The black and orange bobber bounces once and vanishes in the green river
water. "Hit 'em, Paul," Travis Mattoon hisses. Paul sets the hook with
authority. A mint-bright steelhead cartwheels two feet in the air. "Fish on."
After a jump-filled battle, Mattoon
slips the net under an 8-pound hatchery hen. "That's my first steelhead in 22
years," Paul chuckles through a grin full of teeth. Once an avid steelheader, he had quit fishing 22 years ago to build his
We are floating Oregon's Nestucca River with Mattoon,
of Adrift Angling out of Pacific City, Ore. Mattoon
is one of the top river guides in the area.
We are using "the new bullet" most drift boaters are currently practicing in
the Northwest. It is similar to side-drifting, but using a bobber.
"We are basically using the same gear that has been so successful in side-drifting," Mattoon
explains. "But with a bobber. We let the river current push the bobber
downriver and drag the bait along behind. The sinker should touch the bottom
every 3- to 4 feet. This presents the bait in a natural manner through the
areas where fish are traveling or holding."
Boat Positioning Is Key
The boat needs to travel downstream at the same speed
as the bobber.
"If the boat travels at the same speed as the bobber, the bobber
will continue to travel in the 'sweet' part of the
explains. "If the bobber gets ahead of the boat, the drag will pull the lure
out of the strike zone. If the boat is traveling faster than the bobber, it
will lift the bait out of the zone."
Much of the success in "bobberdoggin'" can be attributed to covering a lot of water. Keep moving. Some other basic rules:
Have multiple rods rigged, baited and ready to fish. Break off? Put that rod
aside and grab another. Continue until no new rods are ready to go. Stop and re-tie
all rods and head out again. Get a bite and miss, row -- or motor (where
legal) -- back up and come back through the same spot. Hook a fish, continue going
through the same spot until no more hits. When drift-boating, if one particular
stretch of the river has been productive, shuttle back up the river and make
the drift again.
Our day with Mattoon
is full of action. Paul has a great day. He hooks four fish before I hook my
first. When that bobber goes down, you usually have slack between rod and
bobber. A powerful hook-set is important. Paul is a big, strong guy. When
standing up, his hook-set is powerful. I'm not able to stand in the boat since
I am recovering from knee replacement surgery. My hook-set leaves something to
We find a couple of areas in the river where fish were holding. We shuttled
the boat back upriver and hit them again.
We finish the day with nine hook-ups. Keep our limit of four hatchery fish,
release two beautiful native fish and one that had spawned. We lose the other
two. A great day on the river.
Bobberdoggin' has made believers out of two old
die-hard drift fishermen!
* Spinning rod 7- to 8 feet. Medium-action, quality
spinning reel capable of handling a powerful fish up to 12- to 14 pounds.
* Line capacity: 150 yards,15-pound-test, braided
line. (Works best for floating and mending.)
* Yarnies or yarn flies in assorted colors on No.
2 hooks with egg loop and a 3 foot, 8- to 10-pound-test leader.
* Good supply of dime-sized chunks of salmon roe.
* Supply of small 2- to 3 split-shot slinkies.
* Bobber in 1/8-oz. size, small snap swivels, beads, and Dacron bobber
A bobber stop is used to set the depth for a particular river, or stretch of
water. Depth should be set for the slinkie to bump
bottom every 2- to 4 feet. It should trail behind the bobber causing the bobber
to float at a tilted angle with the top of the bobber pointing downstream. The yarnie/bait should trail behind -- and higher than the slinkie.
Making The Trip
The best way to learn bobberdoggin' is to hire an experienced river guide. For a listing, contact Oregon State Marine Board at http://www.oregon.gov/OSMB/pages/index.aspx
For more information on the above trip, contact: Travis
Mattoon, 503-929-6847, www.adriftangling.com.