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ScottP

Vermillion water levels

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Scott, I'm by no means an expert on this, but I always look for median flow or lower on a river to gauge whether safe for wading.

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Depends on the section. I use the nearest gauge to me and wade when it is under 400 Cfs.  You can wade at higher levels. I am just not comfy wading in the faster sections near my home base. I don't go too far upstream from me. So not sure near Pontiac. 

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She was so close. Back up to around 2500CFS. 

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Best advice is what Bart says ...in general if you don't know the water well just reference the median or the mean level  of historical river levels/flow for that particular day. Once you get above the mean and nearing the 75% percentile chances are water will be stirred up and stained and not worth fishing anyways

https://nwis.waterdata.usgs.gov/il/nwis/current/?type=flow&group_key=basin_cd

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8 hours ago, Joe R said:

Best advice is what Bart says ...in general if you don't know the water well just reference the median or the mean level  of historical river levels/flow for that particular day. Once you get above the mean and nearing the 75% percentile chances are water will be stirred up and stained and not worth fishing anyways

https://nwis.waterdata.usgs.gov/il/nwis/current/?type=flow&group_key=basin_cd

 

I would be careful with rules of thumb. The median on the Vermillion on 4/14 was 1000cfs. I won’t consider wading at that level or even near it.  Especially when the river has lots of grade, as does this river. Even worse when you wade rivers with unexpected boulders and deep pockets. It is a case by case decision based on intel and experience, IMO. 

I certainly have lots of respect for this river. It can humble you pretty quick. 

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21 minutes ago, mannym said:

 

I would be careful with rules of thumb. The median on the Vermillion on 4/14 was 1000cfs. I won’t consider wading at that level or even near it.  Especially when the river has lots of grade, as does this river. Even worse when you wade rivers with unexpected boulders and deep pockets. It is a case by case decision based on intel and experience, IMO. 

I certainly have lots of respect for this river. It can humble you pretty quick. 

Common sense always prevails but who steps into  a danger river to wade. You assess the situation when you get there. Wading is relative and wading may just be creating casting distance and not getting  into water very deep. Main point  is if you have no intelligence on a river and you were considering a general rule of thumb can be look at median gauge.  For the vermillion I've only been a few times and I actually write down on paper gauge heights when I fished.

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I would be comfortable using median if the river didnt have so much variation. Case in point, median in August is under 100cfs. April it is 1000cfs or better. Clarity can be unfishable at 150cfs just like 1100 cfs. 

Common sense and all of the other points go without saying. But to try and provide a reply that both keeps the community safe while being productive, i would shy away from the suggested rule of thumb. At least on a river like the big V. 

My original reply was based on 20 years of living walking distance from said river. Started fishing it ten years before that. 

I would be interested to hear John G perspective as he has surely fished this river more than i have. 

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2 minutes ago, mannym said:

I would be comfortable using median if the river didnt have so much variation. Case in point, median in August is under 100cfs. April it is 1000cfs or better. Clarity can be unfishable at 150cfs just like 1100 cfs. 

 

I made that same point a couple weeks ago to a new wader when recommending the usgs water data site. The gauge data is seasonal . I think it says that somewhere on the site.

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Manny  do you know why the vermilion varies  so much? All local rivers vary seasonally do but why vermilion  more so? Usually  you can associate  gradient to faster draining  rivers. Last two fall trips passing through  to and from Iowa i waded leonore gauge at 3.8ft other time was 4.4ft both were manageable.  Another  time when I was passing through it was close to 6ft and I didn't  bother to stop for that.

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7 hours ago, Joe R said:

Manny  do you know why the vermilion varies  so much? All local rivers vary seasonally do but why vermilion  more so? Usually  you can associate  gradient to faster draining  rivers. Last two fall trips passing through  to and from Iowa i waded leonore gauge at 3.8ft other time was 4.4ft both were manageable.  Another  time when I was passing through it was close to 6ft and I didn't  bother to stop for that.

I ask myself the same question every year when i have to wait till late summer to wade my favorite stretches. 

I believe the grade is the primary river characteristic that causes the big difference. I also believe the river doesn't see as much water after ag fields are well into the growing season. The crops along with drain tile lower the water table. So when we get a good rain, the fields act like a sponge and soak up more than it allows to run off. From my understanding, some of the best producing ag grounds fall within the watershed. Having worked in water management for a few years, I can assure you, there are miles and miles of tile in the watershed. Once spring rains are drained, the subsurface can be pretty dry down to about 3 ft. 

Another characteristic i wonder about is the presence of the LaSalle anticline that runs along it for most of its course. How does that affect the river levels? I believe that is why there is enough grade to allow up to class three rapids in the Lowell to the mouth stretch. It also exposed bedrock. 

Just to be clear, most of my experience wading is from Lowell down. This is the section that has the most grade. It is dangerous if you don't have experience reading rivers. If asked, i will be conservative with my opinions in the name of safety. That is not to say it cant be fished. I just don’t because I can just as easily fish other more wadable rivers near by. 

If the original question was about floating, we would be having a different conversation.  

 

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Rather odd rivers that I fish mainly like Kish and Des plaines, and tribs, can go to summer time levels in winter. They can get very low which in skinnier parts can be a challenge to fish in harshest winters. Looking at long term graphs for V this doesn't seem to be the case. Just odd.  Like you said looking at this more you have to be careful with refercing median for V it's such a seasonal river certainly not the norm for northern Illinois rivers. It's not like there are gates holding water back like on the fox where they may drain down the chain of lakes seasonally.

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Probably could have fished a few spots, even a little shore fishing or canoe-kayak paddling. 

The hook that starts the clock all over again. 

 

843CB892-3E67-4B55-AA8F-970BE62414B7.png

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Somehow I missed this post.  What Manny is saying makes sense on this stream, especially in the lower reaches where the river has a steeper grade and is basically in a gorge.  Like Manny, I have limited experience  upstream toward Pontiac.

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Today is not a good day to wade......

20190501_064133.jpg

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