Sunday, June 28, 2009

May and June Road trips

Late May and June, I had little time for fishing and spent considerable time driving down the highway to several destinations; Lake Charles, New Orleans, Mountain Home and Lake of the Ozarks.

May 15-19: New Orleans and Lake Charles
New Orleans and Lake Charles were a combination trip with my wife and son staying in the New Orleans for the weekend as I traveled west on I-10 to Lake Charles. The Gulf Coast Council had their third annual conclave at the Lake Charles civil center located downtown near the lake. It was an outstanding facility with the plenty of space and classrooms for seminars. I saw familiar faces from past Southern Council conclaves and rekindled friendships with old and new acquaintances. I had a short visit with Bob Talbert; I have known Bob for a few years and enjoy his stories and humor. Bob introduced Rusty and Carol Dunn from Lafayette LA to me, what a treat. Both have studied and passed their CCI. They spent considerable time on the road to fishing destinations through out the United States in their camper. I stayed two nights at a near by hotel. I attended the conclave Friday night, Saturday and Sunday morning. I spent the entire day on Saturday tying flies and had the opportunity to attend a few seminaries on Sunday. Sunday afternoon I drove back to New Orleans to spend a few days site seeing New Orleans with Ann, my wife and son (Sean).

June 3, 4, 5: Eleven Point River
Jim and I left Springfield early Wednesday morning driving Hwy 60 east through fog and several rain showers. The raindrops on the windshield reminded us of last year fishing and camping trip on North Fork enduring three days of rain. After several hours of driving, we pulled into Greer Federal campgrounds on the Eleven Point River. The sun broke through as we set camp and pitched tents. An hour later, we placed a canoe into the water and spent the rest of the day fishing. We caught a few trout on favorite stretches of water with Jim catching a glimpse of a panic deer swimming across the river to escape dogs running its trail. I had a close encounter with a cottonmouth snake. I was walking the edge the stream along a boggy bottom in tall grass when a tail of the wary and camouflaged serpent was spotted near my boot. I stopped and remain motionless until his head was seen. He was positioned with his white opened mouth and fangs directed toward me. I immediately did a hop and skip in the opposite direction with Jim watching my dance to escape a possible strike; he is probably still laughing. We fished until 5 PM with Sean shuttling us back to camp from Turner’s Mill.

That evening, Jim and his son (Jake) prepared a steak and potato dinner; it was outstanding. We finished the evening around a campfire and retired after 10 PM.

The next morning, we ate a hearty breakfast. Jerry Richard came by to drop off a canoe for Jim and Jake. We fished the entire day with a few trout caught and released. It was almost noon went I looked upstream and saw another deer swimming midstream towards us. The deer finally found it’s footing and stood next to one of our canoes were the young deer surveyed the situation for a few minutes before entering the thicket and out of sight. We fished until 6 PM and shuttled back to the Greer campsite. That evening we had fried white bass for supper. As night fell on us, we stoked our campfire with vegetable oil since the wood was wet and listen to the sounds of night.

Friday morning, we decided to break camp. Jim and Jake decided to drive back to Springfield by way of Alley Spring and possibly Montauk State Park to fish. Sean had to get back to Springfield to take care of some business. I made plans to attend a fly-casting and instructors school in Cotter AR for the weekend. We took out time breaking camp. Jim and Jake left by 10 AM. Sean and I left before 11 AM. I followed Sean to Mansfield where I turned south on Hwy 5 to Mountain Home and Sean continued to Springfield.

June 5, 6 7: Mountain Home AR 2009 Fly-casting and Instructors School
I attended the 2009 Fly-casting and Instructors School which was located at Fulton’s Lodge on the White River near Cotter. This is a small lodge on the White River, close to Wildcat Shoals. Chuck Easterling and Bill Gammel have been instrumental to the development and inspiration to additional education opportunities for the CCI’s and MCCI’s in the southern region. It is to their credit that the opportunities to advance our casting and teaching abilities have lead forward by their example and time.

The focus of the school was on two-handed casting. The guest instructors were Al Buhr and Bob Middo. Al is an extremely well known two-handed instructor and instrumental in establishing the standards for the THCI. The respect for Al’s ability is evidenced by the demand for his instruction and testing expertise not only in North American but also in Europe and Asia. I had some time to listen to Al’s tell stories of his camping and fishing adventures in his home state of Oregon. The best story was his sitting in his campsite, after sunset in front of a campfire. When a young cougar came along, entered his site and sat across from him. Al decided to act big and loud to scare the cat away; only to have the cat lay back his ears and snarls at the aggressive act. Al retreated to his tent shaking like a young pup. One can only appreciate the story with Al giving every detail with emotion and suspense. Good stuff!

Bob Middo is a MCCI, THCI, a long-standing member of the Long Beach Casting Club, and serves on the Casting Board of Governors and the THCI Committee. Bob is the salt-water guy going for strippers and tuna. Bob is a very gifted caster and fun to be around.

Both instructors were exceptional and provide the foundation for improvement to better casting and introduction to the two-handed rod. These classes also focused on the practical application of a long rod which will included “beach casting” (saltwater), use on tail waters (species other than salmon and steelhead) and the use and advantages of switch rods.

If you have an opportunity to meet or better yet get some instruction from one of these fine gentlemen, you will be in for a real treat.

June 12, 13, 14 Women in Nature
Rod Pennington, Kevin Smith and I returned to Windermere Resort as members of the instructor staff for the Discover Nature Women Summer Workshop. There were 82 participants at this year event. We taught three sessions of fly tying with an introduction to in stream macro-invertebrate. Kevin Lohraff is the Outdoor Skills Education Coordinator from the Missouri Department of Conservation.

A big “Thank you” to all of you for teaching Fly Tying at our DNW event last weekend. I appreciate you giving your time, energy, and expertise to our participants. I saw many smiles and heard many positive comments, and women expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to learn a new outdoor skill. I realize you took time from your family, friends, and yourself in order to teach your courses, and I just wanted you to know I appreciate everything you did to make the event successful. Thanks, Rod, for sending your awesome bear photos. Bears remind us that we people are not so crazy to go to such great lengths to get those fish! Thanks, Kevin, for promoting our event and for recruiting your family. I really hope they enjoyed it. Thanks, Kim, for letting me tangle up your spey rod and for giving me the fly. I loved our fishing time together. I will send you copies of your course evaluations soon.

Thanks again!
Kevin M. Lohraff
Outdoor Skills Education Coordinator
Missouri Department of Conservation

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