I recently traveled to Branson with my wife and some others from our church. We attended a conference at the Hilton and stayed there for three nights. Wow, what a place. We had a large room overlooking the Landing, the scenic railway train and of course, the lake. I managed to sneak off and do some fishing during the times when the meetings did not include me. I only caught eighteen trout during the few times got out but as usual with me I had fun anyway.
I ventured to the dam right as the water shut off. I tied on a silver Kastmaster and fished it right under the cable. Its funny how the lure can be in mid retrieve with the Sun shining bright and no fish biting and then a gust of wind suddenly puts a chop on the water and wham you get bit. This happened so often I sometimes found myself waiting for a windy chop to make my cast out past the shallows to the deeper water where I dreamed the bigger fish were lurking.
The last time I did this I caught Crappie, perch and a Smallmouth bass, not so this trip. Every trout I caught was a "Hammer Handle" or "Silver Bullet" as Phil Lilley calls them. They were fun though. I moved to the MDC ramp downstream and the fun continued as I caught a few trout there while watching a man teach another how to fly fish. I almost cheered when he hooked into his first fish but I figured he might be like me and did not want to be recognized for finally doing something everyone else has probably done many times but instead wanted to jump up and down on the inside and take it in stride on the outside. You know, the manly way.
I also fished off the dock at Lilleys Landing that week. I laughed as I fished with Duane and Paul. Mainly I laughed at the two of them giggling over the latest creation to come from Duane's fly tying vice. If they didn't catch something on a jig they would disappear into the shop and a few minutes later emerge with something of a different color or with eyes on it and off they'd go again. I love seeing grown ups have fun and the fact that they knew me and included me in their antics meant a great deal.
I witnessed something I had never seen before that week. I suppose it has to happen to some extent each time the water is suddenly turned off at the dam but I watched the lake run backward. And it not only ran backward, it did so for about six hours. The only time I witnessed anything like this before was once last summer while fishing below the lookout I saw waves, about four feet high suddenly rear up and wash upstream for a distance of about forty or fifty yards. This went on for about fifteen seconds and was very violent. So much so that it made me glad we were against the bluff bank as I'm sure it would have swamped us.
Well anyway, I caught fish in the cold and the semi-warm weather, stuck my rod in the water to melt the ice out of the eyes and, oh yes I was attempting to show a friend, whom had accompanied me that day how to catch a Sculpin behind Phil's dock with a small jig when a Brown Trout about eighteen inches long rocketed out from under the dock from about fifteen or twenty feet away and inhaled my jig. I had no idea a fish could see that far under water. So here I was trying to climb down from the walkway to the bank, which had snow on it without going swimming. I was giggling myself and groaning because it was a long way for a broken down old man to bend over on a steep bank. Anyway he broke me off when I got him out of the water and took my jig with him. Fortunately the jig was barbless so he shouldn't have much trouble throwing it.
My week was great. I had a great time worshipping the Lord with friends and got to eat, shop, sight see and fish with my wife and friends, but boy was I ready to get home after four days of not sleeping in my own bed. When we opened the door to the house late Thursday we were met by a couple of grandsons, ages two and four. What an end to a nice vacation, leaving something you love to come back to something you love. To coin a phrase; It just doesn't get any better than this.