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Grand River Float Trip

Posted on April 29, 2018 at 8:10 AM Comments comments (0)



My Dad with a really nice one from yesterday



Finally was able to get out and do a drift on the grand. And surprise surprise, it was canoe and kayak race day. The event had been scheduled for last weekend, but I guess they rescheduled it for yesterday due to a bit of high water. It would seem to me the high water would have made things more fun, but what do I know. We'll get to the race stuff in a bit. Anyways, had a cancellation for yesterday so I called my dad to see if he'd be able to do a trip, and he was. It was his first time in the drift boat, so I knew he was really excited.

Got to the takeout to drop the extra car off and saw signs that the canoe/kayak race had been rescheduled, but only saw a handful of cars so we figured it was probably just a small event this year due to the weather- it was holding at 38 degrees and rainy. Then we got to the launch and it was a shit show. Cars and canoes and kayaks everywhere. It was worse than floating the clarion on memorial day when all the locals come out and float tube it down the river. Snuck around to the back of the park across the river and dragged the driftboat in so we could launch ahead of the floatilla.

Got to the first spot we wanted to swing and dropped the anchor. My dad lost a fish right off the bat, then landed a little guy. The nice thing about swinging from the drift boat is you can slide in where you need to be and swing from the shore to the middle of the river. When we cast while wading, we cast into the middle of the river. This means that the sinktip needs time to get deep, and we usually place the cast in the deepest part of the river. When you cast from a boat to the shore and swing it out into the middle, the swing is fishing instantly due to the tip gradually sinking as the river gets deeper. By the time you're in the middle you're down where the fish are in the water column. Anyways we ended up missing a couple more then landed a good sized dark buck. Then the canoes and kayaks started...

The first wave was only about four or five. So I pulled anchor and pushed down river after they passed. We pushed down a bit to an island and pulled in. And waited for an hour as 100 canoes and kayaks passed by. Now this is where it gets interesting. The float is about 8 1/2 miles. At this point, people are pretty committed as there is no real easy way out. We saw people floating in shorts and t-shirts. Hypothermia is a real thing people. 8 1/2 miles in a kayak if you're pushing it means about an hour to an hour and a half. And that's if you know what you're doing on a boat. Not everyone who passed us did.

At the head of the island is the roughest water on the whole float: the river funnels into a pinch, with a current seam that rips over to river right and directly into the rootwad of a big sycamore and undercut bank. Directly downstream from this about thirty feet is a sweeper tree leaning out from the right too. It's not expert class level by any means but you need to have an idea of what you're doing or you can get into trouble, especially with a canoe where the center of gravity is up higher out of the water.

Anyways while we were there on the island watching all the boats pass, a canoe with two guys in it went over against that sycamore. The guys were thrown into the water, their canoe swamped. The older gentleman tried to stay with his canoe, trying to keep it from going downstream, which is the wrong move. Stay with the canoe, but go with the current. You conserve energy and don't gas yourself. When you struggle and tire in cold water, bad things can happen. We were able to tell him to let his canoe come down to us, where my dad and I dragged it out, flipped it over then made sure he was alright. His son, was able to wade his way out higher up the riffle. Thankfully we were there and some people from the metroparks were there to make sure they were ok, and it looks like they brought a spare change of clothes. If these guys were floating by themselves, they could have been in serious trouble.

Our Ohio rivers are not technical rivers to float by any means, and they don't have the class III and IV rapids like some of the Alaskan rivers I worked on. But you can still get into trouble. At the very least you should have some idea how to manage a canoe or kayak, especially when the water and air are cold. We all were new floating rivers and managing boats in the current at one point. But it's just common sense to start small and progress as your skill improves. Go out with more experienced paddlers or rowers, of if you can't learn in the summer when flows are lower and getting wet doesn't mean significant risks of hypothermia.   

As for the rest of the fishing, we missed one more and picked one more nice colored fish up near the end of the float. Three for seven swinging from the drift boat all on the whiskey hangover, and a rescue operation. Pretty eventful Saturday.


Tight Lines and Be Safe Out There,


 - D





My Dad with a nice dark fish





Little guy for the first of the day

First Run in the Driftboat!

Posted on May 4, 2016 at 9:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Took the driftboat out this weekend with Tony and Mike from Cleveland on the Grand River. It was a blast! The boat handled great, and was a breeze to row. Tony and Mike are pretty new to fishing, so we fished a variety of methods. Though at Fish Lake Run we specialize in fly fishing with swinging streamers on spey rods our forte, we are proficient anglers in all methods of fishing. Case in point- all of our action came running large plugs! When a steelhead takes a plug, it is very similar to the aggressive nature that they eat streamers. The big difference is when plug fishing the rods are in a rod holder, sticking out to the sides of the boat, so the take is very visual and the rod buckles under the weight and power of a fish. It is one of the most exciting takes in steelhead fishing.


Right off the bat, Mike had a good takedown on his plug rod and we fought the fish for quite some time before losing it next to the boat. Then we fished quite some time without another strike, and I began to wonder if the fish we hit was the only one that was willing to bite the plugs we were running. But then we found the motherload. As we fished through the upper part of a very fishy looking run, we dropped into the bucket and a GIANT steelhead took a rod down. The fish was heavy and it was angry. As Mike fought to get the rod out of the holder, the fish snapped our 15lb leader and stole the plug, then jumped two or three times out of anger! It was nuts!


After losing the giant, I rowed us back up to the top to try again. Another takedown! This one didn't stick. A little further down, the other rod got blasted but also failed to hookup. Then in the tailout we got a final non-commital take. I rowed up one more time to see if we could get one to stick, but no more hits on the third pass.


We burned some water to a juicy looking pool, and ran out the rods. Within minutes we got a take. I powerset the shit out of it on the oars, and Mike had a fish on! We fought it to the boat and netted a nice 16" smallmouth! First fish in the new boat!!!! Next Tony jumped in the hot seat. Again within minutes of running out the rods, we got slammed. Again I powerset, and again FISH ON!!!! This time a nice five pound steelhead! The fish fought and jumped like mad, and Tony did everything possible to lose it, including opening the bail when I asked him to simply flip the rod over. But we netted the fish. First steelhead in the new boat!!!!


Mike jumped back into the front seat. A little while passed and we were working down a good run when fish on! This time a small steelhead erupted from the water! It must have jumped five or six times! After a while we slid the net under the fish. It was Mike's first steelhead, though a little guy.


As I said in the beginning part of this report, we are generally fly anglers. People might ask why fish any other way? It's simple- there are benefits to changing tactics and methods. The stretch we floated was new water, a stretch I hadn't devoted much time to learning. Pulling plugs is an effective way to cover LOTS of water and find what pools hold the fish. Fish are sometimes unpredicable. Take any stetch of water. There may be ten good looking pools in that particular stretch, of which possibly only a couple consistently hold fish. It could be something as small as a submerged tree root from a cut bank, or something as invisible as a spring seep, or simply because the fish like to hold there. Next time I'll know which pools are money, and can devote the time they deserve. We as anglers can't become so high and mighty, or so completely devoted to a single method, if we still hope to progress and learn as much as can be learnt about the nature of our quarry. Otherwise we become static.


Sure, if I had my choice I'd be knee deep swinging streamers. But that doesn't me I didn't have a hell of a good time pulling plugs with Mike and Tony. And in the end, I know a little more about a fish I care so much about.


Check out the pics



Mike and his smallmouth 



Tony and his steelhead!



Mike's little guy!



Taking the boat out