Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Gravel Bar Life - Social Distancing with Smallmouth

These days I think we can all agree that the need to distance ones self from the craziness of the world around us is at an all time high. Society seems to be imploding upon itself to the point where rational, intelligent conversation with others is now a thing of the past. We're all divided on politics , we're divided on vaccination , we're divided on mask wearing , it truly seems like we just can't all get along anymore. My answer for all the bullshit is a simple one...find a stretch of river with very little access and even fewer people , launch the boat with enough shit for a week (even though it's only a 3-day trip) and enjoy some peace and solitude with Mother Nature.
I've found that my psyche requires at least one of these trips a month or my internal pressure valve reaches it's blow-off point. And trust me , that's not a pleasant thing for anyone! With a few extra days off last week, I made the usual lists and started the gear pile in the front of the garage in preparation for heading out to one of my favorite rivers to "Get Away" on. The mid-September weather still felt more like August with highs in the 90's but the shortening nights were finally seeing temps drop down below 70 degrees , perfect weather for a few days of Gravel Bar Life. I had 3 days to float 20 miles and no schedules or concerns (except the all too real multi-day float trip issue of "Did I bring enough Beer?") to deter me from enjoying my escape from society.
I put in a solid float the first day , somewhere around 8 1/2 miles , to get to a campsite that I always enjoy staying over at.
The fishing was good , the water was cool and clear, the beer was ice cold every time I stuck my hand in the cooler and best of all I only saw 2 other people all day. Who said there's no such thing as a perfect world?? Well , there were the two kayakers I guess.
The second day was just more of the same , after a big homemade breakfast burrito I packed up camp and hit the water.
The fish were sitting in all the holes you expected them to be and enough of them took interest in the flies I was throwing to make for another great day. These weren't trophy size smallies by any means , mostly 10-14 inches with the occasional 16-17 incher coming out to play. What I call "Fun Fish".
That night I set up camp on "Raccoon Island" , a spot that garnered it's name from a previous years experience with the local wildlife. Another of my favorite river camp spots, this island has good fishable water on both sides and a nice riffle 20 feet from the tent door for that sleep ambience you just can't get from an electronic device.
5 Star dining on a river bank is a thing of beauty...Prime New York Strip Steak , Fresh picked corn , mashed red potatoes and a chunk of garlic bread. A $20 meal with a $1000 view , my kind of eatery.
The third morning broke just as beautiful as the last two. I picked up camp after another breakfast burrito and started making my way down the last section of river towards the takeout.
As I got closer to the access I saw my 3rd, 4th and 5th person of the three day trip. Three guys in a canoe and kayak who had paddled up from the access I was taking out. Another successful social distancing trip , the closest proximity I'd been to anything living in the last 72 hours was a blue heron and a family of otters , and none of us had any problems getting along.