River sharing question [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: River sharing question

07-09-2003, 04:19 PM
So I have had some really bad experiences this spring with rafters and kayakers up on the Sky this year. I am trying not to get too mad. The worst was a raft guide that laughed at me when I tried to get him to go to one side of the river instead of shooting the middle of my run even though there was plenty of room. I have never been so close to trhowing a rock at a guy in my life. It is getting out of control and there will be an issue at some point.

Rafters always say hey the river is our too, but as soon as they go through the water it is no longer good for fishing the most part and all through the afternoon there are more rafts and Kayaks then you can count and it is basically worthless to try to fish. Plus they get three months to raft the river with no fisherman on it. March, April, and May. That is more then we get the river with out them.

I am biased because the rafters on the north umpqua are out of control too and I am very bitter about that. But is there some way to get them limited from the river July-Sept (they get three months we get three months). And\or make time restrictions they can only be on the river 11-5. Both of these have been implemented to some extent on the Umpqua.

I am fed up with them. I like that the more people that we have to care about river is a great thing. But they are rude. They should follow river rules. Like if there is a fisherman in a run you don't go through until the fisherman is done. Or ask the fisherman where he wants you to go.

Any one know who controls stuff like this for the river?


07-09-2003, 04:26 PM
I have had experiences just like that. I was on the metolius river in eastern oregon, and there were these 4-5 guys that had innertubes like they use on the snow. We were fishing in this small skinny run and a few minutes later they came floating down right to our hole and jumped out, splashing everywhere. I was so mad. They did it about 5 or so times. In that hole was about 100 or so trout. The reason we know that was because these scuba divers were helping there friend find the fish. The hole got so spooked. We didnt catch anything after that.

07-09-2003, 05:23 PM
I agree that they can be rude, ask Kush about the big blue "fish" he almost hooked on the Skagit this Spring. I am not sure I am for limiting their time on the river though as that would in turn limit mine. Like most things, it boils down to education and there certainly is room for us all to be more educated on respecting others.

Also, I am not convinced that "as soon as they go through the water it is no longer good for fishing" or "all through the afternoon there are more rafts and Kayaks then you can count and it is basically worthless to try to fish". I know this is a belief held by many and it no doubt does have an impact but I think less than we like to think. If this was the case then the first driftboat down everyday would catch all the fish. Speaking just of rafts, I think they are no worse than a driftboat as long as they respect your water.

In some cases, I am not so sure that a float over doesn't stir fish up and maybe even make them more agressive.

My two cents.

07-09-2003, 06:26 PM

The one problem is that this section of river is different then the lower river. There are no drift boats in this section and in the lower river it is big enough that boats can go by and not float over your water and in this section they can't or refuse to do so where possible.

I do agree that they may not completely kill the water for good but if every ten minutes one or two comes down it has to take its toll on fishing. If it was one coming down and an other one didn't come down for 2 hours fine. The water can be rested for 20 minutes and go on. And yes everyonce in awhile they might stir it up but I would venture to say that they put fish and spook them more then they cause them to bite.


07-09-2003, 06:45 PM
I pretty much agree with Sinktip. I hate the thought of any kinds of restrictions put on the rivers whether they are on the floaters or anyone else. The problem isn't rude rafters, it is rude people in general and unfortunately I don't think it is going away. Take a look at the people driving around you as you go home from work. As for boats putting the fish down, two years ago I was fishing Poppy's riffle when a local drift guide with 2 sports floated right over the center of my spey line. I'm only about an 80' caster so he was pretty close. The river is very wide right there and the whole width of the river is productive. The guide looked right through me as I stared in disbelief while thinking he was a newbie or an idiot. Just about the time I finished a burst of my best truck driver talk my rod tip was violently jerked into the water and before I could say Oh ?X"<XX>?:"!!! that fish was gone. I still don't like it when someone floats through my run but when it happens I always get ready for a fish to hit.

