Saturday, September 26, 2009

Little Red River

Earlier this year brother Paul indicated that he had never been fortunate enough to fish for trout in the Little Red River near Heber Springs, Arkansas.

I had nearly worn him out with pictures and fish tales when I would make a side trip from visiting Robyn while she was earning her degrees at Harding University in Searcy, about 45 minutes south of the famous spot where the record Brown trout was caught in 1992.

Paul stayed after me all Spring but we were never able to put the trip together. A window of time finally appeared near the end of September which coincided with his 50th birthday so the trip was scheduled.

We headed out on Thursday afternoon and arrived at the Swinging Bridge Resort (aka fish camp) with a mind to fish.

Here we are on the first morning ready to find out if the rainbows and browns of the LRR were in the mood to come out and play. As you can see we were starting with UL spinning rods and white roostertails.

I think this was the money shot of the whole trip. Early morning fog and a nice view of Sugar Loaf mountain in the background makes a nice picture - even with a crusty old fisherman in the foreground..

Check out this video of the first fish of the day.

Here is the happy fisherman with his first LRR brown. Not a record but one for the books anyway.

We caught several rainbows in the 14"-15" range. They were feisty and colorful and not as easy to catch as you might think.

Click on the picture above to see the nice coloration of this fat brown.

Some of the rainbows were dark with lots of spots like this chunky one.

Others were light colored with bright fins and cheek patches.

On Saturday, the river level was down which made for better fishing but when they started generating electricty through the turbines, the water levels below the dam started to rise. The locals all headed down river to get in a few more hours of fishing so we followed.

"Go to Ramsey", we were told so after a quick bite we headed down to see what was happening. When we arrived, we were greeted by this little guy who apparently was a regular at the Ramsey boat ramp.

We nicknamed him "Reek-o" as his odor arrived long before he did. Man if I ever thought about getting a goat, this guy convinced me otherwise. Peeyou!

This was a pretty spot to fish and there were lots of geese to entertain us when the fish weren't biting. I shot some video which you can see by clicking HERE.

All that remains of the swinging bridge above Winkley Shoals is this spot. There was a terrible tragedy here 20 years ago when the bridge collapsed killing five members of a camping group.

There was a lot to see along the riverbank including this beautiful bush. The flowers looked like a wild orchid and the hummingbirds loved it.

Paul proved once again that he is a true fisherman. He caught his limit of five on Saturday.

It isn't hard to see the hand of God if you have your eyes open. This sunset over Sugar Loaf is a good example.

We had a great time and it was a trip to remember. We headed back on Sunday and I arrived home in time for evening worship. I sure had plenty to thank God for!

Next year I'm turning 50 - we are already thinking about possible destinations.

I wonder how late the Connecticut Lakes area stays open?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Seeing Red

Saturday is the day - West Matagorda Bay or bust!

We arrived on Friday to be greeted by "The Swarm". The recent rain had hatched a serious wave of the little bloodsuckers and had changed the mix of water in the river. I made a few casts with the fly rod upon arrival but couldn't raise a ripple.

After a nice dinner and visit with the Wilson's I decided that even if the fish were biting it wouldn't be possible to fish with all the mosquitoes trying to suck the life out of us. There were some folks fishing under the lights off the boat dock but I think they were wondering who was really "getting bites", them or the mosquitoes.

The hummingbirds we had enjoyed last week were also gone. They were apparently just passing through on the annual migration. I caught some nice video and posted it at Front Yard Films for your viewing enjoyment.

We got an early start on Saturday morning and followed the track from last week with no problems. Our first spot was almost fish free so we moved to where we could cast our live shrimp without staring into the morning sun. We finally found some reds that were just under the 20" minimum size limit like this pretty "two spot".

Tracy was catching more than her share but couldn't seem to find that keeper.

I, on the other hand, was going for variety. I caught some little reds, hardheads, lady fish, and even this small sting ray.

Some fish get a bad rap as being ugly, but even this little black drum showed off his silver and turquoise sheen in the morning sun.

Tracy fished hard off the front deck of the Second Honeymoon and her efforts finally paid off big time.

Click on this video above to see Tracy in action!

Here she is with the catch of the day - 26" and 7.5 lbs. A fine redfish!

We had a little trouble getting back due to my lack of experience at boating in shallow water and inadvertently upset a fishing party that thought we were getting too close. Sorry! From their actions I think they were "seeing red" in a different way than we were.

We decided to go out again after lunch and stayed in the deeper water of the Diversion Channel and the river. We each caught a keeper trout along with several small fish when I got the idea to head upriver to our spot near Selkirk.

After fishing unsuccessfully under a cork, I thought that maybe the fresh water from the recent rains had pushed the fish down low. I thought I would drop a shrimp down to the bottom to get below the fresh water. I caught several small bait stealers and finally connected with a nice 20" trout confirming my suspicion that the trout were there - they were just not up high in the water column.

On the way back home we saw a pair of bald eagles soaring overhead and at least six osprey. I hope they are stopping for the winter and not just passing through.

We still have a lot to learn about Matagorda fishing but for now we are enjoying the blessings associated with being outside in God's creation and the joy of hearing the drag scream once in a while.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Personal Best Speck 2

I spent a few hours volunteering at the nature center on Friday afternoon and had some time in the evening to wet a line.

