Thursday, May 26, 2016

Soul Cleansing

*This ones a little over a week outdated already due to computer issues at broke and I no longer have one. Truthfully I hate the damn things anyway so good riddance!*

There's no such thing as a bad day of fishing, I know we've all heard that one and I tend to agree with the statement. That being said, some trips are just better than others when it comes right down to it. One of the things I enjoy most about fly fishing is the chance to get away from the rat-race of everyday existence that we all deal with on a daily basis. No computers, no busy highways, no worries to contend with except what fly that fish in front of you might consider eating. When you can couple this with the experience of overnighting on a gravel bar far from civilization it really is the best of all worlds.
Last weekend I got the chance to spend a couple of days on a river with some friends doing just that. We loaded up two drifters with coolers full of beer and enough gear to start our own flyshop and set out Saturday morning for a 19 mile float and a peaceful evening sleeping under the stars. No cell phone service, no McDonalds on every corner and no pissed off commuters honking incessantly because the flow of traffic doesn't suit them. Yes it's true, there may not be such a thing as a bad day on the water. But there's just no substitute for the peace and solitude that sleeping on a riverbank far removed from the rest of humanity can give to your soul. My soul was long overdue and was in need of a good cleansing.

Heading out...
 photo P5142914_zpsq8otsjq5.jpg
 photo P5142915_zpseuvbbksc.jpg
 photo P5142918_zpsvo84yefe.jpg

Just doesn't get any better...
 photo P5142931_zpszjwfaqf3.jpg
 photo P5142922_zpsas4fuham.jpg
 photo P5152964_zpsiwpvtjms.jpg
 photo P5142927_zpstrpvn9ip.jpg
 photo P5142930_zpsinllmtmh.jpg

Our little slice of Heaven...
 photo P5142939_zpssxer4ge5.jpg
 photo P5142941_zpsv7mrfpai.jpg
 photo P5142948_zpsybhnmuxx.jpg
 photo P5142944_zpsnvllfvbg.jpg
 photo P5142947_zpsqnfawzod.jpg

Morning on the river...
 photo P5152950_zpshvykdxci.jpg
 photo P5152954_zpsotijqpqn.jpg

The float back to civilization...
 photo P5152961_zpsp2ovkxfm.jpg
 photo P5152967_zpssuhythuk.jpg
 photo P5152960_zpsrhlpnipf.jpg
 photo P5152975_zpss4ti4mda.jpg
 photo P5152965_zpshznzauey.jpg
 photo P5152977_zpsfx4ju5nu.jpg

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Brown Water, Brown Liquor and Brown Bass

