This is a report from a trip to the Chipola River during the summer of 2009. 

Early one summer morning, my dad, two of his friends, and I loaded up the kayaks and traveled the ~2hr’s to Marianna Fl to fish the Chipola river. Once there, we worked out the details of the float plan and dropped off a car at the take out point. We then drove up river with the yaks and put in.

To my surprise, the river was relatively clear; not the usual coffee-with-extra-cream color that dominates this part of the state.

My goal for this trip was to catch a shoal bass. To be honest, prior to taking this trip, I was unaware there was any such thing as a shoal bass. But after talking to some of my dad’s friends, I had decided that I’d like to land one in the yak with me that day.

After launch, I realized quickly that I was out of my element. I’m used to saltwater, tides, small waves, etc. I’m definitely -not- used to swift currents, submerged trees, and random limestone outcroppings. What made things even more difficult and defied the laws of physics at the same time was that my kayak INSISTED on floating backwards down the river. No matter what I did with my rudder, paddle, or curse words, the kayak would just float around and head stern first down current.

At the end of the 4 hour float, it felt like my neck permanently twisted around so that my chin rested on my shoulder. We did, however, have a great trip. I failed to catch anything huge, but did manage to land my first shoal bass…and on a fly no less.

I also lost count on the number of bream I caught. None were of any size worth mentioning, but I landed one nearly every other cast. One of the problems I noticed about fishing in a river with swift current is that you don’t have all the time in the world to cast to a good looking hole. Rather, you get one, maybe two casts before you’re out of range and can never get back to it again.

The Chipola River trip was certainly an interesting one. We saw people bowfishing for mullet, fossil hunting in the shallows, and even some other fools in kayaks. By the time we reached the take out spot, the scenery had changed slightly from the morning. There were a bunch of people there and several who needed to -not- be wearing such skimpy bathing suits. It was the first time I’ve ever had to unload the kayak while averting my eyes from the horrors that jiggled and flopped and shook the earth with every step around me.