On The Road Again. After spending most of the winter in
Central Texas, we've hit the road again.
While we had lots of fun in Texas this winter, we didn't keep up
the pace of our adventures to the extent that we could generate a
January/February newsletter. We got real busy in March and that
month just flew by. So we've skipped a couple of issues. Now that
we're cruising again, we're back in the story telling mode.
Texas Winter Summary. We pulled back into Austin on October
18 and didn't leave Central Texas until February 26. We did a lot
in 4 months: consulting projects, garage sales, moving-out, and
enjoying our Austin family.
From mid October thru the first of the year we split our time
between our house in Austin and our trailer, which we parked on
the banks of the Guadalupe River.
In November and December, Cyndie, who just can't keep away from
Texas politics, did a consulting project for State Comptroller
John Sharps' Texas Performance Review (TPR) on how the state
Meanwhile, Jeff started getting the house ready to rent. He
organized a massive garage sale and held it over Thanksgiving
weekend. We sold LOTS of stuff. If we could only have back all of
the money we've wasted on unneeded stuff in life, we'd be rich.
For Christmas, we flew up to Oklahoma and visited Jeff's parents
After the first of the year we moved the trailer back to our back
yard in Austin and began to focus on moving out of the house.
On the first of February longtime friend and co-worker, Margana
Nalley and her family moved into our house. We moved the trailer
back down to the Guadalupe River. We're officially homeless.
In February, we split our time between fishing on the Guadalupe
River and on another consulting project. This time we both worked
on a report to TPR on streamlining the way the state of Texas
regulates grocery stores.
February also marked several memorable events with Cyndie's
family. On February 12, Cyndie's father, Emmett Shelton, Jr.
celebrated his 65th birthday. On the same date, Cyndie's
grandfather, Emmett Shelton, Sr. celebrated his 91st birthday and
the release of his first novel. This eventful date in Shelton
family history was celebrated with a large party in Westlake
Hills, the community founded by the Shelton family.
Later in February, Cyndie's parents, Emmett Jr. and Jeanette,
joined us at our camp on the Guadalupe River. Emmett and Jeff took
the boat out for a little spinfishing. We cooked a good barbecue
dinner and Emmett caught and released 2 nice rainbow trout.
By the end of February we were feeling anxious to get on the move
again. So, we hit the road for another round of adventure.
Guadalupe River Trout -
The Guadalupe River in Central Texas has been near and dear to our
hearts for many years. We've been very active in the Guadalupe
River Trout Unlimited Chapter for quite some time. We've been
fortunate to be a part of what has been an incredible private
effort to literally build a trophy trout fishery from scratch on
The fruits of our efforts on the Guadalupe were evident this year.
The fishing was better than we have ever seen it. We were
fortunate enough to have enjoyed many very good days of fishing.
But even better, more people than ever visited the Guadalupe and
rewarded us with the smiles of their enjoyment of the river.
For the past several years we have worked with the Texas Parks and
Wildlife Department on studies of the Guadalupe River. Our goal
has been to get the fishing regulations on the river changed in a
way that will further advance the development of this fishery. In
April, there will be a major TP&W public hearing on this issue on
New Braunfels. We plan to return to Central Texas to speak at this
Boat Loading Made Easy
- From the moment we started planning this adventure, Jeff has
been obsessed with the boat we use to access the waters we fish.
Our custom designed cataraft, while fully portable, weighs almost
300 pounds when fully assembled and rigged to fish. That's a bit
too heavy for us to carry for any distance.
The disassembled boat packs nicely in bags on the roof of the
trailer for long-distance travel, but when we get to camp, we need
some way to carry to boat back and forth to the river.
Since we pull a 5th wheel trailer with our truck, having a boat
trailer along to assist us with handling the boat presents some
difficulty. We can only tow one trailer at a time.
Some of you may remember our story last summer of Jeff's first
invention to solve this problem. He developed a unique system for
carrying a small boat trailer vertically on the back of our 5th
wheel trailer. However, the system failed when a weld on the
trailer structure broke. This system fell off onto I-35 near Round
Rock the first day of our trip last summer.
So all last summer we moved the boat by doing what it took to lift
it up to a rack we built on the bed of the truck. This took us
30-45 minutes to load and unload the boat each day and exposed
both of us and the boat to potential injury. When we got back to
Austin for the winter, it was time for Jeff to go engineering
another solution to this problem.
Calling on the expertise of a couple of former business
associates, Craig McDougald and Bill, Jeff designed a very unique,
and this time successful, boat loader. This system uses a small,
remote controllable, electric winch which is mounted in the bed of
the pickup. The winch pulls the boat up a set of ramps onto a rack
on the back of the pickup. The ramps and pickup rack were custom
fabricated of lightweight aluminum channel. The system goes
together with clevis pins and can be assembled on the pickup bed
rails in about 5 minutes.
