Looking for some guidance - beginning of year 3 with a drift boat, low success so far. Getting a bit frustrated.

#1
Happy new year.

I am entering year 3 owning a drift boat, I feel comfortable on the sticks...(but Im still very cautious) and I likely floated an average of 10 times each of the last 2 years.

I have 8 rods; all set up in pairs for specific purposes. (I usually float with 6 (3/3) set with gear for myself and my buddy or wife.) I mostly bobber dog, run floats and toss spinners.... I pre tie all my leaders (probably have 150 tied in different pound test, varieties of lures etc.) My boat is organized and safe, I have ALL of the gear, I understand the techniques, I have done the research, I grew up steelhead fishing a small hatchery river in CA and I fish very hard. (I grew up bank fly fishing for steelhead, and have been fishing gear for about 4 years here in Oregon.) I watch steel heading videos on a daily basis, I have books that detail when the fish runs are on, where the launches are at etc and I literally spend 80% of my free time researching how to catch these fish.

Bottom line... even with all of this preparation, I am drawing blanks on a regular basis:(......Last year my boat saw 2 steelhead landed (natives), another 5 or so lost.

I understand that 2 years on the sticks is not a lot of experience and that I obviously have some progression ahead which will help increase success. I primarily float the Sandy, and will admit that I need to expand to others more often. But, I feel like I should be having a bit more success at this point.

I am open to any suggestions, questions etc that anyone has. Any advice is appreciated, I am just looking to learn.

I want that thing that makes it all come together, but I don't want to wait for it if that thing is time!!!! ........ :ROFLMAO:

Steelhead are my nemesis.
 

TheKnigit

Active member
#4
What @Chetco said. The more time you put in the better you will learn the river. The better you learn the river the better position you can put your boat for the folks fishing.

One thing that I have done that has really helped is mark where I am getting into the fish. Then I go back in the summer chasing trout or crawdads, when the water is low and I don't mind swimming, and I will look at the bottom of the river and see what it looks like. Then fish my way up and down the stretch that I would normally float for steelhead and see if I can find any similar places. Most of the time those places all have similarities that I can use to find other potential holes/slots/current seams.

I know you listed a couple of fishing methods. Are those the only ones you use? Have you tried side drifting, back bouncing, or running wiggle warts? I don't have any experience on the Sandy so I can't really comment on holes to try, or even if those methods I listed are worth trying.

Another thing you could possibly do is book a trip with a guide. Then watch what they are doing, and pick their brain, as you float. It is a spendy lesson, but it could speed up the learning process.
 
#5
What @Chetco said. The more time you put in the better you will learn the river. The better you learn the river the better position you can put your boat for the folks fishing.

One thing that I have done that has really helped is mark where I am getting into the fish. Then I go back in the summer chasing trout or crawdads, when the water is low and I don't mind swimming, and I will look at the bottom of the river and see what it looks like. Then fish my way up and down the stretch that I would normally float for steelhead and see if I can find any similar places. Most of the time those places all have similarities that I can use to find other potential holes/slots/current seams.

I know you listed a couple of fishing methods. Are those the only ones you use? Have you tried side drifting, back bouncing, or running wiggle warts? I don't have any experience on the Sandy so I can't really comment on holes to try, or even if those methods I listed are worth trying.

Another thing you could possibly do is book a trip with a guide. Then watch what they are doing, and pick their brain, as you float. It is a spendy lesson, but it could speed up the learning process.
I really like your summer scouting idea. And I do mark where I’ve gotten into fish.

I have a lot of gear for plugging (though I am a total novice at this method) and back bouncing, but no wiggle warts. And I don’t really back bounce for steelhead.... only salmon.

I have really replaced typical side drifting with bobber dogging..... and that is my most common method used for sure. For me, Drift fishing has really taken a back seat to the ol bobber dog method lately.....

(I should note that I do okay with Salmon, I just primarily target steelhead and they are evading me!)

The guide idea—- this is what I am considering soon.

Maybe I’ll start plugging a bit more..... I just love to cast and really try to consider plugging as a last resort....

Thanks for the response. Great feedback.
 
