Beginner Floats - New on the Oars

eggdudeguy

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Hi All -

I just recently picked up a fly fishing frame + raft and planning on getting out to the lakes for a training day. However, wanted to ask you guys what rivers would be good for someone new to the oars. I'm based in SLC, so this summer I'm planning on hitting the lower provo a lot, and the green river.

Any suggestions for rivers with easy rapids, in the MT, CO, ID, or WY area? Willing to drive!

Appreciate the opinions!
 

spm

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Welcome to the forum. I'm sure you will get several answers to your query. That's the thing about this forum; plenty of people willing to help.

steve
 

Longs for Cutts

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Tailwaters will generally be a good choice: Missouri and Bighorn in Montana.

Other Montana waters (in my area anyway): Lower Madison below the Beartrap in June, Yellowstone ONLY from Brogan's Landing to Yankee Jim (not through the canyon), Carbella to Point of Rocks, or Emigrant to Mallard's Rest. August will be better than earlier for the Yellowstone.
 

eggdudeguy

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Thanks Longs, appreciate the intel. Looking forward to getting out there once this virus stuff subsides.
 

ravenbc

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It is tough with current events, but when I got my raft, I always tries to find someone who had drifting experience on the river to come with me. Usually didn't have trouble finding someone as it meant they got a chance to be off the oars and got to fish.

I love my raft and found it opened up a ton of water and I could fish sections I couldn't reach before or meant I didn't have to hike 10km up and down of Canyons.

There are a few good youtube videos to show the basic travel strokes and a good tip is always point the bow at danger and then backstroke.

Good luck and enjoy.

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dillon

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Believe it or not one of the most stressful places on rivers is the boat launch. If you are trailering your raft, practice backing it up and getting it into the water and out of the way as efficiently as possible. You might even watch others launch to observe how they do it.

Once in the water, practice pointing the boat at trouble and rowing away from it. Many rivers have very easy floats, however there might be on or two gnarly spots. If you know where they are, you can get out and scout them, perhaps wat hint how others navigate them.

Having a buddy that can row is also a good idea, so you can share casting time as you float. Otherwise, you become a cheap guide...
Floating a river can be a lot of fun, but there is some work involved. I have a drift boat but don’t use it anymore. I’d rather hire a guide and let them do the work...

For your first float, I’d pick an easy one with few other floaters and practice your launching and river skills. With a little time on the sticks you’ll be a pro in no time. Especially with a raft as they are much more forgiving but less maneuverable that a hard sided boat.
 

Ard

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Dillon just hit most of the important stuff but I'll add one more. I had been using drift boats - frame pontoon rafts - canoes - and jet boats for many years and thought I knew what I was doing on the oars. By many years think since the 1980's......... About 9 years ago I went on a white water raft trip on the upper Matanuska River in Alaska. This was one of those big NRS rafts that carries six passengers and an oarsman. Big time water, killer water and I learned more about handling a raft or boat with oars by watching how our 26 year old guide handled that boat than I had learned in the previous 30 years of doing it.

If you like floating maybe hire a spot on a good white water outfitters trip and watch to learn. I'm serious, I thought I knew it all but found I didn't know half.......
 

dryfter

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The Henry's Fork has some good water to learn on. Warm river to Ashton reservoir. Ora bridge to Chester, Chester to fun farm are both pretty flat water with great fishing. The S. Fork of the Snake would be good after you have a little time on the oars.

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ravenbc

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Couple other things, make sure your have some safe gear such as a throw bag and attach it to the outside of the raft, so it is accessible if the raft flips. I also have a dry bag with an extra set of clothes and a towel, and 2 50ft sections of rope so I can move the raft thru any dangerous situtaions from the bank.

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salmo7000

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You didn't mention what sort of trips you'd like to do, i.e. day trips or overnight, but I learned on the Lower Salmon River in Idaho. A good first-timer stretch would be along US95, from Slate Creek down to White Bird. Easy peasy Class 1 rapids. Then if you want to step it up to a stretch with Class III's, the section from Riggins to Lucile is a good one. Do it in late July or August so you'll have warm water in case you go in the drink. Not much for trout fishing in the summer in this section, but there are some nice smallmouth bass.

And in case you want to try an overnight trip, the upper Grande Ronde in northeast Oregon (Minam to Troy) is an excellent learner run. Almost continuous Class II's, and it has pretty good trout fishing depending on when you go. You'll want to go before mid-July though, because it gets pretty low. We usually spend 3 nights on the river, it's about 45 miles. Beautiful camps. Just read the rules and follow them, you'll need required equipment such as a portable toilet and fire pan. Best of luck!
 
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