drmevo

Safe areas to launch a kayak on the Piscataqua

15 posts in this topic

Hey guys, I hope this isn't considered a spot burn, but I am looking for safe places to launch a kayak in the Piscataqua river or immediate surrounding areas. I know of a couple launches up the Salmon Falls that should get me started in the spring but other launches I'm aware of further down seem like they might have too much current at times, especially for a beginner like me. I would try for myself and find out, if it weren't an issue of safety. Again, if this is a spot burn, I will look for this info elsewhere. Thanks!

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Launch locations isn't really a spot burn. There's a lot of river to fish.

It depends on where you plan to fish. The area with the worst current is going to be under the Little Bay Bridge in Dover. You'll want to launch on whatever side of the bridge you plan to fish, because you won't be able to paddle against the current. 

The map swnoel posted are all good locations around great bay. Personally I wouldn't be super comfortable kayaking in most of the river. The Pierce island ramp isn't too bad. There can be some good current there, but you're also a little protected, as you aren't in the main channel. There's also a launch in Kittery across from the Navy yard. The back channel usually has significantly slower current, so that might not be a bad spot.

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4 hours ago, swnoel said:

Thanks, I have actually looked this over before but it seemed to me that some of these ramps, for example Hilton Park, would be too strong of a current at certain times. Still a good list to narrow down from. 

 

1 hour ago, tyme2par4 said:

Launch locations isn't really a spot burn. There's a lot of river to fish.

It depends on where you plan to fish. The area with the worst current is going to be under the Little Bay Bridge in Dover. You'll want to launch on whatever side of the bridge you plan to fish, because you won't be able to paddle against the current. 

The map swnoel posted are all good locations around great bay. Personally I wouldn't be super comfortable kayaking in most of the river. The Pierce island ramp isn't too bad. There can be some good current there, but you're also a little protected, as you aren't in the main channel. There's also a launch in Kittery across from the Navy yard. The back channel usually has significantly slower current, so that might not be a bad spot.

Thanks! By Little Bay bridge I take it you mean the General Sullivan and not the Scammel right? I was driving by the Scammel today and it looked like the Durham side might be possible to launch from. 

 

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Hilton Park is all right if you stay left after your launch. Stay out of the main channel if you do not have experience paddling strong currents.

Scammel Bridge is a good launch. You have access to some very good water. Paddle up toward Great Bay follow the right shore by the mouth of the oyster River. If you plan the tides right you can travel  all the way to the bay. Be careful at straights after Adams point.

The landing at Adams point give you a four hour window, two hours either side of high. If you miss judge you may have a nice walk in the mud. (check the tide charts). Hope this helps.

PS: Best to paddle and fish with a buddy and wear a pfd.

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Lots of yakkers launch off the right side of the causeway between Portsmouth and Newcastle just after the second bridge heading east.  Plenty of water to cover and minimal heavy current action - assuming you head west toward Little Harbor/Wentworth.  Don't recommend turning right under the bridge and hitting the main river - there can be tremendous wave reflection from boat traffic combined with ripping current not 100ft away.  It's #23 Goat Island on eregs map link in thread - shows shore fishing access but unless things have changed you can easily launch there too. 

 

There's a kayak rental place right across from Pierce Island (right next to Pickering Marine) boat launch that may be cheaper - town of Portsmouth gouges you to launch.  In fact you can store your yak there for the season and launch for free for a reasonable amount according to a friend.  

 

And there's a launch at Odiorne Park on the east side of Berry Brook where crosses under RT 1A.  #16 on eregs map.

 

And as FishinJohny says - WEAR A PFD!!!  Something like half the people that drown in boating accidents had PFD's with them but weren't wearing them.  And you'll enjoy yak fishing more if you take your yak to a lake/pond as soon as it's bearable and intentionally fall out of your yak in shallow water a few times.  It will give you concise knowledge of the limits of your boat's stability.  These experiences will help you relax in your boat and when relaxed you're less likely to panic and make a mistake at a crucial moment.  Relaxed and cautious - always cautious.  Plus, you will learn how difficult it can be to re-enter your boat from the water which will make you not more fearful but more aware of your own limitations.  The time to learn these things is not when when you suddenly flip a quarter mile from shore when the water shocks the heck out of you and your paddle is sinking or drifting away.  

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Posted (edited)

13 hours ago, mumichog said:

Lots of yakkers launch off the right side of the causeway between Portsmouth and Newcastle just after the second bridge heading east.  Plenty of water to cover and minimal heavy current action - assuming you head west toward Little Harbor/Wentworth.  Don't recommend turning right under the bridge and hitting the main river - there can be tremendous wave reflection from boat traffic combined with ripping current not 100ft away.  It's #23 Goat Island on eregs map link in thread - shows shore fishing access but unless things have changed you can easily launch there too. 

