Sunday, April 27, 2014

Turkeys, Trails, and Hillybilly Coho

Friday: Hillbilly Coho on the Little Sac
A few weeks ago I headed up to the Little Sac River for the first time to try my hand at catching white's on the fly. I was able to land about half a dozen fish that evening, but I had to wade through the crowds to do it. While I was out there I ran into a guy who knew the river and its inhabitants very well. After a few minutes of conversation I ended up following him down miles of dusty gravel roads as he pointed out some off the beaten path fishing holes. On Friday I was able to cut out of work early and decided to take advantage of the day by trying out one of these newly discovered spots.

I promise the truck was in park!
Each spring warming waters trigger white bass to run up tributary creeks to spawn, similar to the salmon runs in the northern states. While it's not as artistic as salmon working their way up the rapid-laden waters of a picturesque mountain stream, the white bass run does produce some of the most exciting fishing of the year. When they're at their peak, it seems like you can catch a fish on every cast with just about anything you throw at them. To me, nothing beats catching them on my fly rod using hand tied streamers.

After an hour drive and a quick hike I was streamside. As I was tying on a chartreuse and white Clouser I saw several fish break the surface. Two casts in and I was already hooked up with a descent sow.

Hooked up with my first white bass of the day

My first of 6 healthy whites

This snag produced most of the afternoon's fish
Biggest fish of the day

I also spotted a few carp tailing in a shallow pool just down stream. Looks like I'm going to have to tie up some John Montana Hybrids. Check out his blog here.
A sign of a good day of fishing. First "bass thumb" of the year.

Throughout the afternoon I landed a total of six keeper sized whites and one tiny little largemouth. Although I didn't catch any lunkers, all of the whites that I landed were quite a bit larger than the small males I was catching a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I did miss several hooksets and managed to break off 4 flies while fighting fish. Missed hooksets are just part of fishing, but the 4 break-offs were a bit concerning. I'm not sure if the problem was due to sloppy backcasts, poor knots, or fighting several fish before retying. While I'm fairly new to fly fishing, I have been bass fishing for years, so consistently checking line and retying often is nothing new to me. I'll be paying closer attention to my knots and tippet to see if this problem persits.

The afternoon also allowed me the opportunity to test out a couple pieces of gear. So far I have really enjoyed my Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel that I received for Christmas this past year (thanks Mom and Dad!). I had completely forgotten to recharge my GoPro after my last fishing trip, so it was the perfect opportunity to break out the Nomad 7. All I had to do was plug the camera into the USB port on the solar panel and throw it up on the dash for the one hour drive to the river. That one hour charge was enough to get me through the afternoon. This is one piece of gear that will be getting quite a bit of use in the future.

Goal Zero Nomad 7 solar panel paired with the GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition

Saturday: Turkeys and Trails
Saturday saw me up at 4:45 a.m. clad in camo and headed out to Paris Springs Access in search of some thunder chickens. I have only been hunting for a couple of years now and I have yet to harvest an animal with my bow. I feel like I finally know what I'm doing when it comes to deer hunting, but turkey hunting is an entirely new experience for me. As soon as legal shooting light set in I heard several gobblers sounding off in the distance. While hiking along the edge of a recently planted corn field I spotted what I thought was a jake about 150 yards away. I know enough about turkey hunting, especially hunting on public land, to know that you should call the bird to you to avoid any accidents involving other hunters. After a few minutes of calling I started to notice that the jake that I thought I was calling in was actually a decoy. **Sigh** I quietly packed up and moved on. By 7-7:30 a.m. the birds completely shut down. I continued to hunt until about 11 a.m. without spotting any real birds. I did end up running into the hunter that had the decoys set up while I was taking a quick lunch break. We talked for about half an hour and parted ways. He left me with a bit of encouragement and a few tips for finding birds. While I didn't see a single turkey, it was still a good morning to get out.
Neat old barn
Paris Springs Access is a beautiful conservation area that I would highly recommend checking out. Beware that there aren't really any trails except for a few narrow foot paths around Turnback Creek. 
Later Saturday afternoon Lauren and I headed out to Busiek State Forest to do a little hiking. It was a bit busier than what we would have preferred, but we both agreed that it was nice to see people enjoying the outdoors. We quickly hopped on the yellow trail and escaped the crowds.
The Carter Family Cemetary along the yellow trail
I can't get enough of the Ozark hills.
Indian Paintbrush growing within a cut cedar. For more information on Indian Paintbrush click here.

