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Be careful out on the river this spring - It can be dangerous!

Discussion in 'Ohio River Fishing Reports' started by Buckeye1955, Mar 4, 2008.

  1. Buckeye1955

    Buckeye1955 Marietta River Runner

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    I'm not sure how much press this received out of the Marietta area, but they recovered the body of a fisherman Friday evening at Marietta. A lady heard a fellow yelling for help floating down the river. By the time a rescue boat was launched from Williamstown, he had died apparently of exposure to the cold water. It is believed he was fishing in a flat bottomed jon boat with a small motor alone. The boat has not been recovered, but they did find a gas tank. The river can be a very dangerous place this time of year. No matter how bad the itch is to get out and do some fishing, it isn't worth dying for. The current is relentless, the water temperatures are life threatening in a few minutes and there are very few other boats out there to assist you if something goes wrong. The experienced river hands know to wait until the spring high water is over, but every year they pull somebody out of the river. Most of the time it is somebody in a small boat. Find a lake somewhere or fish from the bank, but don't overestimate your skill or equipment and be the next one they pull out of the river!
     
  2. mrfishohio

    mrfishohio Recovering Fishaholic

    Especially this...so true
    With the emphasis on SMALL BOAT. I had a nice 18" Starcraft CC and never took it out when the river was over 32-34' in Cincinnati. I think one of the reasons small boats go out is they can be launched easier, the current & debris is unbelievable in high water. You get a tree to hit your anchor & look out ! It would have to capsize a small boat.
     

  3. I like high water ! 30 to 40 ft cin levels is when the fishing is the best.The main thing is to be very carefull and watch what is going on around u at all times.The small boat thing is what gets most of them like MFO said.
     
  4. High water is a great time to fish but if your going out in a small boat you better have your head on a swivel. You see some of the craziest things floating down river when it swells as high as it is now. Entire trees, barrels, channel markers, etc. Be careful and err on the side of caution. No fish is worth dying for.

    Jake
     
  5. Buckeye1955

    Buckeye1955 Marietta River Runner

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    Your margin of error in flood waters gets very, very small. If you have engine trouble, you're at the mercy of the current. If you hit debris with your prop and become disabled, same thing. A trolling motor won't cut it in flood swift water (I tried it once). And again as I said in the earlier post, there are very few other boats out there to help you. By the time somebody launches one, it can be too late. And remember the tows are still running and are even less able to manuver around you if you're coming boring down stream with no control. And god help you if you go overboard. They believe the fellow that died Friday was probably trying to anchor at the mouth of the little Muskingum river above Marietta. Whether the current pulled the front of the boat under when the anchor caught or something hit the anchor rope, no one will ever know. He was spotted at Marietta which is 4 miles down the Ohio. Probably was in the water less then 30 minutes and didn't make it..... In the 96 massive flood in Marietta I saw a pontoon boat with a 40 HP on it wide open and not able to move up stream due to the current. And he was close to the bank. Another bigger boat had to go out and rescue him. He was trying to get from his dock to a ramp. Stay safe. There is always another place or another day to fish!
     
  6. miyot

    miyot

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    Cold water is a killer. River, lake or stream. The Ohio is a bad place for floating debris, snags. No one should be on the river during high, muddy waters.

    Fishing is supposed to be fun, not scary. I was on the river all day, Monday. A strong south wind against the current sets up a swell much like standing waves. Some of these swells were running 3 ft. The water was pretty and not much debris. Still had to maintain a carefull watch.

    Running against the swell was ok, making 14 knots, but had to slow for the occasional deep trough. I took several seas over the bow. Had to be carefull not to stuff it. I'm runnin an 18 ft. pontoon. Which don't do well in a sea.

    Running North, or with the wind went better, but still had to watch not to stuff her. Angle her a little for the big ones and slow down. One of the few days the river wasn't fit for small boats. A john boat in the 12-14 ft. range would have been down right dangerous. Even keeping to the shore was not much help, as the swell was still pretty good at times.

    Remember to keep clear of the tow boats. They can't really manuever to avoid a small craft. Wear your PFD. If you fall in, you won't be able to put it on then.
     
  7. snake69

    snake69 Equal opportunity fishing

    This all sounds like it "goes without saying".... None the less, good advice here small boat owners. I've seen some 12-14' ers in some semi bad conditions. Like someone said, a fish isn't worth dying over!! Thanks for posting this, it may catch some unaware person and make him/her think twice!
     
  8. depends on how big the fish is.
     
