It seems like it gets more difficult every day to find solitude on this big chunk of rock we reside on. I'd been contemplating an overnight float on one of my favorite smallmouth rivers for awhile to try and do just that , get a little me time. After seeing 421sd's post last week on his trip , those pictures of green water and serene gravel bars pushed me over the edge.
I had some extra time off last week so plans were made and the pile of gear in the garage started accumulating. I headed South Tuesday morning and after picking up my shuttle driver and unloading way too much shit for a 3 day float I was ready to push off just before Noon.
It seems like this year we went straight from Winter to Summer , totally skipping over those mild days and cool Spring nights. The temp was 95 degrees when I got out of the truck at the launch and the forecast was for much of the same over the next few days. Needless to say there were going to be lots of stops along the trip to cool off in the water.
I wanted to cover at least 4 miles on my first day and pushed through some water I might normally fish a little harder. Despite starting during the heat of the day I found plenty of friends to come out and play. Lots of 10-13 inch "Fun Fish" with my biggest of the day going just over 15 inches.
This river normally gives up some really nice fish if you hit it right , so I was a little disappointed when I pulled over on an empty gravel bar for the evening.
By the time camp was set and I had kicked back riverside with an adult beverage I'd already forgotten the lack of good fish, it was just great to be on the river enjoying a little solitude.
Dinner that night was smoked pork loin and some garlic butter pasta followed up with a campfire and a nightcap of some Don Julio from the trusty traveling flask.
I laid my head down that night and the only sounds I could hear were the frogs croaking , whippoorwill songs and a lone hoot owl looking for some company. Life was good.
I got around a little later than I had planned on Wednesday morning (maybe the flask of Anejo wasn't such a bright idea?) and cooked up some breakfast burritos then began taking down camp and packing the boat back up.
I had pretty much floated the only section of river that I figured to see anyone ( a few recreational floaters the first day but no fishermen) and had the entire river to myself for the next 14 miles. That in itself makes this a first class float in my book...throw in a few smallies and it's practically heaven.
I stopped for lunch at one of my favorite spots, a beautiful little spring pool that flows about 300 feet before reaching the river. A great place to cool off on a hot summer day and I took advantage of it.
While I was eating my lunch (cold fried chicken - what else?) I noticed this little guy poking his head out from a nearby rootwad. He didn't get too close to me but must have smelled the chicken because he just kept watching me.
Before I left I put half a chicken breast on a nearby stump and as I was floating off I turned around to see my little buddy enjoying my lunch almost as much as I did.
The rest of the afternoon was just more of the same...float , fish, swim, repeat.
I decided to pull over and set up camp for the night around 6:00. With 3 hours of daylight left I knew I was missing the best part of the day for fishing but I was ready for another idyllic evening of gravel bar life.
Camp was quickly set-up and then a swim before cooking the nights dinner. I did finally find a good use for that kitchen accessory I got for Christmas...it works great for packaging up meals for long float trips.
That night I sat back beside a driftwood campfire with drink in hand and watched the fireflys put on their light show on the hillside across the river from me and listened to the whippoorwills serenade each other. Fish...what fish?
Thursday I got a little earlier start and was packed up and floating by 7:30 , still not exactly the crack of dawn but oh well. This section of river is my favorite stretch and I hoped to make up for the lack of sizeable fish on the first two days today.
Unfortunately the fish had other plans. There were plenty of little guys willing to chase down and slash at those big streamers but I never did find the ones I was looking for. I never would have guessed that the 15 incher on day 1 would be the fish of the trip but that's how it goes. I had still accomplished my main goal for the trip...get away from it all , relax.
I pulled the boat over to the takeout around 2:30 that afternoon and began unloading shit for the trip home. I'm still not sure how that small boat floats all of that gear and my fat ass both.
The first stop on the drive home was a favorite little burger joint just down the road.
A double cheeseburger and strawberry shake never tasted so good!
I know those fish are in there and I'll be back , next time maybe I'll fish a little harder and spend less time kicking back and enjoying that gravel bar life...or not.