Fall fishing on the Caddo

(originally posted Nov 2, 2008)

This blog covers two days of fishing with Larry Braswell who knows the Caddo River like the back of his hand. We had some good fishing and a good bit of excitement as well. The two days of fishing are covered here,with photos.

click here for photos from both days (need to fix)


Day 1: November 1, 2008
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The route

Larry Braswell and I had a great kayak fishing trip on the Caddo River yesterday. It was the longest trip I had done in my new Native Manta Ray 12, and Larry’s first trip in a kayak at all. We launched at Glenwood and took out at the park in Hwy 182 just outside of Amity. The GPS showed 9.81 miles. (see track ) The first 3 miles were quite leisurely with lots of fishing. Larry was catching all of the fish on a crawdad-looking rig while I was going through everything in my tackle boxes desperately trying to find something that would work. Finally, a Mepps Aglia long with brown and red on it with a white tail finally met the menu needs of perch and black bass. One of the bass was a nice black bass, then smaller ones also appeared, plus several perch and bream.

Nice little largemouth

Never did get a smallmouth or spotted. Larry was catching perch right and left with a smallmouth too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The adventure

Gil’s kayak rigged for fishing

Fishing from a kayak is a different experience requiring superior organizational skills. I have not yet achieved that! Today will see a totally different approach. I had way too much clutter in the boat with a soft-side tackle box, two rods, and more. You can see the flaws easily in this shot where there is barely room for me!

The river was at about the minimum level for floating, being a stream gauge level of 5.31 according to the USGS gauge near Caddo Gap. We had to carefully pick our lines in many of the rapids areas to avoid rocks or shallows. Larry succumbed to a shallow area that wound up turning him around into a large tree stump across the stream  whereupon he was unceremoniously dumped into what I estimate to be 65 degree water.

Larry after the tump. Offending tree stump in the background.

Since he was in a rented kayak (from Arrowhead) he had none of the luxuries such as a leash for his paddle and fishing rods and as he struggled to gain his footing in the swift water I was yelling “paddle, get the paddle, boat … catch the boat!” It was all trying to get away from him but he manage to prevail and drag the yak ashore. Minus two fishing rods! A few minutes later he would find them both, one of which had to be retrieved from a deep spot requiring a fresh immersion (operative term is “fresh”) in the river.

All the while, I’m chuckling. Not really laughing out loud, just chuckling while commiserating. You see, on Labor Day Larry had a good belly laugh at my expense when I totally busted my butt while we were wading the river up above Caddo Gap! So I really didn’t feel too badly about having a bit of a laugh at his expense.

Timing is everything

This all happened within about a mile from the takeout point. We had been paddling pretty hard and fatigue likely played a part in this, and one other, mishap before we would get off of the river. Did I mention that the first 3 miles had been pretty leisurely? Well, at about 3PM we had only gone 3 miles. We had fished out a number of very nice spots very thoroughly. My Mepps was still performing and we were both catching fish. Life was good. We had stopped to eat our sandwiches and had no worries. The scenery was beautiful with the leaf color enveloping us in our watery trail. No worries. What? It’s 3PM and we gone 3 miles? We knew the trip was touted as 9.2 miles. Hmmm, when would dark fall? Keep in mind that we’re in a river valley and when dark falls, it falls with a thud! Boom, one minute you have light and quickly you don’t. “Hey Larry, we’d better start paddling!” And away we went. Fishing poles tucked away and off we went and paddled steadily.

Well, almost steadily. Larry had his dump. And shortly after his I got hung up on a rock and had to get out of the yak to drag it off as I had totally high-centered. Just as I pulled it free my foot slipped and down I went! Wow, is that water ever refreshing! I got back in as quickly as I could and now we were both paddling with “vigor” while trying more to stay warm than merely to get to the takeout point.

Paddle faster, i hear banjos

Soon we saw the bridge under which we would have to go to reach the takeout point near the bridge. Suddenly we realize the river branches and the right-most branch looks as if it will have a nasty bend in it so we go left, Larry in the lead. No sooner than do we get under the bridge than Larry is feverishly trying to beach his boat while yelling “there’s the takeout, it’s over there!” I’m in swift water and trying to go more to the right and beach my boat in order to study the situation, the current is pulling me left, right toward Larry whose eyes are getting ever larger … paddle, pull, move it … splat. No, I missed his boat but arrived on solid (well, sort of solid) ground with enthusiasm. The only casualty was the tip of my casting rod which succumbed to some of the vegetation I had impaled. This takeout point is described in a Gorp.com page which also has considerable detail about the Caddo River.

We merely had to get over to the right (and correct) side of the river to take the yaks out and the river there was barely knee deep so it was not a big deal. After loading up and getting back to the Valley we enjoyed a top sirloin on the grill and both headed off to a good night’s sleep.

Sunday’s plan is to take a shorter trip. The ostensible reason is that Larry has to get back home and I have some work to do on the RV dump point at the Valley. The real reason may be somewhere between that and the muscles we’ve each found in our shoulders.

Day 2: November 2, 2008

The swinging bridge

Route on the Caddo, day 2

We started at the old swinging bridge near Caddo Gap. We felt we had enough exercise yesterday — well, when you spend 2/3 of your time going 1/3 of the distance and have to sprint to beat dark — we we opted for a shorter route.

 

 

 

 

Gil on day 2

The distance to Arrowhead was only a few miles and the river was not as fast there so we were able to fish it better. By the GPS the distance is 2.6 miles.  The canyon on that upper reach is also more picturesque.

Larry on day 2

I thought I was going to be skunked when finally the old reliable Mepps Aglia Long started producing. First a bream, then a small brownie, couple more and suddenly ….

 

 

 

Finally, here is a nice brownie

One of several jumps

This nice brownie measured a little over 15″ and would probably weigh about 2 pounds. He made five nice jumps just like you see here and would have made more had I played him for a while.

 

 

I had never caught a “brownie” before. This one was worth the entire trip!

A quick day

We ended the day at Arrowhead, packed up my kayak and headed back to the Valley for some Reuben sandwiches by Larry. There is just something about eating outdoors that is an added touch of spice to any food. Larry headed back home about midafternoon as I was finishing up a little project. Uh, did I say “little?”

It flows downhill

Well now, don’t all projects start off as little ones? The Kornegays had an RV dump connection made to the septic system but the contractor left the inlet pipe so high you would have had to made that “stuff” run uphill and as we all know, some from real personal experience (you know who you are), it runs downhill. So I dug it out, cut it off, added a 45 degree elbow, and laid a sack of quikcrete around it along with some solid concrete blocks for protection. The “stuff” now has a downhill run and there is a bit of a catch basin to keep any minor spills off of the ground. And many thanks to the Kornegays for making this possible!

It’s almost 6Pm now (the new time) and it’s hard dark. I made a trek to the top of the ridge and shot a bunch of photos up there that will be posted later. Enough of this note for now.