Wednesday, April 20, 2011
The first week back to work after vacation is always a kick in the ass , it's that whole reality thing that you're not ready to deal with just yet. On top of the work drag I happen to be one of those people that waits until the last minute to do my taxes and then struggles through it bitching and throwing a fit about it the entire time, so by Monday morning I was ready for some "happy" time. That meant throwing the flyrod and some lunch in the truck and heading down the road somewhere with my fishing buddy for a few hours. It's amazing what a few hours on the river will take care of...all of that BS just fades away for a short time. My friends down in Springfield had been giving me reports of good fishing for white bass in several feeder creeks and tributary rivers down there for the last few weeks so I decided to hit a couple of local spots that I'd caught whites in years ago.
Feeling kinda lazy I slept in and didn't leave the house until a little after 8:00 monday morning which had me pulling into the town of Hartford just about 9:30.
It had been years since I'd seen this place but remembered well fishing it with my father for white bass at a place called Hartford Rapids. After a little searching I found the public access to the river outside of town and took off in search of some water I could fish with the flyrod.
The water was moving slowly and very dirty , chocolate milk kinda dirty , but that's pretty much what I expected from the Neosho River. Joe and I walked both up and downstream of the parking area , fishing where we could and never had a strike in about an hour and a half of fishing.
I know when to say uncle...so I decided to pack up and head to the opposite end of the lake and try my luck below the dam on John Redmond. This was another spot where I remembered catching lots of whites with my dad when I was younger and my hopes were a little higher about this location , especially when I arrived and saw they were running 3 gates.
I started on the east side of the river due to a construction project on the outlets (repairing and painting all gates at JR ) that had the road closed over the dam for several hours.
Joe and I headed downstream where we could scramble down the steep bluff and get to the water with some room to cast. The first thing I noticed was the large number of snakes evident among all the shale rock piles we were sliding down , not just a couple but maybe twenty! While I knew they weren't poisonous it didn't make it any more comforting as I slid feet first with most of my body dragging the ground at some point. We both made it unscathed and hit the first riffle we came to.
I was still throwing the same chartreuse / white clouser I began with on the river earlier and on about my third cast caught a dink white about 6 inches long. Allright I thought , the fish are in here... now we're talking!
Unfortunately I was still trying to keep that positive frame of mind an hour later when I hadn't gotten another hit and lost a dozen flies in the rocks.
I was hungry and needed a break so we drove over to the west side of the dam and grabbed an open table for lunch.
There wasn't a wait and the service was pretty good considering , Joe showed his approval for the ham and turkey on wheat. I preferred the liquid wheat myself.
After lunch we fished the west side for a half hour or so before deciding to throw in the towel and admit defeat. I'd been beat down pretty good today , I started out with high hopes for catching some fish and ended up just hoping with each cast that I wouldn't snag up again. I was headed home when I saw the Melvern Lake sign , twenty miles one way was doable , what the hell I'm a glutton for punishment.
We arrived below the spillway at Melvern to find a moderate water flow and nobody else around and as was only fitting I lost several more flies and snagged a small drum to end the day.
Three different bodies of water...various fly patterns...and only one small white bass , I've still got a few things to learn about this warm water flyfishing it appears. I didn't mind though , yeah catching a few fish would have increased my enjoyment exponentially , but it was still a beautiful day on the water with my favorite fishing buddy. If nothing else I got a temporary reprieve from the long list of chores stuck to the refrigerator door , I've already split it in half and designated the bottom half "fall projects"...in one quick swoop of a pen I was able to re-balance my work / fishing load into a more perfect equilibrium...life is good.
Friday, April 15, 2011
How is it that I can be out of town on vacation for ten days and yet have three weeks worth of work pile up while I'm gone? It's got to be some sort of weird Murphy's Law thing.... for every day of enjoyment while on vacation you automatically accrue 3 days of bullshit chores upon your arrival home. Such is life , always a price to pay for everything and in this case it was well worth it.
With my wife and I both being scuba divers we try to make a trip to a tropical locale once a year to appreciate the underwater world minus the wetsuits , drysuits and various other neoprene accessories required when we dive here locally (Ozarks). Normally we just spend a week somewhere diving but this year we decided to do things a little differently and take our first cruise.
After some planning we found a 4 night itinerary that spent a full day at each island only traveling at night which gave us enough time to do some diving at each location. With that the planning was set in motion...a couple days in Miami then off on a big boat to the Bahamas and upon returning a couple more days to visit some of our favorite places (think fresh fish and cracked conch to die for!) along Highway 1 in the Keys before catching a flight back to KC.
I set up two tank dive excursions in Miami , Grand Bahama and Nassau which was a few less than we would normally get in a week but still enough to make it feel like a true diving trip. As much as I enjoy flyfishing , I have to say the rush I get every time I suit up for an ocean dive just can't be matched.
That might have something to do with the fact that we live in Kansas...with nothing that even resembles diveable water within our reach , but even at that there's just something wonderous about not knowing what lies beneath the surface of that great ocean just waiting to be explored.
We got to see most of the usual suspects like turtles , rays , grouper and barracuda along with lots of pretty tropical fish and although we've seen all these creatures before I'm still always amazed at the shear beauty of the underwater world.
We had an awesome trip , weather was great...spent some time underwater...made some new friends... and only one casualty of the trip , my digital camera didn't survive a free-diving session on Great Stirrup Cay.
It's supposed to be waterproof to 25 feet and my dive watch showed 28 feet , unfortunately that extra 3 feet probably cost me a new camera as it hasn't worked since. I came home sunburned , 10 pounds overweight and I'm not sure but I think I might have developed a drinking problem as well.
What more could anyone want from a vacation?? I kept telling my wife the beer was only a means to increase my lime intake which I was using to ward off scurvy , after all we were on a boat in the ocean.
The highlight of our weeks diving was a two tank shark adventure on Nassau with Stuart Coves dive shop. It took some convincing to get my wife to sign on but in the end she enjoyed it almost as much as I did. These guys are well known for being experts at the whole shark dive / feed thing and they gave us one hell of a show.
Until you've been within arms reach of up to twenty white-tipped reef sharks in a feeding frenzy you can't truly realize your place in the whole food chain. While I could talk about it all day and show you lots of pictures I still couldn't do the experience justice , it's just one of those things that you had to be there. My underwater photography skills and equipment leave a lot to be desired but you can at least get an idea of what the experience was like from the photos...pure adrenaline rush!!
Needless to say if you're a diver I highly recommend doing this if you have the opportunity , it'll be something you'll never forget. These are some amazing creatures and it really is too bad that so many other countries allow their senseless slaughter for no good reason.
While this wasn't a fishing trip I still snuck the seven weight into the luggage along with a few ugly saltwater imitations that I had tied prior to the trip. I only got one chance to string it up and it was our last day in the Keys. We spent an afternoon at Bahia Honda State Park and while the wife was lounging on the beach I took the flyrod and ventured to the other side of the island , I didn't expect to catch anything (and I didn't) but at least I got to throw some line around in the salt for the first time ever. Now I've got a box full of gotchas and crazy charlies just sitting around gathering dust...guess I'm gonna have to start thinking about that salt trip I've always wanted to take , I just hate it when a plan comes together.