Help me to learn how to drift fish

Discussion in 'KANSAS LAKES / RESERVOIRS TALK' started by smhmc6, Jan 18, 2010.

  1. smhmc6

    smhmc6 Member

    Messages:
    744
    State:
    Kansas
    This is a technique I've never used and have never seen it done either. I primarily fish rivers for flatheads, but this year I want to try drifting for blues on a lake or two (probably Milford and Smithville in MO). I'm not sure I'd like drifting on the rivers, there's enough to pay attention to when anchor fishing the rivers with all the current that I'm not sure I want to deal with drifting rivers. Anyway, I've been going through the library and browsed through the blue cat section and I'm trying to prepare to learn how it works. I know that the majority of the learning will actually be on the water, but I figure the more I can read the better I'll be prepared. So how do you do it? Do you find the river channel and try to use the wind to drift along it, or across it or what? I assume you wouldn't want to drift through a bunch of trees like you'd find on El Dorado. I mean ideally you would want to fish as much structure as you can, but is it even feasable to fish wood structure with the drift meathod? I assume you would want to look for humps instead of wood structure. This time of year (well after the ice melts) would you find the deepest place you could find and drift through it? How much weight do you typically use? Do you go heavy and keep your line vertical or light and let out alot of line? Is it easier to keep your bait 3-5' off the bottom so you don't get snagged as much? Do you constantly have to adjust your depth or do you just let it go? Should you stagger the depth of your baits? Any answers you have would be helpful, I'm really just asking random questions as they pop into my head. So if you have an answer for any of those questions or have any tips it would be a big help. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. rush_60

    rush_60 New Member

    Messages:
    1,719
    State:
    Troy, KS
    I've read all about it and could tell you alot of the things I've read, but I learned alot more just going out fishing one night with chris (philips4bigcats), than I did in months of reading. Come to a couple gatherings and sooner or later you'll get someone to show you how.
     

  3. smhmc6

    smhmc6 Member

    Messages:
    744
    State:
    Kansas
    Thanks Casey. I was actually at the El Dorado gathering briefly. It was a good time. I sorta figured I would have to do most of the learning out on the water on my own. The tough part for me is I'm not really sure where to start... I guess just start at one side of the lake and end up on the other, repeat process :smile1:. And be prepared to get skunked alot. That part shouldn't be too hard since I'm used to fishing for flatheads and getting skunked quite a bit.
     
  4. rush_60

    rush_60 New Member

    Messages:
    1,719
    State:
    Troy, KS
    Just come to a gathering and follow a guy like Jay around. When he says he's heading out on the lake you say "me too" then ask where he's headed, and when he tells you say "me too." Just kidding, the guys on here are really good about teaching if your willing to put your time in on the boards and come to the gatherings.
     
  5. Catfish Fever

    Catfish Fever New Member

    Messages:
    4,548
    State:
    Wside, Mil
    The rig I use is a three way swivel, tie your main line to one, you hook line to another(I use the same test line as the main line). On the third ring on the swivel, I attach my sinker line, 6 lb test(length varies, depending on Cats on depthfinder, anywhere from 12" to 3'). As for sinker weight, it just depends on depth and wind velocity. Stronger the wind and or deeper the water, use a heavier sinker. Pencil sinkers are GREAT, just started using them. But I have used "Walking" sinkers, the heaviest there is are 1.5 oz, I have the mold. For heavier weights, I switch to a bank sinker, they'll drag just about as good and a Walker, they're pretty snag resistant. The reason I use the 6lb test on my sinker should be obvious, it'll break real easy. Always have a GOOD supply of sinkers for drift fishing.
    Cut bait, shrimp, just about anything that will stay on your hook. If you use shrimp for drifting, one thing I found is. just hook them crossways through the back, they'll drift pretty straight that way. When you thread them on the hook, they'll spin as they're dragged through the water. I noticed this one day when lowering my bait.
    For still fishing, I will thread them. Hope this helps.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2010
  6. Grimpuppy

    Grimpuppy New Member

    Messages:
    3,556
    State:
    Concordia, KS
    That is how I started. I spent many of days and nights floating around aimlessly never catching anything.
     
