Pier and Surf Forum banner
1 - 5 of 5 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,069 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Tuesday after Christmas, a buddy and I hit the Pee Dee river below Blewett Falls dam in search of the big catfish found there. River was pretty badly flooded due to the heavy rains that El Nino so kindly dumped upon us the week prior, but the Nino also gave us warm temperatures. Based on a few local reports, the catfish seemed to enjoy conditions so we were eager to get started.

We had no trouble catching bait upon arrival (a miracle of sorts), and soon I was paddling my trusty old OK Prowler 13 while my buddy guided his NuCanoe Frontier complete with trolling motor toward the dam. Water was cascading freely over the dam, and there were tons of birds picking shad from the frothy water at the base, so we wanted to get as close as possible to that action before anchoring up to fish. Current was very stout, and the water was really turbulent -- there were waves on this narrow stretch of river I had not encountered since my last windy day on Badin Lake. I was able to paddle against the current easily enough, but my buddy's trolling motor couldn't push his wide boat so he had to motor and paddle simultaneously to move upstream. We pushed on in spite of the turbulence, but were only able to get a 200 or so yards from the dam before we got concerned for our safety.

Anchors away, trolleys set, and soon baits were out -- 4 lines out for me, 1 for my buddy.

Within two minutes of starting to fish, a big limb (or small tree, hard to tell) hit the front of his kayak in the current, pulling the anchor loose and sending him downstream a short spell. He got it sorted out, and I reminded him to let his anchor go if a big tree got close. I changed out my big 3 ounce slip sinkers for 4 ounce pyramids, and still had trouble holding bottom in the fast water. I briefly hooked and then lost a small-feeling cat on a chunk of shad, adding to my Gami 8/0 circle slump (three straight fish now, not all small), but then it got quiet and was time to move.

Lines up, rods stowed for heavy paddling, anchors up, and we were off -- closer to the boat ramp, where the current was a little heavier, to have another go.

I anchored up, secured my paddle in the trusty OK Prowler 13 paddle holder, and got one rod out, then another, then felt the kayak getting pulled hard to the left. After a second there was a pop, then the tension released and all seemed well, until I looked and saw my nice paddle drifting downstream and out of sight.

One of those nasty waves had hit the front of the kayak, exposing the paddle's blade to the current. The current pried it away from the kayak until the elastic rope that held it snapped, hence the pull and the pop. I have owned a paddle leash for seven years and have not used it in six; lesson learned.

I turned to yell to my buddy, as he was well downstream and might be able to apprehend the expensive paddle before it disappeared, only to see he had gone all the way back to the boat ramp and was out of the water. Turns out he had tried to run his trolley to the back of his kayak near the trolling motor, a tangle ensued, and his anchor was lost, so he was done. My trusty waterproof Verizon phone worked to get hold of him, and soon he was on the way to my location with his paddle. Upon arrival, conversation went like this:

Me: "Dude, I want that paddle back. I think I might go after it."
Buddy: "Dude, you're f****n crazy! If your wife finds out I let you go down the river alone she'll kick my ass!"
Me: "Expensive nice paddle, and its floating and I can catch it if I go now. Hop in the truck and pick me up at the ramp on 74".
Buddy: "You're a grown man, I'll meet you there."
Me: "You gonna make it back to the ramp OK with no paddle?"
Buddy: "Oh yeah, get your paddle!"

Anchors up, I spun around in the current and proceeded like a rocket moving with the current downstream. I zig-zagged down the river looking for my paddle to no avail. For the record, if someone between Blewett Falls and Murrells Inlet finds a full-carbon (black-on-black) Aquabound Manta Ray with no kayak/kayaker attached, it is mine and I will pay to get it back. They were a gift.

That said, I arrived at the Highway 74 bridge and got a bit worried. The big concrete columns made a little rapids of sorts, and it took some hard paddling to guide the big kayak between them in the heavy current. It was over in a flash though and soon I was at the ramp empty handed, awaiting my buddy's arrival. After ten minutes he showed up, but with no kayak on his truck. Soon I saw he was wet up to his neck too, and shaky, and here's why:

After I jetted downstream, he tried to motor back to the boat ramp but the heavy current pushed him quickly past the ramp and down the river. He finally hit the bank a good ~250 yards below the ramp, in a stretch of flooded forest that threatened to capsize his kayak. He looked down and saw the water was only a foot deep, so he hopped in to drag his kayak ashore. It took him two steps to find a chest-deep hole, at which point he was nearly pulled downstream by the current until he managed to grab a limb and pull himself ashore. He dragged his boat up too, but it was a close enough call.

No more fishing the river in a flood.

We got back to the first boat ramp, and portaged his big kayak, with battery and trolling motor, through the thick woods and back to the truck. I even managed to lose my keys along the way, but by yet another miracle I got a call a week later from Harris Teeter that someone had found keys with my VIC card attached. A friendly fisherman near the ramp found them mostly buried in mud, reported the missing VIC card, and Harris Teeter got us together. There's a lesson somewhere in that too, I think.

He was a crankbait fisherman, so I gave him ~$30 worth of Rapalas for his troubles.

To summarize:

If you get to the river, and the dam looks like Niagara Falls, and the boat ramp sign is almost totally submerged, and you have a creepy, uneasy feeling the entire time you are on the violent water, go back and fish off the bank or just go find a pond.

Or at least make sure you have and use the damned paddle leash.

Stay safe everyone!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
832 Posts
Good story ...glad everyone ended up safe.


My friends and I used to wait for those rains to flood the creeks here, then we would throw a couple rubber rafts in and hang on for dear life. Can't believe nobody drowned ....and I'd kill my kids if I caught them doing something like that now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
879 Posts
That was a great read and really good life lesson that you can share with many others on here. You might save someone's life once they read this and take heed to mess with a river in flood stage.

It does look tempting when you cross over the Catawba River when it is up and the stripers are running but I have always been scared of what "lies beneath" those flood waters.

I once capsized a canoe on the South Fork of the Catawba during a late spring flood and got caught between the boat and a tree that had fallen in. The force of water, it literally was tons of force, pushed the canoe against me to where my only option was to submerge and work my way through the tree to safety. Thank God I could get out of my PFD and had a knife on a lanyard. I surfaced on the backside of the tree on a sandbar wondering how the hell do I make it downstream two miles when the canoe slipped free and came towards me. I was so lucky as I lived and only lost a hat that belonged to my dad.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
115 Posts
Carolina Rebel, I came through that area around Christmas to see my mom and the waters were up and moving fast! Glad to hear you both made it out safe. Thanks for sharing the experience.

Dailout, I remember years ago folks would jump in Lanes Creek on those rafts.........you wouldn't have been in that crowd by chance????

R/D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
322 Posts
My buddy almost died on the James river a few years back..got caught upside down in his yak coming off a rapid into a whirlpool in high water. He tapped out, luckily his buddy was close enough to pull him out just in time. We have been renting boats in Florida for years....went out in extremely heavy seas in a twenty two foot Boston wailer....the Dolphin bite was on and we were catching fish but when we met up with some truly big waves that were breaking over the bow we knew we had screwed up. Sixteen miles offshore, took us two hours to get back in. Incredibly terrifying, lucky to have survived it. That was over ten years ago and it still haunts us. Catching a fish is not worth getting yourself or someone else killed. Good post....if it looks like a bad idea, it probably is. Don't end up a statistic out of stupidity.
 
1 - 5 of 5 Posts
Top