Saturday morning, my friend Brian D. picked me up about 5:30am and after hastily downing some breakfast burritos and coffee, we headed south to Bull Shoals Lake for some fishing and exploring in our kayaks. Neither one of us had been to the area and it makes the third lake along the White River chain and maybe the fifth in Missouri that we have put our boats in.
Blue herons and night herons squawked their displeasure at our approach and flew fifty to a hundred yards down the shore from us at a time, before finally getting ruffled enough to fly off altogether.
We fished here and there. Brian caught some sun perch and a bass, I think. I caught two sun perch and hooked one good-size bass. It ran off some line from my reel before doing a big leap and tossing my lure back at me. He would have been dinner had he not been so wise.
The water level was up and initially we had a hard time finding an area to haul out for a second breakfast. It was heating up quickly, which called for a lot of water and shedding the drip deck over my kayak's cockpit.
Following a long winding cove to it's end, we came across a wet weather creek and waterfall. Sun perch and crawdads scattered before our shadows and we got out to explore above it. Not without a little drama in the form of a legless reptile in the water ahead of us. Could have been a copperhead or it could have been a harmless northern water snake.
I tried a little "sailing" at one point. Better in theory than practice. I need to make a real down wind rig, it would certainly look less stupid.
Back at camp, slightly sunburned and very tired. We relaxed and watched as a steady stream of non-campers fed into the conservation area. It was weird. They'd pull up, hang out for 20-40 minutes in their vehicles and then throw something in the dumpster before speeding off. Pretty shady, really.
One nice aspect of the camp area was all of the wildflowers. Echinacea cone flowers, Queen Anne's lace, daisies, brown-eyed Susans and a bunch of others I don't know names for.
I had planned to camp out under a tarp stretched over my kayak, using paddles as tent poles. I'd seen pics dating back a century of people doing this with canoes and canvas and it looked practical and nostalgic at the same time. It turned out to not be for me. Certainly not in the buggy summer we're having. After laying there being pestered by ticks, spiders, daddy longlegs and a domestic cat, I opted for my tent without the rain fly. I'll try again under colder circumstances. The campsite rum and cola was a hit, though.
The full mooned night was filled with the howling of coyotes, with owls and whippoorwills also doing their thing. We had a few other critters come into camp, but I was mostly too tired to care beyond the first encounter. I chased something off with my flashlight and a little noise. Brian said he heard some fairly large footfalls in the woods from the bed of his truck.
The next morning, after some driving along the Missouri/Arkansas border looking for a place to put in a again, we opted to head into Forsyth and fish the lake there. The water was cooler, being closer to the cold waters emptying from Lake Taneycomo above. Around the bridges hung a cloud of purple martins and Brian saw a couple of musk rats and a mink.
One of the best things about going to areas out in the middle of nowhere is hitting up mom'n'pop restaurants on the way back. The BBQ at Fat Daddy's in Forsyth was freak'n awesome. They make their own spicy sausage and both of us opted for the same menu item. A sandwich called something like The Big Fat Pig, consisting of homemade sausage and pulled pork on Texas toast, with homemade curly fries and pit beans. Likely horrible for the body, but absolutely wonderful on the soul.