Monday, April 28, 2014

Fishing Stockton Lake - April 2014

Fishing Stockton Lake - April 2014

For over twenty years I've been a catch and release fisherman. Not out of any kind of ideal or noble artistic fishing sense, but because I'm lazy and don't really like killing things I don't have to. There's no great philosophical reason to it, I'm just kind of a wuss in that area. My five-year-old daughter has no such misgivings and has been pressing me to bring home fish to eat from one of my trips for quite a while. This weekend I caved-in and cleaned my first bass in a very long time.

Fishing Stockton Lake - April 2014

Friday evening, after work, I loaded my gear, kissed the Mrs. and kiddo and headed an hour out of Springfield to Stockton Lake State Park Marina. I put the kayak in the water and paddled around the marina periphery, casting the banks as I went. I caught a small bass on the first cast. I caught the only keeper of the weekend on the second cast. But, I had a lot of fun, since I probably caught another 30-35 fish before I headed home on Saturday afternoon. Friday evening I was bringing them in nearly every third or fourth cast. It was nice. None were crappie, but I did see some in the shallows by the safety of the docks and "no fishing" signs. Eventually I put the rod away and just bobbed around watching the sunset, before calling it, cleaning the bass and then hunting down a campsite for the night. In camp, the stars really came out. The city of Stockton doesn't cast much ambient light on the lake and the skies were very clear. I even saw a shooting start before finishing my dinner, smoking my pipe and turning in.

Fishing Stockton Lake - April 2014

Fishing Stockton Lake - April 2014

Fishing Stockton Lake - April 2014

Fishing Stockton Lake - April 2014 Up Saturday morning early to the sound of light rain on the car windows and kayak skin, I sleep in my car a lot when car camping. I was on the road before the sun was completely up. I drove around the lake to Masters Park and hung out trying to determine how bad the storm would be and if it would pass in a reasonable amount of time to get back on the water. I made coffee and oatmeal in the parking lot and cracked open a pack of beef jerky. Breakfast of cham-peens, I tell you.

Fishing Stockton Lake - April 2014

Fishing Stockton Lake - April 2014

Fishing Stockton Lake - April 2014

The storm rolled in hard and electrical. I opted not to be BBQ'd and headed into Stockton for a place to hole-up and wait out the weather. I settled on the Orleans Trail Marina/Resort bar and restaurant. I had a second breakfast of steak and eggs while reading a Missouri Department of Conservation article on crappie fishing and watching the wind rip rain across the lake in sheets from my table and adjacent window. The wait staff was really nice and kept a steady stream of coffee coming to my table. My only other company consisted of a two tables of retirees talking about Germany with slight German accents. I don't hear that much anymore, since moving to the Midwest. Where I grew up in southwest Florida you hear it all the time.

Fishing Stockton Lake - April 2014

Fishing Stockton Lake - April 2014

I left the restaurant and put my boat in just below at the launch ramp, paddled out past the multitude of large production sailboats and fished the protected coves around them. I caught a bunch of small bass and saw several other fisherman trolling for crappie, staring down at their depth/fish finder screens. Blue herons and ospreys occasionally leapt to the air from dead trees along the bank, sometime noisily protesting my approach. I also saw goldfinches fluttering through shrubs along the shore. The wind changed direction and started blowing right down the cove I was fishing, so I paddled in and moved back to Masters Park launch area.

Fishing Stockton Lake - April 2014

At Masters I saw a lot of evidence of crappie in the form of cleaned fish bodies in the water by the launch ramp. Several large catfish were taking advantage of the handout. I put my kayak in the water and started working the bank immediately to the right and downwind of the ramp. I had a huge catfish swim under the boat in about five feet of water. I cast for it and something bit! I'm thinking, "Shit! What am I going to do with a big catfish on my kayak?" as I'm fighting a fish that is behaving like a rock that is trying to move away from me. After a half minute fight, I get the fish to the boat and it's what I think is a carp. Turns out that it was a freshwater drum. I'd never seen one before, but was told by a friend that that's what I had caught. I had the drag set pretty low and it fought like mad.

Fishing Stockton Lake - April 2014

Fishing Stockton Lake - April 2014

Fishing Stockton Lake - April 2014

Fishing Stockton Lake - April 2014

A few more small bass and I called it a day about 4PM. Drove back to town and met the family for dinner after chucking the fish in the fridge, washing my hands and changing into clothes that didn't smell like a raccoon's breath. When we got home, I fried up the fish I had brought home and a happy five-year-old attacked it. I even got my wife, who hates seafood even more than I do, to try it. We all agreed it was good and we could make a meal of it, if I ever catch any in great enough quantity.

Fishing Stockton Lake - April 2014

Thursday, April 24, 2014

More Cycling

Galloway Greenway ride and surrounding neighborhood - 11.6 miles. That makes just shy of 40 miles of riding this week, not counting the two days I rode my bicycle to work. Next week I plan to bump up the ride length a bit and get out of town on some farm roads. Most likely riding a route that goes east and west between Springfield and Rogersville, Missouri.

