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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I see messages all the time about which boat to buy, how big, etc. I don't see much inquiry regarding learning to use them. My dad and I picked up a pair of Scadden boats at the sportsmen show this past Sunday. He ordered a 9' boat and when the guys were packing stuff up, I made an offer on their 8' Expedition floor sample and they gave me a good deal since the Seattle show was their last show of the trip and we had already bought one boat.

I have a float tube and using the pontoon boat on a lake seems pretty simple. I am hoping to take the boats out on rivers and am kind of wondering where to start. My river running experience is limited to one trip on a guided raft trip down the North Umpqua. Anyway, advice would be appreciated. I am going to try to find a nice calm section of river near Seattle to practice on soon so I have some experience when I take it out on an actual fishing trip. Any recommendations? Fish are optional for this effort. I was planning to try the Yakima in the Cle Elum or Easton area as the river is a bit smaller there, but I have heard that there are other factors that make this section pretty risky.

Thanks in advance.
 

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Baily,

I as well have a pontoon boat, but not too much experience using them in rivers. I have used mine quite a bit on the Yuba river in CA, however there is not much more than a maybe a couple of small class II rapids on it. I would like to get some more use out of it up here, but don't know what rivers are good pontooning waters. If you ever need someone to share the trip with, definately don't be afraid to give me a hollar. Sorry I am not much help...

Scott
 
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I too have one,but it is not rated for rivers. It only has 8' pontoons and I think that it is tooo small for rivers. I would find out if your boat is rated for rivers before you go out,just to be on the safe side. Jim S.
 

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Bailey

This may sound crazy, but the Skykomish River float from Sultan to the Ben Howard boat ramp is an excellent float for a beginner. The Sky is a big river, but it flows pretty slow when you get below Sultan. Now is a great time to float it for the practice as the river is closed to fishing so there won't be much boat traffic. (Don't bring a rod!)

Here's the deal. Take the boat out on a lake to get familiar with it. When you think you are ready for a river, remember this. Always face downstream and row upstream (so you are pulling on the oars), just like a drift boat. If you want to travel across the river, turn the boat 45 degrees so your back is in the direction you want to go, and start rowing. When you get to the corners, log jams, etc, point your feet at them, keep the boat at 45 degrees and row away from the obstacle.

Always have a life vest (preferably on you, I prefer the Stearns inflatable) and if things get dicy, remember to pull on the oars (like a rowing maching).

If you have any questions, drop me an email.

Chris Grieve
www.northwestflyfishingadventures.com :HMMM
 

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Chris' basic advice is sound, and the section of the Sky he recommends is good; nothing to get you in any serious trouble, but opportunity to have to do a little steering. Fortunately for the beginner, most of our good flyfishing rivers have very little water that can get you in big trouble (in the way of rapids, that is; you do always have to be on the lookout for logjams, sweeps, and other obstructions). The Yakima, particularly in the canyon, is extremely easy running. The river in the Easton-Cle Elum stretch is actually more hazardous -- lots of log jams and sweeps and the gradient is a little steeper. Don't automatically think that small is safer; small streams can be less forgiving because you don't have as much room to maneuver or recover from a mistake.

The idea of going into a lake to get your rowing straight is imperitive. Make sure you're clear on which oar you pull to turn which way. I know it sounds simple, but believe me, it's easy to pull the wrong oar when your flustered on the river, and it could mean the difference between getting around a rock and going over it. One more thing, when you come to a braid in the river and you don't know which channel to take and you can't see all the way to the end, ALWAYS stop and get out to scout which channel to take. The channel with most of the water is not always the right (or safe) path. Getting out to look can save you not only from possible danger, but could also keep you from going down a dead end. At least with a kick boat you can carry it back upstream (if there's room on the bank), but why not save yourself the trouble.

I'm not trying to scare you. Like I say, most of our good fishing rivers are reasonably easy (no Deschutes-style class 4 and 5 rapids anyway), but it is also reasonably serious business floating any moving water, so be safe.
 
