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River Rendezvous 2009

Our freak flag

Jerry works a cypress-studded run

I believe this beauty is what they call a Pumpkinseed

Tredixie with a nice spot caught Friday night

Kreekn tries to raise him one...

...Successfully!

Friday campfire footage

Hide the women and children!

     Wow! What a difference a year (and a good weather forecast) makes! On the weekend of May 28th, at least 40 or so ARFers converged on the Locust Fork for our 3rd Annual River Rendezvous. I don't think anybody ever dreamed that this many folks (from as far away as Mobile) would show up to fish and fellowship on this small river on a nice May weekend. But they came in droves, and as I pulled up to the campsite early Saturday morning, it was obvious that I missed out on some festivities the night before. It was pretty obvious from the body language of some and the lack of visible motion from others that Friday had been a big night.

My camera doesn't have a wide enough lens to capture all the tents, trucks, and people

On Saturday morning, Mark was itching to get after some fish!

     Yet one group with 6 or 8 kayaks was already about to pull out and head upstream for the hairy float back to the campsite. Hasty introductions and re-introductions ensued, and soon the "upstream posse" was off. Side bets were made regarding who would flip their boats and how much equipment would be sacrificed to the River Gods as the "downstream posse" and "wade-near-the-campsite posse" drank coffee, loaded boats, and readied their gear for the days fishing. We also had one person assigned to go over and check Nick for a pulse every few minutes just to make certain he didn't expire on us.

     I was one of six that opted for the flatter downstream float. After running shuttles, applying copious amounts of suntan lotion, hauling boats, and rigging up, our flotilla was off and floating by around 10 AM. It was hot, and the fish bit just well enough to keep us interested. Kreekn did pretty well with a small flyrod popper, and tredixie caught the best fish of the day bouncing a PacaCraw off the bottom in some cover. I didn't get a strike until about halfway down when I paddled up a good-sized creek and found a hungry spotted bass that wanted to eat a plastic worm. I was a little stupefied about the fact that the fish seemed to love Kreekn's popper but didn't want anything to do with my Baby Chug Bug. The fish were definitely being picky.

Preparing for battle

Tredixie working his PacaCraw at the launch site

The "Upstream Posse" embarks

Bass ain't the only fish in the Locust!

Minkeydee with a nice one!

Wore him slap out!

Greg scores!

Aren't these guys supposed to jump in the water when things get near?

Tredixie with the surprise of the trip: a big ole channel cat that couldn't resist his lure!

Mark takes a break on a sandbar

Tredixie's bottom-bumping persistence pays off!

Kreekn with a nice one to end the day on

     Meanwhile, the "upstream posse" was faring a little better. Their float was definitely more exciting with a couple flipped boats and many near misses and the scenery up stream is absolutely beautiful compared with the flatter terrain downstream. The catching was a little better too, as Guy brought in the weekend's best fish: a 2-15 spotted bass. Everybody caught some fish, and some folks paddled more than they fish, and a couple folks just laid back where the river allowed and caught a quick nap.

The "Upstream Posse" gets ready...

...For lots of these!

ML scores a nice one on a worm

Bamabass gets in on the action

Speaking of action...

...This is not it

But Jason does deserve kudos for being the only ARFer to successfully run the falls!

Proof

Not sure who this is, but he wasn't the only one swimming!

Not a bad view!

Great shot of the local flora

ML with a Locust rarity: a largemouth bass!

The best bass of the weekend: YakNFool's 2-15!

     Back downstream, I had decided that the bass mainly just wanted something small and decided to content myself throwing a tiny Beetlespin. I figured if nothing else, I'd tangle with some of the bluegill and redbreast that had been constantly molesting my larger offerings. As it turns out, that's what the bass wanted too, and I proceeded to tangle with 6 or 8 feisty little spots as well as numerous bream throughout the rest of our float. The fishing was tough, but everybody managed to catch a few, especially if there was a little current somewhere close. We didn't do a whole lot in the long, flat, slow sections. Mark (after his bout with seasicknesss) even managed to load up on about 4 or 5 bass right near the takeout when the river picked up speed again.

     Back at camp, everyone seemed refreshed by the day's activity and we set about the business of beer and dinner, Nick provided everyone with some delicious grilled trout and redfish and a few other brought hamburgers and all the fixin's. Pat King, the owner of the campsite, even dropped by to hang out for a while and we all had a great time discussing campfire topics until we dropped off one by one around midnight.

The best part of these gatherings

 

     The next morning saw the campsite in high spirits and a little less wobbly than the previous morning. A bunch of folks ate a quick breakfast and headed back to their respective corners of the state. A few hardy souls either floated or got in one more wading trip around the campsite before heading home. I had planned on heading home and stopping off for a few quick casts on another river on the way, but I decided to take one more shot at the Locust and the bass that had proven so finicky the day before.

     I began wading upstream with my boat tied behind me, fishing the pools and runs before hauling the boat up the next rapid. It was some serious work, and the footing was pretty treacherous too. Every now and then I'd hit a calm spot and hop in the boat and paddle/fish my way upstream before hopping out again. There are some absolutely delicious-looking pools up there for those willing to put in the effort to reach them. I just knew there were lots of bass, and some big ones just waiting for the right offering to swim by.

     It took a while to discover the right offering. I started off alternating between a small spinnerbait and bouncing various crawdad imitations off the bottom. No luck. Then, I kept noticing tons of little minnows swimming around, so I tried a small Rapala and various other small topwater lures. Still no luck. Finally, I tried a small shallow-running crankbait in a crawdad-looking color. That was just what the doctor ordered. The fishing was far from fast and furious, but the fish were a little bigger and more plentiful than they had been the day before. All told, I caught ten or so, including a nice one that came up through the fastest whitewater in the river to slam the crankbait.

Not bad

Check out the gut on that thing! The fish, I mean.

This guy hit in the fast stuff!

    A few hours later I returned to camp and was amazed at what I saw. If I hadn't known better, I'd have guessed that nobody had used the campsite for weeks. It was that clean (which is probably why Mr. King lets us use his property every year)! Thanks to all who participated in the cleanup. That's the kind of reputation I'd like associated with Alabama River Fishing.

     All told, it was a great weekend, with lots of fish caught, laughter shared, and new friendships made. I can't wait to do it again next year!

Creekstalker

 

 

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