Ozark Rivers of the Past

“Only going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.” – John Muir

If I could ever spend time with a person of the past it would be John Muir. He explored the wilderness in the 1800s. The majority of the time he was alone. Him and the creatures that inhabited the area.

His love for the mountains was comparable to my love for the Ozark rivers of Missouri. His books and essays were influential in my admiration and respect for nature.

I can only imagine what kind of experience it would have been to explore the Ozark rivers in the 1800s.

Many times when I am camped on a gravel bar sitting in front of a fire, I find myself fantasizing about what it would have been like back then.

I imagine what the water would have been like free of pollutants. River banks and gravel bars void of litter and unmolested by ATVs. A place not yet touched by the hand of man and his idea of progress.

Without the infringement of artificial light, created by near by towns and dusk to dawn lights, the stars had to have the appearance of magnificent diamonds in the night sky.

It boggles my mind to think one would probably not see another human for days or weeks. One would experience the true feeling of being alone. Lost in the magnificence of Mother Earth and Her beauty. I can only imagine.

The Ozark rivers of Missouri gives one an avenue to seek and find one’s inner being. A place to observe the true beauty of Mother Earth. A place to heal their spirit and cleanse their soul. To enjoy it one must clear their mind and become one with the river. Then and only then can you understand my love for the Ozark rivers.

November Day On The River

The weather in Southeast Missouri was exceptional today. It was in the sixties!!! When I heard today’s forecast on Thursday I started planning for today.

When I got to the Leadwood Access on the Big River the air temperature was 35 degrees. I started down river around 8:45 a.m.. I am guessing water temp was in the low forties. Water was clear and dropping.

I had decided I was going to use the Rapala floating minnow, Rebel medium Wee Craw and a jig with a crawfish trailer.

Started out wind was calm but picked up about 10 am. Beautiful blue sky with some cloud puffs. Lots of sunshine and the temp began to rise.

My float started at the Leadwood Access on the Big River located in Missouri. The fishing started out slow and pretty much stayed that way. I did manage to catch 4 but only got pics of three.

I caught a spotted bass that went 10 inches but when I put it on the board to measure him he slipped out of my hands and back into the water before I could get a pic.

Caught this spotted bass fishing the Eaton Branch of the Big River.

Caught this small mouth near the Eaton Branch of the Big River.

The beautiful fall colors of the Missouri countryside had fallen to the ground for the most part. I was a little disappointed. Maybe next year.

I caught two before lunch. Missouri streams can be tough fishing in late fall when water temps have become frigid and clear enough to see a crawfish on the bottom in 4 foot of water. It’s a shallow river for the most part. The stretch I floated probably had an average water depth of 4 foot.

Lunch on a gravel bar on the Big River. After lunch I couldn’t buy a hit. I had several small bass and perch follow the lure all the way to the boat but didn’t take the bait.

The last two bass I caught at the end of my float. I caught them in Owl Creek. It dumps into the Big River at the Bone Hole Access where my float ended.

If you are ever up for some good small mouth fishing I recommend the Big River.

Lazy Day on the Big River

I finally got to float the Big River. First time this year. My school buddy Mark Nelson and I met st the Huddle House in DeSoto for breakfast at 7 a.m.. after a hearty breakfast we headed for the river.

We left Mark’s truck at Merrill Horse conservation area and drove to Mammoth CA. We got the yaks in the water about 8:30 and headed down river to the Merrill Horse Access.

There hadn’t been enough rain to cause the river to rise but the water was stained and not as clear as usual. The water was cooler than I thought it would be with all the hot weather we have had.

Mark chillin’ on the Big River

The fish weren’t cooperating and had apparently ate before we got there. We didn’t really care because it was a beautiful day to be on the river.

Finally the fish got their appetite back. The first four escaped the hook and swam for freedom. I was 0 for 4. Patience finally paid off. I caught a small largemouth.

Then I finally caught a small smallmouth.

I caught a spotted bass then we had to head for the boat ramp.

I fished this stretch a lot last year. It is approximately 5.4 miles. Last year I saw a Bald Eagle 4 times. I was disappointed I didn’t see it this time.

Mark caught about a 10 inch bass and a perch.

