Monday, March 30, 2015

3rd times a charm...

The last trout trip was so bad, I rushed back to Central AR and went after white bass the next morning.  Nothing new to report...they were fun, but I really wanted to put the fly rod away and go look'n for spawning bass.  Armed with the latest high speed baitcasters that you could buy 10 yrs ago, I was ready to try my luck Monday morning.

First spot was slightly flooded with good visibility.  Still getting a bunch of water coming in from the rivers.  I didn't stay long and made a 20 minute drive to another oxbow lake in SEAR.

1st stop - water covering the boat ramp - keep driving

Again...flooded...about 5 feet up and very stained.  Saw 1 boat at the launch and figured that wasn't a good sign.  I snapped this picture and kept driving.

2nd stop - high and heavily stained - keep driving

My last option was another, very large, oxbow lake in SEAR.  The AGFC lowered the lake about 15 feet and left it down all summer to promote fish habitat.  It's back to normal pool now and looked fantastic.

3rd stop - normal pool with ~1' of viability
Delayed b/c of all my stops along the way, I arrived after 9:30, and had to wait for a older couple to unload, "1" boat on a ramp made for "2" boats...not complaining...just say'n!  I could have used the riprap shore line....but look at some of the wildlife in the upcoming pictures and see why I choose to use the boat ramp.  Started fishing right at the ramp, depending on your level of superstition, I was cursed or blessed, 1 cast = 1 fish.  I'll let you decide.  Fished from 10 am - 1 pm and didn't cover much water...20 minute paddle back to the ramp.   Some pics...!

1st fish

big fish

Everything CPR'd

Saw several, but only a few let me get close enough to take a picture.  Being in a kayak makes going under trees and boat docks a little exciting...sometimes I look...most times I apply the, I don't see you and you don't see me, philosophy!  Whatever works right?!

It was great to be out enjoying some outstanding SEAR weather and great fishing!  Gonna get back very soon and get an earlier start.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spring Break - part 2 - Worst Fishing Trip Ever!

Saturday was so much fun, I decided to be adventurous and explore some new water.  Like I mentioned in part 1,  I had made plans to camp/fish the LMF but canceled them after finding out the COE had opened the spillway.  I watched and checked reports all week and discovered the COE had partially closed the gates.  The river was now flowing around 200 cfs and fishing was red hot.  After double checking my local tailwaters predicted generation schedule and finding out they would be running all weekend, I decided to make a drive down and spend the night at the Beavers Bend State Park.  As usual, I got about 4 hrs of sleep and was driving towards OK around 4am.

It was a fishing trip but also an exploratory outing.  I wanted to catch some fish, but needed to see what the park had to offer for families.  I arrived around 8 am and was excited about what I saw.  I spent over an hour driving around the park just looking around.  I located a train station, horse stables, several playgrounds, swim area complete with kayaks/canoes, and fishing piers.  What I concluded, the park is great for families.  It had nice clean facilities, very helpful park staff, and plenty for my family to do.  Now I needed to find a spot and get settled.

My 1st warning wasn't clear at the time but while finding a camping spot, I came up on a fallen branch blocking my path...clearly a sign saying "GO HOME".  I moved the branch and pressed on, ready to fish.  I found a camping spot next to the river, unloaded and went back to the park office to pay for my nights stay.

Here's where it gets good.  I talked to the park staff about the generation last week and ideas on the future.  As I'm doing that a park ranger slides a piece of paper across the table with generation schedule.  I asked if I could read it.  It didn't say anything specific about planned generation so I wasn't concerned.  For some reason, I felt good about the fishing, so I purchased a camp spot for 2 nights and a non-resident annual license.  It's the same drive from my house to the LMF or Little Red River (LRR), figuring if the LRR was generating I had an alternative.

