hey John Zatansky
don’t quit your real job.

I disagree
I paddled the West Branch a lot for 4 years since my boyfriend lived along a half mile of the riverbank downstream from the Shawville Power plant. While it is true that at current water levels you can actually walk across the river at many points without getting wet above the knees (which we often did at low water) it does not make for a pleasant paddling trip unless you like climbing out an dragging your boat through shallows of loose shifting shale shingle, much of it covered with slimy algae.

And much of the bank is clay mud, with a lot of Japanese Knotweed thickets, so launching and landing are a pain. Also, the Fish Police (Pa Fish and Game Commission rangers) can get really pissy with you if you have the gall to try to enter or leave the river on their turf without the $10 annual state launch permit. We were turned away a few times when we had an unstickered boat in the party and another time they fined a large group of our guests who were canoeing $75 because, although they had 30 PFD’s for 30 paddlers (none of whom were wearing them since it was nearly 90 and the river was slow and shallow), at some point people switched boats from 2 to 3 paddlers and the counts per boat in one case did not match the occupants.

Don’t get me wrong – I love the West Branch (and probably stayed with the mopey problematic boyfriend for longer than I should have because I knew I would miss being able to spend so much time beside or on that river). We still have not gained Wild and Scenic Rivers status for the West Branch, which it richly deserves and which could help protect it from the depredations of the oil and gas developments and negligent agricultural practices. It really is a beautiful stream – anyone interested in exploring it can order the excellent and comprehensive waterproof Water Trail guide from the Lumber Heritage group for $20.

It really is MUCH more pleasant to paddle it at higher water levels. People who are that freaked out by how deep (or not) a waterway is probably should not be paddling in the first place. And standing up when you dump in moving water can be a really stupid move. But then we all know that (at least I think we do).

How times change !
Turning on the “wayback” machine, I remember the days when smallmouth bass were plentiful around Renovo, and the fishing was great !..but alas, that was in the 1960’s.


Haven’t visited since mid '90’s. Stopped at the Renovo fossil cliff to say Hi…

uh There was a hill opposite Johnson’s Natural area getting the flat top from heavy equipment. 2-3 tracks were laid in…very industrial.

The West Branch goes up into the woods past Keating. The bottom is stained red. Acid stains are normal.

As is the article’s lament.