Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Next stop who knows?

About a month ago I looked at the calendar and picked out a weekend that would be a fishing vacation.  The way things have been this spring, guessing about the weather that far out is ridiculous...but it was the only free weekend I had.  So I broke out the crystal ball, invited a few other members of the kayak family and made a plan.  We decided on Grand Isle, LA...got really excited about catching reds and of course, 3 days before the trip, the weather went all crazy x-girlfriend on us and totally hosed up our plans.

I say "crazy-x", b/c the weather would look cool, nothing going on over here, all is good one minute.  Then 2 hours later, it would get silly stupid, slashing your tires crazy.  Each morning when I checked the forecast, it would be 80% thunderstorms all weekend with 20 mph winds (no go)...and by noon, changed to 10 mph winds and 10% storms (GO!).  We REALLY wanted to head down and gave the crazy-x, one more chance every day...until finally we cut our losses and moved on.  Some went to the lake, some hunting.  Not me, truth be told.  I'm an idiot, so I gave her one last chance.  Packed my stuff, loaded the truck, and woke up at midnight to discover the weather was again acting nuts, crazy-x!  You win, I'll change my number and move to a new state.

I went back to bed and went over all the other options I had.  6 sleepless hours later I called my brother who was just getting off work at 7 am.  We made a plan to fish the Ozarks, smallmouth bass and trout on the White.  I left late afternoon and drove to his house in Little Rock.  Got up at 3 am and started the trek north.

About 6:30 am I called the COE for the current generation, 4 units online and will be for days...high, fast water on the White (no go).  New plan, forget SMB, my brother wanted to float a new river so we kept driving and found our way into Missouri and a spring fed river.

We were pretty excited.  Without stopping we drove thru camp, found a spot, threw some money and our camping gear out the window and kept moving.  By 9 am we were on the river.

My brother dons his waders.  While doing so, noticed some dry rot.  He decided to test them and sure enough they leak.  He ditches them in favor of wet wading.  We would find out later, that was a good decision.

He's first to leave, and paddles his ascend across the river to an island and begins to fish.  I set up my 2 fly rods and join him a day later.  Not really, I was there before lunch.  The first thing he says, "look at all those trout eating something on the surface (doesn't fly fish) but they won't bite".  Dude...why didn't you say something!  He didn't know, he doesn't fly fish!  I try my best to tie on a dry.  Few hours later I'm set up.  I get a few casts in and missed a few takes before they seek shelter from the barrage of incoming mortars I'm reigning down on them.  We move on.

What a beast - only the most accomplished anglers catch minnows

The wind was terrible all day.  20 mph winds and gusts up to 30 mph made fishing tough.  I basically helicoptered out of control all day.  An interesting benefit, I got to fish a few runs twice b/c the wind would push me back to the top (against the current).

I was fishing a fast run when I hear, "Drew", in the most desperate voice (still laughing when I think about it).  I looked up to see this:

Look close and you'll notice he almost lost his seat.  All but 1 clasp came lose

There wasn't much I could do (aside for take a picture).  I was waist deep, about 30 feet away from him, and 20 feet away from my kayak.  I did stop fishing.

My brother tried to walk the overturned yak out of the current but there was no chance, over 1000 cfs being funneled thru a small chute.  I told him to swim it down.  He managed to flip it and get back on board.  He lost all his fishing gear but...he kept his paddle.  My dad taught us to canoe 30 years ago.  The 1st thing he taught us was to go down feet first.  The 2nd thing, never let go of your paddle, unless it's life threatening.  3rd, keep a hold of your boat.  Glad my brother remembered all of those rules.  Also, you'll notice him wearing his PFD!!  Every year during float season I see people looking for lost paddles, coolers, gear, and PFD's.  Hard to paddle a canoe/kayak w/o a paddle.  Don't even need to mention the importance of wearing you're PFD!  Not wearing waders ended up being a small break...it could have been a different situation had he been wearing those heavy bootfoot anchors.

Back to the float.  He was obviously disgusted.  He was wet, cold and couldn't fish.  We stop at another campground and he ran up to see if they sold rod/reels.  He came back with smoked ribs.  Ironically, they don't sell fishing equipment but he found something he liked.  Ribs right out of the smoker...works for me.  It's a good time for lunch and I need to hear the story.