So far I've spent the better part of the morning just getting acquainted with the park...but I'm still at a loss on where to begin fishing.  I drive back to my camp and slide into my waders.  Grab my gear and start walking toward the river.  First spot had someone, keep walking.  Around 10 am I hear a horn, no worries they're probably going to generate from the powerhouse, but the spillway should be good.  Finally locate a good place and waded into the red zone (barbless fly's only).  I'm scanning for fish but notice 3 guys exiting stage left...puzzled, I stopped.  The river started flowing faster and was full of pine needles...that's not good.  Next thing I see are branches floating down and the color changed to chocolate milk...that's terrible.  Immediately, I knew the horn was for the spillway...that's just WRONG on so many levels.  4 hour drive and not even a cast before I was greeted with 1000 cfs coming down the creek.

Not giving up, I head back to my camp, grab a beer and scanned my map.  Looking for another area down stream to fish before the water gets there.  Jumped in the truck (w/o the beer) and head to zone 2.  15 mins later, I find a gate with a sign..."no wading".  Still not familiar, I turn around and leave.  Head to the powerhouse.  Of course, the flow was high...but I'm still getting in the water.  It wasn't productive (find out later it never is).  After 30 minutes, decided I'm going back to the red zone and wading in 1000 least as far as I can.

Arrived and scanned the water.  It was still moving pretty good but the color was only slightly stained.  Appeared to be great streamer water.  I grabbed the streamer box and started my hike in thigh deep water.  The river was about 3 feet higher than normal, which meant it was out of its banks and covering the trail.

Walking towards me as I scan my map

Not zoomed in, came right up to me.  I asked him where I needed to try next...not much help  

Made it about 25 yds and came to a deeper crossing.  It was the confluence of a small stream and the main river  The trail went to an island between these 2.  My alert went up b/c I didn't want to be on an island if more water was released.   I had to come up with an exit strategy if I was going any further.  Not knowing where the trail ended or what was ahead...I decided to call it a day.

I turned to leave and noticed a guy walking up the trail.  I introduced myself and discovered we had the same idea, it wasn't safe to cross alone so we decided to stay together.  1st break of the afternoon, getting to tag along with a local seems like a nice break.  He did a great job explaining the runs, habitat improvements and where to start.  I was very thankful.

We set up about 25 yards apart.  Casting was very difficult.  We were basically standing on the trail with our backs against high grass and trees.  Not an ideal situation but I made the best presentations I could.  After snagging several trees and losing 1 streamer to another.  I stopped to take a break and apply sun screen...getting sun burned wasn't part of my plan.  In a rush, I got some on my sun glasses.  I take my shirt and rub the glob of sun screen off and somehow managed to dislodge a lens.  It falls into the river and it's gone.  FANTASTIC!!  I regrouped and fished another half takers.

The 1 thing more useless than decaff coffee ^

We talked to a few guides scouting the river and decided to relocate to zone 2...back to the gate I left earlier.  What I didn't know was,  you can hike down a few miles and wading is allowed, just not directly below the dam.  I grabbed my 8wt with a sink tip and we start hiking.  After 20 minutes we stop at a fast, deep run.  I was really excited about fishing this had some great looking habitat.

The area above the powerhouse can be waded when they generate, but not easily when the spillway is open.

I was warned to be careful the rocks are very slippery.  That's an was like walking down hill on ice.  I literally put one foot down, did a 180 and slid backwards 2 ft.  After that, my means of water entry was similar to downhill skiing.  My goal was to stay up right while sliding down the rocks...not stepping or picking up my feet until I was ready to exit the water.

My 1st cast...I must have hit the spool release during my slide b/c the spool falls off and the river carries it away.  I had no chance of retrieving it in the fast current.  I ended up getting spooled.  Lucky for me I secured my backing with a good knot and I got everything back.  It took about 30 minutes to clear the debris and untangle the mess but I was back to fishing and slipping.  I did get a nice thump on the meat whistle but the rainbow just wouldn't commit.  I pointed out where the fish was holding and let the guy I was with nymph the hole.  He hooked up with a nice 15" rainbow.  I was satisfied with just seeing a fish caught.

