Thursday, December 29, 2011

Little Dixie Lake, Callaway County, Missouri, December 27th, 2011: Windy winter paddle on a stumpy lake



snow= time to kayak!
We woke up on December 27th with about 2 inches of wet snow on the ground.  I decided that snow would not stop us from another winter paddle.  I was really dying to get out and try out my new Kokatat dry suit, so I was determined to get out.  Little Dixie Lake is located in the Little Dixie Wildlife area just before you get to Columbia, MO. off I-70.  I have fished this lake in the past, and it is a good lake to do so.  Incredible catfish lake, as well as a nice largemouth lake.  The lake is chock-full of stumps.  As you paddle to the back of the lake, it gets more shallow and has a lot of timber.  I am not the biggest fan of stumps since my experience with the sea kayak on Lake Conway in Arkansas (I got caught in a stump field and centered up on several stumps, almost tipping).  Especially in cold weather with cold water (dry suit or not)

View while eating lunch...amazing!
Took a quick lunch break and packed some soup.  Quick cooking tip:  if you have some instant rice cups, put them into boiling soup, seal up, and by the time you get ready to eat it, the rice is cooked into the soup- yum!  As I was taking in the scenery, I got a chance to watch a family of bluebirds as well as a red-headed woodpecker in action.  As cool as it was, the day was beautiful. 

The winds really started to kick in, and that provided the biggest challenge on this paddle.  I originally was going to go to Mark Twain Lake, but the winds were even more intense up that way.   I left the house when there was still snow on the ground and the winds were in my guess about 7 mph....by the time I got through the paddle I would say they were about 18 mph.  This difference really effects the lay of the lake.  Towards the end of the paddle, the lake really started to swell up, but not enough to white cap.  I decided to take it in and call it a day....this trip was a short one.
my new Kokatat dry suit


This is a great lake to kayak fish. I look forward to coming back with my SOT fishing kayak and doing some fishing here in the spring

Paddle ON!

Mike


Winter kayaking on windy Little Dixie Lake, MO.


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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Lake of the Ozarks, Camden County, Missouri December 16th, 2011: Great quick winter paddle- and had the whole lake to myself!



Lake of the Ozarks is a great flatwater lake to paddle in the winter months.  If you get a chance to hit it, especially in the winter months during the week day, you have a good shot at having the entire lake to yourself.  This trip was just about the paddle...I left my fishing gear at home for this one.  I was on my way back from Springfield, MO to St. Charles, MO., so I figured it would make sense to stop for a couple of hours and get a quick paddle.  I put off in the McCubbins point area of LOZ, located on the south side of the Lake of the Ozarks SP.
The weather was cool, but sunny, with a mild breeze.  Where I set out was flat and shallow.  I stuck with shoreline, which I think is something to consider in the winter in regards to safety.  However, I could not help myself once I saw the giant limestone cliffs on the other side of the lake, so I paddled over to the other side.  It was worth the view, as the film shows.
I think I got a mild case of either motion sickness or sea sickness.  I was looking down at my GPS or camera, or something, then I looked up at the cliffs, which I was right next to.  Next thing I know I felt a little dizzy, and my heart started to race a tad (I really think that part was maybe mental on my part).  I also think when you are kayaking you can "freak yourself out" sometimes, especially when you know the water temp is cold and you are all packed in, dressed in layers, spray skirt and all.  I decided to just paddle it out, drink some water, and not freak out.  I read a great article once about sea sickness and kayaking (which is a bad combo in a kayak, especially solo paddling).  The article suggested you keep your eyes on the horizon, and you can sometimes work out of a "situation".  This is what I did, and about 1/2 hour later , I started to feel a little better.  By the time I got the kayak back to the car, I felt just fine using that technique.  Note to self:  make sure not to fool around with GPS/camera stuff and look up suddenly.
Beautiful day, saw several great heron birds and several areas with fish rolling subsurface (next time a fishing rod is in order).

Paddle ON!

Mike

Lake of the Ozarks, McCubbins Point area


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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Incredible winter paddle on DeGray Lake, Hot Spring/Clark County Arkansas December 13th, 2011



DeGray Lake is located near the town of Arkadelphia, Arkansas about an hour south of Little Rock and about 60 miles north of the Texas/Arkansas border.  I was on a kayak fishing chat room and was told that DeGray has Alligators, however, I did not see any on this trip.

This lake is absolutely incredible!  It is speckled with little rock islands covered with various trees, many of the conifer variety, which, when I see these pine like trees, always reminds me of either northern Wisconsin or Colorado.
I did a little over 5 miles, setting off from the boat ramp at the state park and paddling around one of the larger islands and then crossing the channel to go around one of the smaller, rocky islands.  This time of year you can see a lot of different variety of ducks.  I hear that this lake is also known for its bald eagle winter population....I did not see any, but I am sure they are out there.  On the paddle back to shore, I heard the call of a wipper-will, which really gave the whole trip a nice effect...there was no one out on the lake, and it was incredibly calm, so the whole trip had a nice "zen-like" effect (which is what I really needed)

I would like to come back when it warms up and camp on one of the islands with the kayak.  I will be looking into what the exact regulations are in regards to that.
If you are down south, you owe it to yourself to explore this lake with a kayak or canoe

Paddle ON!

