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.

Bonne Terre, Mo Vacation

 

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St. Francois River in Silver Mines Recreation Area

 

Vacation time is upon us.  Do you like small towns?  If you do, don’t look any further than Bonne Terre, MO located in St. Francois County about 60 miles south of St. Louis, MO..  Population is a little over seven thousand and it is located in the lead belt of Missouri.  The French settled here in 1720 after the discovery of iron ore.  It was platted as a town in 1880.

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Bonne Terre Dragstrip

National Geographic calls Bonne Terre Mine “One of America’s Top 10 Greatest adventures. Take a walking tour of the old mine and take a boat ride on the Billion Gallon underground lake.  They also have scuba diving classes.  You can find out more at http://www.bonneterremine.com.

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A turtle sunning at Bismark Lake

There are many near by attractions one can also enjoy.  If you are a fisherman you are in luck.  Big river is near by and Bismark Lake.  Bonne Terre has its own city lake.  Then there  is Monsanto Lake located in beautiful St. Joe Park.  You can also ride your four wheeler or dirt bike in the off road park inside St. Joe Park.

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Monsanto Lake

Bonne Terre is only 32 miles from the Arcadia Valley.  In the valley you will find the towns of Arcadia, Ironton and Pilot Knob.  A significant battle of the Civil War happened in the valley at Fort Davidson in Pilot Knob.  Just up the road from there you can find Johnson’s Shut-Ins, Elephant Rocks and Taum Sauk State Parks.

 

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A building inside St. Joe Park

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.  It is much appreciated.  You get a chance check out Bonne Terre.  Be safe out there.  Spread the love!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monsanto Lake

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Lake Monsanto – St. Joe Park -Park Hills, MO

St. Joe Park is located in the old “lead Belt” area and is made up of 8,238 acres that was donated to Missouri in 1976 by the St. Joe Minerals Corp after ceasing operations in 1972.  It has an off-road vehicle area, two campgrounds, equestrian camping and trails, hiking and bicycling trail, picnic sites and lakes for swimming and fishing.

The historic mill buildings still stand on the site and it has been designated as Missouri Mines State Historic Site.  They also have a museum that houses some of the old mining equipment along with an impressive collection of geological specimens.

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Lake Monsanto

There are four stocked lakes in St. Joe.  Monsanto is the largest that is 30 feet at the deepest point and around 25 acres.  Then there is Apollo Lake, JoLee Lake and Pim Lake which is the smallest.  Boats can be used in all four but only electric motors are allowed.  They do rent kayaks and canoes.  One drawback to me, that definitely keeps me from getting too attached to this place, is the hours of operation.  From April – September the lake opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 8 a.m.; October – March 7 a.m. to 5 p.m..  I really wish they would reconsider their hours.

If you want to fish Apollo or JoLee lakes, you must obtain a fishing pass from the park office.  There are no launch fees.  One can catch bass, crappie, catfish and an assortment of pan fish or perch.  The park uses a “slot limit” of 12 inches to 15 inches for bass.  You can keep anything under 12 and over 15 but you can’t keep fish that fall in the slot.  One practice they do that I do like is that they pass a card so you can record your catch of the day so that they can have an idea of what is being caught.  It is done anonymously.

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” – John Muir

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Lake Monsanto

I have fished Lake Monsanto three times.  It is a peaceful place through the week however on the weekend it can draw a crowd.  The lake has a lot of mill foil in it and a lot of standing timber and a multitude of objects to get your line hung up on.

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Largemouth bass caught

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Channel Cat I caught a couple of weeks ago.

I prefer to use a Rapala floating minnow.   If you watch what you are doing you don’t get hung up as bad.  I also use the live bait mode also: night crawlers.  If I am out there just to relax I just use an empty hook.  On a scale of 1 to 10 I would give Lake Monsanto a 5.  If the state would change the fishing hours to allow early and late evening hours I could learn to like it a little more.  (Hint, hint)  Maybe even issue a special permit if a person wanted to do some late night catfishing.

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Lake Monsanto

Someone asked me the other day if I ever get tired of fishing.   For the record, “no”.  I can never get enough fishing.   When I am fishing I can feel my spirit feeding off the positive energy of Mother Nature.  I sleep better when I have had a full day of fishing.

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Monsanto Lake

Thanks for reading my blog.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Remember to spread the love.

Early Morning on the Bourbeuse River

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Bourbeuse River near Union, MO

“In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of which comes; so with present time.”  Leonardo da Vinnci

It was an early fall morning.  The temperature was in the forties and the fog seemed to be dancing as it rose from off the water.  As I shoved the yak off the boat ramp and out into the moving water my heart began to race with excitement.  The fog was so thick that it was blocking sunlight and it was somewhat of an eerie sight.  Fish had all ready began feeding and you could hear and see them hitting the top of the water.  I quickly paddled upstream to a point in the river where I would turn the yak downstream and fish my way back to the boat ramp.

