Well, it all began on this very forum. Boating section some time around August of 2009. I came across a thread introducing a new shallow water skiff. It was an Ankona Copperhead.
At a low starting price of $9,900 for the Boat, Motor, and Trailer package. I remember going through the thread and falling in love with the skiff. At the time, I was balls deep into a complete restoration of a 1991 Pro Sports SC 1400. It was a splash of a Boston Whaler with a inner liner with a built in Side Console. It was my first skiff. I had purchased it when I was into bass fishing the lakes. Once I discovered Flamingo, and flats fishing. I wanted nothing to do with freshwater. I read the full thread about the Copperhead thoroughly. I remember as if it was yesterday. The girl I was dating at the time (girlfriend of 2.5 years at the time) kept insisting I get off the computer and watch a movie with her. I told her I needed to somehow own on of those boats. She laughed at me and said it would never happen. From that point on, that became my dream boat. I had a mission. The mission was to somehow purchase a Copperhead.
I weighed my options, attempting to find financing. But financing was not possible without a source of income. A couple months pass, and I finally started to realize that the chances of owning a brand new Copperhead were slim to none. I found a Johnsen Skiff for sale and I convinced myself that with some fiberglass work, it could become a poor man's Copperhead. End of October I purchased said Johnsen skiff. At this time, I was close to completing my Pro Sports overhaul. I painted the skiff, and polished the hull. I posted a picture on a nationwide car enthusiast forum trying to show some of my work. Minutes later, I got a private message. It was a guy asking if I was currently employed, and if not if I would be interested in a job. I was skeptical to say the least. The guy gave me a call one night as I was fishing off the Rickenbacker Causeway with a friend. He insisted he would pay me good money to paint a lifeboat the next day. I was about to blow it off and not show up. But my friend kept insisting I go check it out.
The next morning, I show up at the shipyard. They ask me to paint a lifeboat. I spray said life boat in half the time their previous painter was taking, and a whole lot nicer, too. Lets just say, I got offered a job full time for the remainder of the contract, at a higher rate than I was originally told.
Three weeks later, it's Christmas break. I had several thousand dollars in my pocket and was about to pay the fiberglass tech at the shipyard to restore the Johnsen skiff for me. But I hesitated. It wasn't what I wanted. About a week after Christmas break, I made up my mind. I was in a truck northbound on the turnpike. I arrived in Ft. Pierce to check out what I considered my "dream boat". I was a bit upset when I saw some minor details in the finish that I wasn't happy with, but my friend insisted we take it for a wet test after the two hour drive.
Ankona owner Mel Walker took my friend and I on a wet test. I got to pole the skiff around with three adults on board and it poled excellent. It poled better than any other skiff I had poled (mostly Maverick HPX's and several jon boats at that point). I was making pretty good money over at the shipyard, but I had to make sure I was going to have enough. Originally, I wanted the skiff black with a side console. I had owned an old 40 two stroke Yamaha that I was planning on using. But after further thought, I figured I'd rather go with a fully brand new rig. I decided to go with a 30hp Tohatsu Tiller model. The Tohatsu was on back order, so they sent me a Nissan, instead. Through the spring and summer months, I loved the tiller steering. The Strongarm Products tiller extension made it a breeze, and extremely comfortable. But after fishing countless winter days running across WWB in winds excess of twenty miles per hour, I realized I missed having a steering wheel. I met a new friend named Ryan. He too had a black skiff. Only his skiff was a Carolina Skiff. He had this skiff tricked out. With all the bells and whistles. It became our winter fishing machine. The top speed was over 40mph making the run to the Shark River a cakewalk. It also floated decently shallow. But when the fish started showing again out front, it became apparent that he would need something that was easier to pole, in shallower water. So for curiosity's sake, he decided to put his Carolina Skiff for sale on Craigslist at a high price. Just to see if there was a market. I decide to take my Copperhead up to Ankona to have them go over everything. Make sure there was no loose screws or anything of that nature. On our way up to Ft. Pierce, Ryan gets a phone call from a possible buyer. We get up to Ft. Pierce and Ryan decides to wet test the Ankona SUV. Although he was happy with it's performance, he didn't like the classic look of the skiff. Mel tells us he was coming out with a new remastered version of the Copperhead. throughout the week, Ryan decided to go ahead and sell the Carolina Skiff to that potential buyer. We were back at Ankona to pick up my skiff. Ryan kept insisting that I sell him my Copperhead and order the new one. Of course I was hesitant. For my Copperhead was my dream skiff. So Ryan placed an order on what would be the new "Generation 2 Copperhead", under the premise that he would convince me to sell him mine. At that point, there was nothing but a plug for the new Copperhead.
A couple tournaments come up, I fish them in my Copperhead and win. I felt that this skiff had good mojo on it. There was no way I was selling it. My plan was to eventually convert it to side console, and keep it for the foreseeable future. But somewhere along the way, he finally got through and convinced me. Once I saw the new Gen2 Copperhead I saw everything I expected from the finish on the first one. I agreed to sell him mine and purchase the new Gen2. But this thread isn't about the Gen 2. This thread is about my first Copperhead. Ryan has become one of the only few people that I truly consider a real friend in the short year that I've known him. His plan was to work on the skiff at the pace that income would allow. The expectations were that it would be a process over several months. And we would fish out of my new skiff meanwhile. But I kept wanting more and more on my skiff. So the build kept getting delayed in order for me to make decisions on what I wanted, and be able to afford what I wanted.
The original plan was to put my 30 Nissan tiller on the new skiff. Then I was going to convert it to remote and put the 30 with the center console. Then, I decided to sell the 30 and go with more horses. My plan was 50 Tohatsu. But Ryan called me one afternoon while at work. He told me he was getting a deal on a brand new ETEC 60. That was Ryan's dream motor. For on his Carolina Skiff, he had an old Johnsen 60HP that was great to him. We both ended up placing orders on the 60 ETEC's and everything began to fall into place. I picked up a side console from Mel when I was dropping off my outboard. I brought the side console down to Ryan and we began to rig it. In less than one week we had the skiff converted. We removed the Tiller Console that I had on the hull, I glassed the hole shut for the chase tube, got the side console fitted and all reinforcements fabricated to mount it on. Once we had all the hardware (controls, gauge, switches, helm) in place, we stripped it back down. I took it to work with me the next morning and prepped and sprayed it. I got it back to his house that night where we went on to polish it and re-install it. That night we had everything on awaiting the arrival of the new outboard. Once the outboard was in, we drove up to pick it up, then went straight to his house and hung it on the back. Thoroughly marking everything off the checklist on the Evinrude install manual to ensure everything was up to their specs. In less than a week the skiff was ready for the water. And even though I'm extremely happy with my new skiff, this skiff still holds a special place in my life. For this is the skiff I learned how to fish Flamingo in. This is the skiff I fished my first tournament in, and won. Followed up by another tournament a couple months after, that I also won. I ran the piss out of that skiff in ANY conditions.
I will post some pics of the whole process. From when it was first being built, to when I owned it, and fished it. To the conversion, and what it is now.
Please be patient, for there are a LOT of pics to look through. I will start it off with a picture of me poling with Ryan on the bow. Unaware that he'd be the owner of the skiff less than a year later.