Drift Fishing

Discussion in 'Mac Byrum's Catfish University' started by Mac-b, Sep 27, 2007.

  1. Mac-b

    Mac-b Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Messages:
    19,516
    State:
    North Caro
    The most productive speed to drift is 1/2 MPH, but in the summer you can creep up to 3/4 MPH and in the winter time try to stay around 1/2 MPH or less.

    The wind is blowing 10 to 15 MPH and you can not maintain the above speeds. What do you do to correct this situation? You can troll (trolling motor) into the wind if you have auto-pilot (if you have manual controls you will work yourself to death trying to maintain a course). If you go with the wind you will need a drift sock or two (a five gallon bucket will also do the trick) to slow you down to the desired speed. If you don't have a trolling motor you can turn your boat (side of boat) into the wind and put out several drift socks or buckets to slow you down to the desired speed.

    When drifting, alway put your outboard motor gear in forward. The reason for this advice is that if you leave the gear in neutral, the propeller is spinning with the drift and will pick up loose line in the water and wrap around your propeller shaft. When line wraps around your outboard motor shaft it can create heat and pressure and do harm to your lower seal and thus let water into the lower end. When this happens, expect to fork out $1,200 to $1,700+- for repairs.

    When you go across an area and it is productive, be sure to hit your waypoint key to mark the area for your next drift and if you don't have GPS
    pick out some physical points on land to try to get back to the same area.

    Additional information can be found in the BOC library. Mac
     
  2. WylieCat

    WylieCat Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,175
    State:
    NC
    Speed when drifting is very important. Too fast and the strike rate falls off considerably. Why? It can be blamed on the bait not being in the area long enough for fish to swim it down and take it, and you can also be moving fast enough to pull your baits 3-4 feet off the bottom and out of the strike zone.

    Remember, when you are dragging baits through 15-20 feet of water it is very dark at these depths in a clear lake, and in many lakes and rivers where it is muddy it will be almost black! The fish are relying almost 100% on scent to make a strike.

    I am all for .45-.60, with a .70 being the max I want to troll at.

    Another important element is staggering your lines when drifting. This serves two purposes, with the first being ability to turn without tangling. Most folks let the center two out the farther; with the next two 2/3-3/4 the distance of the first. If you are running six rods you can set the next two out about 1/2 the distance of the first two. Obviously if you are not making any turns and just drifting a straight line the stagger is not as important.

    The second purpose for staggering your baits is the spread of scent. The first lines that pass through lay a trail of scent the fish pick up on, move in on, and then take the trailing baits. That is why I believe the lines farther out get more hits!!
     

  3. Flathead Hunter 6990

    Flathead Hunter 6990 New Member

    Messages:
    3
    State:
    Arizona
    Thank you for the good information. I have never tried drifting. I am mostly an ambush fisherman for Flathead Catfish. Does drifting work well for catching Flathead? I live in Phoenix, AZ have a 17.5' 1975 Ranger with a 115hp Evinrude and mostly fish Roosevelt Lake near Globe, AZ. Problem in Arizona is one can only use two poles max. So with two people in the boat I could place 4 lines in the water. Would I want to go like 125' & 75' then? When drifting do you use live bait or cut bait for the best results/most hook-ups? I have spent a lot of time fishing that lake and now since it is going to fill for the first time since the dam was increased, new land never underwater before is going to be. Would my best bet be drifting more near the shore? And if so then would I still let line out that far or try a more vertical tactic? Do you have better odds in the deeper water or shallower? Thanks in advance for any response.
     
  4. Mac-b

    Mac-b Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Messages:
    19,516
    State:
    North Caro
    Van, if you are going to drift and use four rigs, you should have the two in the middle further out than the two outside ones. You can decide how far out by watching your rod tips. If the rod tip is jerking/bouncing then your bait is touching the bottom. You can develope this bouncing by the amount of line you have out and/or the speed of the boat. Boat speed should be around 1/2 MPH.

    You can use live baits or cut baits. I do not use chunks of bait, eventho some people do with success. I filet off a strip of perch, crappie, bass or whatever is native to that body of water and attach the filet strip to the hook or I will attach a whole (live) blueback, shad of goldfish and maybe cut it a tad to draw some blood. My large fish have come from the heads of native fish, the smaller the better for me.

    The flathead in my avatar was caught with a bream head the size of 2 1/2 (width) fingers. So, you see it does not take a big bait to catch a big cat. Bro., I hope this helps you out.
     
  5. SkiMax

    SkiMax New Member

    Messages:
    2,012
    State:
    Rising Sun, IN
    Really good information guys! Some very useful info there! I'll add a little more:

    I drift fish rivers (mainly the Ohio River) and if you are wanting to learn on moving water, drift socks will not work. The wind is not what is moving you, it's the current. If the current is too strong I usually don't drift, but have had some success by trolling upriver during these times. You can also drag some chain on the bottom to slow your drift.

    A good GPS is usually very helpful for a couple reasons: 1. It allows you to very accurately check and adjust your speed. 2. Very often you will hit a 'honey hole' and have 2 or more poles load up. It is very nice to stick this is your GPS. This would be a good spot to anchor on and fish more thoroughly.

    We dont let lots of line out, if we do that we get nothing but constant snags. We drop straight down. We use a drop shot method and it can take 5-10 ounces of weight to keep the lines straight down. This takes constant watching of your depth finder as you are constantly letting some line out or bringing some in.

    Once again, good info guys. Just thought I'd adjust for those of us not fishing lakes :big_smile:
     
  6. catfishbills

    catfishbills New Member

    Messages:
    630
    State:
    Tennessee
    Mac, that was some good information! Do you have a Auto-pilot trolling motor? I just got a Minn-Kota Riptide ST for my new boat and I havent used it yet! I wanted something that would slow the speed of the drift on the Mississippi river and I would have my hands free. I hope I can just set the speed of the trolling motor and it will let the boat "slip" backwards in the current. Most of the GOOD drift fishermen here on the river use a hand controlled trolling motor, but I liked the idea of "hands free"! I guess time will tell! Any suggestions you have will be GREATLY appreciated! People that drift the Mississippi in the HOT months catch alot more fish than the "anchor" fishermen!:wink:
     
  7. Mac-b

    Mac-b Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Messages:
    19,516
    State:
    North Caro
    Catfishbill, the only way to go in drift fishing is with the autopilot. As you said, it frees your hands up for fishing.

    Here is something else you can try. If you are doing a wind drift or current drift and your drift speed is too high, turn the trolling motor around with your control (like putting it is reverse) and that will slow down your drift speed. Mac