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

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What day is it?

I've been so busy lately coaching softball (2 teams, several games...not on the same nights, and practices), plus the regular daily stuff that life throws in your face...like the A/C dies, and a few events at school...needless to say I haven't had much time to fish.

Nothing changed, but I found a few hours yesterday.  I say "found", but in reality I neglected something important to maintain my sanity and hit the water knowing I'd only have about 3 hours.

Well, I figured that was enough time to swim a few of the bugs I have been tying.  Good news was, a few actually caught fish.  Bad news is, I still suck...caught the small one, and lost the big one....just another day at the office.

It was pretty much a lesson in humility.  Most of my time was spent paddling or dealing with the wind.  Seemed that no matter what direction I wanted to go, it was always in to a head wind.  Not to mention all the times my fly line got entangled with the floating frog super highway.

  Don't let my sarcasm fool you.  It was good to be out!

Thursday, April 16, 2015


If you were on a stream and ran across this:

You'd be in your happy place.  Life is good.

These little bugs were everywhere.  But this wasn't happening anywhere near water.  

I was out in the neighborhood when I came across this hatch.  Curious?

Some bugs with wings some without

After a few minutes the hatch fades and the little insects drop their wings and become.....

Full destruction mode in a few minutes 


Monday, April 13, 2015

Part of the Family

Spent part of the week getting my old aluminum boat ready for summer.  I don't use it as much as I should, once or twice a month in the summer.  My dad bought it in 1990 and took me and my brother to the lake every Sunday.

He was a single father with 2 boys and didn't have extra cash for boats and such.  You can imagine what kind of trouble 2 boys can get into and I'm sure he was saving his extra pennies for bail.  It was August, we were suppose to go shopping for school clothes but we ended up at Arts Marine in North Little Rock, AR instead.  Me and my brother climbed up in this new boat and fell in love.  I was fooling with the trolling motor, working a big bass from some thick cover.  My brother was imagining himself kneeboarding.  Of course it wasn't going to happen, Dad had saved for clothes not boats. We left disappointed but in full negotiation mode.  We knew he had cash for our clothes and knew the price of the boat.  It wasn't long until we informed him we didn't have a need for new clothes.  I mean seriously, we were 3 guys living on our own.  We wanted a boat and to be camping and fishing every weekend.  At the time, I couldn't imagine being with a girl that didn't fish...so a boat over labels made perfect sense to a 13 year old.  Boy was I wrong...none of the girls in my life fish...NONE!

Like a good parent he didn't cave right away.  I knew he wanted that boat too, but he had to be responsible.  I'm sure he checked our clothing situation as he did the laundry.  In the end, we wore holes in our old jeans and everything we owned smelled like a camp fire or fish b/c we ended up with a new 17 ft Alumacraft and it's been in the family ever since.  It kept me out of trouble in high school.  I was home early every Saturday night, and up early every Sunday morning.

It carried me, my brother, and dad around the lake for years.  Several Lake Ouachita island camping trips.  At least 1 trip to the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, where he got a ticket for pulling a skier w/o having someone old enough to spot.  Guess why we never went back!  Now it carries me and my family around the lake.

Couple baitfish patterns I tied last night -  getting ready for SMB season.

It doesn't have that new boat smell anymore.  Rather, it has a few leaks and shows its wisdom in every scratch.  But I love it and consider it part of the family.  Like any family member, it's far from perfect, but can't be replaced.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Bass fishing and candy bracelets

I hurt my back last week and knew that MMAing a kayak was probably a bad idea so I rested both a few days.  It has been torture on me and my kayak has been sneaking into my room at night while I sleep.  Finally gave into peer pressure and planned a trip.  Of course the weather has been nearly perfect all week, partly cloudy and not much wind.  However, as soon as I want to go, that all changes.

The morning started great, flat and calm.  But around 10 am the 15 mph winds pushed in a little rain.  The weather really didn't hurt the fishing.  I did that all by myself.  It was one of those days where I hooked every cypress knee in the water.  It's amazing I caught any fish at all considering all the time I wasted slipping on sinkers, only to have them slide back off and fall through a scupper hole...another valuable use for scupper holes.  I figure I left enough tungsten in the lake to hold a body down for a few years.  Nothing special about the fishing, caught a few but they all looked the same.

Gang member...check out the tattoo!

You'd think after all the practice I got, I'd learned how to push string through a hole...but nope!  After school my youngest asked me to make her a candy bracelet.  Simple task of threading string through a hole.  10 minutes later, go to make a knot and watch 30 pieces of candy fall to the floor.   I gave up...told her sorry, and asked her if she wanted a piece of chocolate.  It wasn't the day for pushing string through holes or making candy bracelets.

Good thing I was coaching softball later in the afternoon.  Got to take out my frustration by throwing hard ground balls to little girls and then screaming at them for getting out of the way.  Still avoiding the candy bracelet...

Thursday, April 2, 2015

It's April...time to fish fools!

Does anyone else hear B.A Baracus saying, "I pity the fool who isn't fishing".  Maybe I'm hearing voices or maybe I've got fish brain.  Whatever, it was April 1st...time to fish.  There's no disputing I'm a "fish fool" so guess what I did?

Only real decision was if I should see a Psychologist before or after I go fishing.   Not really, I know I'm not right.  I left the fly rod last trip but never saw any bedding activity so the thought entered my crowded mind...make room voices!  It's pre-spawn and the bass I caught were mostly chasing.  Good situation if you like throwing streamers.  That idea was quickly isolated and quarantined.  As a kayak angler, I always check the weather forecast before getting on the water....for obvious reasons...if it's not obvious...you probably need to take up golf or scrabble or something equally lame.  No storms today but the wind was predicted to be SSE @ 15 mph.

Casting can be done in 15 mph winds if you're walking a stream/river or if you're in a boat with trolling motor or oars.  But I don't have a trolling motor and w/o my extra arms to work the paddles...loaned those to Yhsifnkool (means fishnfool in German) standing and casting a fly from a kayak in high winds is reserved for people who like to visit Emergency Rooms or like taking long leisurely swims beside their kayak.  Not this guy!

Picked another location on the opposite side of the lake to launch.  That side offered some protection from the wind but meant a longer paddle from the launch.   Covered around 5 miles today (round trip) and caught a mixed bag of fish.

Thumped a soft plastic bass bait

Highlight of the trip.  Guy in a 40K bass boat drives up on me and starts fishing 30 yards ahead of me.  I paddle ahead of him.  Eventually, we're fishing the same water.  I'm on the inside of the cypress trees and he's fishing the outside of the trees.  Fish gods reward me....the guy in the kayak hooks into a fish while the guy in the fancy boat, with the fancy electronics, throwing fancy baits from fancy rod/reels...ok, we probably have the same baits...catches nothing.  A few minutes later he cranks up and leaves.  Have a good day, hope your motor blows up, and you're late to work!  If you get fired and have to sell that fancy gear, even better!  Dude I'm in a kayak and somewhat restricted on the water I can fish.  Yes...I suffer from boat rage sometimes.  Just something a kayak angler has to deal with but I'm getting better.  Well, I tell myself I'm getting better.

2 stayed but 3 dropped in the water as I got closer - I wanted to grab a few and toss in the 40K bass boat

It was another great day on the water, some fish, lots of sun, and I avoided court fees.  Planning an adventure down to SELA...I have redfish fever in a bad way.