We tried out the new boat loader on our trip to the White River
and the field trials were very successful. We can now load and
unload the fully rigged boat in just a few minutes. By
transporting the boat on the back of the truck, rather than on a
trailer, we have more flexibility about where we can take and
launch the boat. Many of the backcountry sites we use for put-ins
or take out's simply don't have boat ramps and the terrain is too
rough for even a small trailer.
This system has taken a lot of Jeff's brain power. He relied
heavily on the design and fabrication capabilities of his friends.
Hope you get a chance to see it the next time you join us for a
- We figured that nobody tells a big fish story better than
President Bill Clinton so we headed over towards the Whitewater
Development on the White River in North Central Arkansas to get
some inspiration. We spent three weeks in early March in the area
fishing and rafting.
The White River below Bull Shoals Dam has earned a reputation as a
world class brown trout fishery. After hearing that brown trout
over 10 pounds were common and fish up to almost 40 pounds (a
world record) had been caught on this river, we headed over hoping
for a species personal best.
By now, we've been to a lot of rivers and have developed the
ability to learn how to fish new water within a couple of days.
But, the White River presented an unfamiliar challenge.
The operational procedures of the dam on the White River make
fishing a unique challenge. The dam contains 8 electrical power
generators. It is what is known as a "peak power generating
facility". This means it generates the extra power needed by many
cities in this area of the country (like Dallas, Tulsa, Oklahoma
City, and others). Therefore, any of all of the generators may be
releasing water at any time. When the city folks come home from
work all at once and turn on the AC, the dam is changed from 0
unit to 8 units. It rises almost 10 vertical feet, sometimes in a
matter of minutes. One minute this river is a small wadeable trout
stream and the next minute it is a seriously big river.
Besides the safety concerns this creates, this means the White
River is really 3 or 4 different types of river, depending the
level of the water releases and whether the level is rising or
falling. It took us a while to figure out what to do with the ever
changing conditions on the White.
After about a week of real high water and real cold weather (a
high of 15°
on two days) we
finally started to figure things out. Soon we were wading and site
casting to trout below the dam when the water was low and floating
our cataraft down the river when it was up. We soon learned that
the White River was a very good place to catch large rainbow
trout. But, it wasn't rainbows we had come after. We were looking
for the big brown trout that obviously hadn't gotten to be world
record class by being easy to catch.
We spent almost 2 weeks on the White River looking for the
personal best brown trout. Before we left we did hook up and land
a couple of dozen brown trout. The largest of these fish were in
the 3 to 4 pound range, a nice fish anywhere in the world. But,
not the fish we had come looking for. It is hard to be
disappointed at the outcome of the trip when we did catch a lot of
real nice rainbows, some in the 4 to 5 pound range.
Our floats on the White River were full of wildlife sightings,
mostly birds. See Cyndie's Wildlife Sighting Report for the
While fishing in the White River area, a local fishing guide Fox
Statler introduced us to the nearby Norfolk River (Arkansas drawl
for North Fork of the White River). This river was more attractive
to our interests. While still controlled by a peak power
generating dam, it was a much smaller river with characteristics
that reminded us of our home waters on the Guadalupe. It was about
30 minutes from our campsite on the White River and we chose to
visit it on several days during the trip. Cyndie caught four
varieties of trout in one day including a beautifully colored 14
inch brook trout. Overall, the fishing was consistently better and
more enjoyable on the Norfolk than the White.
And now, back to the title of this article, we did see the now
famed Whitewater property. We drove and floated by this property,
which is nothing more than a pretty piece of river bank with only
a couple of houses along it. It isn't marked as Whitewater and you
wouldn't know it from any of the other miles of river bank
property on the White if a local didn't tell you that was it. We
didn't catch any fish along this stretch of the river. So, just
like everything else Slick Willy has gotten us into, we got
My Mother the Bartian.
One of the main reasons we decided to take a break at this point
in our lives was to spend more time with our parents. Not only are
we still young and healthy enough to be able to get out and do
some of the things we enjoy, but we are both blessed by having our
parents alive and well enough to share quality time with us.
Jeff's parents live in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, a small community
in the northeast area of the state. Bartlesville is best known as
the world headquarters of Phillips Petroleum. Jeff's Dad, Pete,
worked for Phillips all of his professional career and has now
retired in Bartlesville with Jeff's mother, Rosemary. Even though
people in Bartlesville abbreviate the name of the city as B'Ville,
for some reason they don't refer to themselves as B'Villians, but
rather as Bartians (rhymes with Martians).
