You see all sorts of watercraft along the Rideau River so nothing should seem strange however drifting down the river in a fly fishing float tube is a bit unusual. It is not a speedy process but it can be a great way to access less frequented fishing spots along the river. Last Saturday some of us drifted a section – probably about 3 kilometres in length with the intent of locating small mouth bass. This was a continuation of a trip started last year cut short due to darkness. Drifting this section of the Rideau in a float tube is not a speedy process – three kilometres in three hours is leisurely by my definition. But it can be a great way to fish.
Last Saturday’s float began at a put in near St. Paul University and ended at Strathcona Park – both accessible urban Ottawa locations.
We started out in mid afternoon with high hopes for some great fishing. However in keeping with the casual float, the fish were pretty casual about biting too. After one and a half hours – four fishermen (and who knows how many fly changes) – zero fish. This was not turning out as planned. But about the time it seemed like this was going to be a kick down the river and nothing else, we moved out of a slow moving, weedy section of the river to a set of riffles with good bottom structure and the fun began. The bass were suddenly much more cooperative hitting first on deep drifting clousers and weighted streamers but eventual experimentation led to hook ups with near surface flies as well.
The fish varied in size, some probably close to two pounds but regardless of size, they were adept at using the current to great substantial resistance and when they were able to locate some of the long weeds things became even more interesting.
Eventually the river dynamics changed as we moved out of the riffle section but the weeds were not as heavy as we first encountered and there was still lots of structure so the fishing continued to be interesting.
As we started to think about the possibility of sunset, our take out spot presented itself around a bend in the river. Three hours passed quickly considering we didn’t go far. Fish during the last half of the trip definitely helped.
This map shows the put in and take out spots for the drift. There are other sections along the Rideau that are also quite suitable for float tube drifting.