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Old 08-27-2007   #1
FishnPhil's Avatar
Westminster, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 13
New rafter here..

Hope you guys aren't too harsh on us non-standard rafters. I'm hoping to learn all about rowing, safety, tips, and finding places to float. I'm just getting familiar with all these new terms, like sweepers, thank god for wikipedia, so please bare with me. I won't be doing anything crazy, no rapids higher than class III I imagine, and the three times I've been out are my first times on any moving water. All tips and info is greatly appreciated, I've only learned a bit about rowing, basic stuff like pulling yourself to avoid rocks and I've been working on pushing myself through rapids too.

I just got a Water Master kickboat and have floated a short section of the lower Poudre once and Radium to Ranch Del Rio on the Colorado twice.

Here's some pics of me and my raft to get me going...


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Old 08-27-2007   #2
FishnPhil's Avatar
Westminster, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 13
I can't figure out how to edit my first post, so...

I'm really interested in floating the Blue river, both from silverthorne to Green Mtn. and from Green Mtn. to the Colorado. I was wondering what your guys take on those sections are, especially considering the type of raft that I have. In my current raft I'd be a bit scared to do any big drops because the bottom of the raft is open and I've never done anything like that before. From what I can see from the road it looks easy and perfect for my raft, but I really would like to get first hand info from people who have run those sections. Is there anything I should be worried about or any reason I shouldn't attempt to float that section?

Thanks for any advice.

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Old 08-27-2007   #3
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 831
Looks fun. I've always thought that if only I were a fisherman I'd be in heaven because some of the places I end up in when I am running creeks and rivers seem so remote and they must be full of big fat trout that have never seen a hook.

A swiftwater rescue class might be a good idea if you want to run class III and you have no whitewater experience. Either that or hang out with some experienced folks that can show you down some stuff for the first season.

The biggest things for a beginner in easy rocky mountain whitewater to keep in mind are (in my opinion): always wear a PFD, dress warmly, and keep your feet off the bottom if you are moving down the river (like if you are swimming after your boat flips) because if you catch your foot in a crack then that is the end.

The most basic equipment that you should always have with you are: PFD, loud whistle, throw rope, knife, and a few caribiners. Everything but the rope should be on your body. Lots of kayakers carry a rope on their body but that is for experienced folks. Put the caribiners in a pocket so they don't snag on anything.
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Old 08-27-2007   #4
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 831
oh...i just saw your 2nd post with the thing about the feet coming out the bottom. You definitely don't want them sticking out the bottom when you are moving down the river. Foot entrapment is very dangerous.

Maybe you can put a bottom in the boat for downriver stuff? The only time I would think it was safe to have the feet down would be on a lake or in a calm eddy where you are in complete control and are not being pushed by the current.
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Old 08-27-2007   #5
Badazws6's Avatar
The Road, Colorado
Paddling Since: '07
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 612
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#1, Always boat with a buddy! He is your backup, the one that will pull your ass out of the river if your in real trouble.
Life: Live it!
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Old 08-27-2007   #6
FishnPhil's Avatar
Westminster, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 13
Ture, yes I have felt the rocks grab my fins. These boats are designed so that you can easily lift your legs out of the water and rest them in front of you while you oar through the whitewater, that is as long as your leg isn't stuck on a rock!

With a bit of practice floating the fishable sections, it is very easy to use your legs to keep the boat on track down the stream and fish at the same time. Then before rapids bring your legs up in the boat and grab the oars. I've had to land a fish while going through riffles, I'd say less than class 1 water, and had to be real careful to not have my legs dangling down but at the same time keep the fins in the water to help keep the boat straight. I think it's a unique experience for sure, takes practice, and still you're taking a chance. I wouldn't leave my legs down in water that moves very fast though, and yes I can get a bottom for the raft, but I don't know that I want to. One of the great things about these rafts are that you can float and fish at the same time while using your legs/fins to control the raft. I think you would be very very surprised at the amount of control finning gives you in these rafts, I sure was, but again I wouldn't leave my legs down through real rapids.

My PFD is one of those co2 inflatable ones and it's ALWAYS on. Very comfortable and class III rated. I was also told to attach a rope to me and my raft, it would help pull me out of a hole that the boat makes it through or I could use my pocketknife or unclip the beener if I needed to be seperated from the rope. Sounds like that might not be a good idea?

I did go down Yarmony twice now, which looks to me like a low class III, the first time I got sucked out into it and rode right down the middle of it. It was a real rush and the raft didn't have a problem at all. I see why you guys like kayaks so much, what a blast.
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Old 08-27-2007   #7
GoodTimes's Avatar
Eagle, Idaho
Paddling Since: '78
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 794
Looks like a great way to fish our rivers....

