An Impossible Cast

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Articles Written by Glen Andrews

Anglers World
Brownies on the Buffalo
November 11, 1966

They're brown all right, but instead of scales they have feathers and some folks call'em quail. These are the kind of brownies I want to talk about, if you old bass fishermen will please excuse me for one week.

I'm sure you've heard some people who neither hunt nor fish but say of those who do, they're crazy. Well, after my experience on the Buffalo a few winters ago, I'm not so sure but what they're right.

As I recall, time was along in January and old man winter had come to the Ozarks in a big way. It started with a 12-inch snow and then turned colder than Alaska. For a week the temperature had stayed at ten or twelve degrees below zero at nights and would manage to get up to a warm 1 degree during the day. After waiting a week, and the cold spell didn't break, my brother-in-law, Jim Patterson and I decided to go quail hunting anyway. We loaded guns and dogs and headed out one morning to place on the Buffalo River near Yardelle, where we were sure we could find several covies. We arrived at 9:30 and were in the act of putting on all the heavy clothes we could when the radio announcer at Harrison said the temperature was a warm 4 degrees above 0. With guns loaded we let the dogs out. Becky, a four-year-old pointer having already had some three hundred birds shot over her each of the past three seasons, and Katy, a three-year-old Luallen Setter are what you might call pretty fair bird dogs; and for the next two we stumbled over most of the two hundred frozen acres of river bottom and not once did the dogs even act birdy. We knew from previous hunting there that there were at least four good covies around somewhere, and we decided to make the same circle again.

It was at this time that Jim noticed Becky standing by a small bunch of Johnson grass and wagging her tail as if to say. "There's something in there but I'm not quite sure what it is." I walked over and kicked the clump of grass. Quail boiled out and flew in every direction. It seamed like five minutes passed before my frozen finger was able to get the safety off. By this time every bird was out of range; and I guess Jim had the same trouble because neither of us fired a shot. We left the singles since they since they had scattered in a heavily wooded area. Half an hour later Becky made a cast over the river bank and didn't come back. Jim and I made several trips along the steep bank before we finally spotted her stretched out in a stylish point on the gravel bar near the river. Her black and white colors blended in with the rocks and snow so perfectly that she was hard to see even after knowing she was there. We cautiously approached her point and assumed the birds were under the big drift about forty feet in front of her, but just then Jim spotted them. They were not ten feet from us and Becky. They exploded with wings popping together and feathers flying everywhere.

We recovered quickly from their sudden explosion and started blasting away as they made their flight across the river. When our guns were empty and the birds were safely across the river we had nothing to pick up except the feathers they left us from their rise.

We figured this was the same covey that had pulled the same stunt on our previous hunt there; and determined not to be out-smarted twice, we decided to wade the river. This seemed a good idea, since the area on the other side looked like it could harbor several more covies. We walked up stream a couple hundred yards to a shoal, flipped a coin to see who would cross first. I lost, and Jim stood on the gravel bar laughing while I walked bare-footed across fifteen feet of ice and stepped into the water that was even colder that the ice. I hadn't gone half way before the water was above my knees and my feet legs turned to stone. With my boots and gun to load me down I didn't think I was going to make it back to the bank.

Thirty minutes later and warm from the car heater, we were asking permission from the proprietress of a farm, to ride one of their horses across the river. She said we could, but that we probably couldn't catch either of them in the field. This didn't prove to be much of a problem, because when we returned to the bottom, they had taken shelter on a narrow point among some trees and the only way out was by us.

As luck would have it, the only one we were able to catch was the skinny one and she didn't look like she could hold me up much less Jim who stood 6 feet 4 and tips the scales at 235 pounds. Unable to find an exit to the river at the upper end of the farm where the covey had flown across, we decided to go through a gate at the lower end, ride across to a spot that looked good from our side. You might say, the grass looked greener on the other side of the fence. Now that bone pile didn't look strong enough to carry both of us, I rode across first and sent her back after Jim. With Jim's weight on her she wobbled and stumbled into the swift water and I thought for a moment both were going to take a bath in the coldest water on earth. They made it, and we thought this was a good system until we returned from a two-hour hunt without seeing a bird, and thought for the first time about the problem we might have in getting "Bone Pile" to come back to the opposite side of the river from her home to pick up the second man. This problem looked even blacker to me when we flipped a coin and Jim won the first ride across. Sure enough there just wasn't any way Jim could persuade Bone Pile to come back to me, and Jim suggested that I walk up the river a way and walk across on the ice. But to me this sounded more like a good way to commit suicide. Anyway I had a choice of either wading the waist deep water, clothes and all, and freezing to death before we could get to the car; or run the risk of falling through the ice and drowning. I chose the ice, because I figured if I fell through and drowned, it would be a quicker way to go than to freeze to death.

My dogs and I walked up the river to a spot where the ice looked pretty solid all the way across. They bounced right across just like it was paved road, but when I thought about what another 160 pounds of weight might do to that stretch of ice I wondered if I hadn't made the wrong choice. I walked slowly to near the middle and the ice didn't seem to crack much so I started running as fast as I could without hitting the ice too hard. For the last fifty feet, where the water under the ice was more shallow and moving faster, the ice started cracking more every step I took. I fell on the bank just as the ice broke up and started floating away from the spot where I had been not 10 seconds before.

