Advice - My first Pontoon trip

After spending a week on Rock Creek and Clark Fork in Montana, I decided I am ready to take the next step in my fly fishing evolution, so I purchased a 9' Fish Cat.

I have used a friend's boat a few times on lakes and once on a river, so I am "relatively" comfortable in the driver's seat.

Do any of you have suggestions for what sections of the Yakima will offer a good opportunity for my first trip out? I don't mind some difficult water, but probably nothing too severe - but ideally somewhere with some fish.

Also, what else do I need to bring/think of in preparation? What is the best way to float a section, leave my boat, get back to my car, get back to my boat, and hope everything is still there? :confused:

Any advice from the veterans would be greatlyappreciated.



Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater
Float the Canyon section from Ringer on down to whatever takeout you decide on. Easy float to help you get familliar with your new boat. Wear a PFD and arrange a shuttle (Red's or The Evening Hatch) so your car is at the takeout. If you have an anchor,don't anchor in water that is moving to fast.
Psalverda, no hope for you now my man, you're hooked. I bet you had a great time in Montana.

Big question: have you floated the Yakima before?

Contact one of the fly shops on the river, they will do a car shuttle for you, or you can stash a bicycle at your take out and ride back to get your car (best done before dark as the road is unlighted). Get a river map that shows river mileage and all the take outs and danger spots; all the Ellensburg fly shops have them.

For starters: always bring flashlight, sunglasses, map, compass, extra clothes, water and food, a patch kit, some duct tape, bug repellant, sun screen, small rope to anchor boat, first aide kit (antibiotics and Band-Aids at the least). Give somebody your travel plans: estimated time on the water and were you will put in and pull out. Extra key to the car.

The easiest waters to float are in the lower canyon. Put in anywhere from Ringer down, and pick your take based upon how long you are going to float. The water is high, so you can fish a lot of miles, depending upon how often you stop, and what time you actually put in.

There is a lot of water in the River right now, never underestimate its power.

Myself, with a pontoon I would want smaller waters, and would do a trip that I can get in and out of the pontoon to fish. Upper Canyon, or put in at the Teanaway River.

Enjoy, be safe.


Active Member
I echo the comment about not anchoring in moving water. The speed and power of the river can be very deceptive. If you anchor in moving water there is an excellent chance that the current will flip your pontoon over backwards. I've had personel experience with this and while I didn't flip, it made for much more excitement than I needed. In addition, always wear your PFD.



Too many hobbies.....
I agree totally with comments above, especially this: pontoons do not anchor well in moving water. Although it's possible, don't expect to be able to stop and fish using an anchor in the Lower Canyon. You will have to beach your boat to fish most of the time. It is possible to fish while floating in the pontoons, but it's tricky. I've floated the Yak once with fins on my feet in my pontoon (as an experiment), so that I could fish shorelines while drifting. I wouldn't recommend doing this. It's not that much fun, as I was always looking downstream worrying about the water ahead and not concentrating on my casting and presentation. Further, the fins must be removed before you stand up/stop in a shallow spot in the river. When a fish was hooked from the 'toon while drifting, it was really goofy. Trying to play/land the fish while steering is not easy, and you MUST be willing to holster the rod and grab the oars at a moment's notice, even if the fish is still on the other end of the line. As I said, I consider myself somewhat stupid for using fins in moving water, and I would NOT advise you to do it.

Have fun on your float!
Do NOT float from Ellensburg to Ringer's, not on your first time. A good friend drowned there in May. Watch for sweepers (fallen trees, above or under water) wherever you are.
As an edit to my above post:

1- the "...rope to anchor boat..." was intended to mean to allow you to tie up to a tree when stopping to fish (rafts and pontoons have been known to float away): you will not be able to anchor in the river, as stated by others, and your 'toon will become dangerously unstable if you try to do so.

2- When coming into narrow turns, approach bow or feet first, to allow you to pull on the oars hard to get cross current from obstructions in a corner turn. Don't try to propel yourself upstream and against the current when trying to avoid oncoming obstructions, move 90 degrees across current.

3- In shallow fast water, when the oars are hitting the rocks you will not be able to propel yourself away from trouble. The stroke you should use will be a short and shallow stroke, which is much more effective under those condition than trying to dig in deeply with oars bouncing off rocks: that lessons always is learned at the worst moment.
Thank you for the input. Yes, Salt Dog, I had lots of fun in Montana. Though the fishing was TOUGH, it was rewarding. All native fish are a little more selective during the hatches. Presentations had to be perfect! But once I got one hooked - man did they fight.

Well, I am hoping to get out in the canyon next week. Any other pearls of wisdom will be appreciated.

Anyone up for joining me any day next week? :beer2:
ncitrez said:
As I said, I consider myself somewhat stupid for using fins in moving water, and I would NOT advise you to do it.
My experience is different - I wear fins when I row my pontoon, and I find that they help, not hinder the experience.

I do agree that in really fast sections, you are not going to get much fishing done in your pontoon, but in slower or medium sections, I can position myself near the bank with the oars, and then use my fins to hold position while I fish.

I bought a pair of the "shark fin" fins (they were expensive), and compared to the less expensive fins that my buddies bought, they made all the difference in kicking power (plus they fit over my wading boot so I can easily slip them off).

Now, with that said, I will say that fishing the Yak in a pontoon is a much more enjoyable experience in the fall, winter or spring, before the flip when water levels are much lower. In the summer, I use the pontoon to move from spot to spot, and hop out to fish.
Oh yea - if you do anchor your pontoon, make sure to do it from the rear, center. NEVER over the side! It get's pretty exciting over the side :eek:
I'll say it again... P F D 110% of the time. Don't go with the cheesy CO2 vest, go with the real thing type 3 foam vest. Trust me it will make you feel more secure knowing you don't have to pull anything and will not let you think:

"is the CO2 really going to go off by itself or should I think about pulling and FINDING the cord while my heart is beating 1000 times a minute and seeing bubbles in front of my face" Trust me, its not a great feeling, been there and lived to tell.

Good luck.
I'd second the general rule of thumb: point the bow at danger, and row back from it. Canyon stretch is good to start with, be sure to go down to where you are taking out and familiarize yourself with the landscape, it is a bummer to miss the takeout, and if you haven't done it before, take a look at how you get to the ramp when in the river (i.e, is it on a side channel, is it hard to approach, and all that).

Also, think a bit about ettiquette: most people these days, unfortunately, don't give others respsect in rivers--I may be getting old (see my post about sitting on my hat) and grumpy, but it seems that increased crowding makes things worse than say, 20 years ago.

Give wading fisherman plenty of room, don't follow too close to other boats (there are two sides to the river) and don't cut in front of someone that is fishing a run from a boat. Also, obviously, give other driftboats plenty of room when you pass them.

Have fun with the pontoon boat--start out on the Yak, get comfortable, and always follow the good advice of others that have been posted. Treat each river you go to with a lot of respect.