07-09-2003, 08:49 PM
Having rafted most of my life, and having floated most hard whitewater rivers throughout the west coast, I can see both sides of the coin. But you have to remember one thing, rafts (especially guides) have to run certain stretches. What to you looks like a "nice wide slot" is sometimes low and have obstructions close to the surface. Plus, if there is a rapid coming up, it takes more then 10' to get boat into position. Sometimes it takes 20-40 yards to get that boat into proper position to take a slot. Sometimes MORE then that. Once you commit to a slot, you can't just oar right out of it. You have to let the river feed you. I've seen may people collide into obstructions, flip their boat, or even get killed because they were out of line to run a shoot. Especially an inflatable vs. driftboat. An inflatable runs much faster and won't hold water as well (they are meant to run fast). If you set up wrong, only thing you can do is move boat left/right fast to avoid a serious hit, but not pull yourself completely out of harms way.

So you have to take that into consideration as well. Usually, you don't see many fisherman up in "rafters" territory and vice versa. I'm not sure where on the sky you were, but there are some hairy spots that take more then a quick pull of the boat to setup. Plus, some spots (like boulder drop) one wrong move and you've flipped that boat or worse collided into a rock.

In all, you have to give leeway both ways. I myself DO NOT believe at all in the myth of ruined water because of passing boats. I have on many occasions caught fish with JET BOATS running the water I've fished. In fact the fishing got better for an hour after that, then cooled off. Only problem I've had with a slot is when someone actually is swimming in a hole. That's it. Only time that the fishing has died off. I fish alot of heavily floated and jetted rivers. I also fish some rivers that receive no pressure at all. Success is there for all to have, just depends if the fish are in the mood or not.

07-09-2003, 11:30 PM

I do know what you mean by no driftboats up where you are. If there were there would be more obits in the paper :) SH69 is right too on setups and not always possible to get out of the way but we both know that often times it is just plain rudeness that dicatates a boats line and not setting up for the next run. More often than not though, I feel it is just people ignorant of what they are doing. I think those of us who fish two handed rods get the worst of this as I have seen rafts pull in closer so they can get a good look at that funky graceful casting.

I had to chuckle reading MJCs story. Some years ago I was waiting for a good buddy to finish a run before we called it a morning. I walked down to a short run I knew held fish just as the sun broke through bright. Just as I entered the top of this short run, in whips a driftboat right below me and this fool with his young son start pulling plugs down the gut. It drops off sharply at the shore so he is hitting rocks with his right side oar and splashing away with his left. I don't belive any kid should be around when daddy is called an ignorant SOB so I kept quite and fumed inside. I am standing there feeling sorry for myself: my buddy won't hurry up even though he knows we are late, there is bright sun on the run, I have the "wrong" fly on and this a-hole has just trashed my run. That was when the hen hit and took off downriver chasing the driftboat. I let out a whooo-hooo and had the great pleasure of watching Ralph Rude turn in time to see the hen clear water 20 feet behind his boat. Life was very good!

One personal observation from Snake River country. I know some fine fishermen who only fish their prime runs from first light till the jetboats make it down that far. It is their belief that once the jets show, the fish go down. My observations have been that while they may go down, they don't go too deep. It seems to me that wakers/skaters do become less effective as soon as the jets show but I have not noticed a decline in their responsiveness to a fly presented in the top 3" of the column. At these times, a wet fly grease lined seems to still get their attention. Curious as to what others opinions are on this for those east-side rivers.


07-10-2003, 12:55 AM
I have to agree with 'tip, SH69 and the others on this. As much as I would love to never see a non-fishing floating device on the river again, who are we to say, our use of the river is anyway more right or more worthy then others.

Hell, many rafter would probably say we do more damage then they do because we fish and they do not.

Plus I am one to believe that when you have a large user group on a river such as the Sky, that user group would go out of its way to protect the river if it was ever to face certain dangers...for an example, the recent Wild Sky Wilderness push on the North Fork.

Also, I believe it is the operator and not the craft that causes the trouble. There are many many inconsiderate rude youknowwhatsuckers who call themselves fishermen and we have no way to ban them!

Just me
07-10-2003, 01:08 AM
I had a brush with those rude kayakers one time on the N/F Stilly a few years ago. I didn't mind it that the main body came right thru.What I did mind was the IDIOT that sat inthe hole I was fishing and did his thing like flipping the Stupid kayak over several times. If I would of had a gun I probably would of shot him. Well not that bad but I was threating him with rocks,but he just sat there.Kind of smirking at me. So I just bagged it for the day.


