October, as good as it gets
I write fishing and hunting stories; but, I sometimes wonder if anyone's listening! It's not that I'm wondering if you read my articles, it's just that I'm wondering if folks actually "hear" what I'm saying. Take "Fall float fishing" for instance. When I write and say that you just can't beat being out there this time of the year on a stream, I wonder if folks even have a clue as to what they are missing by letting another October vanish without having dropped everything to go on a float fishing trip. From my past observations, I'll be alone this Fall, once again, when float fishing or float hunting. And, make no mistake, while you are reading this sometime in October, I'll likely be out there on a stream fishing or hunting on some remote Ozark river. I'll be catching big bass, stalking turkey in silence, or perhaps both. With this article, you'll see a couple of photos I've taken along the way. If you think I'm blowing smoke about the wonders of being out there on our streams, then turn the computer on, type in my website, denniswhiteside.com, and go to the "photo gallery" section listed in the right hand column. Open that up and you can at least see slide shows of my stream adventures. I've documented near all of them the past few years and there you can at least see what a river bluff looks like in October with the Fall colors on display. You can also see what a big Smallmouth looks like, deer, turkey, ducks and a hundred other things. Indeed, pictures are worth a thousand words; but, I wouldn't take all the pictures I've taken in the past for one more day on an Ozark float stream in October. I love the Spring, and right there with it, I love the Summer. By Summer's end, I'm always ready for the Fall because I love it, too. I really can't separate those seasons because they blend so perfectly. Thus, in a not too distant second place, I love the winter because what it offers as a season in the outdoors along the rivers is unique. But, of the four seasons, I get tired of it the quickest and I think that's the reason I enjoy the Spring so much. I'm always ready for green grass, wild Azaleas, Whippoorwills, Smallmouth fishing and Gobblers. The point is though, if I had to choose a month, it would be October. The heat's gone, the colors are out, the weather is generally stable and what you can do on streams is limited only by your time and skill because the floating conditions are perfect. Last October, four guys each from a different state; but old friends, took me up on a two day float fishing trip. They all came into our rendezvous for a three night stay, two of them from a ten hour drive. Excitement was pouring out in all directions as tales were told and the laughs were hard. It was near midnight when we cashed it in the first night. Daylight the next morning came all too quickly. We ate a big breakfast, had our lunches made and were on the water in short order. The morning had been crisp and we all wore long sleeves. A swim in the river was not to be considered. By mid morning, we would be in short sleeves. The day turned clear as the fog lifted and the river bluffs stood out with maples, hickory and sweet gum turning shades of red, gold and yellow that only nature can produce. Eagles were out along the way and turkey could be heard a time or two as the hens with their young browsed for acorns. We each caught good Smallmouth, Kentucky's and Largemouth. Even a Walleye was landed. We pulled in for lunch on a shaded gravel bar at the foot of a shoal mid float and stretched out on seat cushions for a bite to eat and a good rest. Naturally, we each had to share a story or two about a bass caught or missed. Eventually we settled down with our own thoughts and a sandwich. There was only the river and us. The water was mesmerizing: clear and cold, yet flowing with the constant motion of current with the sounds made by the obstruction of rock and log. It's a soothing sound. Thoughts, left alone, can run deeper. Finally, one of the guys spoke with reflection in his voice, "you know, I don't know why I've not done this every October. This is as good as it gets!" There was both agreement and resolution: A trip for the four of them was booked on the spot for October, 2011!