Take the Time to Research Your Boat Ramps

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Take the Time to Research Your Fly Fishing Boat Ramps. Photo Louis Cahill

It’s really easy to get excited about a last minute trip when your buddy calls and says the fish are biting, and then not take the time to research the logistics of where you’re going to be fishing.

Much of the time things work out in the end when we’re doing what we love, but every now and then, no matter how hard you try to make things right, you’re bound to get screwed. That was the case for us during our final day of our recent musky trip with our good friend Charlie Murphy in West Virginia. Due to poor water conditions, we had to go with a Plan B and change our fishing location the final day of our trip. Charlie had taken a friends word that we could launch our boat at the designated spot with no problem. Unfortunately, his acquaintance thought we were launching a drift boat, not a john boat, and that turned out to be and impossible task, without the aid of a cheap pvc roller and a 20 foot section of rope. Now, I’m known for being able to back up a truck and trailer with the best of them and until this day, I was batting a 1000%. So much for my perfect batting average of backing up, because this midget boat ramp put it to me. I tried like hell, but it just wouldn’t fit.

If we would have had the time in our plans to drive by and look at the boat ramp prior to our fishing we could have saved a wasted trip by getting the equipment needed or headed back to our first spot where the musky fishing was super hot. We had nailed them the first couple days but the musky weren’t monsters. Let me give some advice to those that are willing to take it. When it’s your first trip for a new species, don’t leave fish to find bigger fish, because they tend to be much harder to locate and catch. Especially, if you have no idea about the put ins and take outs you’re going to be using and what they look like. To be honest, this was a prime example of being greedy fisherman and getting way ahead of ourselves. What we should have done is pushed away the urge to be greedy and go after big fish for the follow up trip, and instead focused on learning more about tackling our new species on the fly. Taking the time to research and figure out the logistics of your adventure should always be a priority. Let’s face it, if you can’t get on the water, you sure as heck can’t catch fish.

I know it’s just a common sense tip today but I thought it would be nice for a change to show everyone some of the background scenes of G&G, and also that we make many of the same dumb mistakes a lot of other fishermen make. In the end, we did do one thing right, and that was taking the time to go visit and fish with one of our best friends. Charlie did a fantastic job of introducing us to musky on the fly.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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18 thoughts on “Take the Time to Research Your Boat Ramps

  1. Kent,
    As a WVian I feel your pain ! The ramp in your picture is one of the best I have seen. Usually we are launching our drift boats down muddy banks . A big problem is the lack of precise language between the different populations of boaters, paddlers and gov. agencies . Last year my Dad and I gave up a fishing trip and invested a full day in traveling the 3 hours down to the Greenbrier just to research every public access from the Mon. Forest to the New River. Recording actual location , suitability and flow levels , info that some of the pro guides I know were greedily willing to trade hot Upper Potomac locations for. We also became involved with the group establishing a Water Trail on the Cheat in an effort to educate them on the needs of drift boats v kayaks in planning access. As you point out a carry down won’t work for a drifter and a short ramp won’t float off a motor boat. I have thought about trying to form an Eastern Drift Boat group to provide a place to share this type of info and help lobby agency leaders in the development of access and ramps. The real question is if we anglers and guides would share with each other to benefit us all. We all dread the idea of someone else in our favorite float but without users the resource has no voice.

        • Charlie,

          If you were a female stripper you would be a dime piece. I’ve never had a bad time fishing with you. Hell, I’ve never even had an argument with you even after we consumed a ton of alcohol. I will never forget that musky trip. It was an honor to have you show us the ropes. Can’t wait to do it again.


  2. I love your stuff, but think this could have been easily fixed by unhooking the trailer and walking the boat in. I have to roll my trailer around in my garage to get it situated and it isn’t too bad. Two men and a small jon boat should have been easy to managed even with that slope.


    • Jamie,

      If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years its not to mess with another man’s boat and trailer. God forbid we tried something like that and something went wrong. You feel me? That jon boat is a hell of a lot heavier than it looks and the boat ramp is also much steeper than it looks. A couple cheap pvc rollers and some rope would have made the job easy putting it in and taking it out. Hence, it’s always a good idea to take the time to drive by new put ins and take outs before your fishing trip. The needed gear could have been quickly purchased the night before.