Mike

DeGray Lake Arkansas- excellent winter kayak trip


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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Council Bluff Lake, Mark Twain NF Missouri: Pristine lake at the headwaters of the Big River



This is a trip from a week or so ago.  We had a nice little warm up (windy, of course) and I got a chance to hit this beautiful lake in the heart of the Mark Twain National Forest, just south of Potosi, MO.  The water at this lake is "gin clear"....I have fished it before and it reminds me of Table Rock Lake in southern Missouri.
It was a quick two hour paddle.  I was fighting some wind and mild swells (minor white capping) so I stayed fairly conservative in exploration of the lake.  I am like that when water temps are really cold, just to be safe.


Council Bluff Lake, Mark Twain NF Missouri


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Overall, outstanding winter paddle...more to come this year.  Cold should not stop our kayaking efforts!....as long as we are safe.

Paddle ON!

Mike

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cool quick Thanksgiving paddle on beautiful Creve Coeur Lake, St. Louis County, MO.



This trip was not my first choice for the day.  I had set out a few hours earlier to go to Horseshoe Lake, IL.   I thought it would be cool to paddle and see the St. Louis skyline on a kayak again.  Note to self: It is duck season and the lake is closed to duck hunters.  So I left there and drove up towards Alton.  I figured I would paddle the Mississippi River area on the Missouri side.  Note to self: It is duck season.....areas are closed and people are duck hunting.

So out of frustration and heading towards my house, I was debating not even getting in the water.  However, I figured that to be a self-defeating attitude, and very "counter productive" to the kayak "lifestyle" so I stopped at Creve Coeur Lake.

What an incredible paddle!  Almost the minute I hit the water, the sun came out, it warmed up a tad, and the paddle was on.  Was not my first choice.....sometimes you have to be grateful for the trip that you got :)

Paddle ON!

Mike

Friday, November 25, 2011

48 degrees....time to get the kayaks out! Paddeling Lake St. Louis, St. Charles County, MO. November 23rd, 2011



Sometimes the best kayak trips are the impromptu ones.  My friend Ray Schroeder lives right on Lake St. Louis in St. Charles County.  I just happened to have my kayak strapped to the top of my car.  I had left my sea bag in his van from our trip on the Meremac River a few days prior.  We had just enough time for a quick paddle before the sun went down.  Started with a light drizzle (it rained off and on all day) and a temperature of about 48 degrees.  It made me appreciate my spray skirt (I consider this a must have if you want to get out in the winter).  We paddled about 3 miles total.  Felt really good to get back out on the water.

Paddle ON!

Mike

Monday, November 21, 2011

Kayaking 10.5 mile stretch between Route 66 SP and Castlewood SP, Meremac River Missouri



Great 10.5 mile paddle between the Route 66 State park and Castlewood State Park in St. Louis County, Missouri.  The weather was semi-cool and cloudy, but not too awful.  Weather like this really helps you to appreciate a spray skirt.  I had it strapped to the kayak for about 1/2 of the trip.

 Came up on some trapped raccoons close to shore.  Missouri has a season for this, however, I find it to be incredibly inhuman and just down right mean.  I am not "anti hunting" or anything.  But I think in todays world, there are other methods other than trapping.  I had thought about trying to help release them, but they probably would have tried to tear my arm off.  It had looked like a couple of them (still alive) had been trapped for days (that part is not legal).  In a kayak, I was really inequipped to handle it.  If I had a 9mm or something, I probably would have put them out of their misery...one more reason to pack when you kayak.

Sorry to be a buzz-kill......

Other than that, it was an awesome trip with my friends Ray Schroeder and Dan Main.  I think everyone really enjoyed the fellowship and kayaking.  We had a couple of rapids that were semi-challenging (the colder the water gets, the more challenging, at least in my book).

It really has been awhile since I have been out....I think it was like therapy or something

Paddle ON!

Mike

Kayaking the Meremac River from Route 66 SP to Castlewood SP, Missouri


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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Missouri River, Race for the Rivers Kayak race, 20 Miles October 8th, 2011



The Race for the Rivers river kayak/canoe challenge is usually held in August, but due to the river being so high for most of the summer, it was moved to October.  This was my second year in the race.  I have to say, I finished higher, but was still disappointed in how I did on this one.  After talking to my friend Ray for a bit, I am thinking that the challenges I had were more to do with my paddle and my stroke technique, than ability or the craft.  I am used to paddling up current on small rivers, and cutting water on lakes....the Missouri is a different animal.  We will be back next year to see if we can do a little better.

Race for the Rivers 2011- Missouri River, St. Charles County, Missouri


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The river seemed more dangerous this go around.  There was one point I was paddling, and the water appeared to have a "hill" with a divit right before.  I though that it was my eyes fooling me...no, it was a "divit"...the kayaks bow slightly went down, then up.  Very weird, considering it was probably in about 20' of fast moving water.  This is a river you want to respect!

Paddle ON!

Mike

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Kayaking the Bourbouse River, Chouteau Claim Access, Franklin County, MO, September 10th, 2011



I had said to a friend of mine the other day that I did not really care for the Bourbouse River in Franklin County Missouri.  I said it was "too wrangly" with "not enough portage spots, etc".  After this kayak trip, I stand corrected.  It just goes to show that you cannot evaluate an entire river on one 4 mile stretch.

