MO River Camp And Float Trip
fishing tournament is under way. Last weekend, this stretch of the river hosted a catfishing tournament. So ends our fantasy of exploring an "undiscovered" river. Still it's reassuring to know that others are around if we need help.
The river looks full enough, but one of the experienced "river rats" says it is flowing at a piddling 41,300 cubic feet per second (cfs) at Kansas City. That means that about 18 million gallons of water are rolling past Kansas City every minute.
This is about the same level as wildlife advocates would like to see once every few summers to ensure good nesting spots for the least tern. Periodic low flows like this also benefit other wildlife, not to mention people who like to float the river.
Cicadas are serenading us from both banks with hypnotic effect. Miles has kicked back for a siesta. Dan is performing cannonballs off the front deck of his johnboat to stay awake. This is fun, but we are running behind. I start my motor to run downriver and check our camp site.
Rounding the bottom end of the island across from the Conservation Department's Portland Access, I turn up a side channel separating the island from the south bank. Five blue-winged teal take flight. Everything is perfect at the campsite. The sandy beach is four or five feet above water and has driftwood for a fire. I head back upstream to deliver the news and rally the troops.
Our late start and my ambitious mileage goal have meant too much paddling and too little play for those in canoes. I sense some grumbling from members of our modern day Corps of Discovery when I announce that we still have four or five miles to go.
Our home for the night is a 15-acre island cradled in a lazy, six-mile river bend. Once the canoes landed, it was every camper for her or himself. Martha and Joan are lounging on the sand. Tracy and Carolyn are off beach combing. Dan brought out fishing poles and began baiting hooks for Miles and Katherine, who now are hauling in channel catfish. Others are washing off sunscreen and sweat in the gentle current of the side channel. Cold drinks and supper fixings are starting to appear.
Josh and Jim are exploring the complex of low sand bars between the island