Catfish Angler Forum at USCA banner

Watch out for that barge!

1721 Views 4 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  TOPS
Within the last month, just above Cincinnati, a disabled boat was hit by a barge. It was a lot bigger boat than most of use use for fishing. If I remember correctly, the occupants were changing batteries at the time of impact. One passenger was able to jump onto the front of the barge right before they got hit and alerted the tug crew. They showed on the news, after daylight, that the radar was running on the tug. I think the accident is still under investigation. This brings me to my concern!

When I fish at night on the river, it is usually after working all day. Since I use baitcasters, with clickers, I would let myself doze slightly relying on the clicker to wake me when I got a run. I think that a lot of us do this. Of course I only do this well out of the channel of the river so I don't get hit by a barge. I used to feel pretty secure doing this. Last Friday night, I saw something interesting that has changed my whole outlook on the river. I was fishing just below Meldhal Dam. I could see about 1.5 miles downstream to the first curve in the river. I always keep an eye out for the very small lights in the distance. I noticed that a barge was coming but since I was anchored on the opposite side from the locks I didn't give it much thought. About 45 minutes later, the barge lights was still there. I thought that was weird.

Since I wasn't getting any runs there I decided to go downstream a few miles. When I got closer to the barge/tug, it looked like it was setting sideways "across" the river so I idled slowly down. Yes, it was sideways and not moving. The tug had been pushing a double wide load four barges long. The tug driver aparently was not paying attention and ran straight into the bank on the Kentucky side and was stuck. I went on around them and about a mile downstream, I re-anchored to fish and watch. It was 2.5 hours before someone came and pulled him loose. Enough about his problems.

I am sure that most of us here are hard working folks and even when exhausted will head out fishing. Heck, thats the best time. We set around grunting at our accomplishments during the day, providing for our families, and have enough drive to spend the night doing something that we love to do. Everyone knows that the best place to find the cats usually is on the outside bend of the river. If I had marked stucture in that area, I would of fished there instead of going farther upstream and possible wouldn't be here to tell this story. Everyone please remember to stay alert and take nothing for granted because the only thing you can count on while on the river, is yourself.
See less See more
1 - 5 of 5 Posts
Good post, Catbird. Not sure how it is up there, but down here, the channel is not really a rule; it's really more of a guideline. I've never seen it, but Coach has seen the tows take shortcuts behind islands and other obstacles. I have seen them cut the corner on the channel to shave a mile or two. I guess they figure if they save a few miles, that's a few gallons of diesel.
It always pays to remain alert on the river, especially at night. I try really hard to not sleep on the river. Not saying it hasn't happened, of course. Also, everyone remember that he who has the least amount of steerage-way has the right of way. That's not just good sense, it's also the law. More than likely, but not definitely, you will have a lot more steerage-way than a tow-boat.
Man you guys are way braver than me. Ive never even thought of sleeping on the mighty Ohio. If Im tired I pull my boat up on bank and sleep there. Ive been woken up by residents asking what I was doing. LOL then they make ya breakfast. :)
Very good advice. I am extremely afraid of the barge traffic on the Arkansas river at night. I fish the river channel in the summer, where do the barges go, in the river channels.
1 - 5 of 5 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.