Kayaking the Bourbouse River near the Meremac, Missouri


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I put in at the Chouteau Claim Access in Franklin County.  This is right at the confluence point for the Bourbouse and the Meremac River.  This trip was absolutely INCREDIBLE!  I did over 8 miles, and fished all the way back (caught one really small smallmouth, but nothing to photograph or comment on).  However, the scenery was absolutely incredible.  I had to portage about (4) times or so on the way up current.  Three of these spots I just paddled right through on the way back.  I was fishing on one spot and I saw a very large deer walk across one of the portage spots from a distance.  I swear it look larger than average....look like an elk, believe it or not.

The wildflowers were in bloom, and the temperatures were moderate.  I am looking forward to going back to the access point and paddling up the Meremac side to see how far I can go.  Looking forward to my journeys back to this amazing river!

Paddle ON!

Mike

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mississippi River, Dresser Island, Sept 9th, 2011: Rain cannot stop a true river rat!



Sing me the legends of the river.
Tell me a story of the sky.


Because I want to grow.
Because I want to know.
Because I want to understand.


In the river is the model of creation.
Our lives like the river to the sea.

Paint me a picture of the landscape.
Dance me the dance of the waves.
Sing me of the legends of the river.
Tell me the story of the sky.


~Author Unknown


Friday, September 9, 2011

Small stream paddling on the Loutre River, Montgomery County, MO. Sept 5th, 2011



The beginning slide of my Youtube video shows my 14' sea kayak attached to a kayak cart.  I debated even bringing this along....I am thankful I did!  I ended up doing about 4.5 miles, but much of it was dragging the kayak along the rock/sandbar to get to small pockets of water to paddle.  This would NOT be an enjoyable trip for an inexperienced paddler, or someone who was out of shape, or had any kind of joint injuries. 
So why did I continue to portage and move along the river?  I call it "Commitment to the paddle".  What else was I going to do that day, anyway?  Sit on the couch and watch other people be physically active?  I had told myself I wanted to explore this river.  I guess I get it from my military experience or something.  Seems like when you set out on a trip, you need to go all in...or don't go at all!

One of the rewards was the satisfaction of the trip.  This was a river I have been eyeballing for several years, always thinking "man, I would like to see what is up the river."  The second reward was getting on a bunch of fish towards the end of the trip (most were small, but I caught more than 10!).  I feel like it was a good day to get up on this river due to the wind anyhow.  If I would have been on, Horseshoe Lake, Illinois, for example, I probably would have had to "surf" the kayak back to shore.  Rivers and streams are much nicer on windy days.

Kayaking and Portaging the Loutre River, Missouri


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If you ever want to know the difference between a stream and a river, the Loutre will help you to define the difference between the two.  It is a stream for sure!

Paddle ON!

Mike

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Kayaking the Kaskaskia River, Randoph County, Illinois August 21st, 2011

Kayaking the Kaskaskia River Illinois



This put in spot for the Kaskaskia River is right next to Baldwin Lake in Randoph County.  I had set out on this trip not only to get some miles in, but also to get some fishing in as well.  The river has been channelized (I believe they did that in 1969) so there is the main channel, and a ton of old river channel going in all directions.  My friend Ray and I had made an attempt in the winter to access the river at this point, but this area was frozen over at the time, so I was grateful to finally have a chance to paddle this spot.
The main channel has a ton of ski boat/ pleasure boat traffic on the weekends.  I was able to navigate through this with the kayak.  It was fortunate that the put in area of the river is a no wake area.  I paddled across the main channel and followed the original channel until the end of it.  The place is TEEMING with asian carp.  If you watch the Youtube video below, watch very carefully when the jon boat goes by.....you can see a couple of them jumping out of the water on the back end of the boat.  I had one jump out right by the kayak (I was throwing a rat-l-trap lure real fast in hopes of snagging one of them- I scared one right by the yak)
This is an interesting river....I would say that the attributes are more like the Mississippi River than a small stream (same kind of river fare in regards to the fishing).


This would be a river I would like to continue to explore.  I think we could do some major miles on this going into the fall and winter.

Paddle ON!

Mike

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Kayaking Saline River, Saline County, Arkansas August 17th, 2011: Nice gravel bottomed river was some good fishing potential

Kayaking the Saline River, Arkansas


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This was my first shot at the Saline River in Arkansas.  It is just due south of Little Rock, AR.  The river is a nice, slow moving river in most places.  As I kayaked up stream, I came across a nice little run.  I attempted to portage it for awhile (it felt good to get in the water- it was about 100 degrees out) however, the current gets kind of sporty (fairly shallow, but sporty).  So I shore fished for sometime and then I turned around and headed back.

I have heard some great stories about this river in regards or smallmouth fishing.  I just do not think they were on.  I got some nice taps, but could not get anything to connect.
It would be interesting to see what this river looks like either north of the spot or south.  Water had a murky, green-ish tint.  It really reminded me of the James River south of Springfield, MO.

Paddle ON!

Mike

Sunday, August 14, 2011

7.8 Mile paddle on the Little Maumelle River, Arkansas August 9th, 2011



This was one of those trips where you leave the fishing gear in the car, and just push yourself to see how far you can go.  I have been "eyeballing" this spot (you can see it from the interstate) all winter long.  They have been building a cycle/pedestrian bridge to connect the shore with the island on the other side.  You could not have asked for any better weather, although be it a bit warm.

