With all of the recent storms, tornados and rain we’ve had, we’ve been keeping an eye on the river levels. Some parts of the area were receiving 5 inches of rainfall per hour from a slow moving storm system. The pictures below will tell the story better than I can.
Fortunately, as fast as this river floods, it also drains just as fast. As I’ve stated many times before, these Neosho-strain smallmouth have some tough conditions to deal with throughout the year.
And just when you think you have a river figured out, something like this happens and when you return, you’re starting all over from square one. I’m looking forward to getting back down there to see what changed but it will be awhile since there has been a lot of flooding in the surrounding areas.
My other wading boots, the Simms Flats Sneakers, were having delamination issues with the soles. I took them to a local cobbler for repair but that didn’t work too well. I have since done my own repair but have not tested them yet.
I opted to get a pair of Free Salt boots for an upcoming trip we have planned. The construction on these boots is burly. My only complaint so far is the lack of a removable insole. The footbox is roomier than expected but I have a wide forefoot so they should work OK.
I opted to use the Simms Guide Guard wading socks with these boots.
These boots lace up securely and don’t seem to be too cumbersome or overly bulky. I wear a size 10 but purchased a size 11. They fit with a fingers width from the front of the boot, so walking downhill won’t be an issue. Looking forward to putting these on and wading a river!
UPDATE: The wife and I rented a canoe to fish a 10 mile stretch of the Ouachita River in Arkansas. We stopped often and wade fished the runs and riffles. I wore these boots for 9 hours straight and did not have any issues. They were comfortable (not as comfortable as my Flats Sneakers) and provided great ankle support while wading through sections of riffles. Even portaging a canoe around a low-water bridge, they did fine. Time will tell how they hold up in the long run, but I plan on using them as often as possible.
Next stop was the Sand Bar Access and Campground. With it being after 4pm we opted to grab a campsite. There was only 2 other sites taken when we arrived so we grabbed one that was away from everyone else. Again, no running water and only pit toilets for $15 per night. The campsites were spacious but poison ivy was everywhere.
This area also has a Day Use Only Area and it was packed! Apparently it is a favorite swimming hole for the locals and they were everywhere on both sides of the river. With it being our last day, we opted to hang out in camp, cook dinner and get organized for the trip home. We would have preferred fishing this section but there was just too many people around.
It didn’t take long for the campground to fill up with all sorts of people. I’ll never understand why people have to drive through a forest and into a campground with their stereos maxed out. Campground etiquette was out the window! Some guy decided to start chopping wood at 10:30 pm. It literally sounded like he was building a log cabin.
We slept fitfully until 1:30am when some locals in a truck showed up, again with their stereo blasting and were trying to party at the river. Someone at the other end of the campground got up and started screaming at them at which point they promptly turned the stereo off and left. Finally we could get some sleep. NOPE!
From two tent sites away a little girl woke up screaming that she was afraid of the dark! And I do mean SCREAMING! Her mother ended up packing up and leaving.
We slept till 5:30 and packed up and headed home. If I ever camp there again it won’t be during summer. Probably early Spring or Fall.
Again, sticking to our original tenet of exploring new roads and areas, we chose a route home that was off the beaten path. We gathered a lot of new information on this river and thoroughly enjoyed fishing it. We became familiar with the GaiaGPS app which was a definite asset to the trip, especially since we didn’t have cell service for most of our trip. We consider the cost of the upgraded app money well spent. I’m sure we will be back.
I hope you enjoyed this series of blog posts. There will be a few additional “addendum” blog posts to cover some of the gear we used and why. Thanks for reading!
With this trip being our first to this river it was tough to fish as much as we wanted to. I’m sure that sounds odd but we wanted to explore as much as we could and considered this trip more of a reconnaissance run than anything. All told, we only covered about 6-7 miles of river. We wanted to get a feel for the place, to see what kind and size of fish we might encounter and to scout out access and camping spots.
We drove through sections of clear-cut areas and since this is logging country it was to be expected. It was nice to see large swaths had been replanted and were doing well.
Upstream from the Ed Banks Access was a “snot rock boulder fest” and wasn’t a lot of fun. I’m not a fan of snakes and we had seen our fair share. Thankfully none of the ones we encountered were venomous. But where I was, I was on constant alert.
She wanted no part of the upstream side and opted to head downstream. Wiser choice I will admit. After about an hour I joined her on that side and it is much easier. We caught a ton of perch and little Velox. All told we caught 27 fish with one being a nicer smallmouth bass.
After several hours of fishing some local kids showed up in trucks and on ATV’s. There must’ve been 20 of them and they were rowdy. We decided to move on to another access point we had seen on the map.
The wife and I have been looking for a mid-size pack for the types of fishing we do. We currently use Patagonia Stormfront Sling Packs (20L)as well as the Yeti Panga (28L) for our all-day or multi-day outings. The Patagonia and Yeti packs are submersible whereas this pack is not, since the main zipper isn’t a true waterproof zipper like the TiZip.
Since I have been interested in JDM gear lately, I looked around to see what was available for that market. That’s where we ran across these Abu Garcia One Shoulder Bags. For some reason these aren’t available to the US market which I find rather odd. I think they would be really popular for anyone fishing a stream.
The specs show that it is 7L but it seems bigger than that. It has one, 2-way zippered, main compartment as well as an outside zippered pocket that is the width of the bag. There are no internal dividers or key fob thingies. It does have external lash points, a rod holder sleeve, a Daisy-chain strip with D-rings and a web strip to hold a net and another to hold a pair of pliers (velcro keeper seen on the right of the pic.)
The material is thinner than a Sealine Dry Bag, but for no bigger than it is, it should hold up well. Also, it is for LEFT shoulder carry only, if that might be an issue. My only concern is the shoulder strap. It is not padded at all but does have a 2 inch quick release buckle to secure it around your person. We will see if it chafes the neck or not.
For those interested in purchasing this bag…we found them on Amazon.jp which had the cheapest price we could find. It took 5 days to get here so that was a plus! The color selections were: Grey, White or Black.
I’m really looking forward to testing this bag out. It fills a niche in our quest to lighten our gear for 2021….
This is a picture of my wife holding the largest Velox smallmouth I have ever seen. I would consider it a trophy size Smallmouth Bass for the streams that we fish.
In the background, over her left shoulder, where the water next to the bank is the deepest, is where she caught it.
I had moved past that section to make room for her and was casting when I heard her drag go off. As I turned to look I noticed her rod was bent really deep. Decent sized fish! I put my rod down and broke out the camera and started snapping pictures. It was great to see the process from almost start to finish, especially when she realized it was a BIG Velox!
We kept the fish in the water and marveled at its size, I checked lighting and background and we snapped a quick picture before releasing it back into its natural habitat.
We fished that section multiple times during 2020, but that spot was gone…dry as a bone. The main portion of the stream is much further to her right and it was a fluke that we decided to explore this little branch.