Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Last River Trip of 2014

I thought last week would be my last river trip of the year, but things worked out for me again this Tuesday. After sitting down on Monday and trying to figure out how I could make it happen, I opted for a quick trip down a stretch of river I haven't been in at least six years. Time wasn't going to be on my side. I needed to drop the kids off at 8am and get to the launch fast, or as fast as the speed limit will get me those 22 miles.
I had a full day of things that had to get done, including giving a devotional at my kids school at 12:30. (Not something I can be late for.) Then of course the afternoon was full as well. I was determined, so off I went.

I get to the launch and immediately feel my old friend, the wind, tapping me on the back. I can't always have it my way, I guess. It was 33 degrees (brrrrrr for us Texans) and a 15mph wind.

I remember this stretch of river as narrow and shallow in many parts. Similar to the other sections, but less traveled because of the work involved. But at the drop in, it's wide, deep, and filled with all types of fun cover.

The wind was pushing me around and I think I got hung on every underwater structure that was out there. At least a dozen times in the first 15 minutes. I didn't remember all that being there, but as I said, it's been years since I got the yak wet at this spot.
Within a couple hundred yards, it went from deep and wide to narrow and shallow. This was the first of many swift moving paths I would march up to get to the next fishable pool.

Once I got through that, it stayed narrow for a while, and looked like perfect fly fishing territory. Only problem is, i'm not what you would call a "pro" fly fisherman. I'm sure there's plenty of people that would drool over fishing in a straight away like that. Not me, not with that canopy of fly stealing tree limbs. It would look like a Christmas celebration with all my lures hanging from every limb like ornaments.

Of course when it does open up a bit, it's gets real, real shallow.

The next areas were beautiful and mostly calm. The wind couldn't quite get it's hands around our throat this deep in woods. It was definitely a give and take. More work, less wind. But oh, don't think for a minute it wouldn't start howling the minute I want to start casting.

The river continued it's back and forth in between different depths, never staying too long before changing again.

The water seemed to get a little more attitude the further I went. It was a chore getting in, out, in, out, and at this point I still didn't have a fish in the boat yet.

I was starting to remember why I didn't go this route very often. The temperature at this point was at 37, and my hands were getting a little numb. I had gloves for this, but the constant dragging, pulling, pushing had made them wet and a bit chilly. But I persevered and kept moving on to bigger water and bigger hopes of that prized fish.

After all the work, I continue fishing the whole way through. Then, without any rhyme or reason, I set the hook on what's possibly the biggest bass in the whole world, and then...*snap*. What in the....hey, where's my line, and where's my...ahhhh poopsicles.

It's been a long time since I snapped a rod. I guess it was just my turn. Fortunately I have two more on board, so as heartbreaking as it was, I could still continue. So after a quick eulogy for my dear departed rod, I commenced to getting around my next hurdle...a rather slippery and tree choked dam.

You might be wondering, "why bother going through all that work and now you have to portage a dam too?" Well, check out what's on the upper part of the dam. That's some prime fishing right there, that's why.

And look, I even found a friend along the way. Although he did choose to unfriend me shortly after this photo was taken.

I moved on up river, casting everywhere, determined to get some slime on the yak today. Finally, a big on. I reeled him in and measured 19 inches. Yeehaw. I start to get the camera out of my pfd pocket, but i'm having trouble. My fingers are a bit numb. So I lay that big ol' feller on my lap for two seconds and get the pocket unzipped. But while I did that, the bass had an uncontrollable urge to get back in the water. It flopped hard and as I reached to grab it, it slipped out of my hands, like a football lathered in grease. Plop. And away he went. Leaving me staring at his tail-end swimming away. I went through a few stages in a matter of seconds...denial, then anger, then more anger, then depression, and finally acceptance. As I sat there enjoying a nice pity party, I happened to see my watch. It was 11:15. Uh-oh. I gotta go, and fast. I'm nearly 2 miles up a river I have to push, pull, and fight to get back from and I need to be at the school in a little over an hour. So just as quick as the bass darted away, so did I, back to the car.

I made great time and was loaded up and back on the road by noon. It's amazing how fast you can go when you don't fish every stump and lily pad every two feet.
I got to the school in time, finished most my projects in the afternoon, and went to work for about three hours. All in all, not my best day on the water or most productive, but it was good to do a little scouting, and i'm happy with this being the close to my 2014 season.

Plus, 2015 is just a few weeks away and i'll be hitting the water in January, but it sounds so much more dramatic if I say it's the last time I can get out this year. :)

Thanks for coming along,

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Peaceful Day Off

I'm one of those people who seem to have a hundred things going at once. I'm usually getting pulled in every direction and sometimes it can be a little overwhelming. About 10% is actual work related, and the other 90% is things i'm passionate about like photo/video work, designing stuff, kayaking related things, etc. I do it to myself, so I don't complain. But out of all the things I really needed to get done yesterday, fishing wasn't on the list. So the night before I tried to figure out a game plan for the day and how I can get it all done.

Then it hit heck with all that stuff, I need to get on the water. Plus I could test out a few things I need to review in the future.

So off I went. I dropped the kids off at school and headed to the river. It was a little chilly... well 40, which is chilly for Texas. I was surprised at how thick the fog was as I made the twenty mile trek to the drop in. It was a pretty cool start for a trip. I got there at 8:20 and began to unload as well as take pictures of the area blanketed in the morning fog. It didn't last too long, but made for some fun photos.

What was better than anything, was there was no wind. And around these parts, that's a very rare thing.

I slowly made my way down river, casting along the banks and trees, and pretty much just enjoying the scenery. Since I wasn't fighting the wind like I always do, I was able to play around a little more with the camera when I saw things that looked cool.

Even the deer where taking it easy. They didn't see or hear me paddle up withing 50 feet of the group, but when I tried to get the camera out of the case it spooked them. One did turn around for a quick look, and then vanished.

Once I dropped down my first hurdle, I figured it was time it get the fly rod out and test out some new poppers I built a while back. They worked great and held together through a few terrible casts, until I got my rhythm. lol

Hurdle #1

They made a nice sound as they plugged along.

 The fishing was real slow, but so was I, so it didn't really matter. I was having a great time. I was able to land four in the time I was out. Two were nice, and the other two were...well, small. I was so glad just to get on the water, catching fish was just a bonus.

 My wife told me no shave November is over, and she refused to believe me when I told her they had extended it this year. Why won't anyone believe me. I read online, so it has to be true. Anyway, this little dude had some odd spots on him. They looked as if that's how he was made, not a sickly kind of thing, but what the heck do I know.

By about 11, the sun was out and warming everything up. I started shedding layers in hopes of not sweating so much, it is December you know. The wind was still at rest. I went about everything I did very quietly, so as to not wake the sleeping 30mph breezes.

Overall, another absolutely beautiful day on the water. I was off the water and back home early afternoon as the temperatures peaked at 66 degrees. I have noticed that the more beautiful the day, the less fish I catch. But yet I leave with a more relaxed and focused mind. Whereas some days I may catch 25 fish, but fight 35mph wind and come off the water with a "yeah, it was ok" attitude. I guess i'm glad i'm not just in it for the fish.

Thanks for coming along,