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Thread: Kenai Drifting?

  1. #1
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    Default Kenai Drifting?

    Hey all,

    I just recently purchased a Hyde 17' drift boat and have absoulutely zero experience with a drift boat. I have used my powerboat in the lower kenai and the salt and have no issues.

    I spoke with the seller tonight of my driftboat and he started talking about bends and tailcurves which really threw me for a loop. I purchased the boat for the wife and I for the reds and rainbows but now I am curious as to if I should hire a guide for my first dry run?

    Anyone got any advice for the Kenai? I am more concerned with my family's safety and the seller has practically scared the **** out of me in regards to eddy's and banks......

    Can anyone recommend a Kenai Drift guide I could contact to possibly "babysit" us on our first dry run with the boat?


    Thanks and I apologize if I sould noobish but I have no clue if there isnt a 4 stroke involved,

    Buster

    bcdmahn@gci.net

  2. #2
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Default

    Man, I have no experience in a drift boat, so maybe my comments are ill-informed....but I've drifted the upper Kenai in an inflatable a few times and it is about as tame as rivers come. I'm not referring to the canyon, of course, but from Kenai Lake down to Jim's Landing there are only a few tight corners and a handful of ripples. Unless drift boats are way more squirrely than I think they are, I think a guide would be unnecessary. That being said, hiring a guide would put you on the fast-track to really catching some rainbows. My catch rate was less than half of that of the boats around me when I first got out there, so in that regards you might want to look into it.

  3. #3
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Buster,
    drift boat hulls are designed to drift slower than the current so, generally, you don't have to reef on the oars to hold position for the folks fishing. Even strokes do the trick. As for obstacles and avoiding them, all rivers are essentially the same because water behaves universally. If I remember correctly drift boats are built "backwards" meaning the pointy end that looks like the bow is the stern, and the flat end with the anchor is the bow.

    Keep the bow pointed upstream
    Never ever get sideways in the current (if you do it in the easy water you will start a bad habit that could cost you later)
    Let the current do the work when moving downstream--this is easier said than done and tougher to explain, but bear with me--as you watch the river in front of you, you will notice the ripple and flow patterns (i.e lines) indicate where an object on the surface is likely to go. Some lines run right down the main current seam, others lead straight into or cutback behind boulders and deadfalls, or into sweepers, or up against the bank or any number of places you do or don't want to be. Your job is to ease the boat on to the line that takes you where you want to go. There is a learning curve here and you will make some mistakes but mostly you will only spook fish when you make them until you get into the rythm of the river.

    To get away from the places you don't want to be you 1) have to see them early enough which means pay attention, and 2) keep your stern pointed at the place and row to your rear. Your power is in the back stroke--use your legs, shoulders and back. When you're clear, pivot into the current and proceed.

    Once you get comfortable with "driving" teach your wife how. If ever you get hurt on a family outing she can then safely get the brood home to the nest. Also--if you're at the oars and a passenger has a fish on stay there if there is any chance of getting the boat hung up. Make sure your wife and kids know how to net and release fish so you don't have to jeopardize control of the boat.

    Drift boats are great and easy to manuever--don't pressure yourself too hard and uh...pardon the pun...go with the flow.

    Cheers

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    Erik hit the nail on the head, I'll add a few more pointers though. Stay calm! Most new to drift boats get excited and lose track of which oar to pull on when they find themselves close to an obstacle. The more time you put on the sticks the easier it will get, take the family to a lake the first couple of times and get familiar with it, in a boat the size of yours balancing your load will help a lot, keep from listing and dont put to much wieght behind you or it will push the stern in the water, making the design of the boat useless. I guess thats more than a few tips, but I get excited helping people new to the "driftboat family".

  5. #5

    Default Drift boats

    Check out this Clackacraft link for rowing instructions.

    http://www.clacka.com/rowingDriftBoat.htm

    Also Amatobooks.com has a book called Driftboats, and includes rowing techniques.

    My tip would be to point the bow at obstacles, or corner sweepers, and pull away from danger.

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    Drifters Lodge or Captain Bligh's Kenai Cabins might be able to help you. Sorry I don't have numbers for them but they both used to have web sites and Kenai 411 should have their numbers. Troutfitters in Cooper Landing would also be good outfit to go with. I think you are wise to go with an experienced guide and learn all you can. Alaskas' waters are unforgiving if you mess up. Drift boats, like any other boats, are safe when operated in a sensible manner. Good luck!

