Out here in Montana, I have a rather large (and heavy) raft that fishes two people plus rower easily, and will hold about as many people as you want to cram onto it if you’re so inclined. I have my little Water Master personal raft for when I’m floating by myself. And I have two kayaks for when Mary and I just want to paddle ourselves down the river without doing much fishing. What I was missing, however, was a smallish boat that Mary and I could use whenever it was just the two of us but she didn’t want to paddle but instead ride with me–or when I wanted to fish with one other person. The big raft is heavy enough that it’s a real job for one person, or even two people if one of them isn’t real strong, to load back onto the trailer. So I decided I “needed” a small drift boat. I started looking through all the drift boat makers, and there are almost no small drift boats–nearly all of them are built to handle two anglers and rower, and are as heavy as the raft is if not heavier. Except…Hyde makes one called a “Sportsman’s Drifter”. It’s 13 feet, 63 inch beam at widest point. Has one seat in front and the rowing seat, so is built for two people total. And it weighs only 130 pounds. I decided last summer that it could be pretty much what I was looking for.
Coincidentally, the son of the guy who owns the company contacted us about that time. He wanted to know if I could produce four trout designs that they could use as decals on their boats. I thought for a while that we would be able to make a deal with them for the Drifter and trailer in return for the rights to use the designs, but after negotiating back and forth for much of last summer, the deal fell through, and I still didn’t have my little drift boat.
When we got out here this summer, Mary said, “why don’t you just order it? Just because we couldn’t make a deal with them doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get the boat!”
So I did. We went to pick up the boat last Thursday at their place in Idaho Falls, about a four hour drive from our place. I had sent them the design I’d done originally for them of a cutthroat so that they could make a decal from it to put on my boat for no extra charge because of the time I’d spent trying to make the deal with them (and maybe see how great it would look on all their boats as an add-on feature).
Friday, Mary and I took the boat on its maiden voyage, a float on the Yellowstone from Pine Creek to Carter’s Bridge, one of the prettiest stretches of the whole river. The boat was everything I’d expected, easy to row, very maneuverable, and light enough to easily load and unload off the trailer in the less than optimal conditions of both accesses–just sloping rocky paths that ended in a few inches of water so that you had to push the boat off the trailer and lift it back onto the trailer far enough to be able to winch it the rest of the way. The fishing was poor, but that wasn’t the reason we went, it was mainly just to try out the new toy.