Canoes are a great way to access some of the best and most scenic waters in the area. Almost all the area streams and rivers are accessible by canoes and offer water suitable for all levels of paddlers.
From gently flowing streams for beginners to more demanding whitewater sections that require more skill to navigate, there is something for just about everyone. Canoeing offers a chance to get into more remote sections of streams for fishing, camping or just enjoying the scenery and wildlife.
I had an opportunity last week to float a section of a popular area river with my friend Dave and his 3-year-old son, Connor. He called one morning and asked if I would like to take the canoe and smallmouth bass fish for a few hours, so of course I said yes.
We put on the river about 1 p.m. under blue skies with near perfect water conditions, slightly off color and still running a bit high so we would not have to drag across shallow spots. I was a little concerned about the time of day and wasn't sure we could get the bass to hit in the middle of the day under bright sun, but Dave just laughed and said we should be all right. Of course, I had a fly rod with me and an assortment of flies for smallmouth, minnow and crawfish imitations for the most part while Dave and Connor used minnow lures on spinning gear.
We floated about a half mile before starting to fish and Dave broke the ice with two nice bass on his first few casts. I quickly followed up with another nice fish and was very impressed as we continued to catch fish after fish for the next hour or so. We did not catch anything huge, but several bass between 2 and 3 pounds, which is a nice river smallmouth in anyone's book.
After the fishing slowed a little, we still caught plenty. It just wasn't one on every fourth or fifth cast. I started looking around and enjoyed the beauty of our float. There was pastureland separated by stands of hardwoods with various shades of wildflowers decorating the riverbank and young Connor delighted in pointing out the different wildlife we saw along the way. Deer, ducks, herons and many other birds watched us pass on our journey. We even caught a glimpse of an osprey as he made off with one of the fish we could have caught.
While the fishing was a little slow Connor kept us laughing with his 3-year-old antics, the delight he got form being out with the boys for a day of fishing and the joy he got from handling the fish as he released them for us.
As the sun got a little lower in the sky, the bass started hitting again and we enjoyed excellent action until we pulled out. I'm not sure how many fish we caught that day, but it had to be close to 40. Many were smaller fish that gave a good fight.
Dave caught most of the fish on a gold minnow and even hooked two at once on the same lure, something I have never seen before. What I lacked in numbers I made up for with two stout bass around 3 pounds apiece. Connor, while he did not land any fish, did have a couple hooked which thrilled him to no end.
I really enjoyed tagging along with Dave and Connor floating this beautiful section of river. He had been telling me how good the fishing was, but this was the first chance I had to fish with him this year and I was not disappointed. I had a great time with great friends on water that receives little pressure. I did not forget to mention the name of this stream. We saw no one else along the way and we would just as soon keep it that way.