An Oasis in August

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It’s that time in Texas again, the dog days of summer, and with them, the usual string of hundred-degree-plus days. We call it August here in the Lone Star state and the month has a tendency to sizzle on occasion, producing the kind of days my buddy Tony describes as “hotter than two mice f**king in a wool sock.” It’s right about this time of year that we’re looking for any excuse to jump into a cool flowing river, like the Brazos.

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We’d been wanting to do a paddle with Josh Walker for a while. Josh is the manager of the Mountain Sports Kayak Fishing Team and one of the men who put us back into kayaks after we lost our boats in the flood last year. Since then, Mountain Sports has been very supportive of Lone Star Chronicles and our adventures. A few weeks ago, with forecasts calling for weekend highs of l04, we agreed it was time to get back on the water with Josh.

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If you’re kayak fishing the middle Brazos these days, you need to be aware of the water being released from the Whitney dam. Lately, the pattern has been for early afternoon releases and they’ve been pretty consistent over the last several weeks. Knowing this, we launched early Sunday morning with a plan to fish our way well down river, and if we timed it right, the releasing water would catch up to us within a few miles of our take out and we’d float the rising river to the take out.

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Besides leading the Mountain Sports Fishing team, Josh is also on the Werner Paddles Pro Staff, and he mentioned that the highly revered paddle maker was celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. I remember reading a story about Werner Furrer Jr, the founder’s son, making his first kayak paddle out of a tree branch and a couple of wooden shingles. Today, Werner makes some of the best performing kayak paddles on the market, and on our trip, Josh was using the Werner Ikelos, a lightweight carbon fiber, high angle paddle.

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We were also joined by Ryan who works at Mountain Sports. He was paddling a Jackson Big Rig equipped with a casting support bar. At 37 inches wide, the Big Rig is already an incredibly stable fishing platform but the casting bar is nice to have as an extra measure of support.

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And so we fished our way down the river, stopping occasionally to cool off in the river and that’s one of the best things about kayak fishing. It’s funny how it never felt like 103 degrees floating down the oasis-like river valley which provided refuge from the Texas heat. I can’t think of a better way to spend a sweltering summer day.

Melissa Brazos Bass 8-9-15-6897Later in the 8-mile trip, the water from the afternoon release finally caught up to us. At this point it was seven hours into the trip and I was pretty much done fishing. I broke out my camera and start taking photos of the river, which takes on a whole new personality when the BRA is releasing water. Even though it was only a couple of thousand CFS, the shallows disappeared beneath the cool rush of water and the river vegetation, what little is left of it after months of flooding, bowed to the current’s strength.

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It was after the float, as we humped the kayaks up a steep hill at our take-out, that I realized just how hot it’d gotten while we were on the river. I thought of a conversation I had recently with my mom, who lives in California and was bemoaning the string of 90 degree days they’d seen. She said everyone was calling it a heat wave.

Here in Texas, we call it August.

Lone Star Chronicles – Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Fish

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