Returning to Missouri after three weeks in the Rocky Mountains is a sure way to experience climate shock. Two days after I got back, my brother, Rick, arrived from Texas for a visit. If he was hoping for relief from hot, dry weather, he was surely disappointed. I couldn’t do anything about the weather, so instead I did something to offset it. I suggested that we go wade-fishing. Rick was quick to agree.
We chose a tributary of a tributary of the Osage River for our chilled-out fishing foray. I have a standing invitation from a friend who owns stream frontage there, and a day with a forecast high of 99 degrees seemed like the perfect occasion to accept the offer. The water was cool, and the fish were biting when we arrived around 10 a.m. Rick landed the first fish of the day, a scrappy 10-inch bronzeback, under the bridge where we parked. It went on like that all morning and into the afternoon as we hiked upstream casting small Rapalas, spinners and chug-plugs.
Rick’s tolerance for heat exceeded mine, so around 2 p.m. I found a shady spot where water was seeping from a bed of fine gravel to create a bathtub-sized pool. With my head cradled in the crook of a submerged log and the rest of me floating weightless in cool water, I watched Rick trek out of sight around the next bend in the creek. He returned later (I have no idea how long it was) with tales of pools teeming with hungry fish. I might have been jealous if I hadn’t enjoyed my waterbed nap so thoroughly. By the time we got back to the truck around 4 p.m., my clothes were nearly dry, and I was still pleasantly cool. Rick made one last cast into the bridge pool before packing it in, and another bronze-sided battler nailed his Rapala by way of a farewell.
We both lost count of the smallmouths we caught, along with dozens of sunfish. We were tired and a little sunburned, but neither of us could think of a more pleasant way to spend a sweltering summer day.