I hope I'm not insulting your intelligence here, but cfs means cubic feet per second. That's the (number of) cubic feet of water that passes a given point in the river in One second. As a fur instance, suppose you have a riverbed with a cross section of 100 square feet, ie 1 foot deep and a hundred across, or 2 and 50, etc. A flow rate of 100 cfs means that 100 cubic feet of water goes past in one second, or the river is flowing at 1 foot per second. Pretty easy fishing. At 500 cfs this same section of riverbed would have a speed of 5 feet per second. Just try and stand up in that! Going the other way, a 100 cfs flow on a streambed with a cross section of only 20 sq ft would have the 5 foot per second speed. Back in undergraduate studies, we had to measure just this - guesstimate the cross section of the river by taking depth measurements and width measurements, then measuring the flow by letting something drift in the current for a set period of time and tape measuring it.

What I'm trying to say here is that cfs by itself doesn't tell me anything significant. You need to know the shape of the river at the point you are fishing. I know that the Guadalupe is pretty easy wading at 200 cfs, and very tricky to dangerous at 500. Actually, thinking about it, the Guad would be pretty close to your hypothetical 100 sq ft cross section most places I wade. Some are wide and shallow, others up to hip deep and narrow. The really big holes (very large cross section) would have a greatly reduced flow speed, but the cfs rate would still be the same. And as the cfs goes up, the depth, hence the cross section goes up. When the Guad was running at 135,000 cfs a couple of years ago, the depth was probably up around 50 feet in places, and width a quarter mile.

Clear as mud yet, or want me to confuse you some more?

Gary Miller wrote:

For those of you who are savvy about such things, what is an acceptable flow rate for wade fishing in rivers and streams? I want to know such things as maximum flow rate for safe wading, drifting, etc.


- Gary

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