The story:  He was fishing a log jam while the current pushed him into the chute.   As he gets close to a overhanging branch, he tried to paddle away from it.  We have done that technique for years but from a canoe...1 person fishes while the other steers.  However, this time he was in his own kayak (not a canoe w/ 2 paddlers).  He underestimated the ascends maneuverability.  He wasn't able to cross the current and was forced into the branch, which pushed him out of his kayak.  Could have been worse.

In the end we had a good laugh...I'm still laughing.  I had to take a picture...I mean...seriously you just ruined the hole I was having some success in.

More proof of my talent

After lunch, I loaned him my 2nd fly rod.  Which included a short lesson in casting and instructions on keeping a tight grip on my gear.  He picked the casting up quickly and was able to get the unruly buggers out about 30 feet.  He really enjoyed his first fly experience and mentioned transitioning to the fly.  That was before he got home and told his wife he lost about a $100 in gear.  We'll see how that goes.

The rest of day 1 was uneventful.  A few fish graced us with their presence and the river was one of the best I have fished or floated.


Back at camp, my brother decided to tap out early and leave first thing in the morning.  He had enough fun for the weekend.  I wasn't leaving, no chance, I was fishing again on Sunday and staying another night.

Sunday morning, I get up at 5 am, by 6 I'm ready to go but gave him 25 more minutes.  At 6:25, I wake him up.  We ran the shuttle early and in our hurry I left my streamer rod at camp.  Dang...I really wanted to throw streamers on Sunday.  Nothing to do but fish...and...

The fishing was phenomenal on Sunday.  The shoals were loaded with beautiful rainbows.  I nymphed all day and my only wish was for more day light...I didn't want the day to end.  It was that kind of day.

Got back to camp as the sun was setting.  I couldn't resist the evening streamer bite so I grabbed the streamer rod and headed down to the river.  Luck was on my side and I picked up a few nice fish...largest was this ~18" bow.  Great way to end the day and the trip.  Look'n forward to a return trip.

*Stayed at Sunburst Ranch.  Can't think of 1 thing to complain about...great people who were very accommodating and friendly.  A place with an honor system (ice, flies, supplies, etc)...where else does that exist?  Highly recommended!!

Sunburst Ranch


  1. Looks like a great trip Drew! That's one of my favorite rivers in the Ozarks and Justin and Amy at Sunburst are some of the nicest people you'll meet anywhere. Next time you're gonna be up that far North in my neck of the woods just shout...we still need to meet up and fish sometime soon.

    1. Thx Jeff, I now see why you like it so much. I'll diffidently be back and I'll let you know. You do the same when you head back...maybe I'll be free and can meet you up there.

  2. Drew
    I have learned that March and April and really into the first week in May are so unpredictable when it comes to the weather. I get so uptight this time of year especially when I want to go fishing and the weather doesn’t cooperate. Those are some really nice trout you guys landed there and I am glad you and your brother were able to find fishable water and the weather worked with you. Thanks for sharing a great post!

    1. You're right Bill, I think I check the weather forecast every hour when I get close to departing on a trip. I usually have a few back up plans just in case the weather becomes an issue. It's really just takes a little more planning/packing and possibly more gas money. But it's always interesting and fun...and that's what matters!

  3. Great post, Drew! Thankful in the end that all was well, including your brother. Sounds like a top notch fishing effort that you can now remember in written form via this post. Thanks for sharing all of the pictures of the area and your trip. Really enjoyed the humor you trickled into this story also.......

    1. Thank you Mel, I try not to make every post a fishing report. It was a great weekend that I'll never forget. Most trips should make you laugh or you're probably doing something wrong. Glad the humor came across!

  4. Looks like fun! I wouldn't want to fall into any of our bigger rivers here now though... I haven't even put my kayak in the lake yet.

  5. This is a great trip. Your LMFR fishing buddy. Any plans for the river? Thanks Bill

    1. Hi Bill, good to hear from you. I was just checking the water levels and starting to plan a trip. Heard they are generating again and have the spillway gates open. So I'll probably try and get back when they close the spillway. But I'm open to whatever, so if you have something planned let me know. maybe I can meet you. .

  6. Drew, The picture of you climbing back onto your kayak, is it a Diablo? Life is good. Where in the Ozarks? Thanks Bill

    1. Haha, that was my brother and his BassPro Ascend fs12t. It's considered a kayak but probably paddles like a SUP. This trip was on the North Fork of the White, outside Dora, MO.