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I'm considering a multi-day float trip down the Grande Ronde later this Fall. I fished the river once years ago but have never floated it. Any thoughts/advice regarding the difficulty of the float?

I have a pretty big wooden drift boat. I have experience behind the oars but not extensive. I have floated the Yakima, the Sky from Sultan, the Bogie from the hatchery to Lyndeckers and most challenging, the Sol Duc from Maxfield Rd to Whitcomb Dimmel. The Shuwah rapid puckered my butt tight but got through it both times.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Jeff
 

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Fish or Ski...Fish or ski....fish!
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Do a search for Grand Ronde float and you will find lots of information on it. I really wouldn't take a wooden drift boat down it due to the low water and rocks.
 

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I floated the Minam to Troy stretch over the 4th of July weekend, at "high" flows - seem to remember 4500, or was it 6500. Either way, it was a fairly pedestrian float, but at lower flows, there are a few spots to be aware of. Great scenery, places to camp on-river, etc. For that stretch, it's pack it in pack it out - fire pan and portable toilet required.
 
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If it's typical fall water levels you'll definitely scrape here and there in a hard boat but you won't have to drag. At least in the Washington section. If you are a competent oarsman you'll be fine but if you float to the mouth you'll have to go through the narrows, the only sketchy part of the river. People lose their boats every year in there but if you line it through you'll be ok.
 

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You'll be dragging it, pulling it, and pushing it. If you decide to float Rattlesnake to the mouth you will encounter the narrows and in a big wood boat you might just end up like Tom Hanks trying to find a way off the island. If Maxfield to WD puckered you up you might want to reconsider. Float it with someone else first.
 

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The Dude Abides
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Float from Boggans to Schumaker and camp overnight on the blm land half way down. If you can, try to wait till the flows get above 900 and it's much more fun then in a hard boat. I took out drifty down there at 700 cfs and its a boney beyotch, and thus...wont do it at those flows again
 

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Boggan's to Schumaker is an easy stretch without significant issues so long as there is water under your boat. The Narrows is Class IV when it has water and unrunnable by an oared boat at low water. As in, at low flows it is so narrow that you can't extend your oars so you have no means of controlling or directing your boat. Below The Narrows is Bridge Rapids, a Class III right to left bend. Mucho bony at low flows.
 

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I've never stood toe to toe with the narrows but at low flows it looks pretty straight forward. Line up and go, although if you bump an oar or get sideways you could be in trouble. I would think that a watermaster would handle that at low flows no problem with a good oarsmen and the helm. anybody done it at lower flows? Those guys were going down it in a canoe I dont know if i would do that but maybe in my kodiak.
 

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man you could nearly jump across the narrows, right where it starts. and I have seen people come through on single man pontoons, but the flows were higher than this.
I wouldnt go thru that shiii, ESPECIALLY on a boat at these flows.
 

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For many years John Farrar has guided the section from the Oregon boarder down to Schumakers from late September to early November in a fiberglass drift boat with no problems.

I agree with the posts that you can drift from Troy to Schumakers pretty much anytime during October. I did it with a friend in his drift boat last October. Don't remember the water flow, but we had to drag the boat in a few places on drifts from Bogan's to Schumakers.

The Bogan to Schumaker float is easily done in a day, but many people take two or three and camp in the canyon.
 

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Tyler,

I haven't run the narrows in a WM, but I'm thinking of it. My main concerns are the stoutness of the oars - I have the standard ones, and weight distribution. It's easiest to maintain steerage in a raft that is somewhat bow-heavy. With the cargo deck behind the oarsman's seat, I think my WM Kodiak will float stern-heavy. I might be able to shift the weight by strapping a couple duffle bags on the bow. Alternatively, I'll do like I did when floating with my little 7' Achilles LT-2 and portage around the narrows - 3 trips took 45 minutes.

Other than the narrows there is the bridge rapids on the lower river. You can see them by driving up the lower Grande Ronde road to the bridge and check it out. It would be a piece of cake in a WM.

Sg
 

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Thanks Salmo. After fishing it last year I really wanted to float it. My only concern is the amout of bank anglers and having to move constantly to stay out of their way. Any thoughts? I know most people get out above the mouth but I would love to make that corner at hellers and see that shit show that takes place down there.
 

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I was thinking of doing the same thing, a mulit-day float in late October and, after contacting people "in the know," I decided better of it. Sounds like a lot of work to get the boat down and not a lot of time to fish. If I had a pontoon boat or a small raft, things might be different but there are other places in the relative vicinity to accomplish the same goals without all of the boat-dragging, rapid-roping hassle.
 

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Tyler,

Last time I floated the river I took out at the WDFW access, skipping the lower mile or so. I didn't encounter many bank anglers at the time of day I passed through, so I had no issues. You can see the crowd fishing Heller Bar better from the hillside than from floating by - well beyond their casting range. I guess it depends on your shuttle arrangements and where you want to leave your rig parked for 3 or 4 days.

JMWfish224,

If there's not a lot of time to fish, then you're not planning enough days for the trip. 3 1/2 - 4 days allows enough fishing time for me to hit every piece of water along the way.

Sg
 
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