Yakoo Stealth on the Waneeter River


Yakoo Stealth on the Waneeter (Juniata) River
by Richard Frye

I told you I'd git a full report to you...well here it is! The trip to
"Smallmouth Heaven" as Frank calls it we'd been planning for 3 damn years! I got another name for it! Fish'n was lousy to begin with, but the way I see it...not catching any fish don't necessarily ruin the trip in my book.

A big storm front moved in while I was waiting on Frank to get off work so we could head out. The heavy rain sent mud and all kindsa crap down the river and right to where we wuz going and raised the water level 'bout 3 inches or so. All that made the water a murky mess and smallmouth bass don't like murky water. Next day it was pretty sun shiny weather and stayed that way till Sunday when more severe storms were forecast, so Frank headed to his house like a groundhog run'in to his hole, and me dreading the 5 hour drive back home.

He had a 20 year old tent that no doubt it would shed water like an old dish rag. I got the Teardrop! That's a picture of Frank and his fish by the way! It's a Smallie! Name fits don't it!

Now.....Page 2! I didn't expect much after looking at the water although I saw some recent pictures at Millers Campground office of some mighty fine fish from that place. Smallies like clean clear water with nice rocky bottoms, plus like any river there's other stuff lurking around that might grab a hook. Oh there was tons of rocks too! Had to watch fer'm or run aground on top of one!

I got to see an absolutely gorgeous river that I'd never been to before with different and right pretty scenery too! The Juniata flows into the Susquehana River that I want to check out one day too. We stayed not far from Mexico, PA....and I called the (Juniata) Joonee-eta...the Wanneeter (Juanita) river since it all sounded and looked hispanic to me! Frank has spent half his life around that river and now I got him call'in it that!...the Wanneeter River. He gits a kick outta that!

I was amazed at the huge number of canoes and short recreational kayaks and a few touring types as well...folks just out having a good time on the water. It was rare to get a place that was isolated to take some pics...and it didn't last long. Boats were plentiful in the river.

Like I told you before I took the Yakoo Stealth, the light touring concockshun of my own design cause she's purty beat up now, and a qualified candidate for the ABFB...that's (Abused Women's Shelter Fer Boats) cause most boats are called a "she" anyway. She's well over due for a face lift and tummy tuck, but I'll give her one this fall, and paint her some bright pretty color and do away with that ugly camo crap so I can find her a little better but dat wuz all the paint I had at the time. It's bad when you got to put on reading glasses just to find your boat!

I knew I'd have to deal with rocks, concete landings, weathered wore out docks and such... like some damn fool drifting into me because his motor stalled when he gunned it and now trying frantically to get back to the landing so he can fix it...flailing oars, paddles, dip nets to get the boat moving in the moving water. You gotta watch in case you need to duck or bail out! This is where a man can appreciate the fine art of paddling.

It's always at the landings and docks where that kinda stuff happens a lot, so I let my ship hit the sand and landed on a sandy part beside the concrete landing away from the out of control barges and a bit upstream. Bigger boats with an electric motors for a backup handled the problem of a stalled gas engine just fine... but it really wasn't that bad.

Ironically I got many compliments on my funny looking homemade boat that easily walked off and left the plastic boats as well as some of the canoes like they were dragging anchors or something. Several folks asked me, "Ain't you worried about running into rocks?" I just said, "Nope .....and I'd be will'in to bet that wooden boats were run'n this river long before plastic and aluminum boats ever got there bottoms wet!" That ended that ....and no I weren't worried a damn bit.

The Stealth is fast and stable and proved to be perfect for that type of river paddling or fishing or long distance cruising down a river of that class. She can take some pretty good bumps and scrapes even if she was conceived from cheap luan plywood salvaged from the last flood we had here. But I would be a might concerned if I'd had to deal with some Class 3 white water where there might be something that looks like the Rock of Gibralter 3 feet dead ahead, and you ain't got no damn place to go but smack into it!... but I'm too old for that stuff now anyway.

