If you're planning on kayaking on the Rock County Segment of the Rock River, particularly in the areas of Janesville, Newville, or Edgerton, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind, especially if you're new to the area or on vacation.
Motor boat traffic is common especially in the Newville to Edgerton segment so be alert, wear a personal flotation device (PFD), and always paddle with a friend. Also, make sure your kayak is rated for this area. Many kayaks are available for rent in Edgerton and Newville, but not all of them are suitable for this part of the Rock River. Your kayak should have sealed compartments in the front or back to prevent it from filling with water if it tips over. This feature, known as a bulkhead, is a crucial safety feature that should not be overlooked.
When paddling on the Rock River, keep in mind that slow moving speed, fishing or pontoon boats can create wake. This is a continuous role of waves (3 or more) that can easily tip a small craft like a kayak or canoe.
The best way to ride them out is to position the nose of your kayak/canoe so that the incoming waves are coming toward you head on. Keep your shoulders lined up with your legs to center your weight and hold your paddle with both hands out in front of your chest.
There are No Wake Laws in place and on busy weekends there are patrol boats on the water in the Newville/Edgerton area just south of Lake Koshkonong. Its not a bad idea to have there number just in case. If boats or jet skis are zipping past you call them in.
WIS DNR:CALL OR TEXT 1-800-847-9367
Sgt. Christopher Krahn Recreational Patrol Supervisor firstname.lastname@example.org 608-757-7932
Deputy Terry Borgwardt Recreational Patrol Deputy email@example.com 608-757-7941
Deputy Trevor Lund Recreational Patrol Deputy firstname.lastname@example.org 608-373-3816
If kayaking among motorboat traffic isn't your thing, there are plenty of other scenic waterways in the area that offer a more peaceful paddling experience, and have little or no motor boat activity.
One such option is Gibbs Lake, located just a few miles south of Edgerton. This small lake is a hidden gem, surrounded by trees and perfect for a relaxing paddle.
Another great option is the Lower Yahara River, which winds through a beautiful wildlife area and offers stunning views of the surrounding wetlands. This section of the river is calm and relatively quiet, making it an excellent choice for beginners or those looking for a more leisurely paddle.
If you don't have your own kayak or prefer not to transport one, Drift Away Paddle Co is a fantastic local rental option. They offer a variety of kayaks and paddleboards for rent and provide drop-off and pick-up service at several area locations, including Gibbs Lake and the Lower Yahara River. To make a reservation or book a same-day rental, simply call or text 608-295-4348.
No matter which waterway you choose, always remember to be safe and follow proper paddling techniques. Wear a PFD at all times, stay alert for any hazards, and respect the natural environment by leaving no trace. With these tips in mind, you can enjoy a safe and enjoyable kayaking experience on the beautiful waterways of Rock County.