Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to look at it more closely. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

Backroads

Backroads
Kentucky Backroads Wheat Stubble

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Old Days and Places...Old Beggs

A New Series is coming; Old Days and Places, where I relive older days and adventures from times past mostly just looking back thru fond memories. Although this blog is mostly a photography blog, it is also an outdoor adventure blog, so I hope to take time to relive some of the old times...maybe by doing so, I'll get more motivated to get out and create some new ones and remember why the other times were so important.

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The ebony of the night sky still retained a few points of light winking back at the world that morning. The sun was not yet far enough along its rising schedule to turn out those last few blinking lights, yet low on the horizon one could see its effects as a faint glow embraced the pre-dawn hour.  Mid-March in Oklahoma is a time of transition where winter struggles to let go of its grip and spring struggles to take hold. So it was on this morning, March 12th, 1978, a Red-Letter day for me, one I will never forget.

I stood briefly beside my old venerable 1974 Pinto Station Wagon...my fishing rig...well, my do everything rig at the time. We both were well acquainted with this small lake about 30 miles south of Tulsa; Old Beggs Lake, as we had spent many hours fishing it from one end to the other. On top of my fishing rig rested my equally venerable old Coleman canoe. Beat up and showing signs of wear and tear, the better years of both were long gone. A strong tug and I felt the weight of the canoe on my shoulders, a short walk to the waters edge then a heave and a hoe and a plop as I half tossed and half placed the canoe onto the edge of the lake. A few moments later after loading my fishing gear, a short kick and step I hopped into the canoe to begin a morning of canoe fishing.



The constant Oklahoma wind had yet to kick off this morning and the lake remained calm and smooth. For the next half hour or so I made a cast here and there once along side the newly forming lilly pads, another next to some tall grass along the bank. I love the sound of fishing line twirling off a spinning reel followed by a sensible plop when the lure finds its place. A click of the bale, a low pitch whir and the line is retrieved with each deliberate crank of the handle...my fishing season was just beginning. The previous winter had been long and cold and snowy that season, so this welcome change as a warm spell hovered across the landscape offered a nice change of pace.

Eventually, I drifted around the bend and sighted where a large limb had broken off a tree and fell into the water. It's many branches protruding here and there. I was casting a small spinner bait with a black and yellow skirt and the tail end of a blue twister-tail worm attached to the hook. I tossed toward the branches and allowed it to sink for a few seconds before starting the retrieve. Three or maybe four cranks later my line suddenly felt heavy..."Blast...I'm hung up on one of those limbs." I thought..that is until the line started pulling back. My lightweight fishing rod suddenly bent double and it was about all I could do to hang on. Using only six pound line I was concerned that whatever was on the other end would break it off. There was a jump, a splash, and for the first time I saw what was on the other end; a rather large bass with a fat belly full of eggs. For several minutes I hung on retrieving line an inch or two at a time until finally my bass lay spent alongside the canoe. I reached and grabbed its wide open jaw. Weighed in at just over 4.5 pounds. A good start to fishing season.


A few minutes later I drifted to the other side of the downed branch and saw some tall grass along the bank where I knew the water was three or four feet deep. The spinner bait plopped right where I wanted it and a few cranks later my fishing rod was almost pulled from my grasp by a mighty strike. Another few minutes of playing another large bass resulted in another catch weighing in at just over 5 pounds. Two, back to back...a really good start to the fishing season.

I remember those days as though they were just last week. Even though I have experienced many great fishing moments over the years, but none came close to equalling those few. Sometimes I wonder what has happened to my adventuresome self. Seems I just don't get out as much anymore. Life and circumstances I suppose will interfere with our best of plans and desires. I am beginning to understand more now than ever why It is important to never forget those special days afield and take time to share with others memories such as these.


Winter in Kentucky this season has settled in and spring is still a ways off. Even so, I am beginning to look forward to warmer days. I can still feel the weight of that old canoe on my shoulders, whiff the aroma of that old lake, and feel the fighting spirit of those fish from all those years ago. I miss those days and that old lake where great memories were made with good friends. I miss those good friends where time and distance has separated us and few are the days now where we can share new moments afield.

Three of them are gone, Ralph, Neuman, and my brother. Curt, Rocky, and me are the only ones left from that group and, even though I have discovered new places here in Kentucky, sometimes I feel isolated and alone living so far away from those old days and places. Fishing Old Beggs Lake, quail and dove hunting out at Morris and down at Hitchita, float camping the Buffalo, deer camping at Honobia, duck and goose hunting at Sequoyah, all name places that hold dear to my past. That is what memories are made for, to fill the voids we all at one time or another will or have experienced, to remind us who we are so we can rediscover our identity. Memories such as these should never be allowed to simply drift away, so that is why I will write about them so I can relive not only the moments, but the reasons why I did them in the first place.

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