Hot and humid July and August weather provides the busy season for river guides. Tour bookings are rising with temperatures at Umiak outfitters in Stowe.
"We are on the river as much as we can possibly paddle," said Johnny Lynds of Umiak Outfitters.
But in June, paddling largely proved impossible. Business sank as sales suffered and tour groups only hit the water on about 12 of the month's 30 days.
"When the water levels get to a certain point we can't run anymore; it's unsafe to put people out on the water," Lynds said.
Four people drowned in Vermont this year and state police say fast currents still pose significant danger despite a recent break in the rain. Those who work on the water say they monitor flow information constantly.
Umiak staffers teach clients how to paddle and then ship them out. But when rivers run at 1,200-cubic-feet per second-- a volume roughly equal to 1,200 basketballs-- tours are grounded.
"Even with the weather we've had this year, the fishing's still been pretty darned good," said Willy Dietrich, who owns and operates Catamount Fishing Adventures.
Dietrich says water levels rise and fall quickly in the mountains of Stowe. He says he simply casts his line elsewhere if his favorite spots are too rough, but high water can be a good thing as bigger fish tend to bite more.
"The heat is probably my biggest challenge," Dietrich said. "I can always work around the rain."
Guides say creating an enjoyable atmosphere for the client is key to success and repeat business. They watch carefully to make sure customers don't get in over their heads.
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