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Skykomish High Bridge to Sultan? Safe in a pontoon?

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Skykomish High Bridge to Sultan? Safe in a pontoon?

Postby TyeeMatt » Wed Dec 28, 2016 1:48 pm

A buddy and I are considering launching our pontoons at High Bridge and need to know if it's safe. We've got years of experience pontoon fishing lower on the river (Sultan to Ben Howard, etc) but have never put in at High Bridge. Anything dicey we should be aware of in what will probably be lower flows, below 3000? Any wisdom or advice is appreciated. Thanks!
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Re: Skykomish High Bridge to Sultan? Safe in a pontoon?

Postby Mike Carey » Wed Dec 28, 2016 6:54 pm

Gringo Pescador and I launched at High Bridge for this video. The first turn is a 90 degree right turn with some big boulders in the water. We didn't have any issues, but if you are concerned you could walk it through on the right side. Good luck and stay safe. Oh, I believe the flows in this video were around 1800. It took all day to get to Sultan.

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Re: Skykomish High Bridge to Sultan? Safe in a pontoon?

Postby Noodle Caboodle » Wed Dec 28, 2016 11:39 pm

I havent been down in a while, at the bottom of duffy creek where it dumps into the clay bank hole there was/is a big sweeper that you got to watch for in low water.
Below the moth of the wallace, at the end of that run there are logs and a root ball you want to go to the right of (north side).
That was around 3000 cfs, at these lower flows there will probably be some tight spots but it should be do able, just respect the water, it can get a little more dicey than lower on the river.
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Re: Skykomish High Bridge to Sultan? Safe in a pontoon?

Postby TyeeMatt » Thu Dec 29, 2016 10:02 am

Thanks for the replies guys. I'll re-watch that video before we head out tomorrow Mike. Thanks for filming/posting that! Your videos have been very helpful for us in the past. We're definitely a "safety first" crew and will be sure to walk our toons down anything that seems too sketchy. The river should be in good shape if it clears up tomorrow like it's supposed to...hopefully the fish will be cooperating too.
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Re: Skykomish High Bridge to Sultan? Safe in a pontoon?

Postby riverhunter » Fri Dec 30, 2016 7:27 am

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Re: Skykomish High Bridge to Sultan? Safe in a pontoon?

Postby bedawes » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:29 pm

Might be a late post since you were scheduled for the Dec. 30th, but I've done that float many times in inflatable kayaks, never a pontoon.

At flows below 1500 cfs, you may scrape bottom in areas/half to get off and get to faster moving/deeper water.

The only real areas of concern are the first two rapid sets, especially the 2nd. But at anything below 2,000 cfs, you should be just fine. My friend and I rafted it at 5600 cfs last spring and got dumped into a hole at the second set of raps after launching at Big Eddy. We lost 1 paddle, sunglasses, and a few other items that we were wearing but saved everything important in the dry bag attached to the kayak.

He managed to avoid the hole and only got tossed around for about 5-10 seconds. I fell right into the hole and got worked for about 30 seconds where I was constantly tossed around like a dryer. On a side note, if you ever find yourself in that situation, get deep away from the power of the water on top and it'll spit you out. I made the mistake of stroking for the surface over and over and over to no avail until I got more horizontal and ball-like and stopped fighting it. It's the one time where I was extremely thankful for having a high degree of water confidence in order to remain calm.

But I've taken my wife and friends many times when it's 1500-2000 cfs without any issues. I wouldn't take out anyone that isn't confident in water and experienced when it's running 4,000+. I don't mean experienced by being a strong swimmer, I mean knowing how to navigate whitewater and avoid holes, strong eddys, rifts, etc. You have to have some skill with the paddle above 3,000 CFS. Typically you can steer clear of any forthcoming obstacles (fallen branches/trees, etc) as long as you pay decent attention.

Since you noted in your post, at 3,000 cfs in a pontoon you run the risk of being dumped more so than 2,000 or less. The river can act/look COMPLETELY different given just 1,000 +/- CFS change. All in all, the whole float down to the Sultan bridge has about 5-6 solid set of rapids you need to be locked in for.

Except a 3-4 hour float at 1,500-2,500 cfs.

Have fun and be safe!
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Re: Skykomish High Bridge to Sultan? Safe in a pontoon?

Postby Matt » Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:05 pm

The state frequently surveys this reach in single man pontoons.
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Re: Skykomish High Bridge to Sultan? Safe in a pontoon?

Postby natetreat » Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:27 am

Low water is worse than high water, it's real bony below 1500, I don't like my drift boat in those first two drops in low flows. Couple of other fun spots too, but in a toon it should be a piece of cake.
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