Despite rain off and on over the entire Memorial Day weekend the Sunburst Ranch faithful had no problems breaking out of the winter doldrums and curing that cabin fever. Memorial Day weekend brings out a little more party crowd that our normal two day weekends and this weekend was no exception. Even with a full campground throughout the holiday, noise complaints were contained to only a few spots in the campground. Our night security guard (Amy) was only called down once, and took care of a little noise problem on Sunday night, and although there were several other small incidents no one was hurt, and only one leg had to be amputated. It was great to see our old friends, some of which had not been down for several years. Campers joined us from as far away as Tuscon, Colorado Springs, Denver and Tampa to reunite with old friends around a blazing campfire. I would like to thank the majority of our campers who are respectful and courteous to those around them, as you make our job a pleasure. For those on the other side of the coin which were very few, you have already been added to the NO CAMPING FOR YOU list. I apologize to anyone unfortunate enough to have been camping next to someone not living by the golden rule. I hope everyone found our staff courteous and helpful, I think we have the best, hardest working crew around, and am thankful every weekend that I don't have to worry about them showing up and doing their jobs. The only complaint I had about our staff was that I was not a very nice person, and that is being dealt with from within. In my defense I think most people would agree that I am a very nice person (comments are welcome, however I probably won't publish the bad ones). In conclusion, thanks once again to all of you, you are the reason we can continually purchase new canoes, and upgrade our facilities. I encourage all of you to drop us an e-mail with any advice on how we can improve what we do, and look forward to seeing you all again later this summer.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
With severe weather looming in the forecast, I decided Wednesday night I would take advantage of the last nice day of the week and head upstream for a little smallmouth and goggle-eye fishing on the upper reaches of the North Fork. After dropping Eli off at school, Amy took me to Hale's crossing which is 26 miles or so upstream of Sunburst. I would float from there to Hammond covering a distance of 14 miles. Putting in at Hale's I was happy to see the river flowing bank full, and although somewhat murky I couldn't have asked for better water conditions. The section of river before you reach Hammond can get much too low to be of much fun by the time summer arrives. Today this was not the case. I told my fishing buddy Finn (my loyal Boykin Spaniel) to load up, and he took his place in the front seat of the canoe. We quickly were forced to negotiate some rather treacherous rapids, which on this section of river are very narrow with sharp turns and often times guarded by fallen trees. This being said we came through the float unscathed, although there were several times Finn questioned my canoe handling skills. The fishing was just fair, I hooked and lost what felt like a nice smallmouth early in the float, and later brought a nice 12 incher to hand. I also broke off a 15" smallmouth by setting the hook a little to hard with 4 pound test. The goggle-eye (rock bass) did keep the action steady although most were only fat little 6-7 inch fish, big enough to make a meal if I was camping out, but too much trouble to take home. I also added several green sunfish, and longear sunfish (aka punkinseeds) to my creel. While my favorite smallmouth bait is a 4" worm, fishing by myself without an anchor made this type of fishing almost impossible with the river running fast. I caught most fish on a good old beatle spin. If you ever get a chance to come to the river when the water is really flowing, I would highly recommend a float on the upper part of the North Fork, you will see beautiful bluffs, lots of wildlife, and with any luck at all you should enjoy catching a mixed bag of colorful Ozarks fish.