American River Helper

A nice story from KCRA 3 about one of the many fine people who help others out on the American River.

An excerpt.

“When you’re 119 miles long and you twist and turn from the Sierra Nevada to Sacramento you provide a few stories to tell.

“The American River is just a jewel,” said Karl Bly.

“Bly has created his own tale paddling his kayak on the river every day for the last four decades.

“I’ve done everything you think you can do to enjoy the river,” he said.

“Bly might very well have one of the most recognizable faces on the American River complete with his own nickname.

“A-R Kayaker,” Bly said. “I use to just go by A-Kayaker, but A-R Kayaker for American River Kayaker.”

“Bly spends most of his time near the San Juan rapids helping those who find out the river is equally beautiful and dangerous.

“I help them get to shore and help them gather their stuff,” Bly said.
“But Bly also helps people gather their stuff that’s below water.

“If it’s a common thing brought on the river then it’s a common thing found in the river,” he said. “I will lean over the back of my boat and I will just watch the river go by. A lot of people think I might be dead because I’m just slumped over my boat. I’m not looking for anything in particular. Just waiting to see what comes up and if I see something I’ll dive for.”

“It’s an art that he’s perfected since going out with his father as a kid 40 years ago.

“It’s a labor of love,” Bly said. “Everybody remembers as a kid the Easter egg hunt or a little treasure hunt for a birthday party or something. This is like a never-ending treasure hunt for me. It is constant there are Easter eggs to find everywhere always.”

“Those “Easter” eggs come in the form of cell phones. Bly found 128 of them last year. He found around 600 sunglasses, fishing poles and fishing lures.

“You name it,” he said with a laugh. “If somebody brings it on the river, then they are going to lose it eventually. I found not one, but two prosthetic legs.”

“All the items have quickly cluttered Bly’s garage. There are electronic speakers, umbrellas and Apple watches. But this is stuff Bly hasn’t been able to return.

“It’s one of those things that when you pick it up you know that it’s valuable to somebody and not that valuable to anybody else,” Bly said. “It is important to get that back to that guy.”

“That’s what Bly does. He tries to return everything he finds.

“You look for stuff in the river and you find stuff in the river and that’s an adventure, but then it’s a whole new never of adventure to try and find the owners,” he said.

“It’s so important to him, that he created the American River Lost and Found Facebook page where he posts his daily hauls.”

Meet the kayaker behind the American River Lost and Found page (

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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