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hmmmm. got it dial'd
Another river that is PERFECT for learning to boat on is the Snoqualmie. Just remember to put in below the falls :THUMBSUP . But seriously, the Snoqualmie, if you put in at Fall City is very mellow and flat. If you put in at Plumb access (boat launch by the hatchery) there is one set of rapids, not bad and very short then the water picks up and slows down on a pretty regular basis. We float it in inner tubes and drink beer the whole way down in the summer, but the water is a bit lower then. Just remember, the rivers are VERY cold right now and if you flip you had better have a PFD AND a wetsuit on!. Be safe while learning and leave your pole behind. Take it from me, I've lost some real nice gear while trying to learn and fish at the same time! Later... and always wear a PFD. :THUMBSUP If you have a friend who has some river experience tak then with you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for all the advice. I'm going to go shopping for a life vest this weekend and maybe go tool around in Lake Washington if it isn't too windy to get comfortable with the boat. Maybe I'll try my luck fishing Green Lake. I'm not sure where to go for a vest, maybe pacific water sports or Sportco. Thanks again.
 
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I'm on the market for a PFD also. I've looked at Walmart,Kmart, Fred Meyers,Jerrys in Everett. Kmart And Fredys don't have anything good. Jerry's has some,but I find that the Sterns is toooo bulky. Walmart has some but they're like the Sterns at Jerry's. I guess the only place to get them is thru the fishing catalogs. But they're a little pricey. Maybe I can try Outdoor Emporium,but thats a Saturday trip. Jim S.
 

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They had the inflatable waist belt type on sale at West Marine for $60, regualrly $70. Its a nice small package you can either wear or put inside a pocket on your float tube or pontoon boat. I just bought one a couple weeks ago.
Jim J.
 

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Hi,I have a scadden 9' and love -it.We floated on the Madison (Mont)with 5 boats last year and it's a great river for these. You can float sideways while casting and mending as you go...at a pretty good clip.KEEP YOUR DOWNSTREAM OAR HOOKED ON THE FRONT OR BACK.if you dont the current will drive-it into a rock/boulder and snap that puppy in two. Your upstream oar can float along and it just takes a light touch to staighten out...(7' oars arent a bad idea,wish i had-em..)It also helps to tie-off your oars just like the big rafts do if you lose an oar on a river that fast your gonna be in for more than you barganed for...I would also advise Camoflaging ANYTHING that is bright metal(oars) as they reflect alot of sunlight(especially on clear waters)The madison was perfect for these and would highly recommend it as the water is fast enough to make it fun but not to the point you have to worry.Tight lines,FSHFLTHNKNG
 

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Bailey
I have an 8' ODC made by the Creek Company. I use it on the Yakima all the time with no problems. I feel comfident in the craft and my abilities. Both of which are extremely important to a successful experience. I have read all the responses you have received in this matter and all of them are of sound advice. The gentleman who mentioned the size of rivers is right on. It is the things in the river that are to be respected. DO NOT run the upper Yakima until you have some expeience under your belt and even then think, give it a second thought. The canyon is a much better choice. Sure the river is bigger, but much safer. One thing that is not mentioned, that is the flow of the Yakima. Right now the flow is on the rise . My brother and me just ran it yesterday and it is right around 1900cfs. That is still a safe rate for a rookie with some knowledge, but as the flow picks up with the spring runoff...watch out. I would say, anything above 2000cfs is not a time for a rookie to be on the river.

The boat should be rated for rivers of anything above a Class "3" first of all. Secondly, abtain and use faithfully a good PFD. Thirdly, gain some confidence in your abilities. River running is a bit different, in that you use the current of the river to help you manuever from side to side. You are facing down stream, going in that direction of travel, even though you are back stoking as though you are in still water. The most important manuever is cocking your boat in a quartering configuration to use the current to move you side to side to avoid obstructions in the river, while you are back stroking.
For example: if you wish to go to the right, cock the back end of the pontoon boat to the right while back stroking. The angle of the cocking will depend on the speed of the current, how fast you back row and the distance you are from the object you wish to avoid. You will pick up on it, once you get on a river with a decent speed of flow.

