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Al Agnew

How many rivers have you floated the whole thing?

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54 minutes ago, snagged in outlet 3 said:

Note to self.  Don't go with @Flysmallie in a boat.

Probably not a bad idea. 

I have people that won't get in a canoe with me and I have had people that won't get in a bass boat with me. I've only scared myself a few times though. 

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I guess I just love rivers, and want to see a whole river, see the changes as you go downstream, see what kind of fishing water there is.  See if there are any surprises in the fishing.  A friend and I did most of the Meramec in one trip many years ago, from Short Bend (Hwy. 19, not that far from Salem) to Times Beach, 163 miles in 12 days.  It was a terrific trip, and it was so interesting to see the river change from a small, clear, barely floatable creek to a large, murky river.  And back then the fishing was pretty darned good over the whole river--we caught some nice smallmouth even getting close to the end.  I didn't fish any farther downstream until a couple years ago, when I was writing a book on the Meramec River system and took the jetboat on several trips to see the rest of the river.  I only had one trip where I didn't catch a few bass at least, as well as quite a few drum...on that one the only fish I caught was a 10 pound buffalo.

I floated lower Big River from Morse Mill to Cedar Hill before the spotted bass invasion--I had floated everything above there many times.  It was actually excellent smallmouth fishing, with a couple of 18 inchers thrown in.  Later, after spotted bass took over the lower river, I floated the last 20 miles from Cedar Hill to the mouth in a daylight to dark marathon float with my brother-in-law.  We caught a LOT of small spotted bass, but he also caught his personal best Ozark river smallmouth, a 20.5 incher.

There are some rivers that are simply really good throughout.  The Big Piney is pretty darned sweet from Dogs Bluff to the Gasconade.  The St. Francis is endlessly interesting and if you hit it right, any stretch of it can be excellent fishing.  

Other rivers, like the Bourbeuse, get pretty sorry by the time you reach the lower end.  The Gasconade, though, would be nice until the last few miles (and it's got 250 plus miles of floatable water) if it wasn't for the proliferation of jetboats from Jerome down.  I guess the last day's float on the Current, below Doniphan, is pretty boring compared to the rest of the river, but if you didn't already know what the rest of the river was like you'd probably be okay with it. 

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I had fun looking back and trying to recall all the rivers I’ve floated, I did ask myself where does a river begin? Headwater floats are a blast, I remember reading Bob Todd’s stories about him and Al pushing the limits, yeah I guess you could go too far. On the down stream side is Crooked Creek, I could say I’ve done the whole thing if the creek ended where the water disappears. 

I counted 20 Ozark rivers that I had floated, of that total the only ones I have done Completely are the Jacks Fork and Mineral Fork.   

I have a few that I have come close:

The only part of the Big Piney I have not been on is the few miles between the water plant at FLW and Spring Creek. I recall some fun spring time trips starting at Baptist Camp, now you could put in at Simmons. 

I once searched for the Brazil low-water bridge on upper Courtois Creek but, took a wrong turn and got spooked when I heard banjos playing. I went back down to Berryman that day.

I also have done all but the last few miles of the Missouri portion of the Eleven Point.

I’ve done the Gasconade from Adams Ford to Rollins Ferry. I have no desire to go below Rollins but I’d love to float down from Hartville.

The only part of the Meramec I have not been on is from George Winter park to the mouth..

I’m missing the upper most part of the North Fork of the White River, I think Hale ford is the highest I’ve been.

 

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I guess I am too cautious,  back when I owned a canoe I almost always had a child with me. 

Once when floating shoal creek (about a 7 mile stretch ) my son and I found a lot of brush piles, downed trees and swift water, I had several close calls with my son. 

I had floated that section many times without a problem.

I know shoal creek has no where near the drop per mile of the water that you frequent.  I have done some backpacking in S.E. Mo. I am pretty sure some of those rivers drop 14ft per mile ? It has been a while .

Getting trapped in a brush pile does not sound like an ideal way to leave this world.

So my question: when floating the wild water in your area, how do you know if it is clear, or do you just go for it and deal with the consequences ? 

That is quite an accomplishment for sure ! 

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9 hours ago, fishinwrench said:

Technical sketchy spots might be fun if you're just "canoeing", but I'm always there to fish so I have stuff in the canoe that I REALLY don't want to lose.   I've never done a float with just people and paddles.

Me either, I can't go without fishing, I just can't. 

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11 hours ago, dan hufferd said:

I guess I am too cautious,  back when I owned a canoe I almost always had a child with me. 

Once when floating shoal creek (about a 7 mile stretch ) my son and I found a lot of brush piles, downed trees and swift water, I had several close calls with my son. 

I had floated that section many times without a problem.

I know shoal creek has no where near the drop per mile of the water that you frequent.  I have done some backpacking in S.E. Mo. I am pretty sure some of those rivers drop 14ft per mile ? It has been a while .

Getting trapped in a brush pile does not sound like an ideal way to leave this world.

So my question: when floating the wild water in your area, how do you know if it is clear, or do you just go for it and deal with the consequences ? 

That is quite an accomplishment for sure ! 

You very seldom encounter a logjam or sweeper tree that you can't stop in time to avoid it and walk the boat around it if necessary.  Most of the time I have confidence in my ability to paddle around the bad spots.  I have run into a few really bad spots over the years, though.  Perhaps the worst was on the lower portion of a creek that runs directly into the Mississippi that very few people ever float.  I ran into a massive logjam that was bank to bank with ten foot high banks on both sides, and covered a good 75 feet of the channel's course.  I was by myself, and had to paddle back upstream for several hundred feet to find a spot to get the canoe up the bank, then drag it through the stinging nettle covered bottomland back down and 50 feet or so past the logjam to find a place to get back into the creek.  And then there was another logjam, thankfully shorter and easier to go around, just a quarter mile downstream.

It's not unusual to encounter logjams that necessitate dragging the canoe around, but they usually aren't that difficult. 

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