December 24, 2013 —
By BART LARMOUTH
[Editor’s note: This is one of several guest columns, while TRR’s Clem Fullerton takes a hiatus from his column, The Complete Tangler.]
There is one constant discussion among fishermen when it becomes time to head to the river: “Where do you want to go?”
These debates can be very lively when favorite spots are involved, with the justifications taking all forms. Reasons vary from how the weather is, or how it fished yesterday, to a member of the expedition having lost a monster rainbow in that spot 20 years prior. Experiences like the latter become so entrenched that these folks rarely desire to fish even within a few feet of their spot of choice.
Then there is the opposite end of the spectrum, with participants taking an incredibly laissez-faire attitude towards their fishing destination. This usually entails endless statements of “I don’t care, you pick,” being volleyed back and forth until one side finally admits to caring and a decision is reached.
Regardless of which form the argument takes, there is a certain segment of the fly fishing community that tends to engage in more discussion, talk and overall rumination than most—those who fish from drift boats.
For the uninitiated, a “drift boat” is merely an over-glorified rowboat intended specifically with rivers and fly fishing in mind. Anyone who has spent a weekend in the spring on or around the upper stretches of the Delaware River has likely laid eyes on flotillas of these dories coasting lazily by. The boats are typically very wide and flat to allow for stability, with the rower facing downstream—the opposite of a normal oared boat.
Great in smooth and rough water alike, they are the vehicle of choice for guides, who use them as a taxi to get from spot to spot as much as they fish from them.
Taking a boat adds an additional logistical nightmare—the shuttle. As they are unpowered, the trailer and towing vehicle need to be moved to a spot down river for later extraction. Although seemingly simple, this process can bring MENSA members to tears. The complication of the shuttle always is a serious factor to consider in determining a float for the day.
Personally, as a “boat guy,” I have my own set of requirements that always come into play when a fishing trip is in order. My prime directive is to find a stretch of river as devoid of other fishermen as humanly possible. While difficult on such a popular and wonderful river as the Delaware, it is not an impossibility.
One of the ways to accomplish this is to take on a long float with plenty of rowing involved; this quickly eliminates much of the weekend-warrior crowd and the lazy.