Sunday, August 9, 2009

August Fishing


Jim Scheve and I have fished together for the past four years. We usually make plans the first of the year getting our dates coordinated to be off from work to fish three or four times a year. Our fishing destinations are the Eleven Point River below Greer spring and the North Fork between Kelly Ford and Blair Bridge. The past three trips were met with rain and this trip was no exception. We modified our plans for this trip several times, but finally decided to fish the Eleven Point River for two days, staying one night on a gravel bar. On the third day, fish the North Fork with Jim’s son (Jake) driving from Springfield meeting us for the day. The following is a log of the day’s events.

Aug 4 (Tuesday): Jim picked me up at 6 AM and drove two and half hours to Greer on the Eleven Point were we rented a canoe from Richard’s Canoe Rental for two days. We were in the water by 9:30. The water was up for this time of the year with some color from a rain last Thursday. I decided to fish the right side at the first island, with Jim taking the canoe below the island on the left.

The first promising waters left my fly struck to debris on the bottom and it broke my leader at the loop-to-loop connection to the fly line. I looked for more leader material in my pack only to find the spool empty. So, I had to retrieve my line onto my reel and walk down stream to find the canoe with my gear. It took 40 minutes to find Jim, with a walk through the thicket on the island, wading around a spring and crossing a strong current; all lost time fishing. This was the first of several calamities. I found extra monofilament in my bag stowed away on the deck of
the canoe. I fixed the leader and went back to the water. Jim and I continued down stream picking up a few rainbows in the riffles. There were numerous groups of people on the water; most were there for the float and scenery. Later that morning, we stopped to fish another favorite spot only to find it occupied by a group. We took our time up stream waiting for them to continue their journey down stream. It was unfortunate for us another group moved in to fish this stretch of water. Jim and I decided to move down stream. As we prepared to move, I dropped my paddle and it went down stream in the fast moving seam. The paddle went around the bend into a pile of brush and became lodged in the tangled limbs and branches. The current was too strong for Jim to maneuver the canoe close enough to retrieve the paddle, so we coasted down stream until Jim could put us on the bank. I then crawled, snaked, jumped through the thicket on the bank working my way up stream to find the paddle on the opposite bank. When it was spotted, I lowered myself into the water after measuring the depth and finding it to be safe to slide into the water and taking the paddle from tangled debris. The day passed with the heat becoming more intense; it was predicted to hit the lower 90’s.

It was after 4 PM, we decided to find our spot to camp for the night. It was the usual spot below Little Hurricane Creek, a gravel bar four feet above the stream. There was shade, a flat area to pitch a tent; a good place to camp. We decide to wait to set the tents since it was so hot. I took the fly rod and began to work the fly down stream. A few trout were taken from the rushing water and a place that was an old mill or retaining structure to hold back water for the logging operation that took place here one hundred plus years ago. I worked a little farther down stream to a deep hole that is probably another spring. It was almost six PM when I looked at my watch and knew it was time to get back to camp. I usually walk up stream retracing the path I fished, but decided to save some time and energy by walking the woods back to the camp, which was upstream. It was to my surprise that the Ozark trail was close to the stream going up the side of the hill. The trail is used by hikers and is a designated horse trail. The walk back to camp was a breeze.

It was time to set up camp and prepared dinner. The menu was walleye, fried potatoes and green beans. After dinner, the pans were clean gear put away. Then I discovered my sunglasses were without a screw. The bow fell from the frame. The glasses were not functional, but I did find a safety pin that did worked holding all the parts together. The glasses worked for the rest of the trip.

We went back to water at sunset fishing near our camp and caught a few more trout. I managed the best rainbow of the day on my last cast of the day. We totaled twenty rainbows for the day; we have had better days in the past and a few days’ worst, were we were not able to find a single trout.

We started a campfire and sat around it until 9 PM. The sun was out of view with a full moon rising. The skies began to fade to darkness with a fog forming over the surface of the river. We called it a day and retired to our tents for a peaceful night of sleep.

