Stephanie has been in charge of setting our morning alarm during this trip. We needed it today, as we had plans to go trout fishing at 5:30am. The only problem is that Stephanie has a love affair with the snooze button. So we got to hear the alarm sound 26 times before she finally turned it off.
Much to our family’s credit, everybody got up without any fuss, got dressed & fed, and we made it to our appointed meeting spot by 5:30. We were meeting a friend of my Dad’s, Bryan, along with his daughter and his father, Jerry. Jerry is an “expert” trout fisherman, and he and Brian were to be our guides today.
We had our introductions in the parking lot of the visitors center. Jerry is a live wire and was not afraid to tell bad fishing jokes the entire morning. (An example: I finally quit fly fishing. I never could figure out how to cook them.)
Jerry normally does not fish during the summer, but he agreed to show us the ropes this morning. As we are not what you call a fishing family, we picked the right fellow as our guide. He had more than enough “rigs” (this is what an expert fisherman calls a fishing pole) for our entire group of 9 people, plus the three of them.
With a little instruction and placement, we were soon casting our lines from one of the bridges covering a spillway. The trout like fast moving water, and we found it. There was no shortage of nature, either. Down the river a short distance, there were several deer at the edge of the water, and a large bird that Scott identified as a stork (although it is possible it was some type of heron).
Unfortunately, in complete defiance of our fishing skills and hand-picked location, the fish were not biting here. Not to worry, Jerry did not waste any time in loading us up and we moved on to a second location.
We found another bridge and spillway and set up our operation there. Unlike Saturday morning, when Stephanie and I were running over these very bridges, there were no other fisherman out. Both of these bridges were crawling with fisherman on Saturday.
Again, the trout paid us no heed. Not only were we not catching anything, we were not getting any bites either.
Jerry moved us again, this time to a scenic stream. We also found some other fisherman. This spot was actually pretty busy. Our group split up and we revved up our efforts again.
At least at this spot, I would occasionally get my hook caught on some rocks. For a split second, I could imagine that a trophy trout was on the other end of my line.
Nobody in the group had any luck here either. By all accounts, Bryan’s daughter Larissa is a talented fisherman and it is not uncommon for her to have great success even when nobody else can catch anything. But even Larissa was shut out this morning. It can happen to the best of us.
Perhaps the most excitement of the morning was when the Broken Bow High School cheerleaders showed up at our fishing hole. This group of 20 or so young ladies, fully decked out in black & gold uniforms and pom pons, were taking their picture in the middle of the trout stream. Perhaps this partly explains our lack of success, unless trout are deaf.
After several hours of fishing, we said our farewell to Jerry and Bryan. Our lack of production does not reflect on their enthusiasm or knowledge. Thanks guys! We appreciate you spending the morning with us!
We made a quick stop at the Ouachita National Forest Visitor Center after our fishing trip. The building looked brand new, but the center itself was pretty small. It was full of dead, stuffed animals, including a full grown beaver. After feeling that beaver pelt, don’t be surprised if my next coat is made of beaver. It was incredibly soft.
We made it back to the lodge by 10am. And as the ultimate example of the pace of this vacation, every adult took a nap. By 1:00, everybody was up & around and we looked forward to our next stop – Grateful Head Pizza Oven & Tap Room.
The Oklahoman newspaper recently reviewed the Beavers Bend area and highlighted several businesses there. Grateful Head was one of these businesses and we made sure it was on our list of places to visit.
We ordered four large pizzas and tried several of their beers on tap. Although I need to point out that they were out of our first two choices – Choc and Leinenkugal.
The pizza shop itself is a former school house that was brought on-site from its original location in east Texas. It was fairly small inside and we had trouble finding a spot for all 9 of us to sit together, until a nice family moved tables to make room for us.
The pizza was excellent and we would definitely recommend this place. Our waiter was very nice and even opened up the gift shop next door so we could spend some more money there.
It is interesting that all morning back at the lodge, we could not connect to the internet. Grateful Head offered complimentary wifi, but we could not connect to it either. While paying for our souvenirs, we heard a sound from the past – a dialup modem. Apparently, the entire area’s internet was down, so even the local businesses had to use dialup to process their debit card transactions. If this had happened in San Francisco, it would make headlines. In Hochatown, Oklahoma, it’s just another day in paradise.
Following up our lunch was a trip directly across the street to Girls Gone Wine. This business buys grape juice concentrate from all over the world, then ferments, bottles, and sells the wine on-site. They have an extensive gift shop that caters exclusively to women.
We made our way to the wine tasting area and tried out a selection of their sweet wines. Being the wine connoisseurs that we are, the hostess made sure to use descriptive words like “jolly rancher” to describe the wines’ flavor to us.
Several of us actually bought a bottle of wine to enjoy back home. Girls Gone Wine can ship wine out of state, but if you live in Oklahoma, the only way you can get a bottle is to visit their store.
We ended the day by heading back to the marina and taking the boat out for another spin. Mallory had been lobbying to work on her water skiing skills some more, and we all wanted to use the boat again.
We made it to a nearby cove and half of our group stayed and splashed around there. Erin, Stephanie, Miles, Mallory and I took the boat out for some more skiing.
This go round, Stephanie stayed in the water and gave the kids personal coaching on skiing. Her expert coaching and Erin’s expert driving did the trick. Both Mallory and Miles both got up on their skis today.
Mallory was the first one up and she got some showing off in, by hanging onto the rope with one hand and waving to me with her other hand.
Knowing that Mallory had got up on skis, we knew Miles had a strong incentive to get up also. Miles was soon skiing around the lake himself. Not to be outdone by Mallory, he was crouching down and dipping one hand in the water while holding onto the rope with the other.
Stephanie also did some expert water skiing and fully impressed all of us by ditching one ski and going for quite a while on one ski. Way to go, Stephanie, the Slalom Queen!
I told the kids how disappointed I was that I didn’t have the camera with me to capture their great job, only to find out later that the camera was right next to me on the boat. Parenting fail.
We did not make it back to the lodge until 8:30. We enjoyed an every-man-for-himself leftover frenzy, and finished off the day with a game of Mexican Train Dominos.
It was a long day. Perhaps we won’t mind Stephanie’s love of the snooze button tomorrow.