07-10-2003, 08:59 AM
Look, guys, you are describing out and out harassment. If the authorities won't do anything about it, here's a potential fix.

1. Go fishing with a buddy - especially one that weighs about 250 and is 6"4" tall.
2. Make sure you have a cheap surf spinning rod along with you, loaded with about 300 yards of 15-lb. test line.
3. Rig it up with a 3-oz. pyramid sinker, and some type of lure or cherry bobber. (Hooks are irrelevant.)
4. When you are obviously harassed, see how close you can cast the pyramid sinker HARD as close as possible to the bow or stern of the offending "boat/raft/kayak".

I guarantee that when they see this 3-oz. missile headed their way, at a very flat trajectory, and the splash it makes, they will get the idea - and quickly!

Be careful - the damn things will go through (or at least put a large dent/gouge in) a hull.

And, it even looks like you are innocently "drift fishing"!

Even smart a$$es get the idea quickly, and will move on to harass someone else get their "jollys"!......:devil:

If they are just some rafters passing through, let 'em be. But out and out harassment deserves it back!


07-10-2003, 10:13 AM
Sure sounds like I am completely off base here and have had different experiences with the rafting in Kayking community. I have also had good ones too like the two kayakers that rowed behind me last weekend in shallows. I made sure I thanked them for that.

But a lot of my expriences have been bad. I do think that there is a somewhat of a difference when you are on big water (snake, clearwater, lower Sky etc) as opposed to small water (Umpqua, Stilly, upper Sky). An example is a run called Lower Redman on the North Umpqua. This is a beautiful tail out that held fish a lot of the times int he past. Well within the last 5 years or so since the rafters have taken over the upper river I don't remember spoting a fish in it at all (even though I am sure they still will hold there I just haven't seen it). If I fish is holding in a clear tail out and a raft comes down I am sorry I think that fish is going to be gone especially in clear water. I know there are always exceptions and there are times where boats actually help by pushing fish towards you.

I guess what I want is rafters to use some river mannors. If I am in a run then they should wait at the head of the run and let me fish it through it if there isn't room for them to get by without distrubing water (and I have had pepple do that I I fish the run at least twice as fast as normal as to not hog the water). Or God forbid ask me where they want me to go down. If a rafter beats me to a run I have no right to be upset. I look at it as common sense stuff and just good mannors.

OK I will shut up now. And go back to fuming witht he rude rafters of which there are many. (and yes there are rude fisherman too but we have covererd that)


07-10-2003, 11:33 AM

Just like you I get pissed (American style)! While as others have said there are times that the rafters don't have a choice, well most often that is not the water we are fishing. I'll that most of us probably spend enough time on the water to recognize many of these situations. While I don't expect them to wait while I fish through a run I make sure they can see the water I am fishing via casting distance and on occasion making polite recommendations. On large water I'll agree a raft, sled, tuber....might stir fish up but not in skinny water! On large SW WA rivers I've caught steelhead in the wake of sleds (BTW, I have also hooked a sled). Sounds like JJ's raft was just too lazy to paddle through the slow water.

So what is the solution? About the same as with other resource users education. It's not our exclusively, we pick our levels of frustration with others in life.

Enough babbling you were wronged and for that you should take a day and go fishing.


Mean Mr Mustard
07-10-2003, 12:10 PM
Paintball guns using enamel paint (pastels to really piss them off).

If confronted by the authorities, say you just thought is was a novel attack by your opponents to attempt such an amphibious landing on your gravel bar.

If prosecuted, take the "fog of war" defense.


07-10-2003, 01:07 PM
I'll have to add this too. Especially since I used to run cargo hauler on multiday whitewater trips and know these guys well. MOST DON'T FISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Most spend any free time they have hitting whitewater (basically a whitewater bum as opposed to a steelhead bum). You want the truth, they probably have NO idea they're spooking anything. Don't think "common sense" plays any part. If you've never done it, you have no idea what the "rules/ethics" are. But, YES, sometimes a whitewater boat has to run through spots like that to setup for next run. It's not "lazy" running slow water, it's called time commitments and not trying to blow out your shoulders pushing a boat through frog water. When a boat is FULL of passengers, it isn't easy to simply row through dead water. Best comparison I can give to any of you who have not run these boats loaded, is like pushing a midsize SUV on a light uphill in neutral (which I've done). It's not fun, and by the time you're done you're taxed and ready for a nap. Not a good thing when you have a boat full of clients and have a few river miles to go.

