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Discussion Starter #1
I fish on the James River in Virginia and am fairly new to boating, and there's a fair amount of tow/tractor barge traffic. Most of the time there is little to no wake but on two occasions recently as I was passing oncoming barge traffic, I've encountered some rather large (seemingly 4-5ft) wake. Large enough to get airborne almost to the next wave peak.
My biggest fear is being anchored up when one of these large-wake generating vessels go by. I fish from a bass boat so the stern is already pretty low. If by chance these large wake approach from the rear I'm afraid the stern will get swamped.
Anyone have any experience handling large waves while stationary?
 

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Yes, I've been in plenty of those wakes jumping like you stated and on anchor, but not from a bass boat. Not sure if it will be any different than another boat but you should be fine. I'm sure your boat has a splashwell. The water should just splash in there and go back out the sculper holes or whatever they call them. A working bilge pump should put you at ease. Your boat will shake crazy from the waves but afterwards your nerves should calm down. Whale tail helps but won't cure the waves, just comes with the territory fishing on the James and other barge heavy rivers.
 

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Steve from Mississippi
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We have a lot of barge traffic on our river but the barges are not too bad. It's the large yachts that give me fits. They do throw wakes close to 3ft if they don't slow down and about a foot when they do. I have taken wakes over the bow and stern in my 16ft aluminum boat. Like Ramon said a working bilge pump is a must. If the wakes are large, I untie the anchor from which ever end they are coming from so the boat is not held down and can float more easily. When I had a 19ft bass boat the wakes would come over the back deck every now and then. It looks bad but it really isn't as bad as it looks coming across that large flat deck.
 

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Winston, Indiana
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If you are anchored in current you should be tied off at the bow and therefore parallel to the flow so if a barge passes you the wake will most likely come from the side which is quite unnerving in itself when the boat tilts thirty or forty degrees from flat.
For a wake to come at you directly from the rear you would have to be anchored at ninety degrees to the flow with the stern towards the barge lane; not something you should be doing or trying to do.
At worse, I believe bass boats are designed to remain floating even if full of water so a splash well full and even the cockpit floor awash should not be an issue other than being scary!!!
As mentioned, the bilge pump should be fully operational and reliable and it wouldn’t hurt to upgrade it to a higher flow rate or have dual pumps if it makes you feel more prepared for any potential wake assaults.

...W
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks guys, appreciate the quick responses! The last time I went out, the local fire dept was zooming up and down the river ALL DAY generating some pretty decent wake. A wave or two washed over the stern a little, so I've been paranoid of barges since then lol.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
For a wake to come at you directly from the rear you would have to be anchored at ninety degrees to the flow with the stern towards the barge lane; not something you should be doing or trying to do.
True. Most of the time I am parallel to the traffic depending on wind/current (I need a stern anchor). There are a couple spots where the stern will usually point toward the shipping channel where other channels/current converge, etc... There's one spot in particular that I like to fish that has a blind curve (and the tugs never signal like they're supposed to), so if I'm faced with a last minute rogue wave and didn't have time to pull the anchor, would it be better to put the boat in reverse and rotate around the anchor so the bow is facing the wave? Maybe use the motor to move forward slightly so the anchor doesn't pull the bow down? Or is it generally okay to handle the waves from the side?
Sorry for all the hypothetical questions lol I've only recently started boating solo.
 

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Yeah that first time will definitely get your adrenaline rushing lol just stay calm and attentive and things will be fine. Just hold on to something when the big wake comes, hit your bilge switch and in a few seconds you can exhale as the boat calms again. I would advise a life jacket just in case.

Thanks guys, appreciate the quick responses! The last time I went out, the local fire dept was zooming up and down the river ALL DAY generating some pretty decent wake. A wave or two washed over the stern a little, so I've been paranoid of barges since then lol.
 

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Another good float is a section of pool noodle. You can tie a knot at a spot, feed the noodle on then tie another knot to keep it in place. Then just toss the rope and come back later to re attach the rope.

Now another good system is a quick release so you don't have to mess with knots. Take a clevis like this one.


Take the pin out and put a Philips screwdriver thru the pin holes. Tie the clevis to the boat on a very short rope and then put the screwdriver thru a loop on the end of the anchor rope. When you need to release quickly, just yank the screwdriver out and you are free.