  9. Tall cool one

    Tall cool one strictly flyfishing

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    Of all the places I've fished I've never seen a place where so many boaters actually wear PFD's as on the OR.Is everyone down there just safety conscious ....or maybe just responsible? I see way more worn there than on any inland body of water,TC1
     
  10. Buckeye1955

    Buckeye1955 Marietta River Runner

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    Probably a combination of things. The fellow that died the other night was clutching his PFD, but did not have it on. The cold water got him. Probably grabbed it after he came out of the boat. With all the industry along the river, a lot of the guys work at the plants. Safety is ingrained into you with all the safety training you go through. And if you have grown up on the river you learn to respect it a great deal. We also have to deal with both the Ohio and WV DNR and at times the Coast Guard. And a lot of us have had a closer call then we would like to admit, so we don't take too many chances out there. We try to be prepared and remember not to do what the guys they have pulled out of the river have done. The Ohio isn't very forgiving other then summer and early fall. The guys that get in trouble seem to be mostly all beginners, somebody from out of the area, or somebody that has primarily fished small lakes. The fellow that died last Friday was an exception to that, he was local and had fished the river quite a bit from what I was told by his niece's employer. It looks like he just overestimated his equipment for the conditions.

    As for my own close call. I was talked into trying a recently purchased bass boat for a quick run. The river was not up too high, but flowing hard. I have a lifetime of boating experience on the Ohio and belong to the Marietta Boat Club. We have moved boats, rescued boats, etc in high water many times. Ok - quick run..... Sure enough it quits half way up along Buckley Island at Marietta. Swaps ends instantly. We are now screaming down river back toward the ramp, but out in the middle. I tell the buddy to drop the trolling motor and put it on high and try to steer us toward the ramp. He also grabs the paddle and is trying that. I crank the steering wheel over that direction and continue trying to start the motor. We scream by the ramp and are making some progress toward the bank, but are going to hit about 300 yards below the ramp into some trees - hard! I'm thinking how the crap am I going to get this boat back up stream to the ramp? There was one other boat trailer in the parking lot when we launched. I happen to look over my shoulder and he is coming out of the Muskingum into the Ohio. We start yelling and he runs over and throws us a rope just before we go into the trees. It was all he could do to tow us back to the ramp. That was it for me. I'll fish the lakes and wait for normal level and flow. If anything goes wrong out there, you can't control the situation at all. And we weren't in a small boat, we were in a full sized bass boat. (Additionally, in reference to Miyot's post above - we did have an anchor with us. If you have ever tried anchoring in current that strong, you'll only do it once. You'll be very lucky if you don't pull the part of the boat you have the anchor tied to under water. If you don't have some means of getting it loose quickly, you're in the river. And everything happens very,very fast. You don't have much time for options. A radio isn't a bad idea to have on any boat using the river. In our area all the Boat Club boats monitor channel 72. But in the spring of the year, the Boat Club boats aren't on the docks and there are very few other boats out. You won't find many answers to your calls. A cell phone is a must, but again how long will it take for someone to come get you? How far down the river will you be? It just makes a lot more sense to fish calmer water until the spring high water is over. The best safety equipment going is some good old common sense! Listen to that little voice - no not the Bait Monkey! - The smart one. And live to fish another day!
     
  11. miyot

    miyot

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    Things can really go wrong fast. I am amazed at how many boats, especially bass boats operate with out an anchor. And if they do have one its the wrong size for the boat and their anchor line is clothes line.

    Anchoring may not be your best bet on the Ohio, if you are still in the traffic lane. You could drop your anchor(never throw it) as your boat came shallow to keep from going aground. Out in the channel you could anchor, but you would need a radio to call for help and, the big one, warn the barges or tow boats of your location and situation. Scary. Also you should have an axe or knife handy to cut your anchorline if you had to.

    Remember that trolling motor can save you. You may have to raise your main engine. This will lessen the drag on your boat and help you make way faster. Make sure those Batterys are charged. I had an engine quit just last week. The fuel line had come partially off its barb. Plugged it back in and good to go.

    As for anchor line I like at least half inch. Even for a small boat. It is just easier on your hands. Quarter inch may do for a john boat, I prefer half inch. Don't forget, you need plenty of anchor line. At least a 7 to one ratio. That means to anchor in 10 ft of water you need 70 feet of anchorline. Also don't forget the amount of line above the water should also be counted in your ratio. Example 10 ft of water plus one foot from the water to your anchor bit, or where you tie it off = 77 ft of line needed to anchor safely.

    If your anchor pulls or drags, let out more line. A standard Danforth anchor works pretty good on the river. You need to have a good cleat on the boat to tie your anchor line to. Rarely do they come with one good or big enough. Buy a good one and put it on. A full round turn and two half hitches is the way to go. Never tie a knot that wont untie after a load has come on it. Example is a granny knot. Never tie that. Learn your knots.

    You should be able to tie a bowline and the half hitch at least. Quick and with out wondering if its right. Practice. Don't forget your flare kit!
     
  12. miyot

    miyot

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    Buckeye1955, I did not mean to infer that you didn't have an anchor on board. Also, as you stated, anchoring in swift water can be dangerous.

    And should be done only in an emergency. With proper scope. (anchor line length) it could save you from going hard aground or under moored barges.

    We all need to think safe.