Drift Boating in Eastern Washington?

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We're not quite ready for the Colorado River rapids but we have other boats for 'flat water rivers'. We're trying to figure out where to cut our teeth doing some drift boating in Eastern Washington.

Has anyone floated the upper Kettle River or perhaps the Yakima down south? The lower Wenatchee would be good but it's closed to fishing so that's out. Same with the Spokane River.

Any recommendations would be appreciated. Probably wouldn't want to take on anything beyond Class III for now, or even less until we get to know our boat a bit more.

Thanks in advance! Let's hear your float stories!
 
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I am not familiar with the Kettle River, but I think the Yakima would be a good choice for a novice drift boat operator. During summer months the river can be crowded with local college students floating the river using inner tubes... Point being, the river flows through the canyon at a pretty gentle pace (controlled by a dam at the south end). Since a paved road abuts most of the river in this area, you can also scout it prior to launching.
The Yakima is very popular for drift boat fly fishing.
 
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Free_Patriot
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I am not familiar with the Kettle River, but I think the Yakima would be a good choice for a novice drift boat operator. During summer months the river can be crowded with local college students floating the river using inner tubes... Point being, the river flows through the canyon at a pretty gentle pace (controlled by a dam at the south end). Since a paved road abuts most of the river in this area, you can also scout it prior to launching.
The Yakima is very popular for drift boat fly fishing.
Thanks. We're looking for more than relatively flat water but we'll have to check this out.

I like your pic of Summer Falls in your avatar! We were there in July while checking out Billy Clapp Lake. The lake is on our short list for our next power boat fishing trip and we want to head up to the falls as a starting point. Great fishing below the falls, BTW, though access is a challenge...
 

bbbass

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Well, you can always come to the Grande Ronde river next June... there are several Class III rapids and a Class IV. The cost for a 3-day out of state fishing license isn't too bad. It's wilderness mostly, so you'd need camp gear, and current regs require a bucket or whatever to pack out your human waste (ick). It's gorgeous and the trout fishing is good. Winter fishing for steelhead is good too!!!
 
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Well, you can always come to the Grande Ronde river next June... there are several Class III rapids and a Class IV. The cost for a 3-day out of state fishing license isn't too bad. It's wilderness mostly, so you'd need camp gear, and current regs require a bucket or whatever to pack out your human waste (ick). It's gorgeous and the trout fishing is good. Winter fishing for steelhead is good too!!!
I've heard that the winter fishing for steelies is great.
Actually they are late-arriving Summer Steelhead IIRC.
Bob, what months (in general) is the Grande Ronde floatable for a DB ?
 

bbbass

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I've heard that the winter fishing for steelies is great.
Actually they are late-arriving Summer Steelhead IIRC.
Bob, what months (in general) is the Grande Ronde floatable for a DB ?
It IS great!!!

NE OR steelies are not your avg Summer Steelhead that you would see on the Illinois or the Rogue Rivers. Instead of 2lb to 4lb, our steelies are Skamania strain and they are only summer steelhead because of when they arrive (at the mouth of Columbia). Depending on the year they run anywhere from 4-8lb or they could be as much as 25lb. One year I made the mistake of bringing a lighter 7' rod because I was expecting 4-8lb fish, and the fish I caught almost got away because I fought it for 1/2hr before some nice gentleman downstream netted it for me because I couldn't get it back upstream!

Floatable also depends on the year, the snowpack, the weather/rate of runoff and the size of huevos. I had an 18' Guide Model Wide Bottom High Side Fishrite made in Medford OR. It would take bigger water just fine. Most years DB floating is reasonable to undertake in May, and runs thru June and July. By the end of July, the water is usually so low that a lot of bumping over rocks, portaging, or at the very least rowing all over the river to avoid individual boulders happens. (The last trip I took in July kicked my butt since I had 4 people in my boat, and we was low-ridin.)

Winter fishing is okay from a DB in the lower river down from Bogan's, AFAIK (double check on this), but the section from Minam is pretty much a raft trip with lots of portaging during most winters. Anything above that is a no go for boating. But there is some good water around Rondowa that can be reached from a put-in there. Just make sure to be able to get the boat back to the ramp.

Bill
 
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