 

There's a kayak rental place right across from Pierce Island (right next to Pickering Marine) boat launch that may be cheaper - town of Portsmouth gouges you to launch.  In fact you can store your yak there for the season and launch for free for a reasonable amount according to a friend.  

 

And there's a launch at Odiorne Park on the east side of Berry Brook where crosses under RT 1A.  #16 on eregs map.

 

And as FishinJohny says - WEAR A PFD!!!  Something like half the people that drown in boating accidents had PFD's with them but weren't wearing them.  And you'll enjoy yak fishing more if you take your yak to a lake/pond as soon as it's bearable and intentionally fall out of your yak in shallow water a few times.  It will give you concise knowledge of the limits of your boat's stability.  These experiences will help you relax in your boat and when relaxed you're less likely to panic and make a mistake at a crucial moment.  Relaxed and cautious - always cautious.  Plus, you will learn how difficult it can be to re-enter your boat from the water which will make you not more fearful but more aware of your own limitations.  The time to learn these things is not when when you suddenly flip a quarter mile from shore when the water shocks the heck out of you and your paddle is sinking or drifting away.  

Thanks mumichog, that's a great help. I was eyeing that Newcastle launch, looks like it could be a good one.

 

I just bought a decent PFD (NRS Chinook) I will wear at all times and I do plan on starting on the calm river near my house as soon as it warms up enough. The last item I need to tackle is clothing. I have waders I could pair with a dry top and I think that would be OK for now since I don't plan on getting far from shore anytime soon. 

 

Thanks also to @Fishinjohny, much appreciated.

Edited by drmevo

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I would recommend the Odiorne park launch. From there, a quick paddle to the area right around the jetties will give you an opportunity to get some fresh macs if you'd like them, then you can turn around and tow them under the bridge on the north side of that harbor and back through the shallows over to pierce island, which is another great place to launch. I know a few guys who use the tide and  stage a truck somewhere around great bay or at pierce island and then drive to the opposite location and float with the tide casting lures. 

 

On the maine side the back channel behind the base is a good place to drift  in a kayak

 

I do want to mention though that the piscat is a savage, unpredictable river that has a tendency to throw you a curveball right when you think you've figured it out. PFD and a buddy kayaker are a must if going near the main river. Also, the wakes the boats throw add another degree of chaos that is worth noting. The few people I know who regularly fish this river in kayaks never do so on the weekends for that reason exactly. 

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drmevo,

 

If I may make one more suggestion, I would strongly recommend  a wet suit  with a dry top or dry suit for paddling in colder water temps. If some thing forces you out of your boat, waders can make re-entry very difficult. Waders are not made to keep you warm and dry while paddling.

Instruction by  the ACA or BCU  is well worth the money. It  gives a paddler a chance to learn and practice safety skills in a controlled environment. Instruction makes paddling more enjoyable and efficient.

I think this turned out to be  more than one more suggestion, but anyway?

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4 mins ago, Fishinjohny said:

drmevo,

 

If I may make one more suggestion, I would strongly recommend  a wet suit  with a dry top or dry suit for paddling in colder water temps. If some thing forces you out of your boat, waders can make re-entry very difficult. Waders are not made to keep you warm and dry while paddling.

Instruction by  the ACA or BCU  is well worth the money. It  gives a paddler a chance to learn and practice safety skills in a controlled environment. Instruction makes paddling more enjoyable and efficient.

I think this turned out to be  more than one more suggestion, but anyway?

I will second that recommendation. Waders are not a good idea for kayaking or canoeing in a river. A young man drowned in NH just last year after falling out of a canoe wearing waders. They fill with water and will just drag you down.

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Listen to mumichog he gave it to you straight and has a ton of experience out there from what I've read.

 

As someone who launches out of the back channel 4-5 days a week in June & July I would not recommend that choice! There are certain times of tides you could probably get away with it but if you hit it wrong those bridges can be just as treacherous as any others. Stay in Newcastle and you'll be fine. 

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re: safe areas to launch Piscataqua - my experience is except for a period of an hour every 6 hours (high & low slack) there are none. It's one thing to scope the current but as Mummichog said - the reflected (rebound) waves are the ones to get you. I had it happen under the New Castle bridge on a strong incoming tide. As mentioned - lots of good fishing launching at Pierce or Odiorne. I kept a kayak on a rack  at Esthers for 4 years - nothing easier than parking there and a 50 ft carry to the water.

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5 hours ago, Kenny Powers said:

I would recommend the Odiorne park launch. From there, a quick paddle to the area right around the jetties will give you an opportunity to get some fresh macs if you'd like them, then you can turn around and tow them under the bridge on the north side of that harbor and back through the shallows over to pierce island, which is another great place to launch. I know a few guys who use the tide and  stage a truck somewhere around great bay or at pierce island and then drive to the opposite location and float with the tide casting lures. 

