A Day on the St. Francois River

The St Francois River is a tributary of the Mississippi River. It is 426 miles long and meanders through northeastern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri.

In the springtime they have kayak races on the part that goes through Silver Mines Park. Fishing is fair with a large variety of fish.

They were calling for a high near 70 degrees for today. That was all I needed to hear. I was river bound. I decided to try a new place that I had found. It was on the St Francois River in an area I had never fished.

I really didn’t think the fish would be hitting anything that I had in my tackle box. Just 3 days ago the high for the day was 9 degrees and a front was moving into the area today bringing rain with it. Well that wasn’t enough to stop me. I loaded the yak in the truck and headed out for a day of peace and relaxation.

The air temp was 55 degrees when I got to the river and the water temp was damn cold! It would not be a good day to flip the yak.

The water clarity was clear and water level was normal for this time of year. I didn’t go upstream 20 yards before I had to get out and pull the yak through the riffles. Once through there was a good 300 yard stretch with numerous deep holes and lots of structure and cover for the bass to suspend in. I knew to get them to hit I was going to have to drop my lure right under their nose.

I knew as cold as the water was I was going to have to fish a slow moving lure. This time of the year bass are lethargic and slow to attack the food source. So my choice was a pig and jig and a Charley Brewer slider worm.

The morning really started off slow. Not one single hit in 4 hours. Then a little after one p.m. I got a hit and set the hook. Didn’t appear it was going to be much of a fight then I guess it decided, not today bucko and the fight was on. After about 5 minutes I got it close enough to the boat so I could see it. OMG!!!!! He was big. My heart started beating 200 beats a minute then crap: I forgot the dip net.

Well he dove under the yak and popped up on the other side. With the help of the cold water it tired quickly. I got it up to the yak and I lipped it and put it in the boat.

OMG! What a beauty. I put it on the board and it was a hair over 20 inches. I admired its beauty and returned it to the river. It was a spotted/Kentucky black bass.

I caught two more spotted/Kentucky black bass.

Eleven and a half inches

Thirteen inches

All in all it was a great day. When I pulled out of the river it was 68 degrees. I felt good. I really needed that.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It is very much appreciated. Remember to spread the love and be kind to each other.

All photos are property of Double D Acres LLC and May not be reproduced without written consent from me.

The River is Calling

I know I write a lot about the river. It is a big part of my life. I know it is hard for some to understand my passion for the river. For those that don’t have a chance to enjoy the river I hope you can get to experience it through my writing.

I love to be on the river at early dawn. Just as the fog starts to lift off the river. You can hear the fish hitting the top of the water partaking of their morning breakfast.

Songbirds fill the morning air with their beautiful music and the squawk of a Heron can be heard.

The river is my utopia and my kayak is my yacht. The world seems so perfect there. I have watched deer cross the river 10 yards in front of me. Watched beaver hard at work and have had Bald Eagles fly above me. One early morning I had an otter swim up and put his paws on the side of the kayak.

I can sit for hours and listen to the sound of the water working it’s way through the riffles. I can feel the tension start to melt as I begin to relax. There is so much that goes on at the river.

It’s a place one can go to take the time to know themselves better.

It’s a place to shed your troubles and worries.

It’s a drug you can’t overdose on.

It’s a place that can cause you to be overwhelmed with joy.

It’s a place where your soul, spirit, and mind can be healed.

In time it is a place of memories.

I am truly addicted to the peacefulness of the river. My love for the river has been around for a long time.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate it. Remember to spread the love and be kind to one another.

Fall Fishing on the Big River

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On October 17, I embarked on another adventure on the Big River.  I had a client that shuttled my yak and I so I could do a straight through float.  I hit the water at 8:30 am and the temp was 37 degrees.  The sun was coming up and the fog was starting to lift.  It was going to be a beautiful day.  The high was supposed to be 55 however the wind was a big pain in the yak.

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Big River near DeSoto, MO

On my third throw of the day I cast my lure around the boat ramp.  I reeled in a couple turns and whammy.  Something hit hard and the fight was on.  I fought it for about 5 minutes and then all of a sudden it was over.  It had got off.  In the next 15 minutes I hooked 3 more and got them about half way to the boat and they would get off.  It was like I was jinxed.

I fished about a half an hour and not a hit.  Then, whammy.  I had one on.  It was a 13 inch smallmouth and it appeared the jinx was over.  I caught 5 more smallies and 1 largemouth and 4 spotted bass.  Around 1 pm I pulled up on a gravel bar and ate lunch.

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My kayak on Big River near DeSoto, MO.