Many years ago I wound up with 4 broken ribs on one trip from a big rock in a Class 4 river. Took a whole bottle of Tylenol before I got home Sunday evening,and when that was gone, I had a 5th of Johnny Walker Black to dull the pain till I could git up to the doctor. He said, "Ain't nothing you can do but tape'em up." Hell I already knew that! So I stopped on the way home and picked up another bottle of Johnny Walker ...medicine! Yep....I was sore as hell all weekend and for several months afterward, and I still called it fun!

I was very crazy then...not to say that I ain't crazy now to some extent...but even my sweet wife noticed that some of the craziness has faded away over the years. She don't like to admit it though! Even with a bad ticker I easily paddled into the wind and upstream for 4.8 miles according to the GPS, cruising along nicely and into the current and a 7mph wind at an average of 3.2 mph, and the exercise is good for me and I felt good.

Of course when it comes to boats and stuff, Kaye is convinced I have serious mental problems. Like the time she was sitting in the car, watching me ride out a thunderstorm in the Yakoo out in the middle of the lake as everyone else went hell bent for leather to the landing at the same time. Must have been at least 40 boats there, bass boats, fishin boats, you name it and if it floated it was there amongst the crowded flotilla. I was a lot safer out in the middle with the thunder and lightening. She didn't see it that way. When it was all said and done, I was dry. just fine, grinning like a possum trying to explain through her histeria that I needed to find out how the boat would do if I really got caught in a big storm. I said, "Just look at them and listen!" They were soaked, and bitch'n! It was then and there she certified me as a complete idiot for at least the 30th time!...and then calmly asked ME if there was such a thing as a Marine Psychiatrist! I was happy as a dead pig in the sunshine simply knowing my boat would take the 30 mph winds with even stronger gusts and the 3 foot waves and all I had to do was hang on till it was over! It only lasted about 20 minutes..then the sun came out! My Yakoo had proven herself in a damn good test. My Kestral 1000 wind meter is nice to have along too just in case you want to know how fast the wind is blowing. Always had it on the sailboats.

Now this was on the slow side of the river where I was in a 1.5 mph flow. On the other side I had to work a little harder as the current was 2.8 and even passed 3 a few times due to the high water.

Later Frank and I went out in his 12 foot aluminum v bottom with his old 6hp 1957 Mercury that once belonged to his daddy and motored up to the riffles (that's what they call'em) where we jumped out, grabbed the minny seine and comenced to catch a few hellgramites. I held the net while he flipped the rocks over. Them prehistoric looking critters, with big pinchers on their heads, like cold fast moving water. And if you don't pick'em up right you will be hollering and cussing when he bites the hell out of you!

About minnows now....They call'em "minnies" up here!...not minnows like where I'm from...South Georgia Coast....and damn proud of it!

Before you even ask...I moved to Pennsyltucky cause my wife's relatives are from this area...even though she was born in the Buckeye State being raised around Akron and Barberton. But we love it here...be'in out in the boonies and all. Folks are nice to me and accept me for who I am or whatever....probably just because I'm married to a bonified gen-u-wineYankee girl.....I recon! Anyway I was being sweet to her one day and called her "my little Buckeye Bimbo"......Big mistake! She ain't got a dab of personality when it comes to stuff like that! Hell, she wouldn't even speak to me for a solid damn month!

Some folks fished with "minnies" or shiners, but weren't having any luck neither. Tried every damn lure in my tackle box and Frank did the same from his box too. Even tried nightcrawlers with the same results...basically nothing.....'cept a few little hits and some little bitty ass fish...and not but half a dozen of them all day long! I guess that was better than noth'n and we didn't have to say or admit we got totally skunked......and we did catch something though ......all under 8 inches!