Also, I will add this. Especially if these guys are running main sticks while customers are using small paddles. I wouldn't mess with them. Strength wise, they're stronger then you would think. Much harder running those boats filled with 1,000#'s of gear/passenger then a fishing guide with 2 clients. Say it this way, while I ran these boats with a whitewater guide, I was at my strongest, benching almost 300#'s. So, strengthwise, a BIG guy with you may be in for a tango. :D Especially since I had to oar over 1400#'s of cargo through class 4/5 water. It builds your strength up fast.

Actually, in WA, there is a law about disturbing fishing water. But also think there are laws for whitewater guides as well. So it's a stalemate I do believe. This topic is hard for me, for I truly know BOTH sides of the spectrum. Can't really side with one over the other. Both sides have been on the rivers as long as the others. Plus, some may want to clarify if they're rafters or tubers. A rafter is using good whitewater gear, not these small little inflatable seyvelors. If a stretch of water is "whitewater grade" you'll have had whitewater junkies on it as long as fisherman (since most whitewater stretches are usually out of the norm of fishing areas). Very rarely is there some new stretch that's never been covered. That's why I was asking about rafts vs. tubers. There is a difference.

07-10-2003, 02:14 PM
Standing on a bridge over the NF Stilly the other day watching some steelhead holding in a seam down stream of the bridge. I was amazed to see the fished chased out of their lay by some kids throwing rocks and watch them return only a few minutes after the rock throwing stopped. These same fish moved a few feet away when about 5 tubers floated right over the top of them and immidiately moved back into their spot when the tubers had drifted by. I watched people jump off the bridge and exit the river almost on top of these fish and they would return back to the same spot within a few short minutes. I watch a fishermen throw a fly at these same fish during all of this commotion and I watched the fish chase the fly. Amazing! He didn't catch any but the message here is these fish were still interested in a swung fly even with all this crap going on around them.

Mean Mr Mustard
07-10-2003, 02:16 PM
So what if the offender is a big gorilla, that's why you have your Rottweiler named "Snot" along. (And aren't you happy you didn't get that Husky that would now be a 1/2 mile away trailing some long-dead rabbit?)


07-11-2003, 09:07 AM
Sparkey brings up some valid points about rafters and Kayakers being big suporters of rivers not only throughout the entire United States but the entire world. How many more dams would there be if it were not for this type of water user group. They single handedly have done more for rivers than all other user groups conbined. They get far more support from the general public on such matters as rivers and clean lakes and bays than we do as fishing groups who are conservation minded.

I've not had any real bad experience with these user groups. Once even had a instructor of a group learning white water kayaking walk down to where I was fishing a run below some minor rapids and ask how long I'd be going through run. He kept his students out of the water till I was done.

As to Jet boats on the Snake putting fish off of wakers I found it to be very true. What I've found is at first light and before first light fish are tight against rocky shore but after a few jet boats drift by and slowly move back up river they leave a big wake. Remember the energy in that wave goes all the ways to the bottom and it also bounces off the rocks and moves back out into the river again. It is all this side to side movement of water that the fish may not like and not the noise that we hate most. Fish move out right into where jet boats are drifting over them but where they can sit without all the back wash energy moving them around. I get done fishing the Snake by 0730 every morning and have had 2 to 3 hoiurs of good fishing if you don't mind risking your life fishing in total darkness on a river that is very dangerous to wade. People die there every year wading, always remember that.

Dave Drennan
07-12-2003, 01:16 AM
...board I read and post has been addressing this same problem with a twist - the white water crowd pushing for "pulse flows". These are artificially increased flows just for the white water recreation. We also have the problem of kayakers cutting "sweepers", tree limbs hanging over the water, off and letting them float down the river. Besides being a danger to anyone downstream wading/fishing/swimming, it's illegal.
I believe there is a FEDERAL law against harrassing anyone hunting or fishing.

