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Recently, my family canoed several miles of the Clarion River in Western Pennsylvania. A few hours of summer canoe rental is a good opportunity to test drive a water craft to determine if purchased, whether it will be used on the water or as a drink cooling conversation piece.

Though the river was bustling with a big weekend crowd, we enjoyed our paddle and quickly learned some quirks not only of canoe maneuvering, but of our family communication skills as well. The person at the front has the better view to avoid canoe bottom contact with rocks through low-water conditions. Yet, the majority of the steering falls to the person at the back, so it is important to be on the same page and communicate quickly and effectively.

“Your OTHER left!”

Intriguing as it may be, canoeing a river is more complicated logistically than canoeing a lake. Two vehicles and a predetermined termination point are necessary to prevent turning a relaxing float trip into some brutal exercise regimen.

Registration of “powerless” watercraft varies from state to state. Even though the river was crowed and low, the quiet canoe allowed us to rapidly scout potential fishing areas for our return, where part of the family has expressed interest in test driving the more leisurely, always-wet backside sensation of tubing.

We got wet but only by choice, stopping a few times to splash around and catch crayfish. And although it was only our first trip, we learned enough to know that our canoe won’t get a chance to be a drink cooler.

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Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy is an outdoor writer (http://www.justkeepreeling.com/) and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to takemefishing.org since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.