Jet Boating 201. Rivers to learn on?

Onnit

New Member
Hello All,

I have just purchased my first jet boat, after having rafts, Drift boats, and a 15ft Smokercraft w/ a 25 hp outboard used on lakes and the salt. The jet boat is an 18ft with a 90/60 Yamaha jet. I've had it out on lakes and easily navigable rivers the Chehalis. I'd be very appreciative for suggestions on slightly more challenging rivers to learn on. Border crossing permitted, I'm headed to BC this fall where I'll be on the Bulkley and the Morice, which I've floated many times but never been on with a jet boat. I'd like to log some time on some similar rivers in WA or OR in preparation. Thanks in advance, for any help.
 

Rogue Fanatic

Active Member
Lower Rogue (maybe a bit far) from Agness to Gold Beach is a good one. Enough riffles to be interesting, but no chutes of doom where you will pin the boat. Picking the right seam going up river, against the current is different then going downriver with it. Jets are squirrelly and have a lag before they respond, very unlike prop boats. And depending on whether you have a true sled (totally flat on the bottom) or one with a little more V to the bottom, the lines you take and the amount of skid the boat will do at speed takes getting used to.
 

KerryS

Ignored Member
You could run the Sky. Not sure how much more technical it would be over the Chehalis. Also, the Skagit but it is a fairly easy river. It is easier to read the water running up river than it is running down and your boat should handle better running up.

Use your PFD and use your deadman’s switch. I seen one guy make a quick turn, throwing him out of the boat which kept running and turning, on its next turn the boat damn near ran over him before it hit the beach. Fortunately, he was ok. Don’t think the boat was.
 

Salmo_g

WFF Supporter
Skykomish, Cowlitz, NF Lewis.

BTW, if you tell us where you live, we can suggest rivers closer to you. Maybe the Snake and Clearwater would be better suggestions, but since you mentioned the Chehalis, I suggested west side rivers.
 

Buzzy

Active Member
Skykomish, Cowlitz, NF Lewis.

BTW, if you tell us where you live, we can suggest rivers closer to you. Maybe the Snake and Clearwater would be better suggestions, but since you mentioned the Chehalis, I suggested west side rivers.
Scary, same thoughts. The Snake launching at Clarkston and working your way upstream. Lots of water options, big water. Get really confident, go up the canyon beyond the Grand Ronde.
 

racermo

Watch that Backcast
WFF Supporter
Deschutes Macks Canyon - downstream. Used to run it in a 14' Smokercraft with a 50 hp Merc... until the engine blew up. Then with a 17' with a 115 hp Merc. On the right day it could be a good exercise in dodging crowds... :D
 

Creatch'r

Unhinged Member
Find an experienced friend to ride along on your shakedown cruise it really helps a lot. I’d pick a river you are at least familiar with and run it over and over and get some confidence and get used to the limits of your boat. I have a lot of experience running a prop boat but the first few sled trips running a river where extremely nerve wracking for me. Even on familiar water I was constantly worried about cutting it too close, taking the wrong line or hitting something. I’ll tell you 18” of water looks like dry land at speed when you’re a noob.

Besides simply not hitting things and racing around the river make sure to put thought and practice into proper anchoring in different fishing type scenarios and worth practicing loading your boat back on the trailer, little different in moving water with a jet.

I learned on the skagit, great river to stretch your legs on and the launches are better then the sky.
 

Onnit

New Member
Skykomish, Cowlitz, NF Lewis.

BTW, if you tell us where you live, we can suggest rivers closer to you. Maybe the Snake and Clearwater would be better suggestions, but since you mentioned the Chehalis, I suggested west side rivers.
Sorry for the delay in responding. I now live in Thurston County, but I'm not opposed to driving to get some good experience.
 

Salmo_g

WFF Supporter
Unless things change at the border, you won't be taking your boat to the Bulkley or Morice in B.C. When the border does reopen, I ask that you refrain from jet boating the Morice. The fishermen already don't like the Canadians running jet boats on that river, and they definitely won't appreciate you doing so. They don't like it on the Bulkley either, but as it's bigger water and has a lot of jet boat traffic, you're not likely to be bothered.

