During my years as a canoe guide in the north Maine woods I found it hard to believe that any place on earth could be as peaceful, or as rewarding as a beautiful river (not to mention a beautiful river full of fish). Much of the work I did in Maine centered around fishing, or fishermen, as fly fishing is an extremely popular sport in the area. Though I could go on and on about the great times enjoyed by one and all on these fishing trips, this article is about what NOT to do on a river fishing expedition!
To start off, I’d advise not drinking, or at least staying away from the bottle as much as possible. I know drinking is a widely enjoyed activity, but drunkenness can be extremely destructive while in the wilderness. This is especially true when you’re on a boat, in the middle of a rushing river. Keep the bottles in a safe storage unit for later.
Never travel too quickly. It sounds like fun whipping around corners carelessly as your buddy trolls at the other end of the boat, but rivers carry many dangers that will “gobble you up” (for lack of better words) very quickly! I’ve often come across strainers on river trips, and I’d never want to be caught underneath one of those. A strainer is a fallen tree that blocks the pack of a river. These often result in injury, or even death. A strainer will pull you down, and possibly pin you to the river bottom, with a water filled canoe pressing you down, without any way to escape. The moral of the story is to go slowly, especially in winding parts of the river!
Don’t forget a PFD! A personal flotation device is a must have any time you’re on the river! Make sure to get a good one, and to check the coast guard rating for your PFD. I prefer a PFD that allows me to move my arms easily and freely as I cast and paddle.
Never go out when weather is questionable. Always check the weather reports before you hit the river! Even if the sky is clear and sunny, the weather could change in just moments. I’ve often seen terrible storms arise on days that start off peacefully. If there’s ever a risk that you may be stuck out on the river during a thunderstorm, the best thing to do is to stay on land. It may mean your trip is ruined, but it’s far better than getting struck by lightning.
Never leave for the river unprepared! Always remember to carry emergency gear such as an emergency radio, extra food, materials to start a fire, and a shelter just in case you can’t get back before dark.
Don’t go on a trip with people you don’t know! Be sure that you’re fully aware of everyone’s fishing, boating, and survival capabilities before you leave for a trip. If they don’t have enough skill to make you feel safe on the river, cancel the trip. It may be a pity to cancel a fun fishing trip, but safety should always come first.
By Guest Contributor Sam Larson - samexplores.com