#6
I've had success with bobber and jig on the Sandy. If you want to be using your rod instead of the oars you can use a side planner to get plugs, wiggle warts and diver and bait into areas.
Putting in the time is unfortunately required. I've taken my pontoon in the summer to scope out the river a few times. Every Time I get to Dabney I swear I'll never do it again.:p
 
#7
I've had success with bobber and jig on the Sandy. If you want to be using your rod instead of the oars you can use a side planner to get plugs, wiggle warts and diver and bait into areas.
Putting in the time is unfortunately required. I've taken my pontoon in the summer to scope out the river a few times. Every Time I get to Dabney I swear I'll never do it again.:p
While I hear the Clack is doing a little better than the Sandy, I’ll be rowing the Sandy this weekend again..... I may toss the plug rods in this time. Hopefully I’ll have something to post Saturday evening. (And maybe Sunday if I can wiggle my way into fishing both days —- my wife says I have “things” to do. I say “things” can wait. I have fish to cast at.)

And during the summer, I float the Sandy on a tube with a few beers from time to time. Scoping the bottom is tough though as the glacial melt creates that sandy haze that conceals what is underneath.

I appreciate the feedback I’ve gotten. Venting a little felt good :)
 
#8
What @Chetco said. The more time you put in the better you will learn the river. The better you learn the river the better position you can put your boat for the folks fishing.

One thing that I have done that has really helped is mark where I am getting into the fish. Then I go back in the summer chasing trout or crawdads, when the water is low and I don't mind swimming, and I will look at the bottom of the river and see what it looks like. Then fish my way up and down the stretch that I would normally float for steelhead and see if I can find any similar places. Most of the time those places all have similarities that I can use to find other potential holes/slots/current seams.

I know you listed a couple of fishing methods. Are those the only ones you use? Have you tried side drifting, back bouncing, or running wiggle warts? I don't have any experience on the Sandy so I can't really comment on holes to try, or even if those methods I listed are worth trying.

Another thing you could possibly do is book a trip with a guide. Then watch what they are doing, and pick their brain, as you float. It is a spendy lesson, but it could speed up the learning process.
I just booked a local guide who runs the Sandy. In the spirit of OFF, I looked at Tanners options first but it appears the Sandy is not a river that he floats and that is the one I want to learn about at this time.

If the guide helps me,I will do the same for the Clackamas and coastal rivers as well. In the spirit of OFF, and based on all of the stories I’ve seen here, Ill book Tanner when I do those floats.

Tight Lines everyone!
 

Edge

New member
#9
Ditch the boat and all the different rods and techniques, find a bank spot use a nightmare jig under a bobber and perfect it. My next go to would be a simple clump of good quality eggs under a bobber, the only reason it's not top priority for me is it's messy. Having a boat full of rods and all the leaders and junk gives you way to many options chance are you are fishing them ok but not perfect. I don't know where you live but small coastal streams are much better then big water. there's my 2 cents. :)
 
#10
Ditch the boat and all the different rods and techniques, find a bank spot use a nightmare jig under a bobber and perfect it. My next go to would be a simple clump of good quality eggs under a bobber, the only reason it's not top priority for me is it's messy. Having a boat full of rods and all the leaders and junk gives you way to many options chance are you are fishing them ok but not perfect. I don't know where you live but small coastal streams are much better then big water. there's my 2 cents. :)
While I’m not ditching the boat, I do see your point. And I will also acknowledge that the two coastal streams I hit twice a year often lead to successful days as opposed to the inland rivers I fish regularly.
 
#11
The Sandy is a tuff river made a few drifts in friends boats on the Sandy always seem to do much better from the bank weird considering how many more holes you get to fish from a boat with that being said always tear em up on the Clackamas in a boat and not to great from the bank on the Clackamas my experience anyways tight lines G.L.
 
#13
The Sandy is a tuff river made a few drifts in friends boats on the Sandy always seem to do much better from the bank weird considering how many more holes you get to fish from a boat with that being said always tear em up on the Clackamas in a boat and not to great from the bank on the Clackamas my experience anyways tight lines G.L.
I’ve heard that the Sandy is unusually tough before. And I will admit that when I travel to coastal rivers twice a year or so, success seems higher. However, I’ve landed fish in the Sandy and know there is something(s) that I am doing wrong that is impacting my success.
I can’t blame the water, gotta blame myself.

Anyway, I’ll be back at it this weekend and hope to have a fight or two along the way down....

And just because I’m stubborn I will probably stick to the Sandy until I break the streak. Then I’ll shift over to the Clackamas and maybe a coastal or two....
 
#15
Something you might try that hasn’t been mentioned here is scent. Eliminate as much of your scent from the equation as possible. Wash your plugs before every use, keep your boat clean of artificial scents etc.
 

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