Thursday, December 27, 2012

12 inch Golden Redhorse, 11 inches of snow, 10 Great Blue Herons, 9 foot six weight, 8 Northern Harriers, 7 Rainbow Trout, 6 pound tippet, 5 stockers eaten, 4 other folks, 3 foot Carp, 2 Bald Eagles, and an icy US Highway 63

For our third consecutive year, Kelly and I went fishing at the Spring River in Arkansas on Christmas day.

It was quite a day... as you can probably tell from the title of this post. Here's the breakdown...

On the way to the river from Memphis, we saw an impressive display of North American raptors that included: approximately 20 Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis), 8 Northern Harriers (Circus cyaneus)- including the first gray male we've ever seen, 2 Red-Shouldered Hawks (B. lineatus), 2 Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), and a whole bunch of Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) that we didn't really bother counting.

Once we were waist deep in the river, we saw at least 10 Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias)- at one point, eight of them flying low over the riparian treetops together as a group. We also saw an American Mink (Neovison vison) enjoying some Christmas day fishing on the Spring River- an animal which normally stays out of sight when the river is crawling with fisherman and recreational paddlers during summer. The mink was a good indicator that there weren't many people around.

We fished with our now traditional Christmas Crawdads again, but they weren't terribly productive. I caught the first trout on one which I believe was the only fish of the day interested in eating Christmas decorations tied onto a hook. The second fish brought to hand was a 12 inch Golden Redhorse (Moxostoma erythrurum), a species which likes to make an appearance on Christmas day. Unfortunately, I can't take credit for landing it on a crawdad fly this year. It was apparently dying, and I simply scooped it up with the net to see what it was.

Not a happy Christmas for this guy

None of the 7 Rainbow Trout we caught were really that impressive, despite the fact that this would normally be the time of year to catch a big fish. The "big" fish of the day...

My lucky Christmas fishing hat, not so lucky this year

We ended up keeping 5 stockers and brought them home to share a Christmas dinner with our friend Don. He was kind enough to let us stay at his house while we visited the "Big M" for the holidays. Our fresh trout dinner wasn't fancy, but it was the least we could do to show our thanks.

Baked in aluminum foil with Cajun seasoning and butter.

Since the trout fishing wasn't really that exciting (and the Spring River always offers up some variety), Kelly decided to go after a 3 foot Carp (Cyprinus carpio) about midway through our day. Actually... it was an accident, but she did hook up with the big fish briefly. From my vantage point on the other side of the river, she put up a valiant effort with her 9 foot six weight doubled over as the monster minnow dove into the deep. It lasted about fifteen seconds before her 6 pound tippet snapped.

The excitement of our day didn't end when we got out of the water. We drove back to Memphis through the beginnings of a rare blizzard for the Natural State- a couple of Arkansas locales got over 11 inches of snow. The snow and sleet were only beginning to really come down as we drove between Mammoth Spring and Jonesboro, but as we made our way further south the situation became less and less severe. It was just a little bit precarious as the frozen precipitation began to accumulate on the roadway, and the driving conditions on an icy US Highway 63 were made far worse by strong blizzard winds.

It wasn't quite the white Christmas most people hope for, but it was unforgettable nonetheless.

Did I forget to mention that we only saw 4 other folks down by the river? We pretty much had the place to ourselves the whole time we were there.

That's my kind of Christmas.

Bah!

Humbug!

20 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great time Jay! Makes me realize how long it's ben since I fished on the Spring River. Me need to meet up there someday.
    Happy New Year!

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    1. Kevin, I think it's been a year since I was last there- Christmas 2011. No Spring River Smallie fishing for me in 2012... truly sad. I would love to get a chance to camp on the Spring sometime in the coming year during warm weather. I'll let you know if/when it's going to happen.

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  2. That's quite an array of happenings.
    The trout looks good. Simple and tasty, just the way I like it.

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    1. It was a heck of a day. The trout was pretty good, and it really was simple. It was Don's first experience eating trout, and I think he liked it.

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  3. clever stuff :) I like it. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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    1. Thanks, David. Happy New Year to you!

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  4. Love those red horse. Stay warm! More weaather coming.

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    1. Those redhorse are always fun to see. They're beautiful fish, but not very easy to catch. They seem about as tough as carp to fool with a fly. I've honestly only caught a couple, and they were by accident. Every time I've intentionally tried to catch one I've gotten a big fat rejection.
      Hopefully, I'll be out of the path of the really bad winter stuff in Alabama.

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  5. I don't know , that sounds like just the kind of Christmas I'd hope for. Nicely done....

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    1. It was a good Christmas. Thanks, HPFF

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  6. Having a place pretty much to yourselves can make for an extra special day. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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    1. Unfortunately, it's getting harder and harder to find that solitude. Happy New Year to you!

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  7. Jay
    Fantastic looking images, what a great way to spend Christmas especially with someone who loves fishing as much as you do. Thanks for sharing

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    1. Thanks, Bill. I thought the pictures were pretty terrible, certainly not our best work. Don't blow 'em up and look to close, you might change your mind. Maybe we'll get to do some winter trout fishing closer to home soon.

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  8. Well you really had me with the trout dinner. I can't remember the last time I ate a freshly caught trout. I think you had a perfect day Jay! Happy New Year to you and Kelly.

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    1. Thanks, Howard. Happy New Year to you too!

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  9. Nice detailed report! Here mink are notoriously tame, from city parks to out of the way. Very inquisitive, they have lifted themselves up my leg and peered deep in my eyes, or so it looked. But that's here. I might guess that all those herons may have been after crawfish, they eat plenty here, but stocked trout are easy also. Just nice to read!

    Gregg

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    1. Gregg, thanks for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed reading. A "tame" mink in the South would probably end up dead pretty quickly. The herons have quite a buffet on the Spring River- crayfish, small trout, and a ton of small native fish. It's a great place for fisherman of all sorts- including minks and herons!

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  10. Sounds like quite the adventure out! But, who wants boring...ha! Glad you had a fun time together none the less. Have a wonderful and fishy New Year!

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    1. Thanks, RD. Happy New Year to you too!

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