I'm not sure of the exact length of the yellow trail, but I'd put it at about 4 miles. Its a great hike with plenty of rugged ascents and descents that keep things interesting. Be sure to watch you foot placement in some spots or else you might end up at the bottom of the hill faster than you would like. Lauren and I always joke about who will have the stumble or trip of the day (it's usually her!). If you ever find yourself with some free time this spring, consider heading down to Busiek for a quick hike and a refreshing splash in the creek. If you find yourself with even more free time, I wouldn't suggest chasing wild turkeys or white bass.. I've heard its not very fun...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Enjoying the Weather on Two Wheels

Ohhh man I can't get enough of this weather! Don't get me wrong, I love all of the seasons, but spring is just so refreshing. Birds are singing, flowers are blooming, and the fishing is hot. For me, the toughest thing about spring is deciding what I'm going to do with my free time. Do I head home from work and grab the fly rod or should I string up the hammock and chill out under the redbuds in the backyard? Chase turkeys on Saturday morning or hit up the local singletrack? Lucky for me, my decision on what to do after work on Monday was an easy one. On my way home, Nathan gave me a call and asked if I wanted to go for a ride on a new route he discovered here in town. ..Uh, yeah! I'm always down for finding new routes weather they be on-road or off. After a quick change of clothes I strapped on the GoPro and we hit the road.

Pickwick Ave.
We began our ride in the Roundtree neighborhood and then cut across Glenstone and proceeded East on Bennett. After a quick left on Barnes and we proceeded right onto Catalpa. Once we hit Catalpa Street the scenery began to improve. I started to see why Nathan liked this route so much. Catalpa Street is a low traffic street that is full of beautiful homes and great views of Pierson Creek.

East Catalpa Street
We took a quick water break near an awesome old log home off Farm Road 193. I wish I would have read the historical marker that was next to it. If only this old cabin could talk..

The Dryer Home
After our break we continued on to Cherry Street and then headed south on Farm Road 189 back to Catalpa Street.
Cherry Street

We headed back the way we came and wrapped up our ride in front of Pickwick House where we ran into a few friends who were playing music for the weekly Roundtree get-together.
Goat Milk Honey plus a few
According to Strava, our route was a total of 13.1 miles and took us just under an hour. Total elevation gain for the ride was about 530 feet.

If you are a cyclist or runner I highly recommend the app Strava. It is a very useful tool for tracking your workouts and finding new routes.
I have to say that this is probably my favorite road route that I have been on since I have lived in 417 land. This is an easy, low traffic route that I would suggest to anyone looking for a quick ride with some beautiful scenery. Although I'm not much of a road cyclist, this is a route that I plan on revisiting very soon.

Monday, April 14, 2014


Over the past few years I have become fascinated with journals. I always seem to find some sort of inspiration from other people's photos and written work. I've spent many of my lunch hours (and undergraduate "study" hours) surfing through outdoor blogs like Rustic Man and The Fiberglass Manifesto, or scanning through the latest images on my Instagram feed. Sometimes it's epic stories like those put out by Sitka Gear of chasing public land elk out west. Other times it's pictures and stories from the average Joe about their weekend float trip. Even if the only thing I get out of it is an idea for my next grip-n-grin fish picture, or reassurance that I'm not the only one who's had to hike their bike out a few miles because they forgot their tire pump in the truck, I enjoy reading these posts. I figure it's about time that I share my own thoughts and experiences with friends and family. I can't write like Hemingway and the photos of my little adventures are far from National Geographic worthy, but I hope that you'll enjoy my snapshots and ramblings. Stay tuned!