Float the Hooch!!!
by Joe Carriveau, Past AFFC President
I have been asked many times what one should have if they want to join the group that floats the ‘Hooch most weekends in the summer and often during the winter. As you know the law requires you to wear a life vest from Buford Dam down to Highway 20. From that point on you do not have to wear it but you must have a life vest on/in your tube.
The list I have put together was originally for warm weather, however with most of the river open year around you can now adapt it to cool weather by adding lightweight and windproof thermal layers to your upper body for winter fishing. I have made some recommendations of what items and actions will make your float more enjoyable.
First, check the generation schedule by calling 770-945-1466.
Without this, the trip is off. Check the air pressure for proper inflation and also check for leaks. It’s a long walk along the bank to the takeout point.
The water temp is between 43 – 54 degrees. If you have neoprene waders, use them. If you have regular waders, put on long underwear and warm socks. You may think it isn’t necessary with the air temp in the 80’s but I’m speaking from experience. Hypothermia is a very real danger and should not be taken lightly.
It is the law. You must have a Coast Guard approved life preserver with you. You don’t have to be wearing it but it must be on/in your float tube.
The best choice is a 8 1/2 ft. to 9 ft. fly rod that is a 4, 5 or 6 weight. The longer rods help since you’re sitting low in the water. If you have one rod, bring it.
Your choice of a 7 1/2 ft. or 9 ft. tapered leader in a 3x to 5x should cover most of the fishing conditions. The shorter if you plan to fish nymphs; longer for drys.
Starting at the bottom with nymphs… Prince Nymph, Pheasant Tail, Hares Ear, March Brown, Stone fly and Serendipity in size 10 to 16 will work well. Soft hackle flies and bead heads also take fish. The use of a strike indicator will help substantially when fishing nymphs.
Dry flies range from Caddis in tan or cream to Adams regular and parachute style to Light Cahill’s, Blue Duns down to (size 18 or smaller), Griffith’s Gnats, and Midges.
Some other things you will want to bring are Sunblock 15 or higher, water or Gatorade type drink, sandwich or food in a zip lock bag, travel tissue, polarized sunglasses and a hat. Plus, float tube fins to maneuver with, and a fishing net to land all the fish you will be catching.
Use of Float Tube Fins
Float tube fins work even better than Joe’s original suggestion of using a dust pan or ping pong paddle to maneuver while floating the ‘Hooch in the deeper sections. You can actually put yourself into a “hold” position with fins as you cast to rising fish. Take them off at shoals and gravel bars to allow easy wading while fishing and then put them back on to continue your float downstream. Use a tether of some type to prevent losing a fin while wade fishing a shoal or gravel bar — when you’re away from your tube.
Always be cautious of getting a foot caught or jammed in underwater hazards while floating with float tube fins in a river system.For this reason, many people do not recommend using float fins in rivers or fast moving streams.