  7. Grimpuppy

    Grimpuppy New Member

    Messages:
    3,556
    State:
    Concordia, KS
    Do you find the river channel and try to use the wind to drift along it, or across it or what? - I have better results drifting along side the channel than I do actually drifting in the channel. I will quite often drift back and forth across the channel or along side it.

    I assume you wouldn't want to drift through a bunch of trees like you'd find on El Dorado.I mean ideally you would want to fish as much structure as you can, but is it even feasible to fish wood structure with the drift method? - This is where you would want to drift with your bait suspended just above the structure.

    I assume you would want to look for humps instead of wood structure. - On lakes that lack a lot of wood structure like Milford, the humps, drop offs, and river channel are a big part of drifting.

    This time of year (well after the ice melts) would you find the deepest place you could find and drift through it? - Typically in the spring I will anchor up in shallow water. When the ice melts most of the dead shad will wash up in the shallows. The cats will be there feeding on them. I typically don't start drifting until the water gets to be about 55º. If I find pockets of active fish, then I might drift through the area.

    How much weight do you typically use? - Typically about 1/2 oz in 5 feet of water up to 1 1/2oz in 30 foot of water. I used to use walking sinkers, but really like the pencil sinkers now.


    Do you go heavy and keep your line vertical or light and let out a lot of line? - I like to have about 75 yards of line out. Some people like to have 500 yards of line out (Keith!!!!!) If you are fishing heavy cover vertical is the way to go. Typically if the wind isn't blowing much I will fish a pole or two vertical. It does work, I caught a #30 blue on the only pole we had verticle during an all nighter with Tom. But typically if I am drifting the lines are out away from the boat.

    Is it easier to keep your bait 3-5' off the bottom so you don't get snagged as much? - When drifting Milford my bait is always dragging the bottom when I am drifting.

    Do you constantly have to adjust your depth or do you just let it go? - I cast the line and let it free spool for a couple minutes to get the line out, then lock the spool. After that I just wait until the pole slams down.

    Should you stagger the depth of your baits? - Like before, at Milford I typically fish dragging bait across the bottom. If I was drifting ElDorado, then yes I would use a couple different depths and drift vertical.


    This is just how I like to do it. Everyone does it different and lots of people catch fish doing it their way. The best thing is to find a way that works for you and you feel comfortable with. I am usually at Milford about every weekend once the ice is gone. As most people know, anyone that wants to fish with me has an open invitation. Just shoot me a PM sometime and we can find a day to hook up and with a little luck put some fish in the boat.
     
  8. bluejay

    bluejay Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,507
    State:
    Napoleon, Mo.
    Dang Jay I think this belongs in the library!! You da man!!
     
  9. kuhlcat

    kuhlcat New Member

    Messages:
    150
    State:
    kansas
    I like everything Jay and Jim said, I like to use a 3 to 4 foot carolina rig with a float a couple inches from the hook. It pretty much keeps you snagless unless you run across a big brush pile. Plus it seems like blues dont really like to hang on the bottom and having the bait up seems to give you a better opportunity to catch fish. I have been using walking sinkers for years and love them but I got a pencil mold for christmas and cant wait use them in a deeper water situations. Last thing like Jay said I would not start drifting until it warms up a little, like April or May, fish in the shallows or off a river channel. Early spring time has been some of my best fishing of the year, sometimes when you find a school most of them will weigh anywhere from 10 to 40 lbs and it is a blast.
     
  10. kawriverrat

    kawriverrat Member

    Messages:
    143
    State:
    KANSAS
    That was a GOOD POST!!!
     
  11. smhmc6

    smhmc6 Member

    Messages:
    744
    State:
    Kansas
    Jim, Jay, Troy, Thanks for the great advice. That was alot of good information. I look forward to trying it out. Jay I think I actually saw you out on the Repulic River a couple years ago. I don't know if I ever said that, but you (or the guy I thought was you) were playing around with your spotlight looking for shad I guess. That was a couple years ago, I met Jim that trip too. I'll never forget that trip, haha. 1436 jon boat with a trolling motor as propulsion. I put the boat in at the wakefield ramp and inched across the lake up towards the mouth of the river. It was windy, wavey, and the most scared I've ever been in a boat. I think it took 30-45 minutes to get to the river from that ramp, haha. Not the smartest thing I've done. To top it off, later that evening a thunderstorm was rolling in quick. Jim was out on the river too and he towed me back to the ramp... not a minute too soon:smile-big:. I think Jim actually saved that fishing trip, he pointed out that there was a ramp on the river and I didn't have to cross the whole lake to get to the river. I didn't get to go to Milford last year, I would like to go back and fish it a couple times this year. Anyway, I might just have to take you up on that offer if I get up that way. Thanks again for the informative posts.
     
