re seriously shopping for fishing and cruising boats at the show. Fishing and cruising encompasses the majority of boating activities for folks. The important question to ask when looking for a boat is—What am I, or my family, going to be using this boat for 90 percent of the time? If that’s fishing, then you might be willing to give up some amenities to create a more fish friendly platform. Not friendly to the fish, of course.

John Sampson and Chuck Payne

Left: John Sampson weighs in a winning derby fish in one of the season’s tournaments. Right: Chuck Payne with a great winter blackmouth caught on a snowy day. Dress warm!

As we know, all boats are something of a compromise. If you’re going to be fishing and crabbing but still spending nights on the water, you might want to sacrifice some cockpit space for a larger sleeping berth and cabin area with galley. Conversely, if you’re mainly focused on fishing for the day and maybe make a rare overnight trip after imbibing at a port pub, the sleeping arrangements and galley aren’t that important. How many pubs have food and how many fishing boat sinks are mainly used for flasher storage? Answer: all of them.

Kevin’s Pick

Gill Marine

Gill Marine makes great outerwear for fishing as well as sailing and cruising. For 40 years they have been shielding boaters from the elements. Now they have collaborated with top fishing pros to specifically outfit the serious angler. Respect the elements! Check out gillmarine.com to see the full line up of technical garments and gear.

Gill Marine Jackets

I get asked a lot whether I prefer inboard or outboard for the engine, and fiberglass or aluminum for the boat build. My answer usually depends on the boat and what’s best for you. The modern stern drives have been shown to be more reliable lately. Diesel power is economical and really tractors up and down swells. Plus, you can get heat from the engines and lots of charging power for electrical use. However, the new generation of outboards are pretty amazing. They are big power in light packages, and many can run for high hours with no major issues.

As far as glass versus tin, again both have their benefits. Aluminum is tough and durable and doesn’t take a lot of maintenance. Fiberglass is warmer and usually provides a softer ride. It’s all about the complete package of the boat. When you find the right one, sometimes you just know it. Do your research and feel comfortable with the vessel and dealer before pulling the purchase trigger.

If you’re fishing and exploring this time of year, having a nice head onboard is truly a bonus. Let’s face it, female anglers might sometimes catch more fish than men, but they’re not equipped to deal with a day’s “eventualities’ as conveniently as us guys are.

A sit-down head in cold weather will be much appreciated. Everyone being as comfortable on the boat as possible just makes the days, and nights, go better. I always remind myself to make things fun. We’re out on the water on a boat! How cool is that!?

Storing extra warm weather clothes on your vessel is a good idea as well. An additional jacket and pair of rain pants doesn’t add much weight and can really save the day if the weather turns inclement. A pack of hand and feet warmers such as Hot Hands can help on a chilly day. They’re air activated, so just take them out of the pack, insert in your boots or gloves, and feel the warmth. Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference. Remember, a comfy crew is a happy crew!

We’ve got some very cool salmon derbies to fish this month. The Resurrection Derby out of Anacortes kicks things off January 5 to 6; and the Roche Harbor Salmon Classic takes place on January 18 and 19, the weekend before the Seattle Boat Show. Whether you’re fishing in a big-time tournament or just out to have fun, this is a forgotten time of year in boating and fishing that can be magical. So, let’s get out there and go get some!

Kevin Klein

Written by

A lifelong resident of Washington, Kevin Klein has been on the rivers, lakes, and salt waters of the Pacific Northwest since conception. Kevin can be found promoting sport fishing and giving seminars on boating and fishing techniques. On any given day you may find Kevin and his wife Vicki, also an accomplished angler, plying the waters of the Northwest, spreading the word of the benefits of the boating and fishing lifestyle.

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