Around 1:30 I started on down the river only to be greeted by a Bald Eagle that Mark and I had seen the week before in the same area.  What a magnificent bird indeed.

I continued to catch fish.  I caught them on a  Rapala floating minnow and a Rebel Wee-Craw which caught the most.  Last week with my buddy Mark I had caught some on a pig and jig and a plastic worm but couldn’t buy a bite with them today.

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A 13 inch largemouth bass

 

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A 16 inch smallmouth bass

The day was going good and then it happened.  I had cast the Wee-Craw and retrieved it a couple turns when wham!  Something had hit the lure and hard.  It started peeling line and headed up stream.  I was in some shallow fast moving water and I knew it was going to create a problem.  I was in good shape as long as the yak stayed in the middle of the river but then I hit a pocket of water that started pushing me to the bank.  I got it right up next to the boat and I saw what was the biggest smallmouth that I had ever hooked.  It looked like something you see in a Bass Pro Shop aquarium.  The 16 inch I had caught was dwarfed by this smallie.  Then, this was all taking place now in about 3 foot of water and I could easily see the bottom, I saw it zero in on a tree branch on the bottom and wrap my line around a limb.  Here I am sitting with one of my biggest dreams right there in front of me and I can’t do anything but watch it tug then finally pull loose.  I was devastated!!!!!

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Rebel Wee-Craw

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Rapala original floating minnow

When the initial shock of losing the biggest smallie I had ever caught wore off I headed on down river making my way to the boat ramp.  Along the way I managed to catch several more smallies and spotted bass.  It was a great day.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Remember to spread the love.  A few more pics of the river that day.

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Big River

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Big River

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Big River

A Lazy Day on the River

 

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Big River near Fletcher, MO.

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship” – Thomas Aquinas

On October 9, my long time friend Mark and I finally got together for a float on the Big River.  We have been trying to get together for a float for 3 months now.  It was well worth the wait.  The temps were in the upper 70s, and the water was clear.  It was overcast with the sun popping out from time to time.   All in all it was setting up to be a great day.

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Big River near Fletcher, MO.

I brought along 3 poles and Mark had brought only one.  I use ultra-lights with 4 pound test line.  We launched our yaks at Mammoth access and planned to float to Merrill Horse access.  I believe it is a little over 5 miles.

The leaves on the trees were starting to change colors but unfortunately their colors hadn’t matured yet.  It was quite breezy however we were able to handle it. The river was low but we never had to get out and pull our yaks across shallow places.

 

“Rivers run through our history and folklore, and link us as a people.  They nourish and refresh us and provide a home for dazzling varieties of fish and wildlife and trees and plants of every sort.  We are a nation rich in rivers.” – Charles Kuralt

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I caught this nice 15 1/2 inch smallmouth.

The fish bit real well for a while and then they shut down.  While they were biting they weren’t picky.  We caught them on a Rebel Wee-Craw and Floating Minnow, Pig and Jig, and Plastic Worms (two different colors).  We caught perch,  largemouth and smallmouth.  The length limit of smallmouth in Missouri (on the Big River) is 15 inches.  I choose not to keep smallmouth because it takes one 6 to 7 years to reach 15 inches.

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Big River

“The River…It’s my world, and I don’t want any other.  What it hasn’t got is not worth having, and what it doesn’t know is not worth knowing.  Lord! the times we have had together!” Kenneth Grahame

Everything was going smoothly and then it happened.  My paddle broke and we still had some swift places to get through and without the proper paddle they would have been difficult to navigate.  This is why one should always carry a knife with them.

Well I think Mark and I would be classified as country boys and maybe a hillbilly tag on myself.  So we went to work and fixed the paddle good enough to get me back to the boat ramp.  McGyver would have been proud of us.

 

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Paddle Repair 101

It was a good day.  I always enjoy my time on the river and it is nice when a friend goes a long to enjoy it with you.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Be kind to one another and spread the love.

The River; As I See It

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Bourbeuse River in the fall.

 

“The rivers flow not past, but through us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing.” – John Muir

I have been having a battle with writer’s block and I seem to be losing.  Wanted to go to the river this weekend but with forecast calling for 3 to 6 inches of rain in the area and flash flood warnings I decided to pass.  I would have to wait for another chance.

I long for that much needed quiet time on the river with the croaking bullfrogs, crickets, the howling of the coyotes and that occasional slap of the beaver’s tail on the water warning the other beaver in the area that they have an intruder within their territory.

“There is a love of wild Nature in everybody, and ancient mother – love ever showing itself whether recognized or no, and however covered by cares and duties.” – John Muir

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Borubeuse River on a fall morning.