  7. #7
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Default Spot On Guys

    Great info not that you needed me to state that however I want my .28 cents worth of fame. :-)

    If you have not had the pleasure of being behind the oars in one I suggest you don't jump directly into the Kenai no matter what part. Although for the most part the Upper River is not bad it does have it's issues and being a first timer on that section of water depending on the Flow can be a bit trick for a newbie.

    Picking your lines depedning on the amount of traffic on the river and you being the AKA new guy you just might find your-self in a position of dis-advantage and make a mistake or two which is not a good thing in a drift boat.

    Hire a guide for the day you can't go wrong with Trout-Fitters and learn what you can then take up the challange. Erik and Slidder gave you great advise.

    Well that's just my 28 cents! Hope it helps! Been there done that from Raft to Drift Boat two different animals with two distinct directions.

    Tight Lines and Best Wishes!

    Richard M. Mousseau
    www.bluemooserafting.com

  8. #8
    Member wildwill's Avatar
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    Default I second Trout-fitters

    Stop in now while things are slower with the river closed for the rainbow spawn and they should be able to take you down the river and show you some of the holes and take time to show you the ropes--uh oars--. Billy knows the river like the back of his hand. The water is low right now and very easy to row in comparison to the lower Kenai in July--much lower flow in May. Might even consider having him take you down the middle river from Skilak--another wonderful float.

    Not sure about one of the earlier posts saying to point your bow up-stream. Bow normally faces down-stream, as do you sitting in the boat and row up-stream slowing your drift down the river to the desired speed depending on what your doing. It seems strange at first, but you essentially point the bow at what your want to avoid since you are rowing away from the bow--i.e. point the bow down river, your rowing up-river; point the bow at the large rock on the left bank and you will be rowing towards the middle or right bank. Remember our boats are efficient and small changes in your stoke will have large effects--albiet they may take a second or two to notice the change.

    If your in the area, stop and watch another boat for a bit, its really simple once you get the hang of it, fun from the first time out--but it will take a season to truly get the groove of moving, stopping and keeping the boat strait in current or on a hole while fishing.

    Will

  9. #9

    Smile the bow upstream?

    Quote Originally Posted by Erik in AK View Post

    ...Keep the bow pointed upstream
    Never ever get sideways....


    Cheers
    I think it's bow downstream, right? I'd hate to see the poor guy go through the canyon backwards.
    Hike faster. I hear banjo music.

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    whatever you do, don't hit the upper kenai on your first trip. I would recommend taking your boat to a lake to practice and get use to the coordination it takes to react and turn the way you want to. after that, try the slowest of the kenai sections (lower river). the pillars or stewart's to eagle rock would be a safe and short ride. the upper river from the lake to jim's landing is not a real difficult stretch, but people have died in those waters by turning boats over on sweepers, so don't take any chances. i would master easier water first.... the kasilof is another very safe river (bridge to Coho Cove - not the upper river). it's shallow and you will certainly bump some rocks at first, but there's not really anything on that river that'll turn you over or anything like that. so that's my advice - start slow and work your way up as you get more experience and confidence with the sticks.
    Mark W.
    www.akfishology.com

    fishing isn't about life or death... it's more important than that.

  11. #11
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    When one rows a row boat the bow of the boat is to the rowers back no? Thus my advice to keep the bow upstream.

    Better wording would've been...Keep yourself pointed downstream.

    Any drift experts out there who can clarify which end is which?

  12. #12

    Default bow verses stern

    Quote Originally Posted by Erik in AK View Post
    When one rows a row boat the bow of the boat is to the rowers back no? Thus my advice to keep the bow upstream.

    Better wording would've been...Keep yourself pointed downstream.

    Any drift experts out there who can clarify which end is which?
    Bow verses stern. Stern is where you put the motor (behind you).
    Point your bow downstream and stroke backwards in a rapid. To go left, point the bow to the right and stroke backwards, and visa versa.

    Ah, whatever. Rowing takes a little teaching and a lot of time and experience to get good at it.
    Hike faster. I hear banjo music.

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    Thanks for the great advice gang,

    I am heading down to the cabin his weekend so I reckon I will swing into Troutfitters and see if I can arrange a guided float we me doing all the oaring (is that a word?).

    One last sidebar question.....Are they any type of retrieval services from Jim's, Russian, Cooper Landing? I heard rumors there was an outfit in Cooper landing that would drive your rig down to your pullout for $30. Anyone know if that's still happening?

    Ohh and expect noob questions on rainbow alley techniques

    Jr

  14. #14
    Member ptarmigan's Avatar
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    Default Bow downstream

    Bow goes downstream, stern where the anchor and motor goes points upstream. I would not want to be aboard a boat that drops anchor with the stern downstream and have it fetch up in strong current. Might want to tighten the PFD. Rowing position it facing the bow, you are oaring back for speed and directional control.

