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mixermarkb

River float? Jon boat rental/shuttle?

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Hey Guys-

For those that don't know me, I'm a decent bass fisherman, used to fishing the lakes in glass bass boats. Bull Shoals is my regular haunt, with occasional trips to LOZ and Twain, and some of the other lakes around the state. 

I'm also a husband and father to 4 and 12 year old boys, and while the family likes to fish, they also love to wade, swim, and play in the water. My dad was raised at Newburg, and my uncle got me hooked on fishing when I was around the age of my oldest, on the gasconade at Jerome, where he retired when he was diagnosed with cancer. I haven't been on the river since my uncle passed away, and with my Dad having been gone many years now too, I only have distant memories of Jerome, Boiling Spring, and memories of stories about Thox Rock. 

I'm looking to give my family some Ozark River gravel bar experience, on the Gasconade or Big Piney if possible, but ther Meremac or Current would work if need be. I know we could do canoes, but honestly, I'm scared of them. I have no experience in them, and I want to float, maybe fish a little, and spend some of the day playing in the water with the kids and wife. I'm sure I could handle something with a trolling motor much better than with a paddle, and I don't want to get in trouble and put a canoe upside down.

Anyone know an outfit who rents jons instead of canoes? 

Any other floating craft to recommend?

how steep is the paddling learning curve? 

How much does a float/shuttle cost? 

I work most weekends, so the best days for us to do this are like Monday and Tuesday. Are the shuttle outfits open those days?

 

school me river rats-

what (or who) do I need to know to have a fun family day on the river (priority #1) and catch a smallie or three, (priority #2)?

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There is a list of outfitters and free maps on Missouricanoe.org. I would start with some 5-6 mile weekday day trips before you try an overnight trip. Canoeing is not difficult, buy a book and watch YouTube vids to familiarize yourself with basic paddling techniques, bring a rope to line your boat through anything you don’t feel confident floating and go do it. Your confidence and skill will improve over time.

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Seems to me that your biggest problem is carrying four people in whatever craft you're in.  I believe some places rent johnboats, though not many, but that's almost too many people for a smallish johnboat.  Definitely too many people for most rental canoes.  Your older kid is getting close to the age at which he would be able to paddle himself in a kayak, but not there yet.

Like Gavin said, whatever you choose for a watercraft, do some day floats first, and pick stream sections that are as mild as possible.  This has been a weird year so far with all the rain and higher water levels...usually by this time of year the rivers are all low, and low water means easier and less dangerous floating.  You might be able to take the whole family in a 14-16 ft. johnboat, but keep in mind that trolling motors only go so far in getting you down the river; you'll probably encounter shallow, fast riffles where it's difficult to operate the trolling motor.  Running a fast riffle, no matter whether you use paddles, oars, or a trolling motor is a matter of being able to read the water, understand the power of the current, and plan ahead on what you're going to do.  Still...a LOT of totally inexperienced people somehow get down the rivers every summer without serious mishap, so it's not THAT difficult.

Most outfitters run day trips including shuttle for $30-40 for canoes or kayaks.  Anybody who rents johnboats may charge more than that.  Most of them are open during the week during the warm weather months, though many of them close completely in the fall and winter.

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35 minutes ago, Al Agnew said:

Still...a LOT of totally inexperienced people somehow get down the rivers every summer without serious mishap,

A fortunate fact that often blows my mind.  Seems there's always a spot or two along every stretch of river that make me amazed that a several people don't die there every weekend.

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My experience with raft rentals is they wont let you fish.  Hooks and rafts are not great combinations.  Don't be so scared of the canoe.   You will flip, but you learn the limits.  No glass on the rivers.  

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Wrong gravel bar experience! 

I was talking about wading and playing and maybe lunch- not an overnight..lol, not camping with my zoo anytime time soon! 

Boiling Springs rentals look good. I'm thinking a Jon boat with a trolling motor for me and the little guy and wife, and the older boy and his 16 year old cousin in a kayak? She swims like a fish, has her lifeguard cert, and he's not far behind her in swim skills, so I'd feel ok with them as a pair.

How is the 5 mile stretch from Piney Beach to Boiling Springs as far as floating and fishing at current flow? About how long time wise is a 5 mile float? 

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