May 08 2017

Paddling Upstream, or, On Becoming a Gamefish by Tamia Nelson

Last week, Tamia made the case for emulating the gamefish and paddling upstream. Not as an everyday thing, to be sure—but as a change of pace from the usual gravity-assisted one-way river trips. And this week? She offers a primer on how to do it. Just in case you ever feel the urge to join the returning salmon and head upriver.

Tired of being a minnow? Do you sometimes dream of becoming a gamefish, at least for a day? I thought you might. And there are good reasons to give it a try, if only to free yourself from what might be termed “shuttle dependency.” Of course, the gamefish lark isn’t for everybody, and it’s not for every river. If you’re of a mind to emulate the salmon, you’ll still need to choose the right water. Steep mountain torrents and big, muscular rivers aren’t good candidates. At least they’re not good choices for beginners—or for anyone who paddles for the fun of it. But that leaves you plenty to choose from. You just have to look at a few quads to start building your list.

OK. If you’re still reading, you probably find the idea appealing. But unless you’re already a seasoned gamefish, you may need a little help getting started. After all, upriver travel doesn’t figure prominently in the modern paddling syllabus. Many canoeists and kayakers have never given a moment’s thought to going against the flow for any longer than it takes to execute an upstream ferry. Traveling upriver is something altogether different. Gaining ground against even a modest current requires a trained eye and strong arms, along with no small measure of guile. It’s something you learn by doing. You can’t acquire the necessary skills by reading or watching a video. That said, a few pointers may gentle your ascent of the learning curve. So here’s my guide for would-be gamefish… Read more…

Working Upriver -- (c) Tamia Nelson

Originally published at on May 8, 2017

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