I am hard pressed to remember a day of fishing that was quite so wildly unsuccessful as the day that Kristian and I spent fishing the lower Colorado. I mean we could not pull a fish out of that river to save our lives. We paddled a 14-mile stretch of the Colorado that goes from the crossing with Farm Road 969 to Fisherman’s Park in Bastrop. The water was fairly high; apparently this time of year they let a lot of water go to flood the rice fields further south. At the rate the current was moving we were able to mostly drift the whole way, which we did without as much as a nibble the entire way. I don’t recall there being anything that even resembled a bite. In fact the savageness with which we were skunked still stings a little.
This is not to say that the day was entirely uneventful. I did receive a lesson in the caution that should be applied when using an anchor in a strong current. I was paddling a Wildnerness Systems Commander 120, which is a hybrid canoe for those of you who are unfamiliar with it. I tied my anchor off to the rail that holds the seat and slowly fed out the anchor line until I felt the anchor bouncing off the bottom. All of a sudden the anchor line came tight and my kayak stopped like it had hit a brick wall. The anchor line started pulling the upstream side of the boat under and even though I was leaning hard over to the other side of the boat I only had about an inch and a half of freeboard keeping the water out of the boat. Having neither an anchor float nor an anchor trolley I was a little unsure of how to work out of my predicament. I could not untie or cut it off partly because of the tension on the line and partly because I was determined not to lose Kristian’s anchor. If I had had an anchor trolley I could have just run the anchor line up to the front of the boat and it would have taken most of the tension off. I sat pondering these easy alternatives as I tried to muscle boat around to where it was pointing up stream. Eventually this effort was successful and I was able to get the anchor out once I was up stream of it. But had I capsized the boat in that situation it would have been really really ugly. I’m quite sure I would have been trying to explain to my boss how I managed to sink a boat in a river that had almost no obstacles or hazards of any kind. Well live and learn.
Fortunately all the fun I had with the anchor was only about three minutes into the trip and the rest of the day went smoothly. Kristian had to spend some time running away from water moccasins but I never saw them. I think he may have just been running from figments of his imagination. After all, the heat can do funny things to people. There was also a group of clowns who decided to pull their john boat into the tiny cove we were fishing and start up and shut off their motor ten or fifteen times. I mean really figure out where you want to go and go there already. Once I could no longer see Kristian through the clouds of smoke their engine was emitting I decided it was time to push on. It is easy enough to not catch fish just about anywhere, so no need to hang out in a thick cloud of exhaust smoke. I could have done that in the parking lot.
As I paddled on, I really came to appreciate the river’s characteristics consisting of stone bluffs, pastures and a variety of small islands which provided a very picturesque and bucolic setting for a relaxing day of paddling. We stopped at Fisherman’s Park and grilled up some steaks which went a long way toward removing my bitterness toward the fish of the lower Colorado. I hope that I have in no way deterred any one from paddling this stretch of river because it really is very pleasant and all things said and done we had a great day on the water!
ACK – Austin