Original post made by a member no longer with us on May 31, 2002
Drift fishing in current is not something I developed so I can not and will not take credit for the info you are about to receive. A few years age I fished with a gentleman from Corinth, Mississippi. He is, by far, one of the best fishermen I have ever spent time with and I consider him a very good friend. He has helped me understand this "Drifting" technique and it works. He has had several articles in many magazines concerning this method. The latest article (that I am aware of) discusses a multi-hook rig. (photo's and all) Either using a single or multi-hood rig - THIS WORKS!!!
When drifting a river in current boat control and speed of your drift is very important. You must put the bow of your boat into the current and SLOWLY let the current carry you thru the HOLE. The HOLE can be either a "wash out" in the middle of the stream or a river / creek channel. By using good sonar equipment you need to beakdown the HOLE and understand the area prior to fishing it. Breakdown the hole as follows;
Going from upstream moving downstream. The first area will be the flat just prior to the heginning (head) of the hole and can be VERY productive. Next will be the head of the hole and what I consider the MOST productive. Fish will stage just below the lip of the dropoff and just wait for the current to bring their dinner to them. Also, this lip provides a protective area that allows relief from the current. Next is the middle area of the hole. This area is productive but I belive it will hold smaller fish than the HEAD area. The last area is the tail of the hole and is the shallowest area of the hole and the least productive. Now to break it down side to side. A HOLE can develope anywhere in a river system. It does not have to be in a outside bend. In moving side to side look for the deepest side and the shallowest side. Fish both. I know I have spent a good bit of time discussing HOLES and drifting. You can drift ANYWHERE on a river system, hole or no hole, but some type of structure will need to be down there. It can be logjams, rocks, ridges - anything that will break up the current and provide an ambush point.
Boat control and fishing.
Put the bow of your boat into the current. Using your trolling motor you will allow your boat to SLOWLY move BACKWARDS with the current. In very swift current you can use your outboard to control your drift. The bait rig consists of 50 to 80 pound braid tied to a 3 way swivil. From the bottom eye of the swivil tye on a 18" to 2' leader of 10 to 15 pound line with the tag end tyed to a 2 to 4 oz bell sinker (size varies with current). From the middle eye tye on a leader with 30 to 50 pound mono about 1' long and a 5/0 to 8/0 gamakatsu octopus hook. (this rig can be pre-tied). No casting is required using this method. Bait is a whole FRESH chicken liver, cut bait (skipjack or shad) or shad guts. I do not use live bait for this type of fishing. I DO fish big baits though.
Once you understand the area you plan on fishing and have the boat positioned correctly just let the bait freespool to the bottom. (I use 1 rod per person) When the weight hits bottom take up the slack - you will want the weight to JUST touch bottom. As you drift backwards pick up the weight (4 to 6" at a time) and let it back down. With pratice you will learn to keep the bait moving at the same speed (SLOWLY) as the boat. By developing your feel of the weight you can tell when you are getting into deeper water and can let out more line OR getting into shallower water and can take up more line. What you are doing is WALKING the bait along the bottom. By feel you can tell if the bottom is hard or soft, what structure is down there - rocks or wood. (Anything a fish can get behind is a ambush point so stay ready) By using a light leader to the weight you can break it off easily as this is what gets hung up the most. I have caught fish in OVER 70' of water doing this. When you get a bite, most times, YOU GET A BIG BITE so hold on.