      • if we had found some good rope we could have launched the trailer for sure. Kents backing skills R unmatched and he probably would have figure out the right angle but after an hour of my blood pressure boiling for being so stupid as to go without a visual on the ramp aside from google earth I was ready to burn down the whole town.

  3. Gent’s,
    Exactly my point. Many of the access points listed by our WVDNR ,on rivers such as the South Br Potomac and Greenbrier ,on the website as gravel ramps are 3-4″ wide and steeply sloped for canoes or kayaks. Similarly the Pa F&BC took great access on the Yough and put concrete barriers every 4′ to prevent kayakers from parking at the river edge, now you have to slide your drift boat down an embankment. Kent is spot on about the need to scout put ins and take outs , however this adds time and expense when planning trips to new rivers. Consequently most of the time we end up at the same locals. Hence the need for boating guide books or some other type of clearing house for sharing info.

    • It sounds like anglers who have had such a problem at launching ramps like this need to write letters to whomever is designating the launching ramps tearing them new one regarding their criteria on what constitutes a launching ramp and how it affected their trip.

      DFWs are in the business of creating positive experiences so that people will bring money into their state and local areas. Discovering they haven’t and may be jeopardizing such resources being spent there must surely have an impact.

      Maybe that will cause them to adopt realistic criteria.

      • NYCflyangler,

        I’ll keep this recommendation in mind next time I feel like ranting. I wish fixes like this would be easy to fix, but that’s not the case when anglers run into this kind of stuff.


    • Steelheader,

      I hear you. My canoe skills are piss poor and I’m not the guy you want to partner up fishing out of a canoe with. Louis would agree. But boy are they easy to put in and take out.


  4. I often get “gun ho” about fishing as well, and I sometimes don’t really think things out before hand. I’m kind of impulsive and enthusiastic which has brought me to learn a lot of things the hard way over the years. I just take it in stride. I can totally see myself in this same situation. You live and you learn bro.

  5. we routinely drag our boats through the woods I build and use wooden drift boats of all shapes and sizes. i pick a lighter boat for the ‘woodsy” boat launches. no canoe for this guy. some advice- go to harbor freight, buy a come-along crank winch for $50 and have at it. also helps back in the woods when you bury the truck in 3’ of mud. ask me how i know…..

  6. Boat Ramps BOat Ramps Boat ramps boat ramps. WV plain outright sucks a fat one with it comes to boat ramps. And by boat I mean something that can accommodate a 14 ft boat and trailer. Kent is right, I have put a lot of time into my local musky and we should have stayed with them, ignoring the call of the monsters. Not that I haven’t seen monsters here locally, it’s just that they are fewer and farther between than what I have seen farther south. It would have been a great trip even if the Essox didn’t show themselves. Fishing with Louis and Kent is a blast. Great fishermen and great entertainment. True brothers that I would share the stream with any day. Can’t wait to do it again here soon. I WILL GO BACK TO THIS RAMP AND GET REVENGE….THAT TREE WILL BE NO MORE.

  7. I fish by myself quite a bit from a boat and I have come across ramp areas that have fast running water as soon as you put the boat in or try to take it out. This scenario is almost impossible to tackle by myself. I welded a cradle onto my trailer that both snuggly holds the boat while traveling and it holds the boat in place when I pull onto the trailer. A 20 or 30 ft. rope is a necessity when going into and leaving the water.

    Over the years I have gotten some strange looks when people see my trailer without the boat on it, but often I have people ask me where I bought the cradle when they see how easy it is to load the boat by myself. I tell them I made it and show them the intricacies of it and how easy it is to make (if you have a welder).

    Every once in a while I will find an impossible ramp that completely stumps me; its all part of the game. I buy county maps whenever I travel to fish, most gas stations or convenient stores carry them. Most of the maps show boat ramps on them, and local bait and tackle stores are a good source for unmarked ramps in the area.

    Yea, it really sucks when you travel quite a distance and find out the ramp is not designed for your boat.

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