However, just wanted to say that a foot entrapment could happen at anytime. Even in calm, slow-moving water, the right combination of rocks can trap your foot and a little bit of current can be pretty forceful. Be VERY careful with your feet submerged and ALWAYS have a knife readily available (on your PFD). Especially if you start to challenge yourself and move up a notch in river difficulty. Things change quickly in rivers with whitewater.

I think you'd be fine on those sections of river......but I don't think having your feet submerged would ever be a good idea.
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Old 08-27-2007   #8
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 176
As long as you have a place to brace your feet out of the water, I don't see why you would need a bottom.

Originally Posted by FishnPhil View Post
I was also told to attach a rope to me and my raft, it would help pull me out of a hole that the boat makes it through or I could use my pocketknife or unclip the beener if I needed to be seperated from the rope. Sounds like that might not be a good idea?
Ack! Definitely don't do this. I know of at least one incident where a person had a rope attached to them where their boat went on one side of a rock and they went on the other. If the water isn't too strong you might be able to unclip a beener, provided the rope didn't wrap around some other part of your body, but I wouldn't count on it.

Generally speaking a swimmer will flush out of a hole faster than a boat anyway. You won't find too many holes on class III or less that would keep a swimmer, but if you do get in one you can't get out of try tucking up into a ball and let it flush you out the bottom.

Is that inflatable pfd similar to what you use scuba diving? I don't think I've seen one before.

Just looked at the pics again, and it doesn't really look like it has a lot of floatation or that it attaches snugly to your body. When you say it's rated for class III, do you mean it's a type III PFD? Because those are for calm water.

Check out NRS's web site for more info:
NRS - ABCs of PFDs
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Old 08-27-2007   #9
FishnPhil's Avatar
Westminster, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 13
Yes there is a place to put your feet up, I'll check my pics to see if I have any that demonstrate that part of the raft. It's real nice, but I will remember your guys advice about dangling legs and getting trapped, again I would never try to fin my way through a real rapid, I would rather break my line on a fish and not risk my life than attempt finning through a rapid and flipping the raft.

Also, thanks for the heads up on the rope attached to me and the boat, I was real unsure about that, but some of the things I was told made a little sense (probably more sense to me since I have no previous whitewater knowledge). I am a very strong swimmer (former lifeguard) but I understand the power of water, especially moving water, so I'll take the tips to heart for sure.

These rafts are rated, I think, for Class IV, but I have absolutely no interest in ever getting into that big of water in this type of raft, it just doesn't make sense. I bought it for float fishing, fishing being the key word and there's just not much fishing in class III and up. I am a real articulate planner and don't like to take chances, I'll portage before running something that looks too much for me no problem.

Badazws6, you are right going alone is not a good idea and I'll keep that in mind too. Unfortunatley I do fish a lot by myself, but those times I'll stick to the class II and less runs only.

The PFD I have is this one:
Sports Authority - Stearns Ultra Inflatable Type III Vest

When you release the co2 and it inflates, it basically doubles in size.
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Old 08-27-2007   #10
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,909
Hi Phil,

Now that I'm able to stop staring at that REALLY freaky avatar of yours, I'll recommend the book "The Complete Whitewater Rafter" by Jeff Bennett. You can find this used on Amazon for about $10 w/ shipping. Also, if you're in the Denver area, you may want to stop by DownRiver Equipment Co. in Wheat Ridge (just off Ward Rd.) where you can check out lots of boating gear and get a feel for what you're getting yourself into. They've got a lot of gear for float fishing that you'll soon be drooling over...

The guys that have responded have given lots of good info and I'll recommend getting a Type III PFD (the "Type" classification has nothing to do with the level of rapids you expect to run with the PFD). This will be a sturdy PFD that allows a lot of movement and doesn't depend on a gas-activated system so it can be used repeatedly - there are probably also fishing vests available that you don't have to worry about puncturing with a stray hook.

As for running Class III rapids in your boat (such as those on the Upper Blue below Silverthorne), you may want to stick to Class II, as your oar setup may not be durable enough to withstand stresses encountered in the bigger, more powerful hydraulics of Class III rapids. If you look at photos of rafters on this site you'll see that most use aluminum rowing frames, have either oarlocks or "pins and clips" and also use very sturdy oars. Here's one (of many) example of the frame setup I'm talking about:

There are lots of ways to get there without spending a bundle, such as home-made wood or steel frames, etc.

As with anything, ask yourself, "Where do I want to go?" and then "What equipment do I need to get there safely and consistently?" Chances are, 95% of the fishing spots you want to go to are accessible with the rig you've got now, however running Class III whitewater will probably require another level of gear and expertise to do safely.

Good luck and welcome aboard!


Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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