Just bought a drift boat, any suggestions?

I plan on taking it out on a lake to get a good feel for it. I wonder if any of you would have any good advice for me? In the past I have rafted, Canoed and kayaked, but this seems like a little bit more.

- How you learned to drift?
- What works, what doesn't etc.
- Good first time river? Clack? Sandy?
- Lessons?
- Shuttle service?

I just bought one in November myself..and it's been the best investment ever...Aside from being a neverending bottomless pit to throw money into lol.

I took it out on a lake to get a feel for how it handles, but, this doesn't really prepare you for the river much...at all. It's a whole different beast in the current, and in a good way. They're perfectly designed for river use.

I went out with someone that knew what they were doing the first couple of trips, and they weren't fishing trips, I was 100% focussed on getting a feel for the boat, and that's really the best thing you can do. Find someone that A) can row a boat and B) knows the water you're going to be learning on. Make sure you have spare oars and oar locks, and a solid anchor system. I quickly learned that a little 20 pounder doesn't cut it, and a bow anchor is a must have, it gets ugly quick when you're anchor doesn't hold. Not sure where you're from but I learned on the McKenzie, Willamette, Umpqua, Siuslaw, and Alsea this winter. (I don't recommend the umpqua as your 2nd trip on the sticks...) They all offer somethin' different, and the Siuslaw and Alsea are cake, though those runs are over now.
The lake is a great place to get started. Next, I would find a river ramp that is slow and easy and you can get the feel of the current. The right place you should be able to row upstream along the bank, in slack water, and then get yourself out into some current and float back down to the start spot. That is how I started years ago. If we knew where you are, we could maybe give you some tips on easy floats for the maiden. Right now most of the rivers are a little high and that usually is a little more forgiving (less rocks). Google earth helps you especially if there are numerous channels. The float from Jefferson to the I5 bridge (Santiam) is fishable now and should be an easy beginner float. The Jefferson ramp would be a great place to start also, in that you can row upstream to the rairoad bridge and there are some really good holes there, then float back down to the ramp. I may even be able to help you out on the shuttle for that stretch depending on the day of the week. Good Luck!
greens bridge to jefferson is an easy float, but theres a little current, once you get below the confluence, its pretty slow.
Dabney - Lewis Clark on the Sandy is a good drift.. gets you into the actual thinking of how to adjust going into a rapid, without it being very big or challanging.. You will have the current force and rowing down by the time you hit big bend(to fish)... one thing a lake can not do is prepare you for the force of the water and how they control your boat and how it effects your rowing

One thing that helped me a ton.. ALWAYS back row.. if your in frog water, turn around and row.. doing the same motion over and over will help you when you get into tricky spots, your mind doesn't have to think about push or pull.. it just knows pull and keeps your in a better place.. if a rapid looks a bit hairy.. anchor above(safely, not more then fast walking speed water) and watch other boats go through it..

keep an eye on the river for sweapers just under the water, they can be dangerous even if your boat doesn't hit the log, the hydrolics of the water can cause problems..
Anything below first brigde on the Nestucca is a beginners drift. I let my friend learn to row my DB on the nestucca this winter. Its nice being able to let him row so I can fish more. Greens Bridge to Jefferson is also a good drift to run. We call Stayton to Shelburn the beginners drift for a reason. Those last two being on the North Santiam. Which ever drift you decide to do first. Make sure you have someone in the boat who knows how to row. And always bring an extra oar. The day you dont bring one, will be the day you need it. Same goes for the anchor. We use a 30# anchor and have a extra 25# stored up front. Always Always wear a life jacket. Even the oldest farts sink thier boats. Especially if your new to rowing, and new to that section of water.

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