Kick boats are NOT for rivers !!!!!!!

Until I pulled ashore by our site at the KOA campground, Friday had been a good day. Our club, the Fourth Corner Fly Fishers, from Bellingham, was enjoying one of our scheduled outings. Three of us had floated down from near the diversion dam in pontoon boats, enjoying challenging but interesting fishing (challenging: an angler's term meaning a lot of effort with minimal reward). But before I was ashore, one of our members told me that Linda had capsized and drowned.

Linda had been a member for some years, serving as treasurer, secretary, and now raffle chairman. A busy nurse practitioner and Montana native with three grown children, she was an experienced skier and backpacker as well as a competent fly angler. But her experience with her pontoon craft was limited to lakes. Apparently, none of the other members with her had floated that section before. I was told that when an underwater sweeper capsized her, she didn't struggle, perhaps unconscious from the outset. CPR was performed for a long time, but without success.

It was to have been a weekend-long outing, longer for some. But Saturday morning, with little discussion, all of us packed and headed home.

Linda was my friend. We had fished together for steelhead, and hiked to trout-filled alpine lakes. I had built her a spey rod at her request, and felt shame at what a poor performer that particular blank had been. We've been struggling to make sense of a senseless loss. Part of my feelings have been an angry attempt to locate blame. It seems inexplicable and stupid to me that some agency in Ellensburg/Kittitas County, which derives much income from tourist use of the Yakima River, make no effort to clear sweepers from the river banks. Compared to most other labor-intensive and expensive things that society does in the name of public safety, that seems like a cheap and easy fix, really a no-brainer. What would it take? A pass-through with a boat and a chain saw once a month or so, during season? And who's responsibility: the county sherrif's dept. or their Search & Rescue unit (which probably spent more on Linda's recovery than they'd spend in two or three years of sweeper-clearing), the Dept. of Fish & Game, even the Dept. of Transportation?

In the summer heat, the Yakima is filled with feckless college students and other tourists, floating in inner tubes, and air mattresses! :eek: How many of them have an inkling of the risk they're taking? Ultimately, a river is just water plus gravity. The river doesn't think or care; so we who use them must.


Active Member
Jerry- the section of the Yak in question is just full of snags and sweepers,some well hidden, there is no whitewater , not really. just some technical little shallow swiftwater riffles and such. the danger is the snags and sweepers. The river is very very (VERY) benign appearing, until you run up on one. There are now two tree completely across the river and aleast one of the swiftwater chutes has a snag across at the bottom-- better to walk your boat thru one of the other little chutes. The river is rising as we speak and may help to push a couple of the new snags out of the main current. At the least we will be able to get around the end without dragging a driftboat across the rocks.

Everyone's heart felt sympathies go out to Linda's family and her friends and to all of her companions and the members at Fourth Corner Fly Fishers.

Unfortunately I have to agree with you about the need to find blame, but it happens in most tragic incidents. It just something we all do to allow us to put distance between the tragedy and the all to real possibility that, but for the grace of god go I. All need to remember that the bell tolls for us all.


Active Member
Well said ,Salt Dog !

Let me add that the above named new snag ABOVE Rinehart Park and below the KOA can be rowed over on river right. Just be careful.


Just Another Bubba

After I read the story I tried to think how it would feel to have one of my club members die on an outing...tough to even imagine even though we are all aware of the dangers we temp out there. My heart goes out to the rest of the club and her family.

I suspect the problem with maintaining the river in the way you describe is that in our current society if you took on such an effort you would be liable for any accidents because in effect you would be declaring that you would be keeping the river safe. Catch 22 for sure.

Jerrry, jeez buddy just keep it simple. If it's designed to be propelled by fins either full or part time it's a kickboat. If ya can't move it with fins it's a raft.

Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
LOL Paul. We could move 12' with fins. Not going to call that a kickboat. ;) I could take my standing platform off my old (one of the original) steelheaders and used it in lakes. Not going to call that a kickboat either, though propelled quite well with fins. :D Sorry Paul, those boats used to be my life, especially when I was paid to row them, so I like to call them like I see them. LOL
those underwater sweepers are critical rearing habitat for small fish. You're not going to get anyone to OK taking them out on a large scale. it's really too bad the lady drowned, but sweepers are part of any river and one of the biggest hazards. :(

I am sorry to hear of the loss of your friend and cannot imagine the devastation felt by you, the rest of your close-knit community of anglers and most of all Linda's family.

Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with those that loved Linda and will be impacted greatly by her passing.



Active Member
yes there is a warning sign on the bridge, mainly intended for inexperienced or non-controllable craft was it's original intent ( it's been there for 25 years or longer) i.e ; tubers and such.In my opinion this stretch is considerably more hazardous now than it was 15 years ago. There have been many more accidents recently but that may just be due to increased use. I think though that if someone wants to float down it in a egg carton they should be able to make that choice.
My condonlances to those that lost a friend and family member on the Yakima River on Friday. Every year we lose people on the Yakima, a seemingly benign river. I run many section of this river most months out of the year for both work and play, and I tell people that Yakima is more dangerous than some hairy whitewater run because of the WOOD and the cold water. There is nothing scarier than coming around a corner and finding a tree across the river. At times like this we have to stop and think about what could have been done to prevent this tragedy, to help others avoid it in the future. Foremost, always wear a life jacket, PFD, what-ever you want to call it, and make sure it actually works before you go out. They degrade over time. Whether its the law or not. Secondly, don't boat alone. Things can go down fast, and it can be hard to get to someone, especially if they are out of site. Carry a knife. Know how to swim in a river. Wear the proper clothing. Know CPR and make sure your friends do too. This tragedy can be an opportunity to further educate ourselves and spread that knowledge to others. I hope this is the last time I have to read about someone drowning on the Yakima.

Bob Triggs

Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
I am so sorry to hear of all this. This is a tragic event indeed. Could it have been avoided? We dont know yet. Sounds like this person may not have been able to successfully negotiate the hazard beforehand, no matter what kind of boat she had. There is a suggestion that she was unresponsive to the situation, possibly unconscious. So the Coroner will have to look at that situation. I cant express how sorry I am to hear about this.

But it is rarely a matter of blame.

All rivers have hazards and people who traverse those waters should be responsible for themselves. The basic tenet of safe white water boating is to know where you are going to begin with; "Always Scout Your Trip". This is not as commonplace a practise with anglers as it is with paddlers. But even amongst paddlers, suprisingly few do careful research on conditions, hazards etc prior to their trips. And of those who do, even they have a chance of a serious accident. That is the nature of the game. When it comes to Inner Tubes and Beach mattresses etc, in rivers, I still think that individual responsibility is the issue there.

At most we can expect some signs posted at access areas, parking and ramp areas etc, denoting known local white water classifications and general risks etc. We can not expect to reasonably maintain an open "freeway" condition on whitewater rivers. Many of the snags and sweepers and strainers, that we consider hazards to navigation, are actually beneficial to the riverine environment; creatuing softer areas of flow, backeddies, turbulensce etc, all of which create rearing habitat for juvenile fish. Clearing these hazards can also present tremendous safety risks to the people doing it.

I am in favor of mandatory PFD wearing on boats, rafts, kick boats, tubes etc.
I was an EMT for several years in New England, trained and experienced in water and ice rescue etc. These events are very hard on everyone involved.

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