I reached my destination and pulled up on a gravel bar and prepped my rod and reels and chose the baits I would tie on.  I slowly began my way back down the river and began casting.  Around the fifth cast I felt something pick up the Charlie Slider worm and take off with it.  I set the hook and the fight was on.  It wasn’t very big but I was using an ultra light with 4 pound test line which made it feel like a 5 pounder.

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Small largemouth bass.

As I floated and fished my mind began to work overtime.  I wondered; did Native Americans ever float this area, who was the first settlers that found this area, what is the biggest bass that was ever caught here etc..  I thought to myself how grateful I am to be able to see the beauty of the river first hand and experience the peacefulness that abounds in the early morning hours on the river.

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Bourbeuse River

As I floated around a bend in the river and eyed two deer drinking water at the end of a sand bar.  I was almost close enough to touch them when they noticed me and bolted into the woods.  Further down the river i came upon a beaver who wasn’t very happy with me trespassing on his part of the river. Wildlife is abundant on the river this morning.

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Bourbeuse River

As I approach the boat ramp I am overcome with some sadness as the morning float comes to an end.  It was a great morning.  The batteries were recharged and the mind was cleansed and the soul rejuvenated.  Caught some fish and filled my mind with the beauty of the river.  Life is good.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.  I hope you enjoyed and if you did be sure to let me know.  Be kind to one another, share the love and God Bless you one and all.

 

 

A Day on the Lake

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“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”  Henry David Thoreau

What a beautiful day in southeast Missouri!  I never did hear what the high was today but it had to be in the seventies.  My significant other told me I needed to go fishing this morning and I thought about it.  Longest two seconds of  my life.  Now to decide where to go.  I was torn between the river and the lake and finally decided to load the yak and head to Bismark Lake in Bismark, MO.

As I approached the boat ramp and laid an eyeball on the parking lot, I knew it wasn’t going to be a good day for fishing.  I counted seventeen boat trailers.  Bismark isn’t a huge lake, it only consists of 210 acres.  That is when Thoreau’s quote went off in my head.  It was a beautiful day, I had my camera with me and it was a great day to relax.  After all, that is why I came.  If the fish were biting that would just be an added bonus.

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Bismark Lake

 

I unloaded the yak and loaded my gear into it.  I headed across the lake where I had caught fish before.  As I paddled across the lake I couldn’t believe all the boats on the water.  I thought to myself, I wonder how many of these guys knew they really weren’t after fish.  I chuckled out loud and continued my trek across the lake.

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Soft shell turtle sun bathing

Well I am hear to tell you, those fish had lock jaw I tells ya!  I threw everything I had at them (forgot the dynamite).  I didn’t get to the lake til eleven.  When I saw all of those boat trailers I knew any place I fished would have all ready been fished hard.  Talk about PPing on my parade.  Oh well it adds new meaning to “The early bird gets the worm.”  Like my mom used to tell me,”That’ll learn you dern you.”

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Bismark Lake

Even though  I didn’t catch any fish it was a great day to be outside, on the lake, in the yak and spent a good half hour trying to get a pic of a beaver.  He was really camera shy.  Maybe he was afraid the camera would steal his soul.

 

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Bismark Lake

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Soft shell turtles

Well the time came to head back to the truck.  My spirit had been recharged and my soul cleansed.  I had been fishing in the back of a cove that was sheltered from the wind.  As I made my way out into the main body of the lake I noticed there was some choppy water ahead.  The waves would be hitting the side of the yak.  Not an idea situation and the first attempt almost sent me swimming.  I finally decided on another approach that would change the way the waves would hit the yak and after great effort I made it back to the ramp.

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Bismark Lake

Thanks  for reading my blog.  I hope you enjoyed it and if you ever want to fish Bismark Lake I would be glad to give you a tour of the lake.  Be kind to one another, share the love and God Bless you one and all.

 

The River

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Big River near Leadwood, MO

Too many times we stand aside and let the waters slip away

’til what we put off ’til tomorrow has now become today

so don’t you sit upon the shoreline and say you’re satisfied

choose to  chance the rapids and dare to dance the tide…

Garth Brooks/ The River

Hello everyone!  How about this weather in the midwest?  It feels like May has arrived early.  Very mild temps and lots of sunshine.  I definitely have “River Fever”.  I can hear it calling my name.

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Big River near Leadwood, MO

Ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper I have been drawn to the river.  It is a place where I can go and relax and recharge at the same time.  It is a great place for photographers and artists to attempt to capture the beauty of nature.  Time spent at the river will mend a broken heart and help a person to deal with the death of a person close to them.  The perfect place to meditate, clear your head, and do nothing at all.  A place to take the family and enjoy time spent together.

