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Ham

Low Water Kayak Trip 7/17/16

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Up and at it early putting in sweat equity at the Bluff lot. Drag limbs, weed eat, mow, repeat. Many sweat hours later, Come home load yak and hit the river. I knew it was supposed to be LOW water when I got there and I thought higher water would reach me about 6 PM. I spent a little time gather up my fly rod and the gear I would need with it. I also threw in a spinning rod and my 1/16 oz Zig Jigs just in case.

I guess I got fishing by 3:15 PM. I paddled up to the John Berry Hole and got started. Water was low and very clear. It was hot so I availed myself of the opportunity to immerse myself and cool off. water was around 700 CFS. The fish wanted nothing to do with my fly rod offerings. I changed flys and changed locations and I got completely ignored. I never got a take at all. The bad news is that they would hit a Zig Jig. I'm going to have to leave that crutch at home IF I'm going to grind it out with the fly rod. I think a big part of my problem was that the water was much deeper than it appeared and my fly was not down where the fish were.

I was in a little bit of a crunch for time. I knew that the water had turned up sometime between 1200 and 1300 and I figured closer to 1200. I absolutely knew the water would be there by 1800 so I planned on being close to the yak at 1700. I consider myself paranoid about getting caught by rising water. It has happened to me twice now and I really hope to avoid a third time. So after 30 minutes or so of having my fly ignored I started sling the Zig Jig and catching a few fish. It was slower than I would like, but at least I fished pretty clean. I was hooking and landing most of my bites. relocated across the river and got into a larger group of fish. Down and across and then work it directly down current. Multiple throws. Walk downa few steps and repeat the process. Change your angles.

I was catching them and having a good time. I kept my eye on a couple of rocks at the head of the riffle and kept an ear to the sound of the flow. I was pulling in a fish when I heard the water change. The water had gotten just a tiny bit louder. I checked my rock and it was still visible, but maybe a bit smaller. I started wading for my boat. Hmm, water was deeper than I remembered,  another couple of rocks where going under now, my boat that was beached a swell as anchored was now floating freely not drifting but floating, but no big deal. I got there and hopped aboard the boat. I checked my phone. it was 17:20. I looked back up river and my shallow riffle was completely under. They had increased the water to about 3000 CFS I eased down river with the rising water and caught a few fish along the way. A soft rise definitely sparks a bite.

Good trip. Ended up with 27. I lost maybe 2 fish that I had hooked and missed a 1/2 dozen bites.  Not a bad 2 1/2 hours on the water.

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Ham

Great report. I haven't fished in enough tailwaters to have any real experience getting caught in the flow or gauging when I needed to get off the water. Closest experience was when I had a river come up real fast due to rain that almost caught me off guard.

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I've told this story before so look away IF you read this before.

The first time I got burned I was tent camping at the State Park. I woke up and none of the other guys were awake. I took off for the ramp closest to the dam and waded in. It was early summer.Everything was going ok. I heard the horn blow. I immediately started to get out. I was expecting few minutes without flow, but water immediately started to rise. I had a deep slough between me and the closest bank. I had to go upstream to get to a shallower spot to get out. Flow was getting very fast and the depth kept increasing. I was starting to get noticeably buoyant when I got close enough to the exit for the water to become shallower. I had come very close to getting washed away. I now think what woke me up was them blowing the first horn. Water is on full immediately when they blow the second horn blast. I would have never waded in IF I had known they had blown the horn.

The second time was down at Rim Shoals. Weather was cold and cloudy. I was the only one down there. I only had a couple of hours t o fish before dark, but I was mad at them and just had to go. It was upper 40's and really damp. The temperature was going to go down significantly after dark, but so what?

I was fishing double fly rigs on the near side of the second island about half way down the island. As often happens when I fish a double fly rig, I got a massive tangle. I have eventually learned that unless it is a minor tangle it is better for me to cut and re-tie tippit and both flys. I also learned that I can do all that better when standing on the bank or even better sitting down in a comfy spot. So, I'm standing on the shore with my back to the river completely engrossed in cutting and re-tieing when I hear the water change dramatically.

I knew they had turned on water earlier, but I failed to appreciate that sometimes they turn on the water just after an hour and the "real time" data doesn't show that change for up to  55 minutes later. I knew how many miles downstream I was and I had divided the miles downstream by 4 figuring that water moved down river at 4 miles per hour. I had done the math and figured the water would not hit until after dark and I had put the idea out of my mind. It was still an hour until dark and yet the water was here NOW. 

