Totally and completely stoked

I’ve got a full-contact fishing trip coming up. Running mild whitewater (nothing over Class III) chasing smallmouth and muskies on one of my favorite rivers with two people I love spending time with. Toss in camping a night on either side of the on-water activities for icing.

The trip’s not until next weekend. I’ll probably burst with anticipation before then.

  • Big D

Sounds like fun. Last week, went to
Caddo Lake up in N.east Texas. The lake is the oldest one in Texas, originally formed by the Madrid earthquake of 1811 when logs jammed the river and backed water up in swampy low lands. Its since been expanded by our favorite engineers, but retains much of its cypress swamps. It was beautiful, but didn’t get to spend but a few hours on the water. It was a great paddle and did catch some fish. Hope to go back soon. Caddo is home to alligators, a sizeable bass population caught easily in shallow water, huge shell cracker sun fish (so called because they eat clams and mussels), nice catfish, and the chain pickeral. The latter tends to be small, less than 3 pounds on the average, but is kin to the pike and is a real fighter on light tackle. Just fell in love with the place, except for the dang mosquitos.

Surprised by the chain pickeral
I thought they were mostly a cool to cold water fish. I think of North-East and northern mid-west when I think of them. NY’s Finger Lakes over to Minnesotas 10,000 lakes. Not Texas. Must be some real interesting water to fish!

Shellcracker are a hoot when you can get into a school of them. I usually keep a L spinning rod handy just in case. All bream are a hoot, but shellcrackers seem to have just a little more oomph to them.

This particular river I’m going to has a good sunnie and yellow perch population. I’m hoping to catch some breakfast. Normally I do C&R, but a few sunnies or perch for breakfast from this particular fishery won’t harm the populations a bit. It may in fact be slightly over-populated because of poor young of year recruitment of the top predators over the past four or five years.

  • Big D

Most water with sunfish, or what we call
bream down here can stand reductions in the populations. Catch and release may actually be a negative in the case of sunnies. On one lake I fish, however, bream in the 7+ range are the rule, with most in the 8+ range, rather than the exception. Think part of that reason is a healthy gator, gar, and bowfin population, also some good size bass and catfish. Little bream don’t have a chance. So, catch and eat the 'gills, its no harm/no foul fishing.

Chain pickeral are fairly common in some Ozark waters, but you are right, they aren’t so common in warm weather states like Texas. Caddo, however, is an unusual fishery. There’s nothing like it in most of the South, other than maybe Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee, also formed by the Madrid quake. The lake is an anomaly, both because it was a large natural lake in a state that has almost no natural lakes, and the habitat provided. I have caught chain pickeral in a fewo other lakes in east Texas, but its a very rare thing, not so on Caddo.

Five hours to go…
Not getting much accomplished. Too excited.

You’ve got it made my friend
Have a blast dude!

Had a great time
VERY difficult fishing. A front had moved through on Friday night (meaning Friday night at camp provided for very little rest). The front moved on my Friday mid-morning, but left us with the high winds, which also made rowing the raft difficult.

Still, we enjoyed ourselves quite well. Only one Class III and a bunch of straight forward Class II’s offered tremendous smallmouth bass habitat. The wind made casting difficult and prevented us from using any high-profile crankbaits that the conditions called for. We downsized small plastic offerings and caught fish in the tails of pools approaching, but not quite in push water.

We had a couple of whitewater jocks run a chute that we were fishing. No problem with them running it because the ledge would have made us invisible to them from upriver. However, once they were through the chute and in the eddy five feet from us, they ignored us and started practicing their side surfs in the chute. They had a dog with them, who actually took the best line on the run and whimpered when his master made him stay on the rocks and out of the water. But for the possibility of hurting the Amazing Class III Canine, we’d have treated those folks with the same disregard with which they treated us and kept fishing the chute.

I’ve never been treated so poorly by other river folk before. Even the adrenaline jocks and PWC pilots I’ve come across generally understand that the river has to be shared. I’ve passed by any number of pools and chutes when folks were already in them. There were three other chutes to play in. One of them was the main run for this section, but even so there were still two chutes to play and practice in until we left. Put a damper on the day until we came upon a sunbathing beach area near a college town to remind us that sharing the resource can be right pleasant.

  • Big D