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Smallmouth Bass caught on the Big River

I am an avid fisherman and kayaker.  I love spending time on the river in my yak and fishing.  Some days I even put bait on the hook.  I usually fish using an ultra light rod and reel with 4 pound test line.

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Bourbeuse River near Union, MO

I love the mystique of the river. When I float and fish a new section of river my mind begins to wander, what is around the bend?  How deep is the water.  Who has been here before me.  Did early settlers use this river? etc..

My favorite time on the river is night time for sure.  You aren’t living until you have been serenaded by a bunch of chirping crickets and croaking frogs with a beaver keeping time with the rhythm by slapping its tail on the water and the distant howling of the coyotes.  Natures own natural choir.  The stars twinkle bright and sometimes you get to see a shooting star.  The river takes on a whole new life when the sun sets and darkness falls upon the river.

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Big River near Leadwood, MO

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  If you haven’g taken the time to explore the rivers I hope I have piqued your interest to do so.  Be kind to one another, share the love and God Bless you one and all.

The Allure of the River

“The stars awaken a certain reverence, because though always present, they are always inaccessible; but all natural objects make a kindred impression, when the mind is open to their influence.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson : Excerpts From Nature


(Bourbeuse River at Union, MO)

The river awakens a reverence within me.  I am mesmerized by its beauty and intrigued by the mystery the water carries with it.  As the water makes its way by me I realize that same water will never pass by there again.  It came from somewhere upstream.  Maybe a feeder creek or even from the very beginning of the river.  What has it seen?  If it could talk what stories would it tell?  Where has it been and where did it come from?


(Big River near DeSoto, MO)

My dream is to float the Big River and the Bourbeuse River from their beginning to their end.  Just so happens both rivers empty into the Meramec River.  Two of my friends, Mark Nelson and David Tripp, are planning on joining me for a week long float on the Big River.  Really looking forward to it.  If you have never consumed a meal cooked along the river, you have no idea what you are missing.

Thanks for reading.  Be kind to one another and share the love.  God Bless you one and all.

REJUVENATION!

Emerson wrote in his journal, ” I have heard a clergyman of Maine say that in his Parish are the Penobscot Indian, and that when any one of them In summer has been absent for some weeks a-hunting, he comes back among them a different person and altogether unlike any of the rest, with an eagle’s eye, a wild look, and commanding carriage and gesture, but after a few weeks it wears off again into the indolent drone like apathy which all exhibit.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

As I lie here in bed reading these words I can hear the wind howling outside my window.  It is not long before my mind is filled of memories of past summers fishing and kayaking on the river.  The very source that awakens my spirit and cleanses my soul.  My significant other, her daughter and grandson also have a love for the river and I cherish our time together on the river.  I was lucky enough to share some river time with good friends David Tripp, Mark Nelson and his grandson.  We had a rather “large time”.

I always come back from my river expeditions with renewed energy, a new love for the simple things, dreams that were rekindled, a strut in my walk and a “giddy up” in my “get a long”.  The fires of desire were once again burning.

When I think of these times of healing the mind, body and soul, I think of a candle.  It can only burn so long before it burns out.  Then we have to relight.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Be kind to one another, share the love and God Bless each and every one of you.

The Call of the River

“The river is constantly turning and bending and you never know where it is going to go and where you’ll wind up.  Following the bend in the river and staying on your own path means that you are on the right track.  Don’t let anyone deter you from that.” – Eartha Kitt

As a youngster my family spent a lot of time on the river.  We would set trot lines, limb lines and tight line fish.  My grandparents on both sides spent a lot of time fishing with us.  It was quite the family outing.  All we ever used for shelter was a tent.  We were the kings of roughing it.  Lots of good times and memories.

I managed to stumble into adulthood and traded the waters of the river for the waters of the lake.  Bought the big bass boat and began tournament fishing.  It was a fast paced form of fishing and after some years the river begin to call me again.  I resisted at first then finally began to explore the local rivers and their beauty once again.

At first I just went with friends who had boats or found places to fish from the banks of the river.  Then I was introduced to the versatility of the kayak.  It was certainly a game changer.  The kayak introduced me to a simple way to explore the river that I had never imagined.  I now had a way to explore every bend and turn of the river.

My dream is to float the Big River and the Bourbeuse from the beginning to the end.  One can learn a lot about themselves while enjoying the solitude and serenity of the river.  I use that time to recharge my spirit and cleanse my soul.  It is quite fitting that I use the bends and turns of the river to ease the bends and turns in my life.  While indulging in the peace and tranquility of the river it is easy for one to focus on their path in life.

Remember to be kind to one another and to share the love.  God Bless and thanks for reading.

 “You know a dream is like a river, ever changing as it flows and a dreamer’s just a vessel that must follow where it goes.  Trying to learn from what’s behind you and never knowing what’s in store……”  Garth Brooks- The River