A DAY ON THE RIVER

Discussion in 'LUKE CLAYTON' started by Luke Clayton, May 16, 2008.

  1. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

    Messages:
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    State:
    Texas
    "A DAY ON THE RIVER" by Luke Clayton

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    Luke Clayton


    Regardless where you live, chances are very good there is a river or stream within an easy drive that has the potential to provide some exciting, affordable adventure. The waters are open to the public along most rivers and camping is usually allowed along the streambed, within the vegetation line on either side.

    As many regulars to this column have learned, I have a real passion for getting into the backwoods by floating small streams and rivers in a small craft. These trips provide sights and sounds that are unique to drifting along silently through remote country. Take an outing I enjoyed last week on the Brazos River below Possum Kingdom Lake. My friends John Bryan, who runs the hunting and fishing on the Holt River Ranch and Bob Hood invited me up to ‘their’ part of the country for a leisurely float/fishing trip on the Brazos.

    The plan was for Hood and I to launch at Hwy. 4 and float/fish down to a camp that Bryan set up along the banks of the river adjacent the Holt River Ranch. I had my Nucanoe, a 12 craft that is a cross between a canoe and kayak and Hood had his conventional canoe in the back of his truck. I joined my buddies just after sunup and unloaded some of the camping gear. John had a roomy tent set up and what I call his ‘rolling restaurant’ was positioned close by under the limbs of a big oak about thirty yards from the river. A couple years ago, John put his welding skills to work and transformed an old camper into his mobile kitchen. The rig has a huge smoker mounted in the front, built in cabinets store all pots, pans and necessary cooking utensils. A metal roof provided protection from the spring rain that was predicted later that night. I noted a thin trail of smoke coming from the stack on the smoker and was invited to take a peek inside. On one side of the smoker was what appeared to be a forty pound pig that had been smoking overnight. A big pot of pinto beans was simmering on the propane stove; John said he expected us to be hungry after our float down the Brazos. Our friend Dubb Wallace showed up and planned to help John set some limb and jug lines for catfish in the deep hole in the river near camp.

    This was my first float trip on this section of the Brazos and I kidded John that Hood and I would know we were close to camp when we smelled the mesquite wood smoke as we floated down the river.

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    Photo by Luke Clayton


    The most exciting part of any float trip is the beginning, when one rounds the first bend and looses all ties with civilization. The entire trip is ahead and adventure and new vistas beckon. The stretch of Brazos below the Possum Kingdom dam is, at least the majority of time, a gently flowing stream where a bit of paddling is required to keep the boat moving. Huge boulders lay down logs and shoreline brush provide excellent cover for the river’s plentiful Kentucky spotted and native black bass and catfish. Hood and I had rods rigged with Texas rigged worms and spinner baits, we knew our buddies at camp several miles downstream would be running their set lines for catfish. In moving water, bass lay wait in the structure to ambush baitfish drifting down the current and on this trip, they were holding very tight to cover. Hood soon discovered the fish were relating to the vertical wall provided by the larger boulders and we tossed the soft plastics against the rocks and allowed them to fall vertically. At one point, I paddled within a few yards of Hood and instructed him to “go head and catch me a fish for the camera”! Hood proceeded to land a chunky little native largemouth that fought far harder than a fish his size should have. Fish that live their lives fighting moving water are stronger swimmers than their counterparts that in still waters. Bryan guides fishing trips on this stretch of the Brazos and says fish in the 1-4 pound range are most common. He advised us that post-spawners should be holding around cover situated near the mouth of any of the smaller feeder creeks that entered the river. His predictions were right on track. On much of the trip, we moved along with the current and an occasional paddle stroke, and stopped to fish the better areas where tributaries joined the river channel.

    There’s a few things that become crystal clear when floating a shallow stream, such as where to position the boat when drifting through the shallow stretches. Stay away from the fast water and key on the deeper side currents. Early on in the trip, I thought it would be fun to paddle the Nucanoe through the faster water. As the little craft’s bow approached the turbulent water, I heard rocks grinding on the keel. I had to get out and pull the boat several hundred yards through what proved to be water just deep enough to float the little craft. The best position for paddling is always the rear seat in a canoe or kayak. On one stretch of river, we battled a strong south wind. It became very clear that in order to keep heading downstream, it was easier to point the boat’s stern downstream and back paddle, otherwise, the bow of our boats served as a sail which made steering next to impossible.