Kayaking the Little Maumelle River near Little Rock, Arkansas


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I really enjoyed the houseboats about 1/2 way through the paddle (they are on the video) as well as all the incredible beauty of the trip.  There is something about pine trees next to water with big hills all around it.  Blue herons abound, with the cool old trees sticking up out of the channel.  My goal was to get up close to Pinnacle Mntn., however, in keeping an eye on my watch, I had to turn around at some point.  I think this would be a great all day paddle sometime, and would definitely be a good winter paddle.  Also, I think when I come back next time, I will go for less miles and fish it extensively.

Paddle ON!

Mike

Monday, August 8, 2011

6.8 mile Kayak Trip on the Meremac and Big Rivers, St. Louis County, Missouri, August 7th, 2011

Kayaking the Meremac and Big Rivers, Missouri


This was just what the doctor had ordered!  It had been a couple of weeks since I have paddled due to pulling a muscle in my back and the crazy schedule...this was excellent!  It was super hot, so I took my time in the initial put in.  I put in at the Route 66 State park ramp and went upstream.  Caught a medium sized largemouth on a Chomper Hula Grub with a stand up jig in some structure and shade.  I did not have a lot of fishing success the rest of the day.

It is amazing how much the gravel bar at the Big River confluence point has changed.  The heavy current comes a lot further and has some weird undertows.
I took a quick break and did a quick swim....that is the greatest thing about kayaking in the summer time on river.  No matter how hot it gets, as long as you can bring some water and can get in it, you really never have to worry about overheating.



I paddled up the Big River to the bridge.  I got on film these huge carp that were laying in the sun.  I was able to sneak up on them and scare them a bit.  I stopped at the bridge due to an old rock dam/levee.  I could have portaged around it, but I figured it would be good to get back (glad I did- about 15 min after I got out of the water, we had a thunderstorm).

Quick note: the real shame of the Big River is how much man made debris is on the bottom of the river (i.e pieces of metal, concrete stuff, etc).  You can tell it has been like this for awhile.  I would image it got there from attempts by people up river to keep the banks from eroding....at least I would like to think that is why.

Paddle ON!

Mike

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Arkansas River, Pulaski County, Arkansas July 14th, 2011: Nice quick paddle before the storm on the Arkansas River

Kayaking the Arkansas River just east of Little Rock, Arkansas


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This was a really great "after work" paddle.  Sometimes you need to just get out and do whatever you do to release the stress of the day- this was one of those paddles.  I did not have a lot of time or mileage on this one due to a storm that was moving in.  I could have paddled up the Arkansas River if I would have had enough time. 

The current did not seem to overwhelming for such a large river (I am used to looking at the Missouri River in St. Charles- much, much faster clip).  I think the kayak fishing here has a lot of potential as well.  I will need to come back here real soon and do some more exploring.  Arkansas is teaming with incredible kayak opportunities, beauty, and challenges...cannot wait to get the kayak back out on the water!

Paddle ON!

Mike

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The "Life is better on a kayak" philosophy: Abundance

The Creator is lavishly abundant—wildly abundant. A salmon lays around 3,000 eggs. A typical frog lays around 20,000. A fully grown oak tree produces over 2,000 acorns. A swan can have over 20,000 feathers. And while no one knows for sure, some scientists estimate that the average human body has over 100 trillion cells. There are about 300,000 different kinds of plants. There are over 7,000 different varieties of apples alone! Some experts believe there are somewhere between 1 and 10 million different kinds of insects in the world. The Atlantic Ocean has approximately 17 quadrillion gallons of water. That’s 17 followed by ...15 zero’s. The Pacific Ocean has around 35 quadrillion. That’s a lot. Astronomers think there are over 200 billion stars in the Milky Way. And there are 100’s of billions of galaxies.
Of course we know only a small percentage of those salmon eggs will survive. Same with the frog eggs. That’s the scientific reason there is so much of everything in nature—survival. And that’s true. It is also true that the Creator is lavishly abundant. When the paints come out not only the canvas, but the whole room gets filled with color.

If this is so for the world of nature, and we are surely a part of the Whole, then why would we ever fear lack? Why would we ever fear anything? The Creator lavishes us with a thousand, thousand snowflakes, each different, crystalline, and brilliant. How much more so then with us?

Yes, eventually our bodies will melt away too, dust to dust, but our spirits are eternal. The Creator didn’t just create us to live a handful of decades. We are designed to live forever. Lavishly abundant indeed.

Not only that, but just as the tadpole becomes a golden-eyed leaper, we too pass through our own stages of metamorphosis to become leaping, golden-eyed things, frolicking in ponds of glory. So why fear anything?

There are riches aplenty. There are resources aplenty. Dream your dreams lavishly. Imagine your possibilities with the flair of a giant flock of penguins torpedoing into the breath-seizing water. Visualize your plans with the audacity of the horizon—sun-filled, moon-filled, and lightening-filled—stretchi​ng as far as the eye can see. Lavish your dreams with fearless creativity—then go, make them real, they are flowing towards you already.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Elk River, McDonald County, Missouri: Nice 4.5 mile paddle, will be great fall/winter paddle!