 

On the maine side the back channel behind the base is a good place to drift  in a kayak

 

I do want to mention though that the piscat is a savage, unpredictable river that has a tendency to throw you a curveball right when you think you've figured it out. PFD and a buddy kayaker are a must if going near the main river. Also, the wakes the boats throw add another degree of chaos that is worth noting. The few people I know who regularly fish this river in kayaks never do so on the weekends for that reason exactly. 

Thank you, great advice. I should mention, I DO NOT plan to paddle the main river or at least anywhere near the main channel - in fact I don't plan on going any appreciable distance from anywhere I launch until I am more experienced. I plan to stick to protected areas, which was really the reason for the thread. 

 

28 mins ago, one liner said:

re: safe areas to launch Piscataqua - my experience is except for a period of an hour every 6 hours (high & low slack) there are none. It's one thing to scope the current but as Mummichog said - the reflected (rebound) waves are the ones to get you. I had it happen under the New Castle bridge on a strong incoming tide. As mentioned - lots of good fishing launching at Pierce or Odiorne. I kept a kayak on a rack  at Esthers for 4 years - nothing easier than parking there and a 50 ft carry to the water.

1 hour ago, Fishinjohny said:

drmevo,

 

If I may make one more suggestion, I would strongly recommend  a wet suit  with a dry top or dry suit for paddling in colder water temps. If some thing forces you out of your boat, waders can make re-entry very difficult. Waders are not made to keep you warm and dry while paddling.

Instruction by  the ACA or BCU  is well worth the money. It  gives a paddler a chance to learn and practice safety skills in a controlled environment. Instruction makes paddling more enjoyable and efficient.

I think this turned out to be  more than one more suggestion, but anyway?

Great point. I have read the waders vs. dry suit debate till my eyes crossed and was still somewhat conflicted. I guess I should bite the bullet and pick one up. At least it would make taking a leak easier. I need to practice with my kayak, but I used to practice re-entry into a swamped canoe so hopefully some of that experience will translate. I have had some very basic kayak/canoe instruction but what you describe sounds like a good investment.

 

35 mins ago, CW21 said:

Listen to mumichog he gave it to you straight and has a ton of experience out there from what I've read.

 

As someone who launches out of the back channel 4-5 days a week in June & July I would not recommend that choice! There are certain times of tides you could probably get away with it but if you hit it wrong those bridges can be just as treacherous as any others. Stay in Newcastle and you'll be fine. 

Sorry, what would you not recommend exactly? Launching from the back channel?

28 mins ago, one liner said:

re: safe areas to launch Piscataqua - my experience is except for a period of an hour every 6 hours (high & low slack) there are none. It's one thing to scope the current but as Mummichog said - the reflected (rebound) waves are the ones to get you. I had it happen under the New Castle bridge on a strong incoming tide. As mentioned - lots of good fishing launching at Pierce or Odiorne. I kept a kayak on a rack  at Esthers for 4 years - nothing easier than parking there and a 50 ft carry to the water.

Thanks. That Esther's Marina idea is pretty tempting if (when) I get a second kayak. 

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Off my dock? I live on Badger's Island West.  The " back channel". I have hooked up and been pulled like a mutha.  A pfd is a must. At the very least, they can find the body.  I have seen people pinned against a dock after shooting through the run between the shore and the rocks.  Had to go down and help them out.  It's a good river, but challenging. Being proficient in " self rescue " is a must. Leave the yak and swim to shore. 

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Leaving the yak behind very much depends on where you are when you fall out.  A properly built yak, especially one with bulkheads or float bags (hint hint), is almost impossible to sink so staying with the yak means two big things:

 

1) It can help you keep your head above water.  Type III pfds don't support your head so if you get tired or pass out you can drown.  Getting back into a swamped kayak and awaiting help is usually safer than abandoning the boat and swimming for it.  Panic and cold water make swimming at minimum 10X harder than normal.  Even sprawling onto an overturned boat helps - more of your body is out of the water and thus hypothermia is delayed (note that's "delayed" not avoided).

 

2) A yak is MUCH easier to spot than a person floating low in the water in a pfd.  If you're more than 100 ft from shore stay with your boat and blow your rescue whistle, or if lost, call, wave, scream for help.  

 

And while I'm preaching - Never assume power/sail boaters see you.  There are so many boneheads running around in motorcraft you cannot count on anyone to notice you.  Where bright colors, get a paddle with bright colored blades and even consider putting reflecto tape on the blades to catch boaters (and if in the worst case - rescuer's) eyes. 

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