I love gazing into the night sky at all the stars shining down upon me.   The peace and tranquility soon overtake me and allows my spirit and soul to recharge.  I become one with Nature at this moment and feel all the negative energy exit my being and I begin to look at life with a positive attitude.  It allows me to use logic in my thinking unencumbered by my emotions.  It is a feeling I will never be able to adequately express with words.  It is something that one must experience and feel in their heart before one can understand the true feeling of total peace within oneself.

If for some reason I lose the ability to be able to interact with Nature and the river in this capacity, I will not be long of this world.  I truly understand how John Muir had such and immense love of the mountains.  His mountains are my rivers.  I wish I could just live on the banks of the river and explore it daily.  It is my Utopia my safe place.  My experiences on the river enhance my quality of life and I develop a better understanding of life.  I won’t ever grow tired of the serenity of the river.

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Bourbeuse River (Picture by Double D Acres LLC)

I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Until next time, be kind to one another and spread the love.

 

Time on the River

 

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Big River near DeSoto, MO as darkness gives way to the dawn.

I have always been mesmerized by the beauty of the river.  Due to flooding it is constantly changing but Mother Nature seems to always protect its beauty.  If only man would cherish the river as much as Mother Nature.  The pollution and the trash left behind has grown, adding an ugliness that shouldn’t be there.

“The River… It’s my world, and I don’t want any other.  What it hasn’t got is not worth having, and what it doesn’t know is not worth knowing.  Lord! the times we’ve had together.” – Kenneth Grahame

On August 11, I decided to spend a very much needed night on the river.  Temps were in the 90s and humidity was high.  I loaded up and went to Mammoth Access on the Big River in Missouri.  A lot of people on the river and I got a lot of stares.  I have had a round with melanoma so I show up in a long sleeve shirt and jeans and really don’t look like I belong.  I board my yacht and head up river for a much anticipated night of relaxation.

As I paddle I look for spots to set limb lines and a place to make camp for the night.  I opted out of taking a tent and would opt to catnap on board my trusty yak.  After finding places for lines and camp I went to an area to do some bass fishing however the fish didn’t seem to like the smorgasbord I provided for them.  I finally started tight line fishing and waited for dusk to show up at which time I would set and bait lines in hopes of catching some catfish.

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Big River near DeSoto, MO as dawn takes over the night.

“A river seems a magic thing.  A magic, moving,, living part of the very earth itself.” – Laura Gilpin

I finally finished getting the lines set and baited around 8:30 p.m.  I then set up camp and  set up for tight line fishing while I waited until time to run my lines.  I like to run my lines every 2 and a half hours.  All I seemed to get was empty lines with no bait.  There was a bait stealer loose in the Big River.  My luck wasn’t much better with my tight line fishing but I did manage to get a good fire started.

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The night got cool enough that the fire actually felt good.

Finally I managed to catch a drum, or stone perch.  I put it on a stringer because I had plans for it.  I also managed to catch a sucker but since it wasn’t high on my culinary preferences I returned it to the river.  They are pretty bony.

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One of Missouri’s suckers.

Around 4:30 a.m. my beef stew MRE had began to wear of so I prepared the fish for breakfast.  I didn’t have anything to cook it in so I improvised and rigged up quite a contraption to cook it with.  I used some green tree limbs and fashioned sort of a spit and cooked it 10 minutes on each side and I am here to tell you it was delicious.

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Breakfast on the river.

The darkness began to give over its control to the rays of sunshine.  I headed out to run my lines and take them out.  As I was running the lines I heard something that sounded just like a lamb.  I use to raise sheep so I know the sound all too well.  I could hear it but couldn’t see it.  finally it broke out of the brush and to may surprise it was a fawn still sporting its spots.  I figured it got separated from its mom and hopefully it wasn’t an orphan.  Then I got my answer.  I hear the bleat of a doe and the fawn spun around and headed back into the brush giving what sounded like a very happy round of bleats.

“A river or stream is a cycle of energy from sun to plants to insects to fish.  It is a continuum only broken by humans.” – Aldo Leopold

All the lines were empty and void of bait but one.  I noticed that it was wrapped over a limb but is wasn’t moving so I figured I had caught one and it wrapped the line around the limb and got off.  I managed to pull the line and limb up but to my surprise the line wasn’t empty.  No sirree!  As it broke the service I found a 20 pound, at least, soft shell turtle hooked by its foot.  This means that its head was free.  Now I am here to tell you when it comes to the length of a neck the giraffe has nothing on a very pissed off soft shell turtle.  Now the pucker factor has kicked in and his neck extends way out, jaws snapping and barley misses my arm.  We wrestled for a while and I was finally able to unhook him and I gave a sigh of relieve that was probably heard in St. Louis.