We had some weather moving through, so I was not sure I was even going to be able to get this paddle done, due to that, but I decided to take a chance.  The Elk River in Missouri is interesting, due to the fact that there does not seem to be a lot of access points (very much like some of the rivers in Arkansas).  I went to a couple of points that were on my paddlers guide, that ended up being dead ends.  The area I went to (near Blue Eye, Missouri) was not even on the map as an access point.  It was located right next to a canoe livery/campground.

My title says it all.....ton of canoe traffic.  I do not mind other people on the river, but unfortunately this time of year, you get some people that do not have much of a respect for the rivers....they view Ozark streams as places to get drunk on, throw beer cans and trash all over the place, piss in the water (amongst other functions) and generally be loud and stupid.  I know for a fact all people that rent canoes are not like that, but it is the rest of them that gives it a bad name.  I was able to pick up a couple of pieces of trash and stow them until I got to shore, but this river really needs a clean up.  You would think that the canoe liveries located around the area would have some people a couple of times a week form some sort of a "stream team" to help out....it would be good for business!

The fishing was a bit off, but the paddle felt good.  I am looking forward to coming back to this place in the fall/winter when all the traffic dies down.
Paddle ON!

Mike

kayak fishing the Elk River, Missouri


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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Kayaking the James River, Stone County, Missouri June 30th 2011: Nice 4.5 paddle on the James



Put in at the Hootentown access off Hwy O near Highlandville, MO. for a nice evening paddle on the James River, Just south of Springfield, Missouri.  This access point has a lot of people hanging out in the river, and has a large campground right by the access point.  Plenty of parking and a good ramp helps.  Paddled upstream as I always do and then drift fished down.  Fishing seemed to be a bit off...I bet if I had a bottom rig with nightcrawlers, I would have caught plenty of bluegill, but I was fishing for smallmouths, so the action was a bit off.
Check out the video....about half through it, I came up on a deer on the rock bank.  It could not get scent on my, so I was able to hang out on the side of the bank and film it for a few minutes.  I got it caught on film, so enjoy!
Great river to kayak.  Not quite as clear as the Elk River, but clear as a typical ozark stream.  Great paddle!

Paddle ON!

Mike

Kayaking 4 1/2 miles on the James River Missouri


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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bourbouse River, June 26th, 2011: Tough paddle with storm on back



I have to say I love each and every single opportunity to kayak, especially on rivers.  It seems like when you step out on a river, there are always new lessons.  This river and put in point is special....It was the first river I kayaked when I got my first kayak a few years ago. I wanted to come back and check it out again and do a little fishing.
The current on the Bourbouse at this point is somewhat strong, but what makes it a challenge (in regards to paddling up stream) is that it is skinnier and has a lot of debris in the current.  There was one point I had to get out of the boat and portage, get back in and paddle 75', then get back in, repeat process.  I almost think sometimes that will wear you out more than anything.  As I stopped at the last sandbar, it had looked like a storm was moving in, so I got busy getting back to the car with a sense of urgency.  That is the reason I paddle upstream when I kayak alone....always a wise move.

Paddle ON!

Mike

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Kayak Fishing off Hatterras Island, Pamilico Sound, North Carolina: Wide variety of saltwater fish in the sound!



This is the video I posted to our http://www.fishmissouri.org/ site.  North Carolina does not really count as the "Midwest", however, we go out there every year for our annual family vacation, and I just had to post it.  If you get a chance to ever paddle the Outer Banks in North Carolina, you owe it to yourself to do so.  I did quite a few miles up and down the sound, and just basically fished and enjoyed the experience.  I ended up renting a Necky sit inside kayak in lieu of bringing either one of the kayaks from St. Louis.....I thought it was a good choice and really enjoyed the experience.
The sound is such an interesting place to paddle.  You can be at shore and it looks calm, but get about 1/2 mile out, and the waves can be pretty intense due to the wind (especially when they are going from east to west).
I cannot wait to get back and get on even more Outer Banks kayaking next year!

Paddle ON!

Mike

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

White River, Washington County, Arkansas June 4th, 2011: Great 6 mile kayak trip on the White River

Upper White River, 6.5 mile Kayak paddling trip


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Really enjoyed my time on the White River, just south of Beaver Lake in Arkansas.  This is a very docile river, at least at this stage.  Lake is still high and so is the river- high and slow.  There were some pretty incredible back bay type areas, chock full of White egrets and Blue Herons, as well as an abundance of Kingfishers.
I fished it as well in preparation for the kayak fishing tournament I entered for the next day.  On the map where it ends, there was a really nice, fast run.  If I was to continue on, I would probably portage it to the other side.  Instead, I parked on a rock bank and swam for a spell in the river.  That felt good considering it was in the mid 90's.   I will be coming back again to paddle and fish this stretch of river.  Check out the video below to see what I mean.

Flow(Cfs): 400 cfs
Guage Height: 11'

Paddle ON

Mike

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Illinois River, Benton County, Arkansas: Challenged the kayak on a faster upstream paddle



The reason I went out to hit this water was that I was fishing the riverbass.com kayak tournament.  The actual fishing part was slow, and was an epic fail...however, I was really proud of the fact that I got a little more aggressive on the kayak on some swifter waters.
This river really reminds me of the Meremac River in Missouri near the Steelville area.  Access points for this river on the Arkansas side are a little harder to find, but when you find a put in, it is well worth it.
I kayaked up stream, and portaged and fished the shoals and runs.  Did about 3 1/5 miles, but it felt like 7, for sure.
This river is very, very beautiful and well worth the paddle!