Another piece of advice is on corners, lets say the river takes a sharp bend to the left, you are on the right side of the river, it is flowing rather quickly, set up early for the bend and take the inside path of the corner where the flow is not so rapid. Cock the back end of the boat to the left, by back stroking the right oar. Once the boat is in the correct configuration, simply back stroke on both oars making little adjustments in the angle of this cock. The current of the river will then carry you cross river to the inside of the corner for safer passage. Again, the tempo in which you will have to back stroke will depend on speed of flow, distance and time in which you have to react. It is quite simple really.

As you gain confidence in your ability and your get to know how your boat will react, soon you will be able to feel more comfortable. Do remember though, rivers are a powerful force, they are not forgiving. Always error on the side of safe passage first, wear your PFD at all times while on the river and never be on the river without a partner.

I hope this will help and safe fishing !
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Old Town PFD

I found the PFD for me I think. REI has a good selection and while most approach $100 with tons of bells and whistles for serious canoers or kayakers, they have a few under $60 that seem like good deals. There is one that they carry that is made specially for an Old Town Loon sea kayak that has a high seat back. The PFD has a thinner lower back area than others to make it more comfortable to sit in a seat with a seat back. This sounds like it would be good for a pontoon boat too. Of course they were all out of my size. The price is just under $60. I'll probably pick one up before this weekend. The weather is supposed to be nice so maybe I'll take the boat out and try to catch something on Green Lake and practice my rowing technique.
 

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I've been running cats for years. Mostly in the whitewater realm. Well over 17 years of running them, about 14 years owning my own. Since it seems most guys want a boat to get them from point A to B then you'll be set in these pontoon boats.

There is alot of good advice. I'd HIGHLY recommend wearing PFD's with pontoon boats built on rocker hulls. Stearns makes an awesome lightweight one with mesh uppers. From running whitewater, DO NOT buy inflatables. Yes, they are nice and great for comfort. But when you have a hairy experience, the last thing you'll be thinking is yanking that cord. You'll either be trying to get your oars to function, get your boat upright, or if you're seperated from the boat you'll be trying to swim to shore. You don't need the hardcore class III/V vests. I have a few of them and rarely use them unless I'm hitting upper Green/Toutle/Duc, etc. The one made by Stearns is in the Cabela's catalog, and Cabela's even has their own. Just enough to keep you bouyant and help you get back into the game if you're dunked. Depending on where you live, a really easy river to learn to float is the Wynoochee. Only thing is, walk the spillway. It's a small hydraulic, but can kill nonetheless (took the life of a driftboater a couple months ago). Besides that one spot it's pretty mellow. Give you plenty of time to learn the rope. I'll even offer to show you the Nooch this summer. Do some floating in my 16' cataraft with custom fishing frame (yes I said 16 foot). Will be building a 12' cataraft this summer for my 1-2 man fishing/whitewatering. I used to have a 9' Steelheader. Was a great one man boat. I had it for the ease of whitewatering, plus I like to stand up and fish from boat. I've enclosed a couple pictures running some mild whitewater. I like running some hairy water. My 9' Steelheader was a cataraft grade boat, but any small boat is a bit more uneasy in a big rapid as opposed to a bigger boat. So, sold off the 9' and will be building a 12'.

I'd be more then willing to run a river with you in my big cat. Heck, would be better to take you out on one of the rivers after the rivers close. That way no distractions, just float the river. I can pack up my kids and girlfriend and you can run your boat. I have a cataraft trailer and moped. So can throw your boat on my trailer and go.



You haven't lived until you've run a cataraft. Friends don't let friends run Outcasts.
 
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