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G'nade Trip Planning (Riddle > Hwy 28?)


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I'm planning a kayak trip on the Gasconade next week, likely Wednesday, April 5, and have a few questions for the group:

  • With the amount of rain we have recently received, and more forecasted in the next week, will water levels, clarity, and/or flow present any problems? The gauge at Jerome is showing a considerable spike in depth and flow in the last few days and I am sure it will continue to go up. At what levels does this river get too dangerous for a kayak?
  • Is Riddle > 28 a manageable float for a single day? 10.5 miles seems like a big chunk of water to bite off for a single day. Any other suggested floats in this area that would be better suited for a 1-day float?
  • Anybody know if Rt 66 is running shuttles this time of year, or have any other recs for a shuttle service?
  • Most importantly, anybody want to join??

Thanks in advance!  

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It's a little high for my taste right now but I generally favor low water. Yes Riddle to 28 is a long day on the water, start early and keep the boat pointed downstream. Not sure if Rt66 Andy is open for biz but a phone call will tell ya. Wish I could join you but life is getting in the way. Good luck let us know how you do. 

His father touches the Claw in spite of Kevin's warnings and breaks two legs just as a thunderstorm tears the house apart. Kevin runs away with the Claw. He becomes captain of the Greasy Bastard, a small ship carrying rubber goods between England and Burma. Michael Palin, Terry Jones, 1974

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There's a lot of really good water on that stretch to be able to cover it well in 1 day.  We did Riddle to Boiling Springs over a couple days last year and we covered it pretty well.  You could also call Boiling Springs.  They probably aren't open for the season yet but they'll probably be willing to shuttle you.


Wish I could take a Wednesday off to go.  Caught a lot of fish last year there.

-- 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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I called around to get some local intel on Gasconade water levels and clarity with all the recent rains, and got some good information from the fine folks at Boiling Springs Campground that I thought I'd pass along to the group. Ideal floating conditions around the Boiling Springs area are ~ 3' gauge depth at Hazelgreen (which leaves ~ 90% of the gravel bars exposed) and 3-4 days of dry weather to return color / clarity to normal conditions.

Any locals or Gasconade veterans out there with a different opinion?

It's a new-to-me river, so this was a helpful benchmark when trying to plan a trip from STL. Looking at the forecast, I think I'll have more time to plan than I wanted....

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Once again, it drives me nuts when people use the level in feet on the gauges rather than the flow in cubic feet per second.  I KNOW what a certain number of cfs looks like on any river in the Ozarks, but have no idea what 3 feet looks like, since 3 feet on one gauge is totally different from 3 feet on another.

However, fortunately the Gasconade had that rise, and I could look on the graph for feet and the graph for cfs on the Hazelgreen gauge, and compare the two to see what 3 feet is, approximately, in cfs.  

As it turns out, 3 feet is between 900 and 1000 cfs.  And that happens to be what the median flow is for this time of year, and the median is the "normal" flow for this time of year, neither low nor high.

You also have to understand that the normal flow for this time of year is vastly different from the normal flow for mid-August.  Normal for then is probably somewhere around 200 cfs.  If I'm seeing 1000 cfs in mid-August, I know the river is 1-2 feet above normal and may be muddy, depending upon how long it had been since the last big rain.

I agree that on the Gasconade in that area, 3 or 4 days of dry weather will usually make the river clear enough to fish as long as it's down close to normal.

Finally, for your information, as I've said many times before, when you look at the graphs on the river gauges, look for those little triangles on the gauge that shows cfs.  They represent median flow for that day.  Median flow is normal flow.  If the line for the flow is somewhere close to those triangles, the river is about normal for that time of year.  If it's lower, no problem.  If it's higher, then go to the table on the same page that shows "daily discharge, cubic feet per second...".  Look at the "most recent instantaneous value"--that's what the river is flowing right now.  Then compare that figure to the "75th percentile" figure.  If it's significantly higher, the river is almost certainly too high and muddy to fish.  That goes for any stream in the Ozarks.

Right now the G'nade at Hazelgreen is flowing 4640 cfs, and the graph shows that it's right at the top of a rise and will start dropping with no more rain.  75th percentile is 1780 cfs.  So I know from those figures that the river is way too high to fish right now.  Now...how do I figure how long it will take for it to drop back to a fishable level, assuming no more rain?  Well, first I compare the two graphs.  The river went through that 1780 cfs mark sometime in the morning of March 26th.  Late that same day, it topped out and began dropping, just as it's getting ready to do right now.  It dropped until mid-morning, March 28th.  Had it kept dropping at about that same rate, you can just trace the line with your finger at about that same angle, and see where it would have intersected that 1780 figure.  It would have been sometime in the morning of March 30th.  So...from the flow it was on the 26th, it would have taken four days to get back down to a good fishable level.  But it got a little higher after this last rain, so it will take at least four days from today for it to get back down, maybe five days.  Therefore, if I had to guess without asking anybody, I'd say that if we don't have any more rain, the middle Gasconade won't be fishable until 4-5 days from today, which would be Tuesday or Wednesday.

It's amazing what you can glean from the gauges...as long as you go by the flow in cfs.

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And there's the kernel of wisdom I was after.

I'm new to this river fishing game, and my prior use of the river gauges was focused on gauge depth on the Missouri River at St. Charles to determine whether or not I could walk across the Centaur Chute to access Howell Island for turkey hunts. 

 It is now much clearer to me why flow is a more important metric than depth. Much appreciated, Al. 

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