Paddle ON!

Mike

Illinois River Arkansas- Kayaking and fishing


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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Table Rock Lake, Aunts Creek Access, Stone County, MO: Nice 5 1/2 mile paddle and fishing

Kayaking 5.5 miles on Table Rock Lake, Missouri


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This was a fun smooth lake paddle.  I wanted to get in some miles and also fish a little on the way back.  I kayak a lot of waters all around the ozarks and beyond, and I have to say the Table Rock Lake is my favorite...no matter what time of the year, the water clarity is always excellent and with the hills around it, on a calm day it is one of the best lakes around.  It did not seem to have as much boat traffic due to the higher water.  A lot of the boat ramps are still under water, so there are limitations to access points. That is why I am glad I have a kayak...no limitations!

Paddle ON!

MLT

Friday, June 3, 2011

Evening Paddle on Table Rock Lake, Stone County, Missouri May 31st, 2011



Check out how high the water is as I kayak through the Aunts Creek Corps of Engineers playground.  Sometimes the best of paddles are the ones where you do not think you have enough time to kayak that day, but you do so anyway.
I love this time of the year due to the fact the technically you can paddle well past 8:00 p.m.  Got a couple of nice shots...hope you enjoy

Paddle ON!

Mike

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lake Kincaid, Jackson County, Illinois May 29th 2011: Beautiful lake in the heart of the "Illinois Ozarks"



The weather in this part of the country has been so unusual.  We were just up at Coffeen Lake a couple of days ago and had a light windbreaker due to the temperatures and lack of sun.  On this trip, it got in the 90's and was very windy.


I put in at the boat launch at the National Forest Service area off Hwy 151.  If you keep going (coming in from the south) there is another boat launch that is all run down and delapidated.  I think next time I go, I am going to launch from there and see how far I can run up Kincaid Creek.  The launch traffic was fairly high due to the holiday weekend.  The one thing I do not like to do is rush getting into my kayak or getting out of my kayak..so that part was a little challenging.


Paddled from the boat launch into the creek and went about 3/4 of a mile up in the creek.  It was fun to paddle this and fish it as well.  After about an hour or so of that, I got back on the main lake.  The wind was gusty, but only provided for a couple of challenges.  Water color was brown, and I am thinking the lake is still a little high based on how the local rivers look right now.  I look forward to coming back to this lake to paddle some more in the future.

Paddle ON!

Mike

Windy kayaking adventure at Lake Kincaid, Illinois


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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Coffeen Lake, Illinois Montgomery County, Ilinois: Great gem of a lake in the heart of Illinois

Kayaking Coffeen Lake, Illinois


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This was a nice paddle for the day!  I only did about 2 miles or so....started to fish and lost track of the actual kayaking.  Nice gem of a lake right in the heart of south-central Illinois.  It is interesting, Illinois is one of those states that is overlooked sometimes in regards for great places to paddle and fish, but it has some nice opportunities.  I live in the St. Louis area, so a lot of these lakes are in actuality closer than the same kind of lakes on the Missouri end.
I look forward to coming back to this lake.  This is a long, narrow power plant lake, so a person could do quite a few miles on it if they wanted to.  I may have to come back for an overnight trip sometime.  We put in on the north access, but there is another access point in the middle that has either a picnic area or a campground right on the water.

Paddle ON!

Mike

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Creve Coeur Lake, St. Louis County, Missouri May 10th, 2011: Quick paddle/fishing trip in between rain storms and flood waters



The rain and water levels have been so incredibly bad in the Missouri/Arkansas/Ozarks area over the last couple of weeks.  Table Rock Lake hit a record high, and there has been rain more days than sun.  So, the paddling in this part of the country has been a bit "challenging".  One of the funniest post I saw on facebook was a kayak shop that sent a quick reminder out: "kayakers please note- Flood water is NOT whitewater".  I found that to be quite humorous.
I did get a chance, however, for a quick paddle and some fishing at Creve Coeur Lake in St. Louis County, Missouri in between out of town trips.  My original intention was to fish and paddle Lake Sherwood in Warren County, however, I got about 1/2 to the destination, and realized that I did not pack the paddle....hmm....  I am glad I just laughed at it, turned around,  got the paddle, and then went to Creve Coeur.  Life is too short to be angry!  Just had to laugh......

Paddle ON!

MLT

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lake Ft. Smith, Arkansas, April 8th, 2011: One of the more beautiful lakes in the Ozarks



I got a chance to explore this lake for just a short time in my drive between business trainings in Little Rock, AR and Bentonville, AR.  I am really glad I took just a short couple of hours to see this incredible lake.  If you look at the GPS below, it looks as if I am kayaking on land....originally, there were (2) lakes: Lake Shepard Springs and Lake Ft. Smith.  Evidently a few years ago they went ahead and knocked out the dam and doubled the size of the lake.  This is a very clear lake- used for drinking water for the city of Ft. Smith Arkansas.

What is incredible about this lake is the non development around it, and well as several incredible coves and waterfalls in those coves.  I brought my fishing pole and got on a nice little bed of crappies before I turned back and headed to shore.

Paddle ON!

MLT

Lake Ft. Smith Arkansas....one of the most beautiful lakes in the ozarks!


