Summer is the perfect time to float a river with the family. The weather is warm, and water levels are consistent and generally favorable for navigating. Best of all, fish species like bass, catfish and panfish are active and easy to locate this time of year, providing action for every family member. Just like any family adventure, a float trip will be more enjoyable if you put some time into planning. Here are five things to consider in order to make the most of your float.
Tip 1: Focus on Safety
Safety on the water should be your primary consideration. Choose a familiar section of river so you can accurately plan for time and match conditions with your family members’ skill levels. If you wish to explore new water, first gather up-to-date, local info on river level, current and potential hazards (submerged trees and rapids) to avoid.
Ensure each family member wears an appropriately sized personal flotation device. Apply sunscreen before you launch, and regularly reapply throughout the float. Fill a cooler with plenty of drinks, and pack a first-aid kit. Provide a friend who is not joining you with a trip plan, and check in with your contact periodically during the trip.
Tip 2: Keep Bugs at Bay
Much like sunscreen, insect repellent is essential to both the safety and the comfort of float-trippers. Keep bugs from ruining the trip by applying OFF!® Sportsmen with Picaridin Insect Repellent. The formula used in OFF!® Sportsmen with Picaridin Insect Repellent is a DEET alternative that provides hours of protection from mosquitoes.
The entire family will appreciate its non-greasy formula, which is great for float trips, fishing and camping because it won’t damage gear. OFF!® Sportsmen with Picaridin Insect Repellent comes in a 5-ounce aerosol can, making it quick and convenient to reapply throughout the trip for the utmost protection.
Tip 3: Consider Comfort
A canoe or raft is a relatively small space to spend hours at a time. Don’t crowd it. Take two (or more) watercrafts, each with an experienced adult operator, to allow enough space for people and gear.
Make sure each seat has a cushion and, ideally, a back. Where land access isn’t an issue, pull onto the bank at regular intervals to give everyone the opportunity to stretch.
Tip 4: Allow Plenty of Time
Allow enough time for your family to enjoy the fishing. Err on the side of too much time. It’s far better to end a float trip earlier than expected than to rush to make your take-out point by a designated time—or by dark.
Don’t expect your family members to be expert or strong paddlers. Plan for a slow, relaxed pace. One to two miles of river per hour is a good pace when floating with a family.
Tip 5: Pack Extra Gear
Plan for minor mishaps like a broken paddle or hopelessly tangled reel with extras that can quickly replace any damaged gear. Take dry clothing for wearing after swimming or wading. An extra set of sunglasses, especially for the kids, is a good idea, too.
Above all, plan on having fun. The beauty of a float trip is, once you launch your boat or canoe in the river, most of the work is done. Let the current move you along while you and the family enjoy the fishing. If you follow these tips, your family will have a float trip they’ll long remember—and want to do again next summer.