 photo P5012885_zpsuqfhird1.jpg
Well, Mother Nature did it again. The best laid plans aren't worth a thing when the weather is a prominent variable. I had an entire weekend with plans to spend a couple nights camping on gravel bars on a well known Ozark river and try my hand at catching a few smallmouth bass on a new body of water as well. These kinds of trips are always tentative, regardless of the planning and preparation that go into them ahead of time. A few inches of rain in the right valley and your peaceful river float just turned into a crash course in Whitewater Rowing 101. As a case in point, the river we were supposed to do our float/camp on was reading around 300 cfs on the USGS gauges Friday morning as I was packing the last of my gear in the truck. By that evening, after an afternoon of rain and storms, the same gauge was creeping up close to 3000 cfs.
Luckily we had a Plan B (and C)ready to go for just such an occurrence. With rivers rising and leaving their banks all over the Ozark region we decided to hedge our bets and go with a body of water we were all familiar with and, most importantly, one where we had the option of sleeping with a solid roof over our heads. It wasn't the pristine riverside camping and wilderness adventure we had been looking forward to, but it did have one thing going for it...the smallmouth bass.
 photo P4292850_zpskpac8jyw.jpg
I left the house Friday about mid-morning and pulled into the access we were launching from shortly after noon. Several others in our group were arriving that night but my buddy and I were going to try and get a head start on the fishing action. Skies were grey and threatening and we figured we'd be lucky if we got in a short float before the heavens opened up on us. Our one consolation was the thought that the predicted rains that evening might make todays fishing the only chance we would time like the present.
With a cooler full of fried chicken and Mexican beer we pushed off and started searching for active fish.
 photo P4292845_zpsawjlp9hy.jpg
We hadn't made it too far around the first river bend when the search ended and the fun began. With the recent uptick in levels and slightly off-colored water it appeared as though the big streamer bite was back in business.
 photo P4302863_zps1y6zut9l.jpg
We worked our way downstream all afternoon , hitting each likely hole with our arsenal of flies (Sean fished a brown/yellow deceiver and I fished an olive/yellow deceiver...quite a variety , huh?). Lucky for us the fish weren't in a picky mood and the DD was all we needed for a memorable afternoon on the river. Lots of "fun size" fish came to hand as well as a few bruisers which made the day.
 photo P4292851_zpsfevp5atd.jpg
 photo P4292847_zpscutoovl7.jpg
 photo P4292854_zpsm9kdupan.jpg
 photo P4292855_zpsq7xevrds.jpg
The rain held off until 10 minutes after we pulled the boat off the water. The threatening skies kept everyone else at home watching the radar and the smallmouth kept their end of the bargain as well, you just have to love it when a plan B comes together like that.
That evening we went back to the cabin and sat under the porch awning, listening to the rumbles of thunder and the pattering of rain on the metal roof. A good dinner, a cold beer (or two) and a shot of some brown water for a nightcap finished off what was damn near a perfect day.
 photo P4302881_zpswfina6mq.jpg
The next morning we woke to still cloudy skies but sometime during the night the storms had moved on out. Unfortunately they left a trail of brown, muddy, rising water in their wake. After finishing up the most important meal of the day the group, now numbering five, split up to check out both sections of river that we were planning to fish that day. As we met back up at the cabin to discuss our options the news wasn't great. The lower river was total chocolate milk below the main tributary coming in, unfishable. The upper fared a little better and while it no longer resembled a clear Ozark stream, the fishing still held some promise.
 photo P4302872_zpsrapcvkws.jpg
With that decision made for us we headed up to the upper river access, meeting three other friends who had come down for the day to fish as well. After shuttling the three vehicles and trailers we loaded up our gear and began making our way downstream, once again in search of a few of those Ozark brown beauties.
 photo P4302857_zpsuwdhs1qh.jpg
 photo P4302859_zpsurwb51e5.jpg
The water began gradually clearing as the day went on and the fish didn't seem to mind the extra water or off-color even a bit. Fish were caught by everyone with a few solid ones thrown in the mix to make the smiles even bigger.
 photo P4302860_zpsj76brdji.jpg
 photo P4302865_zpspmbxm7xy.jpg
 photo P4302875_zpsqtejv1l4.jpg
 photo P4302866_zpsyis6dr73.jpg
 photo P4302869_zpsz6wfn6gc.jpg
The two miles of brown water at the end of the float led to a few members of our party hitting the brown liquor a little harder than normal. At the takeout that evening the smiles and laughs were big all around, partially due to the fishing and partly because of the alcohol consumption that took place the last few miles of the float.
After the boats were back on the trailers we headed back to the cabin for the evening. Steaks were thrown on the grill, white bass fillets were fried in a cast iron skillet and adult beverages were happily consumed. After dinner we finished off the night sitting around the firepit re-hashing tales of the ones that got away and even a few who didn't.
 photo P4302882_zps5yoq6kgg.jpg
 photo P4302883_zps4rzxr2bv.jpg
 photo P4302880_zpswvywaaru.jpg
Sunday morning we got up and started the process all over again. Coffee, breakfast and then a quick run to the river to check on water conditions. The previous days brown water had been replaced with an off-colored greenish water which looked much more conducive to fishing.
 photo P5012898_zpswjyi5l3q.jpg
We decided on a float and shuttled the vehicles before pushing off for another day of trying to catch a few Ozarks smallies. It turned out to be another great day, with the fish in an even more cooperative mood than they were on Saturday.
 photo P5012889_zps75qdtyzz.jpg
 photo P5012904_zpskafck841.jpg
 photo P5012891_zps61gqbvvc.jpg
 photo P5012896_zpst5gfojok.jpg
 photo P5012901_zpsnruqrwbb.jpg
 photo P5012905_zpsq6n2owsn.jpg
The sunny weather did bring out a few more of the locals, and I'm not talking about the ones who reside in the river 365. Other than a few rafts full of drunken, noisy idiots the day couldn't have been much better. A sign of things to come unfortunately, a couple more weeks and it'll be time to hand the river over to the partying masses for the Summer season. Until that happens I'll continue to enjoy the full-time locals that reside here and wait for the return of the creek I love come Fall.
 photo P5012899_zpsjslzvlci.jpg
 photo P4292856_zpsuqco5cpf.jpg