  12. Grimpuppy

    Grimpuppy New Member

    Messages:
    3,556
    State:
    Concordia, KS
    I remember seeing a boat I thought was you. I believe you had a couple of fog lights mounted to the front. I didn't realize you came from Wakefield though. I thought you put in on the river where Jim was talking about. That is pretty crazy crossing that flat in the wind with a trolling motor.. The reason I was in the river was because of the wind I am sure. Once the lake opens, anytime you want to do some fishing just let me know.
     
  13. smhmc6

    smhmc6 Member

    Messages:
    744
    State:
    Kansas
    Haha, yeah those fog lights were mine. I always try to turn them off when I get close to other boats so I don't blind them. Back when all I had was a trolling motor, it took forever for me to get by people so I had to turn them on a couple times before passing. I'm sure you were thinking what is this guy doing, I wish he'd turn those @#%$ lights off:rotfl:. I only went across the lake that one afternoon, then back when Jim towed me. I got real smart on that mistake. After that I used that ramp in the wildlife area.
     
  14. PHLIPS4BIGKATS

    PHLIPS4BIGKATS New Member

    Messages:
    2,679
    State:
    Alma Kansas
    Steve come up to the April gathering and jump in someones boat. One of us will have a seat for ya. Kuhlcat made a point about the bobber. Jay and I use that same rig, I very my leader length at times which helps position your bait. Sometimes you need to put it right up against your hook and other times 6, 10 or 15inches away from it. It all depends on bait size depth and the size of float you use. The #1 key element that Jay forgot to tell you in his perfectly drawn up summery was (SPEED). You need a drift sock or like use 5 gallon bucket(redneck drift sock). Slow slow slow is a very big deal. I like to go .5mph or slower, thats what I have found as for speed to work very well for me.

    Hope what we all have told you gets you started.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2010
  15. smhmc6

    smhmc6 Member

    Messages:
    744
    State:
    Kansas
    Thanks Chris, yeah thats something I forgot to ask. I didn't really even think about it. I've got a driftsock I can use. I use it for keeping the boat straight on rivers, anchor out the front and drift sock out the back. It doesn't have a float or anything on it so I'm not sure if it will just sink or if it will actually open up and give resistance to the wind. Only one way to find out though. One question, do you have any redneck speed gauge ideas? I don't have one of those fancy gps sonars. I suppose its one of those feel things that you learn from experience.
     
  16. arkrivercatman

    arkrivercatman New Member

    Messages:
    4,472
    State:
    KS
    Get a cheap handheld GPS for around 100 bucks. Then you can set waypoints when you find active fish. Most have a speed gauge too on them I think.
    With the winds we have, just try to go as slow as possible.:laugh:
     
  17. Catfish Fever

    Catfish Fever New Member

    Messages:
    4,548
    State:
    Wside, Mil
    Thanks Chris, about the drift sock. I have two on the Catoon Steve, most times only have to use one though.

    You'd be more that welcome to fish on the Toon with me too Steve. I'll be out on it A LOT more this year, hoping for no operations.
     
  18. PHLIPS4BIGKATS

    PHLIPS4BIGKATS New Member

    Messages:
    2,679
    State:
    Alma Kansas
    Steve you can put a piece of a pool noodle in front of the three way on your drift sock which will help the front stay up. But the only time I have problems of sinking is when the wind dies down. By then you might not even need it.
     
  19. Tuttlecat

    Tuttlecat Active Member

    Messages:
    1,281
    State:
    Wamego, Kansas,
    Good idea Chris,

    it helps to keep them as high as you can so fish don't get caught coming to the boat as well
     
  20. n2fishn

    n2fishn New Member

    Messages:
    7,333
    State:
    Topeka,Kan