The local wanted to look at another location and I needed to set up my camp so we hiked out.  I drive back to my camp and started setting up.  I just want a beer, grill some dogs, and let the day end.  But the day wasn't done with me.  Some other campers set up beside me...all I heard was "GD" this..."MFing" that..lots of colorful language.  Gonna be a long night...opened a beer.  I started to connect my tent poles and snap...cord breaks!  That's it...I'm DONE, I'm a QUITTER!!  Put the beer in the cooler, grab handfuls of my junk and throw everything in my truck.  I'll pack it later...just needed to get gone.  During the drive I thought about the day and what I realized was it was a success.  Sure, the fish catching wasn't productive, but the information I gained about the habitat and the park, were invaluable!  We'll be back.

4 hours later I was pulling into Cabot.  I checked in on my girls, kissed my wife good night and fall asleep in minutes.  After 8 hours of driving and 8 hours of...we'll call it "fishing", I was eager for the day to end.

Leaving OK!

One last thing....set the alarm for 5 am...I had White Bass to chase in the morning... I FISH ON!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Spring Break - Avoiding the "Place" and finding "Space"

Spring Break snuck up on my family this year.  A last minute camping trip to the Lower Mountain Fork River near Broken Bow, OK was made and canceled.  Yep, I made the reservation, and told everyone we'd be camping and fishing the spillway creek area.  Looks like a great place to introduce kids to the fly.  After getting everyone excited, I woke up the next morning and found out that they had opened the spillway gates to release water.  The cool thing about the LMF is when the COE's generate from the powerhouse, the spillway creek area is still wadeable.  Not so when they open the spillway, the area was deemed unsafe for children (normal flow is about 110 cfs, it was over 1000 cfs when I canceled).  More on the worst fishing trip ever in part 2.  To be continued....Part 2 here

No big deal, my wife was just humoring my camping idea.  Honestly, she was probably relieved that we weren't camping.  My plan being unsuccessful, she suggested driving to Little Rock and spending a few days with family.  I'm not against the idea as long as I get to fish.  I was just humoring her, b/c a trip to visit family in LR is code for "girl trip".  Here's how it works...I suggest a trip to BassPro.  It gets replaced with a girl trip (aunts, nieces, sister-in-laws, mother-in-laws, girl friends, etc) to Children's Place, the "Place".  I suggest a hike up Pinnacle Mountain, replaced with the Zoo.  You get the idea.  I've found a way to combat this, and now all the guys in the family have kayaks.  What do we guys do when the "crazy ladies" start talking about Dr. Seuss live at the kids theater?  We pack the yaks and find some water.  Great news was the White Bass were on the move.

The plan didn't include staying awake BS'ing until 12 am and getting up at 5 am but that's what happened.  Staying in someone else's home has it challenges.  Like checking out of the conversation at a reasonable hour Friday night.  OR, brewing a cup of coffee Saturday morning.  The Keurig was lit up and ready to brew my favorite morning elixir.  However, all I could locate was decaf...50 plastics cups of decaf coffee.  I searched high and low, and located several more boxes of DECAF!  Seriously, is there a more useless item than decaf coffee?  Not wanting to waste any more of my life, I jumped in the truck and drove to the nearest McD's.  16 miles later I was enjoying a warm coffee and life was back on track.

Located the fleet of kayaks waiting on me to arrive in the dark and unloaded.  About that time, 200 powerboats with similar plans locate the same boat launch.  It's the weekend and the 1st day of Spring Break in was expected.

The fleet departs but  I decided to hang back and test a few areas that everyone passed up in the hurry to get back in the creek.  They were productive and a few whites were quick to take the clouser I had tied a few weeks earlier.

After about 30 minutes, I decided to join the group and made my way up the creek.  It was just as I expected.  Boats packed together, so close you could have walked from one end of the creek to the other w/o getting wet.  I managed a few more whites but the fishing was slow, casting a fly nearly impossible.

Around 11 am, the boats moved on and the fishing improved for me as I had more room to work.  Tried a bunch of techniques, sink tip with unweighted and weighted streamers/clousers.  Floating line with heavy clousers.  Everything caught a few fish but the best pattern was sink tip and unweighted white streamer.  Getting the fly to suspend or fall slowly was the key to getting a take.  Of course, I hung my best producer in a tree...casting can be a challenge in the area (see pics).

