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Old 07-09-2016   #1
Hamilton, Montana
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 3
Smith River, MT July 17

Hi Everyone!

I have spent hours reading everything that people have posted about the Smith and CFS. We have launch date July 17, and planning on taking single man pontoon boats. The gauge is reading 100CFS right now. But I know it's raining and supposed to rain most of the week. Is this feasible to float or should I scrap it for next year?

Thank you for all your input!

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Old 07-09-2016   #2
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 133
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100 cfs is low.
Smith tends to get dewatered due to irrigation also.
A canoe would be a wise choice.

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Old 07-09-2016   #3
elkhaven's Avatar
Belgrade, Montana
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 1,661
I don't think single man pontoons would be too bad. I've done 100 cfs in loaded rafts... not something I recommend but the little boats, loaded lightly, should be OK at 100. If you want to get a feel for it, load your boats up as you think you will have them on the Smith and go find a day stretch on the Clark Fork up around Deer Lodge (above the lil' blackfoot). That stretch is really similar to the first 10 miles of the Smith... the hardest 10 miles. and it's not too far off the last 10 miles either - in both cases, the two stretches most difficult at low water. I've not floated that part of the CF, I just drive by it alot... so I'm not sure if there is good access or not.

Anyways I have friends that do it a 100 and less in canoes and kickboats in September. I'd personally prefer the kickboat (single man pontoon).

How many people and how light you can keep each boat would certainly be factors to consider.

Edit, I was thinking you were in missoula, the CF may not be a bit out of the way. I don't know the rivers around hamilton well... maybe upper rock creek or the upper big hole sportsmans park to east bank feels a bit like the smith, might be a bit more water though...maybe something higher... hell it'd be a reason for some more floating!
Yesterday's gone on down the river and you can't get it back. - Agustus McCrae
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Old 07-09-2016   #4
Gary F
Philipsburg, Montana
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 26
If you are lightly loaded you should have no problem. I have done low water rivers in tandem inflatable kayaks with great success. You take your backpacking gear instead of your normal river gear. One person to a kayak with your own gear. We shared backpacking stoves, even brought a small igloo. Have a great trip!! Wish I could go!
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Old 07-09-2016   #5
Hamilton, Montana
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 3
Thanks so much!

I'm a backpacker, so I'm used to packing light. We will be on 2 Southforks by Bucks bags, and one Classic Accessories Wilderness 12 (I think). Most of all the equipment is my backpacking stuff, so I'm thinking that will help. Although the smaller size of the "cargo" area may increase individual boat weight.

I hope I included the image right. The green boat is what we are taking 2 of, and we are taking the newer version of the red one (really only the color changed)

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I was thinking that parts of the West fork of the Bitterroot may be somewhat similar to the Smith.

Canoe's aren't an option as I already own these boats. (I fish the Bitterroot often)

Also as you can tell I do have room for others, if the water holds. Everyone else is bailing out due to water levels. It's a family float, with fishing.
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Old 07-09-2016   #6
elkhaven's Avatar
Belgrade, Montana
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 1,661
looks good. I've never actually seen much of the west fork... but looks like a fair analog on google earth. It looks like they're forecasting 1.5 inches of rain in the next few days. That'll kick it up a bit, even if they're only half right - which they rarely are.

I know that if I were in your shows I'd go. I can't tell you that it won't be work, but I imagine you'll do fine and make some great memories to boot.
Yesterday's gone on down the river and you can't get it back. - Agustus McCrae
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Old 07-12-2016   #7
Denver, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 6
I floated the Smith in late June, 190cfs at Camp Baker. The fishing was poor, green moss throughout the river and very warm water were the cause. We had smaller rafts and had to dodge a lot of shallow places and rocks. I am not sure how much fun it would be at 100.

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Old 07-23-2016   #8
Hamilton, Montana
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 3

Thanks everyone for your advice. We went ahead and took our trip. While the fishing sucked the float was awesome (minus the last 9 or so miles). Our little boats were perfect for it, I can't imagine shlepping a loaded boat down it. But we did see people do it.

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