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    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Will, ptarmigan...
    With respect gentlemen, according to Dr. Harvey W. Reno, fish scientist, long time guide and author of "Hunt- Don't Pray-For Fish--Techniques and Stategies for Flyfishing from a Drift Boat", I was correct.
    The bow of a modern drift boat holds the anchor and points upstream while the boat is manuevered downstream.

    In chapter 2 Reno quotes Dan Alsup, author of "Driftboats: A Complete Guide"

    "...technically, McKenzie style drift boats travel downstream stern first. the oarsman's back is to the bow even though looking at contemporary boats, the casual observer would believe that they [drift boats] are traveling downstream bow first."

    No matter, Buster congrats on your new boat. Find a mellow river to get a little practice and enjoy! (sorry for derailing your thread)

    This is the address from Google if you wish to see for yourself
    www.fedflyfishers.org/dbbook/dbbchapter1.pdf

  16. #16

    Default That's pretty funny

    Quote Originally Posted by Erik in AK View Post
    Will, ptarmigan...
    With respect gentlemen, according to Dr. Harvey W. Reno, fish scientist, long time guide and author of "Hunt- Don't Pray-For Fish--Techniques and Stategies for Flyfishing from a Drift Boat", I was correct.
    The bow of a modern drift boat holds the anchor and points upstream while the boat is manuevered downstream.

    In chapter 2 Reno quotes Dan Alsup, author of "Driftboats: A Complete Guide"

    "...technically, McKenzie style drift boats travel downstream stern first. the oarsman's back is to the bow even though looking at contemporary boats, the casual observer would believe that they [drift boats] are traveling downstream bow first."

    No matter, Buster congrats on your new boat. Find a mellow river to get a little practice and enjoy! (sorry for derailing your thread)

    This is the address from Google if you wish to see for yourself
    www.fedflyfishers.org/dbbook/dbbchapter1.pdf
    Wow,
    I guess I've been rowing my drift boats backwards for the past 30 years. From now on I'll point the bow upstream, and row with my back to the rapids. I'll have to install rear view mirrors, that will make my boat unique.
    Thanks for setting me straight Eric.
    Hike faster. I hear banjo music.

  17. #17
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wildog View Post
    Wow,
    I guess I've been rowing my drift boats backwards for the past 30 years. From now on I'll point the bow upstream, and row with my back to the rapids. I'll have to install rear view mirrors, that will make my boat unique.
    Thanks for setting me straight Eric.
    Please point out where I said or implied one should run rapids with their backs to them. R E A D the words Will. Evidently in 30 years you didn't learn that the end of a drift boat normally pointed up stream (the end with the anchor on it) is the bow even though looks like the stern of a "regular" boat. You're driving correctly but your terminology is backwards.

  18. #18

    Default Here is a photo of a drift boat

    Look at the photo. The bow is on the right in the picture. It faces downstream. The stearn is where you put the motor, as in the left side of the photo.
    I think that may be talking about the original McKenzie wooden drift boats. They had two pointed ends. Aluminum Drift boats since the late 60's, originated from Willie (of Willie Boats) started the alumaweld company and the first aluminum drift boat. It has a stern for a motor in the back. I don't know of any way you can put a motor on the bow.
    Last edited by wildog; 08-16-2007 at 15:55.
    Hike faster. I hear banjo music.

  19. #19
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    Default Been rowing backwards myself----

    Backwards here too I guess--even today no less. All I know is my Willie has a stern anchor nest, and that sucker is on the up-river, squared-off end of the boat. Not that it matters since we are arguing terminology that is obviously outdated. To put it plainly, put the pointy part down river, the square part up-river, you look down river while rowing to slow to the desired speed and allow lateral movement within the current.

    I would again second your choice to get an experienced guide to give you hands-on help. Sounds like there is certainly some "backwards" info out there.

    As for a shuttle, check Wildmans in Cooper Landing. They will shuttle anywhere along the Kenai from the Bridge to Skilak for certain, and I believe even down to Bings. Last season the price was $20 from Sportsmans to Jims and I think $30 from the bridge to Jims--not sure if they increased prices for 07' or not. I have used them numerous times and never had an issue.

    Will

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    i don't know anyone that refers to the end with the anchor as the bow. the bow is the pointed end of the boat that the oarsman faces while "rowing." oaring is what tourists call it (no offense). the bow faces downstream most of the time, or the direction you don't want to go when you're rowing normally. you can also row forwards and point the bow the way you do want to go.
    www.akfishology.com

    fishing isn't about life or death... it's more important than that.

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