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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Little Red River, White County, Arkansas April 5th, 2011: Nice 6 mile paddle on the Little Red



This was a nice 6 mile paddle on the Little Red River.  I put in at the Henry Gray/Hurricane Lake WMA in White County, Arkansas.  This is a bayou-like area with a lot of incredibly "fishy" looking lakes and oxbows.  I plan on coming back later and hitting some of the lakes with my Mokan fishing kayak.  However, today was all about getting up the river.  I also brought a fishing rod and fished it as well.  Caught one nice smallmouth towards the half-way point of the paddle, but he spit it out before I could get it to the boat for a photo.
If you take a look at the video, there is a really nice looking dock/dock house that had something happen to it and 1/2 of it is in the water- what a shame!  Looks like it was once a great place to hang out for the day....nothing beats a day on the river!

Paddle ON!

MLT

River Gauge (Judsonia, AR)
Height: 400 ft.
Flow: 290 (cfs)
Miles: 6
Total miles year: 36.5 miles
Goal: 800 miles

Little Red River, Arkansas: Kayaking and fishing


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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Beaver Lake, Arkansas March 23rd, 2011, Table Rock Lake, Missouri March 24th 2011: Wind and big fish the story

Beaver Lake, Blue Springs Use Area, Arkansas March 23rd, 2011


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I got chance to kayak the lower arm of Beaver Lake on March 23rd.  It really got warm which means it really got windy.  If you get a chance to click on the short video, you see what I mean.  I basically kayaked and fished the cove.  The ramp had quite the pitch and a lot of traffic, so this gave me an opportunity to give my kayak cart a try (works much better with my sea kayak then my heavier, wider fishing kayak). 



The video was shot when I attempted to get up on the main channel.  The waves were just too much for me, so I turned it around and headed back towards the bridge.  The kayak was cooking!  I swear I must have been going 5 knots by the time I got to the bridge.  After that, I decided it was time to call it a day and head back to the ramp.  I am anxious to come back to this area under some calmer conditions.



The next day I had a couple of hours to paddle Table Rock Lake in Stone County, Missouri.  Conditions the next day were much nicer.  We still had a little wind, but it was more manageable.  This paddle trip was more about the fishing.  I kayaked about 2 miles, and had a lot of time to fish some of the coves.  I caught one of the biggest Largemouth Bass I have ever caught (full story at http://www.fishmissouri.org/ )  It is truly amazing how incredibly clear the water is at Table Rock Lake.  This is one incredible lake!

Paddle ON!

MLT

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Finger Lakes State Park, Boone County, Missouri: Great place to Kayak in Mid-Missouri



We had a great day of kayaking at Finger Lakes State Park just north of Columbia, Missouri on March 20th, 2011.  This is a reclaimed Peabody Coal strip mine.  There are miles and miles of old trenches that have been converted into lakes.  I caught a really nice crappie at the end of one of these last year, so when I come back I will need to bring a fishing pole for sure.
We did about 6.8 total miles. I am going to tally up all the miles so far this year and set up some sort of a paddling goal for the year....should be fun, and a good way to keep in shape. 
The area has a lot of evergreen-type trees, so it kind of reminds me of what Canada could look like....I would love to kayak the boundary waters in northern Minnesota/Southern Canada real soon!

Paddle ON!

MLT

Monday, March 21, 2011

Surf Illinois! Kayaking Horseshoe Lake, Madison County, Illinois, March 17th, 2011



If you get a chance, watch this short clip all the way towards the last few minutes.  All I have to say is that there is a reason we paddle against the wind to start.  The waves started to wip up and white cap with some incredible waves (at least for Illinois) and we rode the kayaks all the way in.
Landing at the dock was a challenge, but we were able to get it done.  This lake is REALLY influenced by the effects of wind shear.  Great time kayaking!

Paddle ON!

MLT

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Urban Kayaking! Nameoki Slough, Horseshoe Lake, Illinois: Urban exploring with kayaks!



This is the first of (2) videos shot at Horseshoe Lake, Illinois in Madison County, Illinois.  The first half of the kayak trip was dedicated to exploring the Nameoki Slough that empties into Horseshoe Lake.  I always wanted to know what it would be like going under roads and railroad tracks with a kayak....now I know!
Horseshoe Lake is a very urban paddle.  You can see the skyline for metro St. Louis, as well as see, hear and smell the U.S.Steel- Granite City Foundry.  The main part of the slough is very shallow (I would guess 2 feet or less), so this would not work with a traditional boat. 
The second half of the paddle we explored the main lake.  It was INCREDIBLY windy, and so when you watch that video, you will see us almost surfing the kayaks back to shore.

Paddle ON!

MLT

Horseshoe Lake, Monroe County, Illinois: Great urban kayak trip- wind made paddle very interesting!

Urban Kayaking-Surf Illinois! Horseshoe Lake Illinois


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This was a great trip...I am producing (2) film clips.  One is of us kayaking under road and railroad tracks in the Nameoki Slough, the other film is kayaking the main lake and then the "surf" we road coming back to shore.  Very, very enjoyable trip with my good friend, Ray Schroeder.

Paddle ON!