“The River is constantly turning and bending and you never know where it’s 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

Transcendentalists

“A man in debt is so far a slave” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

In the early 1800s a philosophical movement took root in the Eastern United States. It began due to the disapproval against the intellectualism and spirituality during that time.

It’s characteristics were:

1) Self Reliance

2) A connection to nature

3) Free-thought

4) Nonconformity

5) Confidence

They believed:

To transcend the real world one must contemplate nature.

Everything is a reflection of God.

Instead of being a follower one was better off entertaining the idea of individualism and self-reliance.

True feelings and intuition were superior to book knowledge.

Instinct would give one a better understanding of God’s Spirit.

It was an American literary, political and philosophical movement. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about Transcendentalism in great depth. Other noted authors were Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Amos Bronson Alcott, Frederic Henry Hedge, and Theodore Parker.

Transcendentalists believed one should cut ties with organized religion and politics and become an independent thinker in order to achieve their best. It was also believed that organized religion and political parties led to the corruption of the purity of an individual.

“Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind”- Ralph Waldo Emerson

However Transcendentalism relied heavily on an individual’s cognitive ability or intuition. It was thought that those trying to yield to conformity at the time, became unhappy and dissatisfied.

Is Transcendentalism still in existence today?

That is a good question. There are those that say yes and there are plenty of no votes. It obviously isn’t as popular as it was in the nineteenth century.

Simplicity can be seen by acts of individual kindness and honesty. The importance of nature has not faded through the years. It is alive and well in today’s world. The beauty of nature still inspires and awakens the spirit of many individuals. Self-reliance and confidence isn’t as prevalent as it used to be but still exists to some degree. As far as nonconformity it is pretty much nonexistent but can be found in the “preppers” and those who choose to sell everything and live off the grid and become self reliant.

If you would like to learn more about Transcendentalism I urge you to read Essays and Poems by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Be kind to everyone and spread the love.

My Hiding Place

The river is my sanctuary. When I am sitting on a gravel bar at 3 in the morning, looking up at the stars I sometimes feel like I am the only person on earth.

As I sit there I listen to the soothing song of the crickets, tree frogs, and bull frogs and begin to meditate. I clear my mind of negativity. I feel a calmness around me. I don’t have much but I have this special place to come to and heal my mind, spirit and soul. A recharge of sorts.

As I sit there looking into the fire my mind begins to wander. I wonder if anyone else has camped here? Did they appreciate it? Did they relish the silence, or did the silence scare them?

Did anyone sit here and drink in the night sky filled with stars and are they as elated as I am when I see a star fall from the heavens?

The river is a mystical place for me. It’s a place where I can become one with Mother Nature.

There is so much life on the river.

The important part is I feel safe here. Even alone on a sandbar in the wee hours of the morning, in the dark, I am in my element, my safe place. Everyone should have a place like this to go to. It boosts your mental state and improves your peace of mind.

It can be a studio you do your art work in, a den where you put your inner thoughts on paper. It may be your quilting room or in a flower or vegetable garden. It may be on the back of your favorite equine. It is a safe place where you can have peace of mind and healing. It should be a calming place where you shed all the negativity that you have been carrying. Your place.

Feel free to tell us about your safe place in the “comments” section. It will be interesting to see the variety of hiding places used to get right with yourself and deal with the negativity of the world. A place to fill your heart, soul, spirit, and mind with love.

River Adventure

It’s 2 am in the morning and you’re camped on the river situated on a gravel bar. It’s a new moon and the stars are shining brightly. Mother Nature is providing the concert tonight as the crickets, tree frogs, and locusts are joined by a bullfrog.

In the distance you hear the “yip”, “yip” of the coyotes. “Bam”! Your heart beats faster and the hair raises up on the back of your neck. You look intensely into the darkness of the river. You shine your flashlight and you see it! A beaver. Bam, he hits the water with his tail to warn the other beavers that they have an intruder.

Suddenly there is something splashing in the direction of your limb line. You shine the area and you see what appears to be a big catfish has hooked itself. Your adrenaline kicks in and you climb into the kayak and eagerly paddle to your line. It breaks the water and you realize it is over 8 pounds. It truly is a great night on the river!