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    Photo by Luke Clayton


    Our buddies had camp set up on high ground, concealed from our view by shoreline trees. We could have easily passed the camp on our float but the south wind kept the mesquite smoke from the smoker wafting our way. We literally followed our noses to camp! Our buddies had been having a great time catfishing and after cooling down a bit, we all enjoyed a meal fit for a king: smoked pork, pinto beans and a potato dish comprised of potatoes, onions, cheese, sour cream and bell and jalapeno peppers. Either of the side dishes would have made a complete meal. We spent the evening hours running the jug and limb lines, watching fireflys light up the night and being thankful that such places still exist in todays busy world.

    DOVE HUNTS- The Holt River Ranch has several openings for dove hunting this fall which include use of the campsite on the banks of the Brazos. For more information, contact Bryan at 940-452-3415 or online at www.holtriverranch.com

    LISTEN TO OUTDOORS WITH LUKE CLAYTON AT www.catfishradio.com
    FOR INFORMATION ON RIVER TRIPS: www.southwestpaddler.com
     
  2. willcat

    willcat New Member

    Messages:
    2,463
    State:
    texas
    great article as always Luke, love to read them it seems as if I was there
     

  3. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

    Messages:
    831
    State:
    Texas
    Thanks much, Mr. Willcat.. I really enjoy floating the back water. On this trip, the Brazos was moving pretty slowly throught much of the trip and there was more padling than floating but the little Nucanoe is easy to paddle and the trip was pleasant. The only problem I had was eating too darned much of that wild pig you see in the picture. Man, was that ever good eating! Remeber, you can to to www.catfishradio.com and listen to this weeks radio show. I think you will enjoy it. Good fishing to you, Luke Clayton
     
  4. Arkansascatman777

    Arkansascatman777 New Member

    Messages:
    7,782
    State:
    AR
    Sounds like a fun trip and a great meal. Thanks for posting the story.
     
  5. catman4926

    catman4926 New Member

    Messages:
    1,602
    State:
    Texas
    THANKS, FOR A GREAT STORY, I CAN SMELL THE PIG ALL THE WAY HERE IN SO. ALBAMA, AND NOTHING LIKE BEING UNDER THE STARS AT NIGHT
     
  6. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

    Messages:
    831
    State:
    Texas
    Marc,
    Luke Clayton here. Thanks for the kind words. I want to invite everyone to listen to a 'sure nuff' river pro YOU, talk about floating/paddling trips on www.catfishradio.com saturday, may 31. Of course, the radio show airs that morning on 8 different radio stations, some of which stream the audio but the surefire way to listen online for everyone is catfishradio.com.
    Marc, I know you have tons of stories about adventures you've enjoyed and I know you have taught thousands the thrill of getting into the back country by paddling/floating.
    I look forward to having you on the show. Happy Paddling, Luke
     
  7. DeerHunter01

    DeerHunter01 New Member

    Messages:
    2,113
    State:
    Kentucky
    Great article Luke, I think I am hungry now ! lol
     
  8. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

    Messages:
    831
    State:
    Texas
    If WAS some might good eating!! Go to www.catfishradio.com then click on lukeshotspots.... Check out buddy Bro.Terry Terry on lake Brownwood enjoying some hot catfish action!
     
  9. renji2476

    renji2476 New Member

    Messages:
    154
    State:
    Waco, Texas, Un
    I'm just curious as to where I might be able to catch your show over here in Waco? Would you know? Anything you can tell me will be greatly appreciated :big_smile:.
     
  10. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

    Messages:
    831
    State:
    Texas
    Tune your truck radio to 900 am.... I think you can pick up KCLW just fine there. It's on at 10 am. saturday mornings there. Or... just go to www.catfishradio.com right now and listen to the show.... luke Clayton
     
  11. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

    Messages:
    831
    State:
    Texas
    Hope you enjoy the mucic. How long has it been since you heard Faron Young on live radio???