Galloway Greenway ride - 11.6 miles. That makes just shy of 40 miles of riding this week, not counting the two days I rode my bike to work.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring has sprung and stuff

image

Spring is here, we've already had a few hail storms, the daffodils and tulips have popped up, the redbuds and dogwoods are in bloom, squirrels and robins hurl themselves suicidally in front of my car whilst chasing the ladies, neighbors have been firing up the backyard grills and it's been nice enough to start doing outside stuffs with the family. We've been on bike trips to the park, dogs walks, Easter at the cousins' house with egg hunts and catching critters in the garden, generally making the most of things.

image

image

image

Easter critter catching

Also, I've started training for the MS150, a charity event benefiting the multiple sclerosis research. Thursday evening I rode my bicycle 14 miles on the South Creek Greenway and another 13 miles on Saturday morning. I have a feeling it's going suck up most of my free time this summer. But, it's for a good cause and I'll be forced to get myself in better shape. Should prove to be an interesting little adventure, 75 miles from Crane, Missouri to Joplin on a Saturday in September and 75 miles back the next day. I plan to camp in the high school gymnasium with the majority of the participants. I have friends getting hotel rooms, but I kind of want to commit whole-hog to the event. I'll be raising a minimum of $200 towards the charity ahead of time.

I started training for the MS150 bike ride from Crane, Missouri to Joplin. Starting small. So far, a 13 mile ride and a 14 since Thursday.

I started training for the MS150 bike ride from Crane, Missouri to Joplin. Starting small. So far, a 13 mile ride and a 14 since Thursday.

Speaking of charities, my wife Abby, will be shaving her head in July. She has committed to the American Cancer Society's "Shave to Save" event and is about a third of her way to raising $2000 for cancer victims and the privilege of embarrassingly shaving her head on stage in front of a large audience. It'll be kinda weird for a little while but I'm proud of her for her sacrifice for something bigger than herself. She is truly a selfless and amazing person, I'm very lucky to have her.

Abby

If you're interested in donating, please do here?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mom in town and Rockbridge Trout Ranch

My mom came into town last Thursday night and stayed with us till Sunday evening. We had a nearly perfect weekend for her visit, with temps in the 60s and 70s for much of it.

Mom in town, April 2014

Friday, I took a day off of work and my mom and my daughter Gwen and I rode the Galloway Greenway trail from my house to Sequiota Park and Galloway Grill for lunch. We had a blast, but I think I wore my mom out. She hadn't been on a bicycle in a long time and my wife's bike isn't set up to her normal comfort level.

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Saturday, we took Gwen to her school's Easter party at Phelps Grove Park in the morning, then headed out of town about an hour and a half away to Rockbridge Trout Ranch for lunch.

Mom in town, April 2014

Rockbridge is really pretty cool. With it's old buildings and lodge-like atmosphere, it's something of a throwback to another time. We couldn't even get cell service within half an hour of the place. The food was awesome and the scenery, as well. You can sit in the restaurant and watch hummingbirds hit the feeder just outside the window with a big red mill and flowing creek in the background. The stream is stocked and we saw huge rainbow trout after huge rainbow trout pulled from the pool just below the millpond waterfall. We also saw bald eagles trying their hand at trout fishing, a little downstream of the hatchery area.

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

Mom in town, April 2014

We definitely want to book a weekend down there sometime. Maybe in the fall. I'd love to get away from it all for a couple of days and with the lack of cell service, I'd be forced to put my phone down for anything other than photos. I might need a heavier trout rod though, not sure my light Tenkara rod could handle the giant fish in their stream.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Busier than a...

You fill in the blank, I've been busier than it. Between my daughter's day to day stuff like singing lessons, birthday parties and what-not to my wife's involvement in charities and our house trying to crumble out from under us, we've had a lot going on.

Saturday, my daughter and I walked in the 3-mile MS Walk. A charity event benefiting multiple sclerosis research and cure. My wife has been on the the committee for months, organizing, fundraising and working the event. Afterwords, I made a pot of chili and we had some friends over for a bonfire in the backyard fire pit.

MS Walk

MS Walk Sunday, I went to paint the 15-window wall of our living room and back porch and wound up doing some improvised carpentry. The lowest board, being 63 years old, had rotted along the entire upper surface. I had to chisel it out and find a way to replace it and trim it without everything sliding out of place. It took me about eleven hours on Sunday and another three or so Monday morning before I came into work. I had to get it done before the rain kicked in. I'll be painting and staining this evening.

window repair

window repair

I am no carpenter. This was really beyond my normal ability. I also have very little money, so I had to think of something.

window repair

window repair

Last night was the kick-off party for the Bike MS150 event. I have committed myself to ride in this year's charity fundraiser in September. It starts in Crane, Missouri and goes to Joplin, Missouri and back again. 75 miles Saturday, 75 miles Sunday. I haven't done a lot of bike riding since my daughter was born about five and half years ago. Even then, I've never done anything of this length. Just the 30 mile Red Ribbon and Pink Ribbon rides, one for AIDS research, the other for cancer. This should be an adventure just getting in shape to handle the trip, let alone doing it.

BikeMS -MS150 kick-off party

Expect a lot of cycling-related posts here this summer, starting with this one. It was so nice out when I went home for lunch, I pumped up the tires on my Marin beach cruiser and rode it back to the office. I've got a lot of "training" to do over the next six months.

It's so nice out, when I went home for lunch, I rode the Marin beach cruiser back to the office.