Gone Fishing

Reader Contribution by Robert Pekel
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I love fishing. It’s a great sport. Drifting with the river current is relaxing and invigorating. It’s a change of pace from working on the homestead that helps balance life. My wife actually supports my fishing trips. Although she thinks I spend too much time goofing off, she understands I’m unbalanced.

Arkansas is blessed with an abundance of rivers. The White, Elk, Kings, and the Buffalo rivers each have something sensational to explore. My son Will and nephew Leon are my fishing buddies. Last weekend we headed to the White, famous for its rainbow trout.

First we picked out a prime campsite at Parker Bottoms, set up camp, and built a fire. It’s easy to unwind with the loblolly pines towering overhead. Crows call out warnings in the distance as we soak up the warmth of a wood fire. Food always tastes best over an open fire. Fried fish, of course, is our favorite. This trip we added fresh-picked asparagus to the menu. Top it off with a cold beer and this is getting pretty close to heaven.

When the sun goes down, we’re not far behind. I find sleeping on the ground, close to the earth, is healing. It always seems to take the soreness out of my back. Dozing off to the wind stirring through the pines makes for a restful night’s sleep.

Morning starts with campfire coffee, hot and black, followed with a hearty breakfast of farm fresh eggs and venison sausage all wrapped up in tortillas smothered with salsa.

Next, we doublecheck our lines and launch the kayaks. Riding the river resets the internal clock to the rhythms of nature. It is a nomadic high that defies description. I have yet to meet an unhappy person on the river. Everyone is friendly, absorbed in the beauty and wonder of Creation. Turkey vultures soar in the heavens above. Ospreys skirt the treetops along the river banks scouting for breakfast, while trout break the water’s surface. Redbuds in bloom and river cane shelter the rocky shoreline. The scent of honeysuckle is in the air, and it’s quiet, remarkably quiet.

Then, without warning, a trout attacks my bait. The pole bends, and the age old battle of predator versus prey is on. Trout are fighters. One never knows who will win until the trout is in the boat. In a split second the crafty trout flips, spins, and shakes the hook loose. The battle is over, the trout is free once again, but that’s OK. There’s more fishing to do, and by the time we get back to camp there is enough fish for tonight’s meal and extra for the folks back home. Provide for the tribe.

The next morning we break camp and head back toward civilization relaxed, refreshed, and ready to take on the world. Fishing does that.

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