The fog on water at sunset

Unfortunately as soon as I was on my sleeping bag, a flash was seen without thunder. Five minutes later another flash without thunder; I though maybe Jim was out and about with his flashlight. It was not to be. Soon, the flashes of lightening are more frequent and brighter. I look to the sky to see a full moon with the sky overhead clear with stars looking back. The storms appeared to be in the northeast, by most calculations not a problem. The storm should move to the east and slip past us. But this night, the storm moved to the southwest. It was a slow moving system and did not pass over our camp until 1 AM with some intense rain. The storm continued to move to the southeast with our sleep uneasy and concerns for a rising stream. Jim did comment the next day, it was the most severe weather he had to endure while huddled in a sleeping bag with a tent for shelter.

Aug 5 (Wednesday): All was calm by 2 AM. At 5 AM, we woke to the sounds of a deer splashing in the stream attempting to cross the nearby shoal. It probably picked up our scent, changed its mind about crossing and swam down stream past our tents. Later that morning we saw a pack of dogs probably giving chase. The morning was overcast, with a wispy fog over the water. We prepared breakfast at 8 AM. After our meal, we broke camp and packed our gear in the canoe. We had 2 miles to Turner Mill access, our takeout after a full day of fishing. We picked up a few fish on our travels down stream. Jim had a large fish on near a large boulder that striped his line to the backing and the fish moved up stream to find a place on the bottom to snag the line and break off. Over the years, Jim has had this same scenario repeat itself on the same Hole
maybe/probably a different fish on a different day. He has given it some thought and next time he hooks up, plans to pull hard trying to move the fish to another part of the stream to fight; only time will tell if he is successful.

Jim hanging on to large fish!!!

On our float beyond Mary Decker shoal, we came across a cottonmouth snake in the water, it made a bolt towards us as we passed by in the canoe. No one was harmed. We finished the day at Turner Mill access. We released fifteen rainbow trout and one goggle-eye nearly eleven inches. Richard’s Canoe rental met us at the access and took us back to Jim’s vehicle. It was almost 6 PM; we drove down Hwy 19 to Alton, then Hwy 160 through West Plains to Blair Bridge on the North Fork to camp at Pettit’s campground for the night. We arrived before 7:30 PM; there was plenty of light to set camp. There was wood left from the previous campers and we used it to build a fire. It was a peaceful night.

Aug 6 (Thursday): We were up by 6 AM, made the coffee and had breakfast finished before 7 AM. Jake arrived from Springfield at 7:30 AM. At 8 AM, we drove to Pettit’s office and rented a canoe for the day. We were dropped of at Kelly ford up stream from Blair Bridge. This trip of five miles usually requires a full day of fishing. At Kelly ford, we will take time going up stream to fish the bluff area for small-mouth bass and goggle-eye. Jim and Jake took the canoe and paddled up stream to the riffle below rainbow spring. Jim’s first trout of the day was a 17.5 inch rainbow with a few small trout caught. I manage to find a single spot for goggle-eye and took six in a short time with two small-mouths. An hour later, Jim and Jake caught up with me as I had already worked down stream. There were a few more trout taken. In a short time I hooked up with a sixteen inch rainbow. Later, Jake found several sixteen inch rainbows setting up in front of the
shoals. There were several floating enthusiast on the water and a stream team group of seven canoes picking up trash in and on the banks of the stream. Pettit’s canoe was gracious to allow them to camp and use the canoes for two days of clean-up at no charge. Jake finished the day, with eight rainbows trout, a few small-mouths and a sucker, Jim landed the largest trout measuring over seventeen inches and totaled six rainbow trout. I caught three rainbow trout, three small-mouths and six goggle-eyes for the day. It was after 5 PM, when we returned the canoe to Blair Bridge.

Jim and I spent the past three days on a river and we were exhausted. The numbers of fish caught was not outstanding but satisfying. The time on the water was great with a few memories taken from our adventures. Our next trip together will be Kodiak Alaska in September. My guess there will be a few stories from that adventure.

Tight lines… Kim

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