Be sure to tether the screwdriver to the clevis. they sink quickly.o_O

That setup is also good when anchoring below a dam in swift water where you may need to go down river to land a big fish.

tight lines.
 

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Couple of things:
You mention a stern anchor. They can be very useful but also VERY dangerous. If the front anchor breaks away the boat will swing around until it is stern first in the current. If the current is strong enough and the stern anchor holds you have created the perfect scenario to be swamped by water coming over the transom. Keep a sharp knife handy at the stern because you will not have time to untie it.
Also, (and to my mind more dangerous) if you have to ditch the front anchor to avoid a big wake it is imperative that the float attached to the very end of the anchor rope is big/buoyant enough to not be dragged under by the current. You need to know exactly where the rope is at all times and when approaching to retrieve it come at it from downstream.
If you run over it and it gets in the prop, the motor will stall and you will be stern anchored and again prone to swamping. This isn’t a slow process; it can be over in less than ten seconds and a sharp knife won’t help because the rope is attached to the bottom of the motor.
Not trying to scare you but I’d rather tell you these things now than wish I’d told you later.

...W
 

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Discussion Starter #14
The cigar boats on the James are worse than the barges. Be careful up by the railroad turn bridge too, people don’t care if it’s a no wake zone or not. Where are you putting in at?
The cigar boat groups on the weekends drive me crazy! I usually put in a Dutch Gap but I'll probably be going to Hopewell more soon.
 

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I fish the James as well , the barges no longer make me nervous but my butt cheeks still tighten every time one of those massive container ships come by haha. IMO the worst wakes I encounter are wake boats cruising by at low speed the wake they put off is ridiculous
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I fish the James as well , the barges no longer make me nervous but my butt cheeks still tighten every time one of those massive container ships come by haha. IMO the worst wakes I encounter are wake boats cruising by at low speed the wake they put off is ridiculous
Yeah I think the scariest thing about the large ships is that they're almost completely silent.
And I've noticed common courtesy on the water has gone downhill since my previous boating days... I usually try to slow to no wake when I pass people fishing, especially the kayaks/canoes. I've had folks in big cruisers plowing wakes in circles right next to me for some reason quite a few times in the past month. I mean heck, they don't even wave anymore lol. I'm glad weekend warrior season is finally ending.
Also on my last outing, kudos to Chesterfield Fire & EMS for slowing down the two times they went by me. Henrico Fire on the other hand... not so much (and no, they weren't responding to any calls).
 

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The cigar boat groups on the weekends drive me crazy! I usually put in a Dutch Gap but I'll probably be going to Hopewell more soon.
Jordan point is ok too, mostly when the water is up, unless they have repaired the ramp. If ya put in there go just down river from there and you will start to pass a little island. Pull in on the other side of it and you should spot some nice blues in there. I pulled a 53 pounder out of there. You can stay under the bridge there at Jordan point or go up to hopewell as well. Remember the catfish tournaments release the big cats at hopewell so be ready for a fight. I had a blue pull me, in my anchored boat, from the dock side of the bridge to the no wake bouy one night. Good luck and let me know how ya do
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks for the tips! I've fished Tar Bay very little, shallow water still scares me lol. Haven't been down past Hopewell in a while though. Most of my trips lately are short notice and I live 3 mins from Dutch Gap so I usually just go there by default.
HOPEFULLY will be able to make it out this week. Gonna actually try some carp fishing for the first time.
 

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Thanks for the tips! I've fished Tar Bay very little, shallow water still scares me lol. Haven't been down past Hopewell in a while though. Most of my trips lately are short notice and I live 3 mins from Dutch Gap so I usually just go there by default.
HOPEFULLY will be able to make it out this week. Gonna actually try some carp fishing for the first time.
Ive seen some nice cats pulled out at the Dutch Gap boat ramp. Go just up river to Jimmy Deans house too
 

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Just a clarification. It was stated earlier that Bass boats could remain afloat even full of water.

Don't bet your life or boat on this. I've seen plenty of boats fill and flip or swamp.

Many Bass boats are just wide shallow draft and shallow freeboard vessels. They can and do sink. When swamped they can roll pretty quickly as well.

The suggestion of a quick release anchor rope with a float was a good one. Look up how to tie marlin spike hitch. That it something similar would be an excellent quick release for boats of all types and kayaks too.

Commercial vessel traffic is something to watch. Pleasure boaters even moreso. Many pleasure boaters just have little clue how their actions affect others on the water.
 
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