How to Fish Drifting Rivers

Back in the day we used a canoe to drift rivers.  Most of the time we only used the boat for transportation to the hot spots and we would fish from shore or wade.  When we did fish from a boat, only one person could fish, the other would be in charge of boat control.  Today I still see the odd canoe on the river, but most of the crafts I encounter are personal pontoon boats.  These boats are perfect, a good set of oars gives you great maneuverability and they are stable and light.  Add a pyramid anchor and they become fish catching machines. 

These pontoon crafts really stand out when it comes to hopper fishing in August. Basically, keep your hopper in the deepest water closest to shore and then just drift downstream with the fly, twitching it occasionally.  To fish the deep runs and riffles for Small Mouth Bass, Trout or Steelhead, get out of the flow.  Anchor and fish the pool in front of you, then after a bit, lift the anchor and drift down 50 feet or so and drop it again.  This lets you systematically fish the whole pool from head to tail out.  Use this pattern to fish the entire drift.  Always fish the shallows in front of you before you cast to deeper waters.  Try streamer flies in the pools, and big nymphs and worms in the fast water, and you’ll have a great time.

Anytime you’re floating rivers, beware of the dangers; downed trees, sweepers, log jams, severe rapids and waterfalls can kill you!  Do your homework, research the river, and make notes of falls and rapids.  Let someone know where you are, where you’re going and when you’ll return.  Be ready for the unexpected.  Being chased by a bull through a long shallow area is not fun!  I’ve encountered an electric fence across a river, cattle, moose, black bears and one momma grizzly with 2 cubs that was not happy we were so close.  Be careful and don’t take chances.