Boat Options for Smallmouth Streams

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  • #89312
    tim n.
    Member

    All, long-time reader, first time poster. I’m trying to dial in my smallmouth game here in Kentucky (Elkhorn Creek, Green River, etc.) I’d appreciate advice from the Board about boat options for smaller streams. The streams I fish are rocky, and are usually class one (or at most class two) water, with occasional slack water that has to be covered. I’m looking for something that I can use with a partner–often my 13 year old son. I want a setup that gives at least one of us the option to stand, and perhaps gives us both the option to fish at the same time (water conditions permitting). I want this to be something I row or paddle. Ideally, I’d like to put it on the roof of my 4runner, but I can tow it if necessary. At this point, I’ve narrowed it down to the following: (1) wide, indestructible SUPs (superfishal or the new Bote Zepplin), (2) inflatable drift boat (T.Rex Mini Drifter), (3) a small drift boat or pram, or (4) a beater canoe. I realize that this a broad list that’s all over the board, and all boats are a compromise. I’m just looking for feedback from anyone who fishes similar water. I’ve read Zach’s posts about his canoe, but it’s not clear whether that’s a solo ride or whether two can fish from it. Also, if there’s some insider tip about how to arrange a shuttle in some of these rural areas, please share. I’ve not figured the logistics of how I get back to my vehicle after a long float. Thanks for the valuable info that I see here. This Board is a great resource. Tim

    #89315
    Drew Morgan
    Member

    This is also my first post…nice to meet everyone.

    I float the Tallapoosa River in Alabama for warm water species and use an inflatable NRS Otter with the front and back seat fishing frame. It drafts an inch of water and is a super stable fishing platform for fly casting.

    Also the thing is virtually indestructible…a must have if you are fishing a river with a lot of exposed rocks and boulders like my home water.

    I also drive a 4 Runner…and it is too big/heavy to load on top so I use a trailer. It is light enough to carry to and from river access as long as you have a somewhat gradual bank. It is also too wide to fit into a truck bed.

    I’d very strongly suggest getting a raft…it really gives you a super stable platform and lets you get into very skinny water. It lets you fish every single inch of a river if you want to. One other boat you might want to look at is Stealthcraft’s Hooligan . It was originally designed by a company called Confluence Boatworks. It was designed to be light enough to put on top of an SUV and skinny enough to fit into a truck bed. It is also super light…but it is a bit smaller than my NRS Otter…

    Hope this helps!

    Faith, Family, Fishing

    #89320
    Zach Matthews
    The Itinerant Angler

    Hey Drew, the Tallapoosa isn’t that far from us here in Atlanta. What sections are you able to get that raft into? Would a hard boat be able to get down the river?

    #89321
    Zach Matthews
    The Itinerant Angler

    Tim, sorry I’m just seeing this post.

    Logistics in remote areas are always a problem. With Uber, sometimes you have a surprising option to just call a cab as it were, and it’s worth checking that. Uber drivers will usually work with you to arrange pickups in advance.

    The classic Western style shuttle is to hire a guy you trust to move your rig down to the take-out while you float. The classic thing to do is leave your keys inside the gas hatch. Depending on where you are floating that may or may not be an option. In areas with lots of shuttles that’s usually only a $25 deal because there is competition. In places with fewer shuttles it might be $50. Your shuttle driver has to split the money because he has to have someone come pick him up at the takeout too so keep that in mind.

    Another option is the classic double vehicle drop. You drive to the takeout first, leave a car, then bring the second angler along with you to the put-in. Float back to the car you left and reverse the process. This is time consuming but free and often your only choice out in the sticks.

    Boat-wise, it sounds to me like you need a canoe at least to start with. You can get one off Craig’s List for $300 or so and that will give you a lot more info on what the float is going to look like so you can decide whether to bring a bigger boat.

    Good luck,
    Zach

    #89322
    Drew Morgan
    Member

    Zach, yeah it’s not too far. There are a lot of great stretches of the middle and upper Tallapoosa…but I mainly fish from Horseshoe Bend Park to essentially Lake Martin…there is a boat ramp right where the river empties into the lake. This is a 6 mile stretch and both put in and take out are excellent. This time of year the striper move out of Martin and into the shallower shoals and channels of current. In the summer it is an excellent topwater spot (alabama bass) and redeye fishery.

    Faith, Family, Fishing

    #89325
    Zach Matthews
    The Itinerant Angler

    Drew what kinds of numbers of fish are you averaging in a day?

    #89326
    Drew Morgan
    Member

    Zach, the striper fishery is more of a quality over quantity bite…although if you can get out there on a cloudy day at the peak of the run it can be insane. One day recently 8 out of ten casts took fish swinging shad imitations through current.

    The spot and redeye bass fishery in the Spring and summer usually sees 10-20 fish to hand in a day. Of course you have a lot of bluegill and redbreasts mixed in. On days with really good bites it’s easy to go over 20 fish. The fish on the Tallapoosa don’t get as big as other fisheries…a 3 pound spot is a trophy…but they are extremely aggressive and fun to catch on a 3 or 5 wt. The water is pretty clear and clean for a southern warm water river which means most of the time you can see the take.

    Faith, Family, Fishing

    #89330
    Zach Matthews
    The Itinerant Angler

    Thanks Drew, good info and nice pics.

    #89336

    Drew I have fished Hillabee Creek some. How long does it take to float/fish that piece of the Tallapoosa River? Where do you take out?

    Bernie

    #89338
    Zach Matthews
    The Itinerant Angler

    I saw one of the inflatable NRS drift boats this weekend and was very impressed. Looked like it would float high and eat rocks for dinner.

    Another cool option I saw on the same day is this:

    Note the handles! This boat weighs 110lbs so it can actually be portaged, which is amazing for a hard boat.

    Zach

    #89339
    Drew Morgan
    Member

    Yeah that Stealthcraft boat is sweet. I really like a lot of stuff they are doing right now. Their inflatables are also very light and able to portage.

    Faith, Family, Fishing

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