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Phot of Big River by Double D Acres LLC.

After all the excitement and I calmed down a little I headed up river for about 2 hours and then turned around and fished my way back to the boat ramp.  I managed to catch one small Largemouth bass and that was all she wrote.

It wasn’t a very productive fishing trip but the relaxation and peacefulness I enjoyed was priceless.  Being alone on the river without any distractions is the perfect way I have found to cleanse the soul and recharge the spirit.  I have always said when I die I want to be cremated and my ashes spread in the river.  That is the only place that I can experience a true sense of peace and tranquility.

“A river is more than an amenity, it is a treasure.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  I apologize for being a little long winded.  If you get a chance to sit on the bank of a river, close your eyes.  Listen to the running water and feel its energy.  Like us it has a destination.  A beginning and an end.  It has its low times (summer) and high times (floods).  Outside the interference of man, dams and levees, it manages to take out any obstacle in its way to its destination.  We can learn a lot about life from a river.  Remember to spread the love.

 

Winter on the River

 

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Boat ramp on the Bourbeuse at I44 and US50 near Union, MO.

 

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” – Anne Bradstreet

Listen!  Can you hear that?  It is the sound of a riffle on the river resonating throughout the silence of early morning.  It is calling me.  Taunting me. Temptation is alive within the very veins that deliver the blood needed to sustain my life.  My heart rate speeds up as I realize that warmer weather is around the corner.  Oh how I have missed the river.

 

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Bourbeuse River

My imagination begins to work overtime.  Is it possible that the river has missed me as much as I have it?  Does it get lonely as it meanders along the countryside with no traffic upon its waters?  The life that inhabits its waters is almost dormant in an effort to conserve fat reserves until the waters become warm again and the fish have an abundant food supply.  The river waits patiently for the angler to inhabit its waters once again so it can share the beauty of Mother Nature for another cycle of life on the river.

 

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Bourbeuse River

“A river seems a magic thing.  A magic, moving, living part of the earth itself.” – Laura Gilpin

The river waits for the grip of the icy fingers to melt back into the water between its banks.  There has been very little rainfall in the Midwest and the water levels are very low.  Old Man River hopes for some substantial rain fall to bring the water levels to normal.  Even some minor flooding is needed to purge the leaves and debris from between the banks of the river.  The river knows that heavy spring rains brings with it the chance of some major flooding.  Time will tell.

I hate to disappoint, however I am not crazy.  I know the river doesn’t miss me nor it never will.  It is kind of nice to imagine it missing me as much as I have missed it.  Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.  It is deeply appreciated.  Remember spread the love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Sanctuary

 

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“The gross heathenism of civilization has generally destroyed nature, and poetry, and all that is spiritual.” – John Muir

It was a little late in the evening when I decided to load the yak and do some fishing on the Big River.  I spent more time taking photos than fishing.  There was a hint of the approaching fall season on the leaves of the trees.  The temp however left one shaking their head in disbelief, as I did, wondering if we were going to bypass fall this year.  I could see that my sanctuary was preparing itself for a dance with autumn.

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“Fall has always been my favorite season.  The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”Lauren DeStefano, Wither (The Chemical Garden, #1)

The river is my sanctuary.  I feel safe there.  I feel content and satisfied no matter how bad life has been to me.  You can talk to the river and if you listen very carefully you will here its answer manifested in the sounds of the rapids or the croaking bull frogs.  The river has been responsible for some great concerts in the past.  It usually starts with a choir of crickets and bull frogs, followed by the bass created by the beaver slamming its tail upon the water.   Then if you are lucky you will hear a pack of coyotes join in with their howl and high pitched yips.  If there is a full moon overhead reflecting its beautiful light upon the river; then it is a perfect night.

In my sanctuary I recharge my spirit and cleanse my soul.  I become one with the river.  If you learn to use Mother Nature’s river you will be surprised at what it can do for your self esteem.  If you have never meditated on the river you have no idea how you can really cleanse the garbage from your mind that you acquired by the negativity that tried to creep into your life.

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The next time you are on the river slow down and observe what really goes on.  Focus on all the wild life that lives within the banks of the river.  Do yourself a favor and even start keeping a Journal of your time on the river.  Notice how the riparian system works to make the river better.  There are so many things that work together to keep the river alive.  If you have never been on the river then by all means make plans to visit a river near you.

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As a point of clarification, I really do like all rivers even the big ones.  I prefer the Ozark streams to the Mississippi or the Missouri.  The Show Me State has been blessed with several pristine streams.  The Bourbeuse, Current, Jacks Fork, Meramec, Courtois, Black, Eleven Point just to name a few.