You get back to the gravel bar and make sure your catch is safely restrained in the water. You suddenly have a craving for fish so you decide to try and catch one to cook. You rig a pole to do some tight line fishing from the gravel bar. After 40 minutes without a bite you begin to think you are going to have an MRE for breakfast. Then tap, tap. Something is biting your bait. You wait and then set the hook and real in a nice drum (also known as a stone perch). It is now 4:15 am. You prepare the drum to cook. With nothing to cook it in you go McGyver and make a spit from green tree limbs. Ten minutes on each side and breakfast is served.

As you sit there reflecting on the night you notice the fingers of light start invading the darkness. You feel good. You are at peace with yourself. Yes, life is good.

Easter Sunday at Bismarck Lake

It was a beautiful morning to hit the lake. The temp was perfect and Mother Nature had began painting the countryside with the colors of red bud, dogwood, honey locust and various wild flower blossoms.

The wind however was gusting to 30 mph making it hard to fish. There were a few folks catching crappie but I was after the largemouth bass.

I guess Wayne’s Diner didn’t serve up what they wanted. I did finally manage to catch a bass and a crappie.

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Later that day I rigged my poles for catfish but they must have not liked what I was serving because I didn’t even get a bite.

All in all it was a great day. I am hopelessly addicted to the water and fishing. I guess there could be worse things to be addicted to.

Hello Spring!!!

“The spring wakens us, nature’s is, and revitalizes us. How often does your spring come? If you are a prisoner of the calendar, it comes once a year. If you are creating authentic power, it comes frequently, or very frequently. – Gary Zukav

Winter has handed the scepter off to Spring and nature begins the transformation of Mother Earth. The warmth of spring defeats the chill of winter and the growing season begins.

The hillside that was barren in the winter is now beginning to pop with the blooms of the redbud, wild plum and dogwood. Wild flower blooms begin to populate the prairie floor.

The offspring of the animals can be seen by their mother’s side. The spring rains begin watering the flowers and trees. The farmer begins the job of preparing machinery so he can plant his crops. Mother Earth has come full circle with the rebirth of nature.

You have to take the bad with the good. I don’t know how many times I have heard this in my lifetime. Sometimes I think that saying is very well represented by spring.

Spring storms can wreak so much havoc on nature. Tornadoes destroy everything in their paths. It has no mercy for anything in it’s path. Then it is over just like that, the sun pops out then a rainbow appears. The bad with the good.

I’m continually inspired by nature, and the rainbow is one of nature’s greatest phenomenons. The sighting of a rainbow never fails to bring a smile to people’s faces. They signify optimism and positivity: with them comes the sunshine after the rain.” – Matthew Williamson

So spring has officially started. Won’t be long and folks will begin opening their pools. Hoping you all have a safe and prosperous spring.

Spread the love and be kind to one another.

The Cycle of Mother Nature

“The promise of spring’s arrival is enough to get anyone through the bitter winter. ” – Jen Selinsky

No matter how much one dislikes winter it is an intricate part of the cycle of the seasons.

Winter is a time when Mother Earth becomes dormant and enters a state of hibernation. It is the season known for creating depression within humans.

The trees stand naked all except for a few leaves hanging on refusing to fall to the ground.

The winter snow and rains begin a state of decay. This will add much needed nutrients into the earth that will feed the vegetation and tree roots. The moisture from the winter snows and rain is stored in the earth waiting to quench the thirst of the seed planted by farmers in the spring.

“Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows. Lies the seed that with the sun’s love in the spring becomes a rose.” From the song The Rose

The spring sun’s warmth coaxes the seed to sprout. The bare limbs of the trees start to bud out and the leaves begin to grow. The grass begins to green up and Mother Earth’s landscape becomes peppered with the color of new flowers.

The warmer temps of summer soon take over. These temps help escalate the growth of the plants. Fruit becomes bigger on the plants. The warm nights help the plants grow even faster.

Fall finally arrives and harvest time approaches. As the temps cool the landscape begins to show the breathtaking colors of fall. The growing season starts to come to a close.

Once again the onslaught of winter arrives. Once again Mother Nature has come full circle. The cycle of the four seasons is once again complete.

Spread the love and be kind to one another.

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.