There's a saying among fly fishermen that, "kayak fishing sucks."
While it's true that they're not usually the best option, sometimes they're the only option. My friend Austin and I had been talking about running the Big South Fork gorge for a couple years. We've explored most of the place over the last couple summers, but the remaining sections we had not hit loomed large, with the promise of some really remote water holding lots of dumb fish; the kind of water typically only reached by the types of kayakers that don't carry fishing rods. Of course, the reason for this is that the stretch of river we wanted to float takes at least a couple of days, and there are dozens of class 3 and 4 rapids that just aren't conducive to boats loaded down with fishing and camping gear. At high enough flows, you can get through the gorge in a day with a white water boat. But in late summer/early fall you're not really supposed to float it at all. We did anyway with fishing kayaks. It was rough ride.
Unable to contain our enthusiasm, we decide to meet the night before our scheduled departure so we can ditch his Taco at the takeout, load up the trailer and be ready to head to the put-in at first light. Well we got to drinking beers and catching up, and don't find the sleeping bags 'til around 3 am.
Not as early a start as we wanted the next day, but once the coffee perked, we were loaded up and on our way.
The first couple miles were pretty uneventful. The temp had dropped into the 50s at night, so it seemed to take a little while for the fish to warm up that morning.
Once they did, we were into them pretty thick. We never got so many that it got boring, but we got enough that things were living up to our expectations.
It's not a system known for its big smallmouth, but the numbers are there.
Austin has an account on this board. He never posts, but he does catch fish. I guess that's all you can ask for if you're the guy with the camera.
In the rare moments you'd stop fishing long enough to look around where you were, it then became hard to stop taking pictures of the canyon.
Day one goes by too quickly, and with big rapids looming, we decide camp at the confluence of two great rivers.
We find a likely spot on the bank, drag up the boats. As luck would have it, there was firewood aplenty.
A couple 2-inch thick steaks, instant mashed potatoes and some green beans.
The next morning, we're on the water by 7.
Quickly, the gorge got steep. It became clear we wouldnt be fishing, but instead just trying to make it though.
This next pic pretty much sums up the bulk of the day. Way too many rapids we had to end up roping the boats down. Boats were flipped, a rod was broken, and 1/0 fly embedded in a leg. The possibility of having to hike out without boats was discussed. We literally covered MILES of water that looked like this or worse.
But the river periodically offered us breaks. And in the flat water, we were floating through exactly the type of place we had envisioned.
In the end, it was fine. We made it through by the end of day 2. Pretty happy to see that bridge.
Austin says he's going to contribute some more photos. We'll see how it goes.
PM me if you plan to fish here. Don't just dump a boat in and try it. You might die, seriously.