If you want challenging water, I suggest the Skagit, upstream from Marblemount, up to, but not through Shovel Spur rapids. I regularly run the Skagit downstream, and the Chehalis, and Cowlitz. But none of the areas I boat provide the technical challenge you might be seeking. Maybe the Clackamas in OR, I don't know as I've never been on it.
 

Onnit

New Member
Unless things change at the border, you won't be taking your boat to the Bulkley or Morice in B.C. When the border does reopen, I ask that you refrain from jet boating the Morice. The fishermen already don't like the Canadians running jet boats on that river, and they definitely won't appreciate you doing so. They don't like it on the Bulkley either, but as it's bigger water and has a lot of jet boat traffic, you're not likely to be bothered.

If you want challenging water, I suggest the Skagit, upstream from Marblemount, up to, but not through Shovel Spur rapids. I regularly run the Skagit downstream, and the Chehalis, and Cowlitz. But none of the areas I boat provide the technical challenge you might be seeking. Maybe the Clackamas in OR, I don't know as I've never been on it.


Thanks for the intel on the Skagit. Much appreciated. I'll be sure to head that way. Question: are there reliable river maps showing the spots on the Skagit you refer to? Shovel Spur rapids sound like a place to avoid for sure.

You're spot on about the US/CD border. I called my Airbnb host two weeks ago to cancel this years trip. I'll look to possibly reschedule in March/April if the border reopens.

Re: the Bulkley and the Morice... respectfully, my experience has been very different. I've been rafting those rivers for 15 years, but I'm getting too old to freeze may ass off in the raft so the boat is almost a necessity. I've been on jet boats, on both of those rivers, each of those years. As you know jet boats are ubiquitous, with far more jet boats than rafts or pontoon boats but I've witnessed no friction between fishermen and jet boaters.

I'm uncertain what it's like early in the season, and this may be the period to which you refer. (I've always gone after Canadian Thanksgiving; sometimes into November.) At least late in the season, I've never seen anyone give another boater grief for running their boat, and while rafting I've never had a bad experience. Even the guides from the Bulkley River Lodge have been nice. We've compared notes on flies and presentation a few times each year. Perhaps the more crowded early season is different? If so, I'm glad I've chosen to wait till the latter part of the season, even I'm not skating bombers in a tee shirt. : )

Thanks again for the intel on the Skagit, and I'm sorry you've witnessed unpleasantness on the Bulkley/Morice. That's the last thing any of us need; especially in Canada where good manners seem to be the rule rather than the exception.
 

Salmo_g

WFF Supporter
I don't know of any maps that point out features on the Skagit. Shovel Spur can be seen from the highway. It's much easier to drive a boat up it than to come down it, and it should be avoided in a powerboat.

My Morice reference is to September through the first week of October. When the crowds thin out and it's sink tip weather I suppose the tolerance changes as well.
 

Onnit

New Member
TY, My observations track with yours re: the crowds, and yes... pretty much sink tip fishing, though some Scandi w/ ploy-leaders at times, depending on water temps. Been up there earlier in the year and the river traffic was as you describe. I've thought about pushing the trip back into early November, but I've fished in a blizzard in late October before, when the power went out between Quick and Telkwa. Last 20 minutes of the float were in near darkness with almost no visibility. Lined the boat through the water right above the take-out at Telkwa. More "interesting" than anticipated. : ) Thanks again for the beta on the Skagit!
 

Stonefish

Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater....Know Grizzler
Just one comment on the Chehalis as I fished it a lot in a jet sled from late fall through spring.
Once you get that first big fall blowout, you rarely get clear water there unless we get a super long cold dry streak.
There are a lot on sunken trees / wood that are well hidden by the water color.
Just a word of caution is all.
Have fun.
SF
 

Onnit

New Member
Just one comment on the Chehalis as I fished it a lot in a jet sled from late fall through spring.
Once you get that first big fall blowout, you rarely get clear water there unless we get a super long cold dry streak.
There are a lot on sunken trees / wood that are well hidden by the water color.
Just a word of caution is all.
Have fun.
SF
YIKES! Good to know. No cruising on auto-pitot. Do you just slow it down a bit when you can take it off plane?
 

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