I managed a nice speck - not my biggest but big enough for a meal!

Tracy answered the call with her own fat speck but this was only the beginning of her catch.

We had some fun with some throwbacks including this little red.

Tracy got a surprise from his juvenile jack - these guys are major league fighters. We caught a nice bag of fish and donated them to our friends at Spoonbills. They really enjoyed the fresh fish for supper after the restaurant closed for the night.

Saturday morning turned out to be stormy so our navigation cruise to West Matagorda Bay was questionable. In between the thunderstorms we tied on the tops and worked the riverfront in front of the trailer. This spot has produced a lot of big fat fish all summer and as we were about to find out there were still some big girls left to be tempted by a sashaying spook.

After several minutes of working her lure with only a couple of halfhearted takes, Tracy connected with her personal best speck to date.

Here I am holding the 24-1/2", 4.9 lb beast. I think even though this girl was 1/2" shorter than my big one, this one out weighed mine by nearly a pound.

We continued to fish through the weather and I had a nice red take my full sized spook off the top. Here Stephen is helping out with the net work.

I love the multi spot reds like this quad-spotted jumbo.

Stephen and Julie caught some nice specks and donated them to our fish bag. Note the spots on this speck compared to the one Tracy caught. This one is part leopard!

I pulled out the long rod and threw some flies out to see if I could fool a fish with some bucktail and flash or some sili-skin stretched over a hook in the shape of a minnow (gummy minnow) as this speck found out.

We did finally head out to West Bay and had a nice tour of the southeast corner. I got an electronic breadcrumb trail on my handheld GPS so we should be able to find our way out and back without getting hung up on an oyster reef or sandbar.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Labor Day Weekend

The fair weather was holding up even though there had been some showers in the area and some predicted for the weekend. We made it to the condo-on-wheels in time for some R&R before supper. There weren't any takers for my topwater until after we had eaten.

This was a nice first addition to the ice chest.

These big predators are built for speed and can attack baitfish with a vengence.

God designed these creatures to be beautiful, efficient, and deadly all at the same time.

We were up and on the water early enough that we needed the running lights on the boat. The river was slick and the ride up to Selkirk was smooth and uneventful.

This was Tracy's day to catch fish. She didn't score on a keeper on Friday off the bank or off the pier but this day was a different story. She let her first speck go as it was barely the legal length. She next caught a nice speck and then it was a free for all.

When you tie into a 23" redfish, you know you have something. This guy tested Tracy's skill at manipulating her line around the boat and anchor line. The guide got sloppy and almost lost the fish in the netting process but somehow we got him into the ice chest.

Not all Tracy's fish were keepers but they were all pretty special. This multi spot red was a good fighter and pretty flashy to boot.

My catch rate wasn't nearly as good as Tracy's to say the least but I managed my own little red for this nice early morning photo.

Tracy kept on catching quality fish like this nice speck.

Soon all the fish in the box were hers. This is a 70 quart ice chest so you can get some perspective on the size of the fish. She caught four nice trout and the big red. I managed one speck....

When we returned home for lunch I threw the topwater and connected with another big girl off the rocks. I love to catch trout at midday on topwaters!

After lunch we headed south down the diversion channel towards West Bay to the spot we had fished last week. We didn't see any fish activity and soon realized that either the fish weren't there or they weren't hungry for live shrimp.

The stormy weather was beginning to build and we moved back closer to home and fished the shoreline just south of the locks. We found some ladyfish and other small stuff but no keeper specks so we decided to head back up river to see if Marie was up for a little boat fishing.

Maree connected with some ladyfish and a small red. Do you think she is having fun?

I had fun passing shrimp to her and Tracy as I was manning the baitwell while Maree kept us laughing with her great sense of humor. I can't wait to see her with a big fish on the line!

The Second Honeymoon earned her keep this day and seems to be holding up to the frequent trips with ease. We headed back to Needville on Saturday evening so I could prepare for class on Sunday.

We had a great morning of worship and study with the church in Rosenberg and after lunch we returned to Matagorda.

Our neighbors arrived and were talking about the beautiful water at the beach so we packed up and headed out for an evening of chasing fish in the surf.

The water indeed was beautiful - blue to the beach - and we even managed to catch a few fish.

The temps finally have started to moderate (low 90's) so we decided to head out in the kayaks early Monday morning to see if there were any redfish in the marsh. It had been a long spell since we had paddled and we were both anxious to get back to this form of fishing.

Click the video to see a paddler in action.

Early morning on the way to McNab

We paddled the whole lake and this little red was all we had to show for it.

We had some company as some of the locals got out ahead of us in a small aluminum boat with an outboard. They had to run pretty hard out through the channels to keep from getting hung up and I think any fish that might have been in the channel were spooked. I did see some flounder jumping out of the water chasing small shrimp. That was a thrill and a nightmare all at the same time as they would not bite anything I had to offer.

The catching had better improve or I might have trouble convincing Trcy that all that paddling is worth it even if just for a few nice pictures.

All in all it was a great weekend to enjoy God's blessings and to spend some time together on the water. The summer crowds are thinning and the heat of summer is almost gone. Looks like it's going to be a good fall!