Posted by: Tom Keer
September 15, 2011

Tom Keer

Western Drift Boats in the Fall

There is a lot of great fishing to be had in the fall, but if I had to pick one of my favorites it would be drifting a big, Western river.

The rivers meander in the fall.  They’re not running hard and cold like they are in the spring, and they’re not slow and bony as they are in the summer.  Fall flows are perfect, and when you go through flat water you’ve got time to work the bank and when you go through the rapids you’re in for some fun.

Cold nighttime temperatures and warm daytime temperatures mean you sleep like a baby only to wake up ready to fish hard.  Water temperatures are usually in the 55-65 degree range, which means that a trout metabolizes a stomach-full of food per day.  And that means that the trout are hungry and they’ll even eat a less-than-perfect presentation.

A drift boat transports fishermen through some of the prettiest areas.  Aspen turn bright yellow, oaks add a brownish/red, and any uncut hay or wheat field is a golden brown.  Pheasant and mule deer move in to feed, and snow caps the mountains way in the distance.

Seeing a brown trout come up and smack a grasshopper is dramatic, no doubt. But even a two-footer pales in comparison to the sheer beauty of a float down a big river in the fall.

Tom Keer is a freelance writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He regularly writes for over a dozen magazines, and is the contributing editor of Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America and a columnist for The Upland Almanac. His book a “Flyfisher’s Guide to the New England Coast” was published by Wilderness Adventures Press in 2010. Visit him at

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