App aims to be central fish information location

Whatever anglers want to know about fishing in Alaska, Jim Voss wants them to find it via smartphone app.

This summer, he launched the app Alaska FishTopia, designed to be a central location for all angling information on the Kenai Peninsula, from the latest Alaska Department of Fish and Game fish counts to guides to local events to hit up after getting off the water. It also features a tool called the Fishing Exchange, where anglers can post wanted seats and guides can post available seats on trips.

A guide and the owner of Alaska Boat Rentals, Voss said the idea for the app was to create the central place for people to access all the information they need. The fishing exchange, for example, facilitates what guides have been doing by word-of-mouth for a long time to help people find seats on boats.

“If (guides) can reach an angler, somebody out there is willing to go fishing at some price,” he said.

Once the guide and angler connect on the Fishing Exchange and agree on a price, it works like the vacation rental app AirBnB — the information is relayed as soon as the trip is booked.

There are still things he’s hoping to tweak, but the app is mostly done and Voss said he’s trying to build the user base. A new feature rolled out this week offers premium memberships for guides and for anglers. The guide version, called Guide Direct, allows guides to post their full contact information on available seats or trips in the fishing exchange, while the angler version, called Angler Prime, gives users discounts on certain businesses for a year.

The app allows users to isolate only the rivers they want to fish on and can send notifications with the latest regulations and fish counts, Voss said.

“You can ignore everything else you don’t want to see,” he said.

Beyond that, they’re working on connecting with more entertainment venues to build a comprehensive list of events anglers may be interested in around the community. Some of that has come down to manually calling venues and collecting information, which Voss said he hopes to keep building over time.

Eventually, he plans for the app to include the whole state. For now, it’s focused primarily on the Kenai Peninsula. It’s available on the App store and Google Play store for $1.99.

Anglers also began using an app last year specific to the Kenai River personal-use dipnet fishery. The City of Kenai launched a smartphone app providing the latest fish counts, tides, weather and other information about the dipnet fishery, attracting 8,474 downloads as of December last year and 317,273 pageviews in July.

Voss said he plans to include more information about the Kenai River dipnet on the Alaska FishTopia app as well as the other personal-use dipnet fisheries, such as the Kasilof River and China Poot Creek, in future updates.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at eearl@peninsulaclarion.com.

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