Empty handed we made the long trip back to Lampe, Missouri to face our wives without any evidence to prove we had ever been hunting.

If trips like this are not enough to break us from hunting, then I guess we are a little crazy. I don't know about you, but for myself I still hunt and I still think the greatest sight in the world is when a dog runs across a frosty field with a high head and merry tail and comes to a staunch point on a covey of quail.

Beaver One of State's Promising Lakes
Rogers, Ark., SUNDAY NEWS, October 10, 1965

(Editor's Note - - Glen Andrew is a three time winner of the Missouri State Fishing Championship and has guided professionally on Table Rock Lake Bull Shoals and White River in Missouri and Arkansas. Glen recently moved to Rogers where he plans to continue his work as a tackle manufacturer and professional guide.

By Glen Andrews

Beaver Lake, located between Eureka Spring and Springdale, now stands about 39 feet below power level. It is one of Arkansas' most promising fishing spots.

When John Dobson and Pete Bezjian, and I arrived at Rogers, one evening in late July, we were greeted by Ralph Giessow, operator of the Prairie Creek Boat Dock. Our fishing fever was pretty high and after listening to Ralph tell about the young bass chasing shade most of the day, our fever grew even higher. Ralph assured us that we could catch plenty of bass weighing between one and two pounds. The two and three pound bass seemed scattered and hare to catch.

With breakfast over, at 5:30 the next morning we started for the dock, which is only ten minutes from downtown Rogers. Leaving the dock with John accompanying Ralph and Pete with me, we motored a mile or so without spotting any breaking bass. We then fished a few good looking points and, using a plastic worm, I cought a couple of fat Kentucky's which I released. By eight a.m., the bass started breaking in several places near where we were fishing. These bass could easily be taken on several different lures when they surfaced within casting distance of our boats. Small top water lures seemed to be best. We caught ten or fifteen of the fattest pound-and-a-half bass I ever saw before their surfacing became so scattered that a bass rarely broke within casting distance of our boat.

I removed the top water lure I had been using and snapped on a small spoon. Casing this near some of the trees where the bass had been breaking and allowing it to sink about ten feet before starting to retrieve produced several more nice bass.

I found Beaver typical of most young lakes I have fished. Plenty of young bass can be taken throughout the year by any angler who takes his fishing half-way serious, with enough two-to-five pound bass to make excellent fishing, particularly in the spring and fall.

Since I live only an hour's drive from Beaver, I know several anglers who fished it last fall and this spring. They were amazed at the number of nice sized bass they were able to catch, although you would have a hard time convincing some "dyed in the wool" bass fishermen of this. What some do not realize is that when a dam is being constructed, the water backs up three or four years before the dam is completed, thus giving the bass this time fro growing and spawning. The white bass are usually a little slower than the black bass in getting thickly populated, but in Beaver I saw several schools of whites about six inches long and occasionally a school of larger ones that would weight a pound.

We stopped by a couple of these and would catch two or three before they would go down again. I did not understand where so many white bass came from until Smokey Dacus, who talks of nothing but hunting and fishing on his daily radio program in Rogers, explained to me that they came up from Lake Table Rock early one year to spawn, passed through the chute at Beaver, and were denied the chance to return.

After lunch, we returned to the lake with a good supply of ice water because by this time the temperature had reached 90 degrees. I carried John and Pete in my boat and left Ralph at the dock to join us later. We decided to see my good friend G.O. Tilley, owner and operator of the Horseshoe Bend Dock.

After stopping to try a couple of schools of white bass, we pulled in at G.O.'s dock to visit with him and wait for the cool of the evening before continuing fishing.

G.O. is one of the most accomplished fishermen I know. He fished for the past fifteen years on Bull Shoals and has probably taught more people how to fish than anyone else I know. If you have not listened to him tell bass stories, you have missed a real treat.

We spent a couple of hours with him and he never ceased reliving his fishing trips. I am sure he could go on with them for days and the last story would be as interesting as the first. But there is a time for talk and a time for action, so we cranked our motor and started looking for more schooling bass. At dark we returned to the dock with fifteen nice black and four whites.

Beaver will have seven boat docks when all are completed. Six are now in operation with adequate facilities such as boats, motors, and gas. The six in operation are: Prairie Creek Boat Dock, located approximately five minutes from Rogers, on Highway 12; Horseshoe Bend Boat Dock, about nine miles southeast of Rogers; Lost Bridge, located mear the dam and temporarily operating out of the Indian Creek public use area, approximately eight miles south of Gateway, Arkansas; Rocky Branch Boat Dock, located on the southeast side of the lake, just off Highway 12; Starkey Boat Dock, located off Highway 62 approximately five miles southwest of the dam; and Hickory Creek Boat Dock on Highway 264. The War Eagle Boat Cock on Highway 68 east of Springdale, is in the early stages of construction.

If you should want to try your luck at this new lake, I am sure you will be happy with you catch. You will find good accommodations at any of the towns located around the lake.

© 2009 Bryan Miller