He keeps offering me a beer. I like beer, and I love Johnny Walker Black Label. Thought I was immune to Old Johnny at one time!... and Capt. Morgan rum..and have drank my share of all of it in years past! Now he knows damn well I'm on 7 kinds of heart medicine! His wife Chris is a Registered Nurse, has yelled at him a few times about it! And I keep having to tell him over and over that I'm on 7 kinds of heart medicine! None of them agree with alcohol, and I get damn tired of having to say "naww...maybe later!". He says he's my friend.....and within 30 minutes offers me another goddamn beer!

Met a very nice senior lady there at the landing with her grandson and niece or grand daughter that were there to do some kayak paddling. Three folks and only 2 boats! It was the girls first time out in a recreational kayak of anykind. The gray boat belonged to her grandmother, and the grandmother had bought the grandson a yellow Perception Swifty which by the way is a fine little boat to grab and go. Nothing much better when you just want to get out and play or even fish for a while.

I like the Swifty and if I could afford one I'd have one. At 38 pounds and a load capacity of 350 you can carry a lot of stuff if you can find room to put it. Even has a built in drink holder in the seat right between your legs! The Swifty is quite beamy which makes her extremely stable. Ain't bad at all fer a plastic boat! Like I said, for a grab and go boat it's hard to beat. But there are many other 9 foot to 10 foot boats that do as well.

Well.....while they were paddling, she'd (the grandmother) planned on sitting back on the bank and reading a book. Since I wuz going in Franks boat with a grave attempt at catching some fish, I told her to join her kids and take my boat! She beamed with delight and said, "You don't mind?" If I'd minded I wouldn't have offered the use of it in the first place! Frank gave me a funny look...like I was nuts for loaning out my boat to a total stranger, but I had a feeling that this ole gal knew what she was doing. I was right! She took my Stealth and like an old pro walked off and left her grandson and the girl behind like they wuz sit'n still! Sweat poured off them as they tried to keep up with "grandma"...who was cool as a cucumber, very much in the lead and often slowed down to wait on them.

She never so much as had a bead of sweat across her upper lip! Frank and I finally passed them in the v bottom on our way to the riffles and I took a picture of them....after I got the pilot of the Stealth to slow down, and drop back fer a photo with her grand youn'ns! Back at the landing she said she liked my boat, said it was easy to paddle and it didn't fishtail like the shorter ones did....and then she said, "It was a hell of a lot better than sitting on my rump reading a damn book and swatting at bugs!"...... Naturally that comment brought a big grin from me. I respect a lady with spunk that appreciates the finer things in life. The girl proudly stated that she has a new hobby now! She loved it!

The grandson was a mite peeved cause he couldn't stay up with his grandmother. After I explained that according to the laws of physics ...although I couldn't explain that either!... the longer the waterline, on most boats, the faster it will be! I heard him saying something to his grandmother about giving his boat to his cousin the girl, and her buying him a longer bigger boat! Kids like fast stuff! I immediately shut up and quit talking about boats.

Now comes the horror story! Come to find out .....it is very possible this nice lady is even related to my wife after we talked a bit! You see....my sweet wife Kaye is kinda like Corporal Agarn that used to be on F-Troop on TV back in the 60s! No matter where we go .....we always seem to run into or meet somebody that could be kin to her and usually is! Her being a genealogist and all she's very interested in that kinda stuff! It even happens at yard sales a hundred damn miles away from home! Well.....we don't want to git into relatives again. Bad subject.....kinda like them damn geese if you know what I mean. To sum it up...I enjoyed myself, had a terrific time and plan to go back with Frank when the water is right and the fish are bite'n! There will definitely be tight lines and ripped lips!

Now if the weather will clear up ....I'll be on my way to a big lake in Ohio to relax and sit a spell! I'm sure I'll run into somebody that will say "Hey, want a beer?"....and I'll have to say, "Nawwwww...maybe later." ...but I'll forgive him, cause he won't know no better! later Richard