Spring River Buzz: Early Season Kayaking Tips


Spring is just around the corner and the river community is buzzing with joy, eagerness, and excitement.

It’s been quiet as a mouse out here on the Alberton Gorge this winter and it’s nice to see boats, dogs, and dirtbag boaters hanging in the area again.

It also gives me an excuse to drink beer and procrastinate doing work I should be doing, like yard work, office work, marketing, and all the other crap that you’re supposed to do if you want to run a successful business.

Each year, I’m getting better and better about taking on more responsibilities as a business owner, but once the rivers start to rise, I have the attention span of a two-year-old. Maybe that’s why I’m stuck doing construction work all winter. Guess it’s worth the cost of trying to live the dream.

This will be my 11th season kayaking and I can’t even begin to think about all the experiences, friends, and adventures I have accumulated along the way.

Even though I’ve been on the river stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking all winter, once spring arrives, I feel like it’s a whole new beginning.

Gathering for an early spring paddle

So you’re ready to run the gnarr and shred every wave in sight?

Well, if you haven’t been in your boat since last spring then let’s slow down and think about a few things: Get back in good physical paddling shape. Make sure your gear is ready to go. Be mentally prepared.

Kayaking is all about having fun and being prepared both physically and mentally will increase your chances of an injury free paddle season.

Physical Tips:

  • Do lots of flatwater paddling (forward strokes, torso rotation, edging drill rolls, eddy turns, etc…)
  • Stretch before you get in your boat
  • Practice in the pool if needed
  • Lots of 12-ounce curls

Gear Tips:

  • Pull all your gear out and hose it off, hang to dry
  • Spray 303 on all of your gaskets
  • Re-stuff the throwbag
  • Make sure your booties are clean (you might be rusty and have to drink a beer out of it!)
  • Outfit your kayak at home, in your living room, with a beer close by
  • Make sure you still fit in all of your gear (we really don’t want to watch you struggle at the put in)

Mental Tips:

  • Practice class V moves on class II-III rivers (don’t wait until the consequences are high)
  • Warm up on runs that build confidence
  • Focus on having fun (don’t be mad if you forgot how to kayak)

Well, these tips ought to get you going. I wish everyone a safe and happy spring runoff. And remember: “Any day on the river is a good day!”

Please don’t hesitate to ask questions, heckle, or suggest future blog topics.



Visit Jason Shreder's blog archive  The water might be cold, but Jason’s got tons of awesome kayaking posts to keep you warm in his blog archive.


Jason Shreder plans to keep on shredding in 2012.

Jason Shreder is the owner of local whitewater company Zoo Town Surfers. He loves Missoula, the great community, and all the awesome water that surrounds it. He’s constantly moving and 90% of that movement involves kayaking, rafting, working, and hanging out with his awesomely supportive girlfriend and dogs.