07-12-2003, 02:08 AM
There is a STATE law for harassing fisherman, but a FEDERAL law about navigating waters (which would constitute any floating device running down waters). So, the federal should override the state. I used to have all the RCW's listed that talked about fishing. But, a boat running on top of the water wouldn't be harrasing, that would be navigating waterways (which is a bigger offense blocking a waterway then harrasing a fisherman).

You are correct about the tree cutting. Is dangerous and illegal. BUT, I know fisherman (gear AND fly) that have cut/pulled out logs chocking out their favorite fishing slot. So, not just a rafters thing.

Also, onto stream flows. Yes, a river must maintain a certain waterflow to qualify a "class" rating. No slot is ALWAYS a class 1/2/3/4/5. If the water drops/raises it changes. Usually the only one's that stay steady are sever drops through technical water. Wow, what rivers are you talking about that actually regulate water flows???? Most whitewater stretches are located on rivers w/o dams, or usually well above where most dams are located (unless the dam off the headwaters like on the Wynoochee River). But, I could see if there was a dam that was on a whitewater stream that they'd regulate for prime whitewatering. BUT ONLY if it's a permit only drift river. A pay to play (there are a few of these throughout the NW, you can't just simply drop in and float, you have to reserve a date to float and pray for good conditions). But, at same time, these areas are well above decent fishing (unless you strictly are looking at resident trout/etc. Well above most spawning grounds/fishing areas. I know when we packed gear on multiday trips, the rods would only come out for steelhead/salmon towards the end of the trip. The upper end was purely smaller trout. So what rivers are you talking about? Would love to find out more. Once I find the river out, I'll see if my whitewater guide buddies can give me some insite.

07-12-2003, 06:55 AM
NY's Salmon River has at least a couple of "Heavy Water "releases
annually, engineered and agreed upon in contract on its power dam. The local businesses love 'em, as they make a few bucks in business. (These guys also make a good buck off the salmon and steelhead runs, as well!) And the kayakers love 'em and are always pushing for more.

Fishermen HATE 'em - in that they have a large release all at once, then flows are dangerously low for fish survival for weeks afterwards, depending on weather conditions (last year was a severe drought year, and it was extremely controversial).

(Lots of us fisherman cut our teeth at an early age on canoeing rivers with rapids involved, and understand the allure and it was a normal part of fishing.)

So, who's "right"? I dunno - depends on which side of the argument you are on, I guess.

This gets to be a bigger argument than "Clean Water" in many circumstances and circles.


Dave Drennan
07-12-2003, 09:55 AM
... The Feather River main stem and it's tributaries. I'll have to go back and look at the thread but there is a coalition of white water users who push for these "pulse flows". These flows make the rivers unwadable. As for harassment vs. navigation: When the kayaker stops in front of you and begins slaping the water with his/her paddle, it's no longer a question of whether they're just "navigating" down the river. I've had jet sledders cross the Deschutes River to run over my line, then go back to the other side.

07-12-2003, 02:38 PM
Ok, never run the Feather, but will ask my buddies that have. I used to run with them, and they were whitewater bums who guided whereever they were called to go. I played carryall on my boat. But will see what else I will find out. Normally, the whitewater guys wouldn't have that much pull (unless it's strictly a whitewater community).

But, I understand about the stopping and slapping instance. It's one of those things where I'd have to be there and see it. All kayakers constantly tap the water, but difference between tapping and ramming the oar into the water. Was certified safety kayaker, and ran those things on occasion. But sucks either way.

