Years ago we tested an Angler Qwest 820 Pro Fish. The first fishing-specific versions from this manufacturer started appearing in 2013 and by 2015 they were officially available through all Apex Marine dealers. While there has been tweaking, improvements and expansion to the lineup over the years, it’s been a true fishing pontoon like no other since 2012 when the manufacturer first started envisioning what the Angler Qwest line could be.
Obviously pontoons geared toward fishing is not a new concept, but the way Apex Marine is able to lure hardcore anglers with its Angler Qwest offerings is truly amazing. “Built by fishermen, for fishermen” is more than just its tagline. It’s the manufacturer’s core philosophy and we’ve been huge fans of this concept since day one. Some purpose-built models you can look at for the first time and know they’re going to be a hit and that’s exactly how we felt when we first saw an Angler Qwest pontoon.
Our regular detailed tests include recording performance numbers, evaluating features and looking for anything we feel a consumer should be aware of when considering buying each model. What our tests don’t generally include – especially with fishing models – is finding out exactly how well you can catch fish from them. As hard as I’ve tried to free up time at our annual Shootout boat test to truly inspect the qualities of a livewell by adding a fresh catch to it, our time is generally limited. But after years of testing different models from Angler Qwest, I knew I had to figure out a way to get one out on the water and do a little fishing myself.
Fishing For An Invite
At the 2018 Minneapolis Boat Show, Angler Qwest was debuting a similar model that caught my eye and reminded me how much I still wanted to take one of their boats out fishing. Apex Marine rep and good friend Bob Blum – who was working the show – did a quick walkthrough of the boats that were on display, which got me even more determined to “test out” the fishability of an Angler Qwest. I instantly started to drop not-so-subtle hints to Bob and he could clearly see what I was trying to do and agreed to put me in contact with Angler Qwest Product Manager Brad Dupuie. This was January and by April I was right where I wanted to be, trolling for Lake Michigan Kings, Coho, Steelhead and Lakers with Brad on an Angler Qwest 824 Pro Troll. We launched at a public ramp in St. Joseph, Mich., and headed out on a brisk, yet beautiful sunny spring day through the St. Joseph River on our way out to the deep waters of Lake Michigan.
Designed By An Angler
Brad is the mastermind behind Angler Qwest and is known for creating some true masterpieces, but specializes in fishing models. He was originally asked by Apex Marine owner Mark Dupuie to design a boat from a fisherman’s perspective and the owner couldn’t have picked a more knowledgeable angler.
“My background is in design so I designed everything first using 3D CAD software, then eventually built the first prototype,” recalls Brad. “At first it was a variation of our LS but as a center console and it just evolved into what we have now.”
The “must-haves” for a great fishing pontoon according to Brad are the ability to put downriggers on the boat, a center console to help with the flow of traffic, a large livewell, washdown and the Traxstech system.
“I’m specifically focused on Traxstech products because it’s the best rod holder system on the market in my opinion,” says Brad. “And from a big water perspective, the pontoon has to have triple tubes so it can skip across the surface, as well as the ability to add a large engine.”
Completing His Wish List
Brad’s 824 Pro Troll is equipped with a Suzuki 300hp four-stroke and clearly this boat checks all the boxes on his must-have list and then some.
“Other must-haves are those features that make it a great multi-function boat like the couches and the storage below,” adds Brad. “It’s a hardcore fishing boat, but also can act like a pleasure boat as well. I’ve found that the multi-functional aspect is an important one.”
You can never have enough tackle storage so the designated areas built into the center console seat base are a nice added touch and the Binary wall system with enclosed storage hatches gives the boat a lot of function.
Besides the digital throttle and shift, the boat is also loaded with other amenities to make life on board easier, including the ability to bump the rpms when trolling to dial in your speed. Auto pilot and a MotorGuide trolling motor that is controlled from the helm through a remote is another added touch that helps put this model over the top. Also worth noting is the heavy-duty T-Top with color-matched canvas for 360-degree unobstructed fishability around the console.
Speaking of the helm, the large Lowrance HDS-12 color fish finder is centrally located on the dash console with everything else you need at your fingertips, including a RAM Mounts X-Grip media holder.
An Art Form
The way Brad perfectly orchestrated the lines using side planer boards from Off Shore Tackle to line everything up was picture perfect. He clearly lives for days like this and his expertise paid off as we had a great day on the water catching multiple fish including a beautiful king salmon that was the highlight of the trip.
While waiting between bites, having a comfortable place to sit really drove home Brad’s point about creating the ultimate fishing boat. Apex Marine builds its own furniture for complete control and has made a name for itself in the industry by building well-built vessels that combine practicality and function with fishability and style.
With the wind picking up the fishing eventually slowed down, but the 824 Pro Troll never did. Even with the waves on Lake Michigan steadily increasing, the Angler Qwest triple pontoon hull continued to cut through the chop and safely returned us back to the dock.
My own personal quest to get out on the water and fish from this beauty was fulfilled and you can be assured that all big water fishing trips moving forward will be compared to this one. As for other true fishing-specific pontoons that we come across in the future, it’s safe to say they’ll be measured against this Angler Qwest that for now sits at the top as a hardcore angler fishing machine.
Angler Qwest 824 Pro Troll
LOA: 25’ 8”
Pontoon Diameter: 24”
Capacity: 12/2,580 lbs.
Dry Weight: 2,075 lbs.
For More Information
Off Shore Tackle