I took off on a sprint across the river. I knew I had to go and I did not spend any time on a self debate. I did not put stuff away. I did not zip pockets. I didn't do anything but hold tight to everything in my hands just as it was when I heard the water. There are various deep spots and high rocks randomly scattered out there, but I had no time to worry about that. One missed step and I'm going down. I'm going to lose my rod and I'm going to very cold and likely way down river. There are 3 "ridges" that stretch from the river side out to the island. Gary Flippn was nice enough to have cut a trail thru the underbrush and cleared a path to these exit points. I had my eyes locked on the exit 2/3 down. I was going down river with the flow rather than against it which helped. I was also hoofing it. I was breathing hard enough that I could hear myself in a detached third person kind of way. Water got higher and higher around me and I was just starting to think I really screwed up when I reached the point where the bottom rises up. Flow continued to increase, but I had more secure footing with each step and in another 1/2 dozen strides I was out of the water. I had a nice little stroll to the car, but I was still breathing pretty hard when I got to the car. It was way too close.

Now, I figure the water coming on a full hour before reported and the water flowing 6 miles an hour instead of 4. I really, really don't want to be caught off guard by rising water again. I may sacrifice a little fishing time, but no fish is worth dying over.

 

 

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That little hop you end up doing in deep swift water is terrifying.  I once stupidly crossed the Northfork of the Gunnison in CO during run-off.  At that particular spot, if you want to fish the main Gunny- you have to cross the fork.  The old guy at the fly shop told me it was not crossable- and being a 25 year old idiot- I waded right in and ended up almost being shot out into the main river- which was a torrent that day.  That moment when your head goes under and you start tumbling is not fun.  Somehow I swam/crawled to the other bank- lost my hat- but I still had my rod and I ended up catching a bunch of good fish.  I just started way upstream and swam the fork on the way back.  Lesson learned- and I didn't even have rising water to contend with- just pure stupidity.

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1 hour ago, Ham said:

Dang Jason, you want to fish even more than I do. I would not have done that, but maybe I would have at 25.

Only had one day off per week and there were a few salmon flies popping already.  Had to be done.  Wouldn't do it again, but I don't regret it!- Haha.

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Ham

  Enjoy reading your post's....learning about this river is a hands on experience as you told me before ..BUT...reading these posts are very helpful. This is my first year boating it from Rim Shoals . Bought a supreme this winter .  I live on the ridge right above it . I'm just beginning at 57...5 more years of work and I'll be on the river everyday . I am waiting for retirement before trying fly fishing....got to get immersed in something when that time comes....but here lately I am doing more and more fishing with the Zig Jigs . Loads of fun . What is your rod and reel , line ect.....when using them ?  I have several cheap rods and reels and hope one day to spend some money on something better and more specific to this type fishing on the White . What I have found is my smallest (and probably cheapest ) rod is the ticket . Using a small cardinal reel with 5lb. mono....soooo many choices of rods and reels out there .

Thanks for the info....Brian

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Glad to hear you're enjoying Zig Jigs. That's a lovely area to live in with lots of Bald Eagles flying around. Plenty of deer in the area if you have the inclination to hunt them. Close to a boat ramp too!

I use several different rods, but what is quickly becoming a favorite is the 7 foot Browning Air Stream. it is a two piece rod that is listed as a UL, but fishes more like a L to me. It appears they are a Bass Pro Exclusive product. It comes in a variety of lengths. I have only fished the 7 footer, but I know folks that are happy with the 6'6" model. It lists at $60 which is not a lot of money and they will be on sale a couple times of the year.

It loads well and throws the 1/16 oz and 1/8 oz really well and the 1/32oz are doable. It lets you enjoy the trout, but can handle the bigger fish too. I like the cosmetics of it and they are light weight.

I have a lot of different spinning reels, but one I'm pretty happy with is the Pflueger President. It's only $60 and will last for years even when you fish a lot and neglect to clean and oil it. I think I like the 6930 size. The Pflueger Supreme are $100 and are a better reel. The Pflueger Patriarch is really nice, but more expensive.

I use Nanofil 6 lb in White or Chartreuse with 4 lb and 6 lb leader that I tie on with an Alberto knot. I like P Line CX Premium in Moss Green, but any skinny green line will do. I bass fish a lot and IF I use anything less than 4 pound and I'll break off on hooksets. I'm better off to use 6 lb if I can and usually the fish don't mind too much.

Not the only way to skin this cat, but it's what I use. I hope this helps.

 

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Thanks for the info....everything I can learn helps . So many choices when it comes to equipment...just like  hunting which I do a lot of . I have been tying right to the jig...what is this about leaders ? I like to be flexible with my gear to use fishing different fishing situations...lake...river....ponds , but hope to have a couple nice trout rods just for the boat . My wife likes to use worms and power baits....she's not into the jig's so I like to keep 4 rods in the boat all the time . Trying to find out what is right .

Thanks....Stop and say hi if you see us on the river...camo rig....

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Nanofil is like braid is a lot of ways. I use a leader to avoid wasting the nanofil with re-ties. I also like having a weak point to break when you get in a bind. It throws really well and it has not stretch so I get easy hooksets from any distance and improved sensitivity over mono. The white and chartreuse lines are really easy to watch for visible strikes. You can see your line jump or ease off to one side or the other .

I feel like we will run into each other one of these days. I have a (mostly) white Supreme with a red stripe. I have a Merc 20 jet so I'm really loud and really slow.

 

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