MLT

Monday, March 14, 2011

Fourche La Fave River, Arkansas, March 9th 2011: Quick evening paddle on the Forche in Arkansas



This was a nice, quick paddle.  The temps got a bit low, but that was alright due to the fact that at this point we were out of the wind.  Got a chance to paddle with a Great Blue Heron in front of the kayak the whole trip.  I also saw one of the healthiest Red Foxes I have ever seen.  Seemed real unfortunate that so many have used this river as a trash can.  Could really use a stream team to clean it up.  Seemed to have pipes dumping right into the river as well.  Could be a real scenic river on the east end if it was just cleaned up a bit....a real shame.  Seems like a river with some real potential.

Paddle ON!

MLT

Fourche La Fave River, Arkansas, March 9th 2011: Quick evening paddle on the Forche in Arkansas

Fourche La Fave River, Arkansas


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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Creve Coeur Lake, St. Louis County, Missouri March 6th 2011: Much cooler day- makes you appreciate the spray skirt!



This was an interesting day due to the fact that Creve Coeur Lake was not my first choice.  I had originally decided to go out to Coffeen Lake in Illinois.  After crossing the river, I noticed just about every creek and river were out of their banks, and once I arrived at the lake, it was really high.  Also, due to the fact that a power plant is attached to this lake (Coffeen), there was a ton of boat traffic, high water conditions, and it really got very windy and cold.  So I decided not to go in....something did not feel right and safe with the lake.

On my way back home, I was wondering if I had made a right decision.  Will this cause me to buy a mini van? possibly start drinking prune juice?  Will I start taking Lipitor now?  I was really getting down on myself for not jumping in.  Had I turned into a paddy boy?  Then, as if by divine providence, the sun came out as I crossed the Mississippi River. "Hey, how about Creve Coeur Lake?" a voice in my head bellowed to me.....and I answered "Why Not?".  The rest of the story is in the film.....enjoy!

Paddle ON!

MLT

Monday, March 7, 2011

Table Rock Lake, Old Hwy 86 Use Area, Stone County, MO: Incredibly peaceful paddle, great to get out on the lake!



I do not know if this video does the incredible beauty of Table Rock Lake justice....but we gave it our best effort to get some of it on film.  Always remember, Life is good....and Life is better on a kayak!

Paddle ON!

MLT

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Table Rock Lake, Old Hwy 86 Use Area, Stone County, MO: Nice 3 mile paddle, Table Rock still real low

Table Rock Lake, Missouri Old Hwy 6 Use area


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This was a nice late afternoon paddle.  Table Rock Lake, Missouri can get to feeling like paddling on the sound side of the Outer Banks, NC when the wind starts to wip up.  No white caps in the main channel, but lake started to swell a bit.  Got a little weird when I got past the point into the main lake- really started to feel the effects of the wind.  This lake can get real rough in March....I have seen it get to looking like the Atlantic Ocean on days past.  Not quite at that level on this one, fortunately

Paddle ON!

MLT

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bull Shoals Lake, Beaver Creek Public Use Area, Taney County, Missouri, March 1st, 2011



The Missouri Ozarks are incredibly beautiful in early March!  This was an incredible day to get out and paddle.  I am so glad for it!  Did about 6.8 miles and really enjoyed my time out in the ozarks!  I will come back next time with a light spinning rod outfit and do a little fishing as well! Looks like this part of the lake has nice walleye and white bass numbers

Paddle ON!

MLT

Bull Shoals Lake, Beaver Creek Public Use Area, Taney County, Missouri: Incredible day for a 6.8 mile paddle!

Bull Shoals Lake, Missouri


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Monday, February 14, 2011

Lake Baldwin, Randolph County, Illinois February 13th, 2011: Nice 5.75 mile paddle on the ever-warm Lake Baldwin



Here is a video of our Sunday paddle trip to Lake Baldwin, Illinois.  The power plant does a nice job keeping the lake non-frozen all year, so it was a great trip for this year.  This lake gets INCREDIBLY windy....I felt like I was paddling on the sound in the Outer Banks.  The lake is topographically higher than the surrounding land, so when it gets even a little wind, it really wips up.  I always enjoy spending time with my good friend, Ray Schroeder.  He has some great tips about Kayaking, and I learn something new every time I get a chance to paddle with him
I got a chance to use the GoPro Hero camera with the mount, so if you like to kayak, I think you will enjoy this video....probably a little lengthy for a paddle video, but I think it turned out good- hope you enjoy it!
.
Paddle ON


MLT

Just

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Baldwin Lake, Kaskaskia River Wildlife Area, Randolph County, IL: First Kayak trip of year- lake not frozen due to power plant

Baldwin Lake, Kaskaskia River Wildlife area, Illinois


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Great first kayak trip of the new year. Really, really enjoyed getting out and re-acquainting myself with the sea kayak.  Ray Schroeder came by with his kayak trailer and we hit it.  Originally, we were trying to find a ramp to get on the main channel of the Kaskaskia River, but all the access points were in sloughs, and thus the water was frozen.

Life is better in a kayak!

Mike

Monday, January 31, 2011

Ozark Trail, Bell Mountain Wilderness, January 2nd, 2011



This was filmed on Bell Mountain Wilderness area the first week of January 2011. This hike is one of the most beautiful in Missouri. Winter time is some of the best time to get out and hike on the Ozark Trail (it has not been the best to kayak this winter). I like to do this to keep in shape for when it will be time to hit the water with the kayaks. Hiking is a great way to break up the winter and get outdoors.

Mike