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For the third year in a row now, I have made the float trip on the New River from Fries, VA to somewhere between Byllesby Dam and Foster Falls. The reason the latter is so vague is due to the fact that depending on how the water flow is or what time we get started on Friday, it has been different every year. Each time, we have spent two nights and fished the entire way, only keeping what we could eat. This is important because we never bring much food.

This year me and my good friend Eric Crouse set out after lunch on a Friday and made the one hour drive north to the bottom of Fries Dam. I always like starting here because the fishing is usually good just below the Dam. This is also why I choose a float that involves portaging two other dams. After we stopped for our last meal and picked up a few last minute things from Wal-Mart, we were at the launch. By this time, the sun was getting low in the sky and we knew we had little time to choose a site and set up camp. After loading everything in the kayaks and pulling them down to the water we were on our way. We set up camp for the night within view of the dam so that the next morning we could easily fish the area for breakfast.

The next day was beautiful and even though it had become slightly cool overnight, the sun was coming through the trees. The fall colors were in full swing and the anticipation of catching breakfast was more than I could bear. We left our camp sight and hit the water. It did not take long before we were frying up a few filets for breakfast. After packing the yaks, we headed down stream and enjoyed the beautiful fall weather.

Later in the day the wind began to pick up and the temperature dropped. We had to run some small rapids and I was glad to be in the Cuda. A little wet and a even more tired we decided to stop early before the sun went down. I found an island in the middle of the river and began to set up camp. Eric began to gather some firewood while I set up the tent. After camp was set we began to prepare the catch of the day. Nothing beats fresh fish cooked by the camp fire.

The next day, we worked our way around Byllesby Dam, fishing while we waited for my wife (who by the way was lost) to pick us up.

Over the past few years I have learned a few tips that might be useful to anyone planning a “kayak camping” trip in the future.

-Make a list and check it twice. I am always trying to remember things and it is so much easier to check things off on paper.
-Pack light. I have found that packing light allows you to fit more things in your yak. I pack very much like a backpacker.
-Get lots of dry bags in diverse sizes. Keeping everything dry is key. Even in a great boat like the Cuda water can get inside.
-Try to keep like things together. I always put my cooking gear together, my clothes together, etc…
-Whatever you need last or least should go in the kayak first. Put your tent and sleeping bag in first, keeping things like food and a change of clothes closer to the top. This will make it easier for you to access during the day.
-Bring back-up food and water. The first time I did this I decided that I was good enough to catch my own food. I caught fish, however, lost my stringer in a set of rapids and was forced to pick and eat some wild greens on the river bank. (don’t try this)
-Watch the weather. The year I took my wife the temperature dropped and it was below freezing every night.
-Always make sure your ride has been given good directions to every possible place that you might need to be picked up at!
-Have Fun!

For more information including maps and access points on the New River in VA. check out