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Canoe Rental Recommendations


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I'd like to get some float fishing in as an addition to the wading. That's going to mean a canoe rental. I'd appreciate any suggestions about what area to go, or what rental place to use. I'm looking for day trip distance from St Louis, ( 100 miles or closer ?) and a decent rental/shuttle place. Naturally I also want an area with decent fishing for bass, preferably smallmouth. I do have some ability to go on weekdays and I know the summer madness starts about now on weekends.

Areas that I know of are basically the Big River around Washington SP ( SP or Cherokee Landing for a canoe, or are their any rentals up around Irondale ?) or the upper Meramec from as far upstream as water permits, downstream as close to St L as you might suggest. Any suggestions there, or other areas within one day range of StL would be much appreciated.

Other questions: Am I ok with a standard size two person canoe and just turning it backwards ? Other than a reduction in noise, any particular benefits to renting a non-aluminum canoe ( which I notice is an option with some rental places) ? Anything else I should be thinking about ?

Lastly, if anyone wants to split the cost occasionally, or has a canoe and is looking for a second person for an outing, let me know.

Thanks.

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There are plenty of good options within 100 miles of STL. The Meramec and the Huzzah around Steelville are probably the two best overall within that range. On neither of those streams will you have the slightest difficulty renting a canoe, but in either case it's going to be pretty important to go one a weekday if at all possible- something that's going to be true anywhere you can rent a canoe...I like specifically like the Meramec around the Onondoga Cave area. It is one of the prettiest stretches of river you'll find, and the fishing in that area is often on par with some of the better Ozark smallmouth streams. The only real downside is that there are some weird currents in that area, especially down around Campbell Bridge. This can make it a bit dangerous, particularly in high water. This is not something I've not personally experienced, but somebody runs into trouble with it every year, most often when they're floating in water that's just too high to be safe...

The Huzzah is another very pretty stream worth checking out...The fish have been small in my more limited experience there, but plenty of them and not too difficult to catch. In low water there would be some dragging involved for sure. Any of the streams with canoe rentals that are within 100 miles of STL are going to have plenty of folks on them, but if you go on a weekday it can still be very much worth it.

If you want to try something a little bit off the wall, the Bourbeuse is one you might check out; I've certainly come to like it. The fishing for smallmouth, spotted bass, and largemouth can be surprisingly good if the water isn't high, and crowds are non-existent. It is an off-color stream which turns most people off, but the scenery along the stream is pretty good. I've always just brought my own canoe, but there is a canoe rental listed for it here called Devil's Back Canoe Rental. I don't know a thing about Devil's Back (or even whether it's for sure still open.) But you might look into it if you're interested. If you try the Bourbeuse at all, you might hate it and think I'm an idiot for even suggesting it, or you may fall in love with it. I think more people hate it than love it. But either way you'll have plenty of solitude.

Good luck!

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One thing to look into is most places won't rent a canoe to one person, you have to have 2 people. Most places do have SOT kayak rentals though.

I would look into something on the Huzzah or the Courtois...Both are great small mouth fishing and Huzzah Valley Resort services both, and they both have stretches that are very doable in one day...Another thing to do if you want to beat the crowds is to show up early, real early...I've been on the Huzzah only twice, but we started both times around 7:30ish and were ahead of the drunken partiers (mind you these were both Mondays) for most of the day...

-- Jim

If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles. -- Doug Larson

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One thing to look into is most places won't rent a canoe to one person, you have to have 2 people.

I solo float quite a bit and have never even heard that before.

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One thing to look into is most places won't rent a canoe to one person, you have to have 2 people. Most places do have SOT kayak rentals though.

Hmm....That is odd. I believe you (I personally haven't used a rental canoe since I got my own years ago, so I don't know) but why in the world would an outfitter not rent a canoe to someone who could pay the money? Safety reasons possibly?

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Huzzah Valley, Bass Resort, Ozark Outdoors, Browns Canoe on the Huzz/Cortois/Meramec....Lay Z Day or Route 66 on the Big Piney..Cherokee Landing or Washington State Park on the Big River.

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For the Huzzah and Courtois, go Tuesday-Thursday. Call Huzzah Valley Campground for the Huzzah, Bass Canoe Rental and Campground for the Courtois. Call ahead and see how early you can put in if you put in at their place (either place)...the earlier the better, even if have to make arrangements to pre-pay and have a canoe waiting for you.

For the upper Meramec, try Greens Canoe Rental. See if they will put you in for the float above Maramec Spring.

As far as I know, Devils Back on the Bourbeuse is still open, though their place was heavily damaged in a fire a year or two ago. The Bourbeuse down to their place can be very good or very not good, depending upon water conditions, but you'll avoid crowds.

Although I float Big River all the time, I don't know much about either canoe rental on it. I believe that both only offer pretty short floats down to their place, but don't know for sure. There are no canoe rentals above Cherokee Landing.

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Hmm....That is odd. I believe you (I personally haven't used a rental canoe since I got my own years ago, so I don't know) but why in the world would an outfitter not rent a canoe to someone who could pay the money? Safety reasons possibly?

Honestly I'm not for sure on that but all their websites say minimum of 2 people per canoe.

-- Jim

If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles. -- Doug Larson

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