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Dances With Smallies

Berryville Gauge Question

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If I put in at Rockhouse when the Berryville gauge is showing less than 100 cfs (or around 3 ft height), would I merely have to drag through most shoals with the occasional portage or would it be more like constant portaging from one stagnant pool to the next?  A friend and I would like to fish this stretch soon.  We don't mind having to work by dragging through shoals and a little portaging, but don't want to be carrying gear over a dry stream bed for 100s of yards.  We fish very slow and spend most of the time wading anyway.  The kayaks are just a method of conveyance to get gear downstream.  

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It's really not that bad, but I wouldn't want it any less than 3' on the guage. You have to pull it over some shallow gravel here and there, but most spots you can just get out and let the canoe float through.

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Basic rule of thumb is that on rivers the size of the Kings in that area, you can float the majority of riffles and walk others without dragging down to about 75 cfs.  However, the gauge there is below the mouth of Osage Creek, the Kings River's largest tributary, and it may be adding as much as a fourth of the water at the gauge.  So I'd guess that 100 cfs at the gauge is about equal to 75 cfs above Osage Creek.

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You'll drag a bit but not too bad.  Generally on King's if the gauge is above 4 it is a great floating but tough fishing, 3.5-2.5 very good fishing and adequate floating, and below 2.5 is good fishing if you are very sneaky, but pretty much more of a hike than a float.  That seems to hold fairly true for me up as far the old Rimkus access (now closed, but a few miles above Rockhouse) even though the gauge is wayyyyy downstream.  I consider 3 to be about the sweet spot where it all comes together best.  

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Al has a great post somewhere on this board (probably in multiple places) about favoring the discharge over gauge height when it comes to figuring out whether a river is "floatable" or not.  It should probably be bookmarked.  Right now, the Berryville gauge is showing 64 cfs.  While a decent rule of thumb is that anything over the 25th percentile and under the 75th percentile is probably floatable and fishable, the 25th percentile can be a lot of dragging and the 75th can be pretty swift on lots of rivers.  BUT, on the Berryville gauge you'll note that the current 64cfs more than double the median flow rate of 28cfs for this time of year (there is also a "median" number but it is irrelevant as it can be skewed by large floods) and soundly between the 25th and 75th percentile goalposts.  So even if I knew nothing about the Kings river, looking at the graph would show me its falling very slowly and right now it's absolutely perfect for floating and fishing.

Coincidentally, the gauge is exactly 3 feet, so if you know the gauge elevations like Dan does, then you'd know his assessment is spot on.  But the great thing about understanding how to read the discharge statistics is that you don't have to know the gauge elevations on any particular stream.

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