I have a question regarding using 1 man pontoon to float a river with terrible stream access laws, such as in Wyoming :shock:. How difficult is it to fight a fish while on the pontoon? Is it even reasonable to use a pontoon in this situation. My brother lives in Wyoming and we were considering floating one of the rivers near where he lives. I want to know if we should look into buying him a pontoon (I already have access to one) or if I should consider a drift boat rental or even forget floating all together and stick to walk in public access areas.
It is not hard at all to fight a fish from a pontoon boat, I have done it on lakes and ponds many times. I don't think that is the appropriate concern. Much more important is the flow of the river, your method of propulsion (you need oars), and whether you can keep your feet out of the water.
I have floated the Saugeen River in Ontario in my 'toon, it has a moderate current. I went over some riffles and through deep pools with no problem. Over the riffles I made sure my feet were up on the footbars and did not catch on any rocks to flip me. I abandoned my flippers almost immediately as they were insufficient in controlling my drift. I used the oars to face downstream like a drift boat and control my direction. One of the main problems was drifting though the good pools too quickly and having trouble rowing back upstream to drift down again. My friend in a kayak had a better time, but he also had to paddle back upstream several times to get a second drift. Neither of us had anchors. We found it better to park the craft at good pools to wade and cast. At the end of the day I had to paddle quite a way downstream through slow current to the take-out. 'Toons don't move fast and it was quite tiring (and boring). You will need to know the water and know your route quite well and I think this is much more relevant than the technical challenges of catching or fighting fish from a 'toon.
Like anything you get used to it. First time I hooked a big fish and it ran upstream was pretty interesting, would suggest you get a long handle net.
I have floated many rivers in pontoon boats, as well as in drift boats. It is quite possible to fight and land fish while floating rivers, and I do it all of the time. Drift boats are obviously preferable, in my opinion, but pontoons also work reasonably well.
I wear and use good flippers to control my float while fishing, as well as often using one oar to help control the pontoon while casting with the rod in my other hand. The same goes while playing any fish I hook while floating. I also beach the pontoon, get out and wade fish from shore, as well as trying to get to shore to land fish, where practical.
It helps a lot in landling size able fish from a pontoon to have a good, long handled net.
There are some disadvantages to using pontoons. First, it can be difficult to slow the boat in faster moving water, and you might float right past good water before having a chance to fish it, or fish it as thoroughly as you could while wading. If you hook a fish when floating in faster moving water, it can also be difficult to play and land a big fish while you are floating downstream. Also, you have to be very careful when anchoring your pontoon in rivers - because of the danger of anchoring them in moving water, I ordinarily only use my anchor to secure my boat at the shoreline.
I spend my summers on the Yellowstone River in Montana, and particularly earlier in the year I use my pontoon to float a 4 mile section of the river in the evening, right up until dark. (Okay, sometimes after dark, according to my wife!) I also have a drift boat, but it is easy to put the pontoon in and take it put where I can't do so with my bigger boat, and it can be quite relaxing just to float along in the pontoon.
I'd like to add to my prior post that i believe that the pontoon boat can give you a lower profile which can be an advantage over wade fishing or fishing from a drift boat in certain situations. Or at least it seems that I sometimes hook large trout close to me while floating in my pontoon that I'm reasonably sure would be spooked by wading or by fishing from a higher position in a drift boat.
You have a right to be concerned about Wyoming's trespass laws when it comes to fishing its rivers. On those private stretches of water you can't use an anchor or you will be trespassing, also, you can't row into shore and tie up to a bush, or you will be trespassing. You can only float on through fishing, but not touch anything.
They have markers along the rivers to let you know if you are in public waters or private waters but they can be easy to miss if you are busy with a fish or looking elsewhere. It can really be a pain.
Personally, I use guided drift boat trips. But, if you are handy with a drift boat then rent one and be very familiar with all of the trespassing laws before you go out and fish. At least with a drift boat you can row back up in many places or slow the boat down a bit for your brother to get in an extra cast or two.
Good luck and enjoy the waters. They have some great fishing in Wyoming.
Not to jack the thread, but are the private waters "patrolled" by the owners or LEO's? Seems kind of harsh that anchoring, tying up or beaching your float tube, etc., is tresspassing. I understand the "No Trespassing" signs, but 10 yards back the water was public, now its not?
What if you anchor out in the middle of the stream??
The property owners have total rights to everything except the flowing water. That means all of the bottom of the river, the banks, brush, you name it. I doubt if there are TP's (just a joke but Trespass Police) out on patrols but property owners are very protective of their rights and will enforce them when violators are found. Hence, do not violate. Larry ---sagefisher---
It may make you feel a little better about the Wyoming laws to know, in the state of Georgia if you own both sides of the stream, you also own the water and no one is permitted to float through your property without your permission. I have heard of one fisherman, who was shot by the landowner. The landowner was acquitted in a trial. I suspect there is more to that story than what I have heard but that is all I know about the incident.
In Wyoming, If one side is public, the other side posted. Its posted to the middle bottom of the stream. I don't know about the markers either on all waters. In the Shoshone Forest, there are places that are posted up the hillside but very unclear on the stream. I am fishing to enjoy myself and don't want to be looking over my shoulder, if in doubt I'll either ask or play it safe. Suprisingly, a politeknock on the door or stop by when a rancher is in the field can still get you access. As a camp host outside the NE YNP, I've seen "overflow" from the Park on weekends come into the National Forest to fish, and trash private ranch property acting like they own it. The problem is that not everyone with a rod is a sportsman. I have a lot of fishermen come through my camp and I enjoy talking with them. I ,also, have had folks anglers or not, come in,park on an occupied (someone else's) campsite to access the stream. There is an overflow parking area and roadside parking a very short ways away. A couple of these characters may have caused the posting for us all. Sorry to say, sometimes the posting is to protect the landowner's property. If in doubt, ask or just play it safe.