Now for the part that gets my panties in a wad and always will.  PUHLEASE!  Pack your trash out with you.  Don’t leave it laying around on the sand and gravel bars.  NEWS FLASH!!!!  One does not need a special permit to buy trash bags.  They are readily available and if you need instructions as how to use them I would be glad to give you instructions.  No one has ever reported any deaths that can be attributed to picking up your trash.

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“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” – Albert Einstein

John Muir was known as “John of the Mountains” .  He loved the wilderness but had a special place in his heart for the mountains.  My friend David Tripp calls me the “river sage” which in return I usually give a pretty good chuckle.  I love the wilderness also but I call the river my sanctuary.

I want to thank everyone that took the time to read my blog.  Thank you.  (All photographs were taken by me.)

Spread the love!

 

 

 

Big River, The River of My Choice.

“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?  That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.”  – Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

I have had some people ask me what it is that attracts me so much to Big River so for this blog I thought I would share why this river has mesmerized me with its beauty and mystique I cherish so much.

Big River begins near the summit of Johnson Mountain near the ghost town of Enough. It flows through the Missouri counties of Washington, Saint Francois and Jefferson then it empties into the Meramec River near Eureka, MO.  It flows through Washington State Park, St. Francois State Park and through the Lead Belt mining district.  It meanders 145 miles through the Missouri countryside.  Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, rock bass, longear sunfish, bluegill, channel catfish, flathead catfish and red horse suckers are some of the fish that can be found in the Big River.

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Big River above Leadwood Access

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Big River

“Eventually all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.  The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time.  On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops.  Under the rocks are the river words, and some of the words are theirs.  I am haunted by waters.” – Norman Maclean  A River Runs Through It and Other Stories

I seem to always be drawn to big the Lead Belt area of the Big River.  The 108 years of mining in that area took a toll on the Big River in the form of contamination by lead. There is a contamination warning on certain kinds of fish caught in the Big River.  There are pipes that go into the old mines that are still in the river.  I am not sure what they were used for.   I was told that they were old test holes, used to pump water out of the mines and numerous other things but do not know for a fact what exactly they were used for.

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Big River

I spend a lot of time camped out at night in this area.  It seems to hold so much mystery within the banks of the river.  Sometimes there seems to be a presence with me as I go about my night of running limb lines and sitting by the camp fire.  Not an evil presence but like another presence in another dimension.  Sometimes when I am running limb lines and the fog is lifting it looks like spirits rising from the mines out of the water on their way to somewhere else.  Some nights it even makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck.  Oddly enough it is a pleasant feeling.  At times I have even thought that maybe they are wanting to share their secrets with me.  Maybe it is the past inhabitants of the ghost town Enough wanting to converse with me.  The mystery stirs my soul deep inside hoping that one day they will share those secrets with me.  One night while I was sitting by the fire I smelled cigarette smoke like someone was sitting right next to me smoking a cigarette.  Am I crazy?  Maybe, maybe not.

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A couple other things that attract me to the Big River is the beautiful scenery and last but not least the fishing.  My photos will never do the beauty of the river justice.  The tall bluffs and rock formations and the lined banks of beautiful trees make the Big River a great place to float and enjoy life. If the river could talk I wonder what it would say.  Would it tell me about the people that came before me, tell me about how it was before they started mining.  Oh the things it could share with me.

I hope you have enjoyed my blog.  I hope you find it interesting.  Maybe some night you will get to camp along the banks of the Big River and you can tell me if I am crazy or not. Be kind to one another, spread the love and don’t squat with your spurs on.

 

Finally!!

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David and Mark

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”  – Thomas Aquinas

On June 22 at noon the Geritol Crew finally shoved off and floated a portion of the Big River.  We started at St. Francois State Park and floated to Cherokee Landing.  It was a beautiful day for a float.  David and Mark used Mark’s canoe and I took my Kayak.   Water was low but clear.  We caught a few fish but they weren’t biting very well.  Mark did catch a sixteen inch smallmouth.

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David and Mark

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Big River

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Big River

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Big River at St. Francois State Park

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Big River

It was a great time with friends.  We took a trip down memory lane and revisited our time at Northwest High School.  When we got to Cherokee Landing no one was around so we loaded everything in the truck and headed out to St. Francois State Park and pitched tents.

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My tent at St Francois State Park

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Coffee perking

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Frying the bacon

I am lucky that I got to spend some time with some old high school buddies.  David and I hit the Bonne Terre lake one day.

Thanks for reading.  Hope you liked the pics.  Be kind to one another, share the love and don’t squat with your spurs on.