I can also so about kayakers and "rolling" into slots. Most rivers, especially upper where these guys play, are usually mostly whitewater access type floats. Most guys on kayaks will float certain rivers BECAUSE of pools. Most want to come to deep pools to practice their roll over technique. Here's where the problem lies (and where you'd have a hard time enforcing the law). If a boat is running navitigable waters, and they are doing practice runs, they aren't trying to "molest" your fishing opportunities. I feel, and know how this runs, if you even TRIED to prosecute on this level, it could, and probably would, backfire. The whitewater guys actually carry more weight in courts then fisherman. Why? Because they are joined together as one unit, encourage and practice "leave it as it was" while on the river. And drive money into the community as well. You could see regs like on some rivers that TOTALLY shut off ALL fishing to upper waters. There's more going against "fisherman" then ANY whitewater outfit. In any battle, they'd come out looking alot better then we would. Hate to say it, but it's true. You'd be surprised how much revenue can be made from a whitewater outfit. And also the amount of costs that are associated with whitewatering (since most rafts and catarafts will run you almost $1,000 more then a top notch DB and you DON'T get a trailer). Now, if we could get all fisherman together, things would be different. Overall, we spend more total then the water crews, BUT we have ourselves totally seperated into classes. So, if something was to be done, you'd need EVERY fishing organization together, but chances are that only 1 or 2 would stick up for fishing rights (and most of the members would be similar in both groups).

In the end, we both must share the rivers. We also must CLARIFY if who we see are actual whitewater guys or someone simply rowing a raft/kayak. There is a difference. Like classifying ALL inflatable/kayak guys into one group, like saying all guys out fishing winterrun steelhead with a trout pole w/eggs are "ALL fisherman". Since I'm on both sides of the fence, and have been labeled on "both sides of the fence" I get touchy on this situation. Since almost ALL whitewater guys fall into the "respectful" catagorie. There are THOUSANDS of whitewater guys in WA alone. You're talking about maybe a handful that are rude and inconsiderate. But I'm talking about guys who know what they're doing. Same can be thrown back at guys who fish (flyfish included). I've seen more then my share of morons. I've also seen my share of guys who have crowded in and fished along side gear guys disrupting their drifts. I also had a guy on the upper rogue about 15 years ago come down to the river as I was floating down with my crew that started casting at slot in front of me (I was there FIRST). His fly almost tagged me. Was that fair? It all happens, you have the idiots. Just need to let it ride. Educate, and if they tell you to "Blow off" then grin and bear it.

Dave Drennan
07-13-2003, 11:24 AM
We have in California an organization called the "California Sport Fishing Protection Assoc." (I think that's close!). It is primarily a fly fishing group that persues legal issues like dams, wild steelhead protection, logging, cattle grazing, etc. They do a hell of a job for us. Maybe Washington, Oregon, and Idaho need to look into starting similar organizations.

07-13-2003, 12:15 PM
But problem is, we have too many groups. All have their own agenda, and all pull votes away. We need a group that is purely a FISHING organization. Not a flyfishing or baitfishing. As you said, it's mostly a flyfishing. All groups will have a mixture (say TU) but are predominantly a flyfishing organization. But I have a feeling that even with your association, they wouldn't be able to tackle the whitewater community. Why? Because when one gets in trouble, ALL the whitewater communities come to help. One thing I like about them. You'll have every club and organization come to rally if water rights are to be taken away in ANY state. Won't get that in a fishing sense (fly fishing is a part of fishing in general, so all of the flyfishers and almost none of the gear fisherman groups wouldn't be ALL). Look at any reg change. You get such a split amongst fisherman it's crazy. Why we can't get anything done. I for one could tell you that an organization like that one (especially being mostly flyfisherman) would fall into another "group" here.

Ol Rich
07-19-2003, 10:37 AM
On Wed. I was on the Sky. No one else in sight. Only saw one drift boat. Two gear guys moved over to pass behind me passing up one of the favorate slots for the drift boats. They said they had one hatchery fish and had released one native. No salmon. Low numbers of fish has resulted in pleasant hours on the river with few fisherpeople.


Rick J
07-19-2003, 10:47 AM
I fish and guide part time on the lower Klamath where the main access is jet boats. While this is a relatively large river, the tail outs and slicks that are often best for holding steelies are relatively shallow. We use boats as access and get out to wade these runs while the salmon boats fish out of the boats and usually stick to the deeper pools. However, there is substantial boat traffic and you can get 5 or 6 jets blasting through a tail out and hook a fish within a minute or two after that so I am not all that convinced that someone floating through will necessarily stop the fish from grabbing. Someone getting out and splashing around may have more impact.