Volume XI, Issue 30 ~ July 24-30, 2003

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Burton on the Bay | Chesapeake Outdoors | Sky Watch | Tidelog
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Chesapeake Outdoors by C. D. Dollar

Rolling on the River

Between Route 40 and I-95 runs a tree-lined stretch of the Gunpowder River that, when water levels are right, can reach Class III rapids. These rapids have names like Pots Rock, Fault Line and S-Turn. That’s one of the cool things about whitewater paddling: The names of the rapids all have some significance and, invariably, local legend and lore is associated with the moniker.

Dave Cola, a skilled paddler, got it into his head that he could teach me to roll a whitewater boat fairly easily. The boy must have banged his noggin one too many times on a river rock, because I’m not sure he understood the breadth of that commitment. But since he’s spent endless hours on regional hotspots like the Cheat and Gauley rivers, I was game.

I’ve done a good deal of sea kayaking, but that has about as much in common with whitewater kayaking as fly fishing for brook trout does with fly casting to tuna. Sure the tools look similar, but the process and methods are worlds apart.
Dave walked me through the techniques of a roll. When he did it, he easily resurfaced, like a river otter goofing off. I looked like a barge.

In a roll, you are basically underwater for at least five seconds while the river pounds through your eardrums. The nose clip, which I looked upon with contempt at first, quickly became my favorite accessory. The trick to getting back upright, as near as I could figure, was to punch your arms skyward through the water while snapping your thighs and pelvis in such a violent manner that even the young Elvis would blush.

Good coaching from Dave made the difference, and soon I began to get the hang of it. Whether I can do it solo, with whitewater beating me down, is another story.

One of the things I think I like best about whitewater paddlers is that they revere the water they run. The ones I’ve talked to have a great respect for its sheer undiluted power, and they are keenly aware that its momentous force can, and will, punish the reckless and careless if homage is not paid. My kind of water.

Fish Are Biting
The buffet of Bay species is now open to Chesapeake anglers: big spot, croaker, white perch, rockfish and flounder top the list. There are even black and red drum hereabouts, and some blues to five pounds have shown up around Drum Point. Chuck from Kent Island recently caught five species, including a 22-inch flounder, in an evening venture using peeler crab. He was fishing shell bottom between Parsons Island and Kent Point.

Capt. Mark Galasso of Tuna the Tide charter fishing has been doing well chumming for rockfish above the Bay Bridge.

has slowed way down since a relatively nice run a few weeks ago. Many reports of algae blooms and subsequent fish kills are becoming commonplace, a sure sign of bad water due to nitrogen pollution.



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Last updated July 24, 2003 @ 12:45am