Getting hungry I vacated my area and went looking for the yak fleet.  Best idea of the day.  I found them warming up some lunch and happily beached the yak for some grub.

Wasn't long before everyone was full and ready to make a trip up to the bridge to see if we could find some space and more fish.

I located a few right away.  The wind picked up and made standing and casting the sink tip a little more of a challenge.  After an hour we were all ready to pack it up.  It was a good day.  Brought some fish to hand and avoided standing in the checkout line at the "Place"!

Part 2 here :  Part 2

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring Break

Report coming soon, just a quick phone check in...blogs not dead. Just been fishing. Spent a few days chasing white bass. Made a trip to the lower mountain fork river in OK...that's a crazy story.

Not smart enough to figure out how to post a photo from my iPhone so check my Facebook page...
Lookn Fishy on FB

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Anyone need water...we have extra

It's come a flood here in Arkansas.  Rivers and creeks are blown out.  Only place to fish is local waters.

The tree line is usually above the water line.

When you don't hook up...only thing better is watching a buddy hook up...

>40" grass carp
I wasn't able to participate in a grip and grin, but we all helped point out and scout a few potential's.  It was  a successful day in my book.  Just happy to be part of the action.

 Warmer weather is coming and that will mean active fish.  Won't be long now!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

CFS 2015

Do you bite your lip and close your eye's when people ask you, "been fish'n lately".  They don't know how close they are to someone on the verge of a psychotic break.  Well, I'm happy to inform everyone, I narrowly avoided CNN coverage again this year.  It was getting close, but I managed to not choke anyone during my bout with cabin fever...well, there aren't any witnesses.

This blog has been terrible since inception but particularly awful the last 2 months.  The good news is..I went fishing and I'm going to write about fishing.  The bad news is...I have the writing ability of a 2nd this blog has reached its full potential.

It started like any other Friday, I wanted to go fish'n.  However, this weekend the weather looked good, the generation schedule looked good, and I was good to go on the home front.  After a couple texts, I had a "willing participant", my brother-n-law.  Should have known something was never happens that easy.

I packed and planed to leave early Saturday morning at 3 am.  Headed to bed around 7:30 pm, only to wake 5 hours later at 12:30's been 2 months!  I have no idea where the 2 hours went but decided to head out at 2:30 am.  Keep in mind, most of the state got 5-10 inches of mix to snow on Wednesday night.  My fish brain never grasped the idea of icy roads...not even as I dove past the 2 ft snow drifts along the highway.  I figured, if I can make it to Heber, game on.  Its been 2 months, I'll walk, carry, or drag my plastic boat to the fish if necessary.  I drove slow and made sure to keep it out of the ditch.

The only change of plans we had was where to launch.  The generation schedule was all hosed up...short story, they generated water until 1 am and there was way too much flow at our first location.  Plan B, start mid river and paddle up as the water fell.  Sounded good and must have been good b/c we were graced with a great boat parade, like 25 boats over 2 miles.  No complaints.  I was on the river and fish'n.

It was slow.  The snow melt had stained the river and I felt the boat traffic pushed the fish down.  I managed a few fish at each good run, but nothing crazy.  I only fished fly's I tied and that made my day alone.

Around lunch, I looked up to see my BnL taking a nap.  It was obvious the day he was having.  He's a bass guy, but as a "willing participant"...up for any fishing trip when bass aren't biting.  A few boats passing by noticed him napping and tried to help.  Saturday confirmed for me, there are 2 types of anglers.  Those that ask how you're doing and want specifics.  And those, that tell you how they are doing and offer advice.  We met both types on Saturday.  Much respect for the latter!

I wouldn't change a thing.  I was on the river and that was enough.  The sun was bright, it was warm, and the river was flowing...perfection.  Happy to be, Cabin Fever Free (Cabin Fever Survivor - CFS 2015).