Anyway, we got up to Bartlesville a couple of times in March. On
our way back from the White River we were joined in Bartlesville
by Jeff's brother Dan and his wife Chapel. They brought with them
our new niece, Kristin Nichole, and her 4 year old sister, Sarah.
Both nieces are near perfect little people, with their only minor
faults being explained by their genetic link to Uncle Jeff. Aunt
Cyndie is attempting to undue this damage by coercing Sarah into
growing up just like her.
Campground Recap. When we
left off in our November newsletter we were at River Valley
Campground on the banks of the Guadalupe River in Central Texas.
Here's where we've stayed since then:
Our Own Backyard - We moved "home" in January to get the
house ready for Margana to move into. We lived in the backyard
"duplex-style" for a week or so after the Nalley's moved in.
River Valley Campground, Sattler, TX - We moved back down
on the Guadalupe River to get in a little more Central Texas
winter trout fishing before we moved on. We also used these 3
weeks to get ourselves back in shape running along the river and
working out at the Sunroom Fitness Center in Sattler.
Crestview RV, South of Austin - We spent a couple of nights
here just before we hit the road while we took care of a little
last minute business in Austin.
Roadrunner Campground, Oklahoma City, OK - Just a stopover on
the way from Austin to Bartlesville. We were going to stop in
Dallas but it started to snow, so we pushed on before it started
Osage Hills State Park, Bartlesville, OK - We have a
favorite spot in this campground about 20 minutes from Jeff's
parents house. Secluded, oak covered hills in Indian country. This
time of year we had the place to ourselves, and a few park
rangers. It makes going to visit the folks like a wilderness
White River Campground, Cotter, AR - We stayed here one
night the first night we got to the White River. Just a stopover
but it was across from our down river take out for many floats.
Bull Shoals State Park, Lakeview, AR - We stayed here for
17 days. Once again, lucked into the prime site in the whole
campground. The White River was right out the back window.
Cherry Hill Mobile Home/RV Park, Tulsa, OK - Jeff got a
chance to visit his boyhood fishing buddy, Bill Boydston, so we
stopped over in this real nice park on the Arkansas River, just SW
of downtown Tulsa.
Osage Hills State Park, Bartlesville, OK - Back to our
favorite site in B'ville again for our visit with Jeff's brother
Dan and his family.
Beavers Bend State Park, Broken Bow, OK - Another nice site
on the water and close to good fishing on the Mountain Fork River.
Hometown Press - To our
friends in Austin, we hope you caught the full page, full color,
feature on Cyndie and Jeff fishing on the Guadalupe River in the
February 25, Austin American Statesman.
To those of you who missed it, what started out to be an article
on Trout Unlimited efforts on the Guadalupe River expanded to
include a feature on our mid-life flyfishing break. Outdoor sports
writer Mike Leggett wrote a fantastic piece on us and included a
couple of nice color photos he took. We spent a good day fishing
with Mike and really appreciate his sharing our experience with
our friends and neighbors in Austin.
And, Don't Change that Dial We also expanded the TV coverage of
our flyfishing adventures. Texas Parks and Wildlife video producer
Kevin Benz taped us flyfishing for a video he produced about the
Guadalupe River. This 2 minute news feature will be distributed
Getting it on the Dish. Since we
first took off for fulltime living in our trailer, we have been pretty much
disconnected from the world in quite a few ways. Most of last summer, while in
high mountain campsites, we had little or no TV reception. There were actually
quite a few benefits to not knowing what was going on in the world on a daily
Leave it to technology to come along and screw that up. Next thing you know
we've gone out and bought one of these new digital satellite dish systems.
And, you know, it works pretty slick on an RV.
Take for instance right now. We're in the mountains of North Central Arkansas
and our regular TV antenna can get us one channel of Bart Simpson in a
snowstorm, if the weather is clear and we point it just right. Instead, here
we sit with 100+ channels of TV programming. There still isn't anything good
on, but we're up to date on all of the wonderful things that have happened in
this crazy, cruel world. We have access to as many sitcoms, soap operas and
old movies as one could possibly want. At least with over a hundred channels,
there is almost always a fishing show on somewhere.
Our mobile satellite system works really slick. The dish was designed to be
portable and Jeff added 100' of cable on it. We just tote the dish anywhere
around the campground we need to go to see the satellite (it won't see through
the trees). The electronics are built into the cabinetry of the RV. A system
of remote controls allows us to use the TV in the living room and the bedroom.
One of the best parts of the whole deal is the music programming that comes
along for free with the TV programming. We have 20 stations of commercial free
music in a variety of formats. Several jazz and soft rock stations have become
favorites. We have the audio output of the satellite system tied into the RV
stereo system. So, with this disk, we're jammin'.
If you're going to watch TV anyway, this new satellite TV system is just the
ticket. The music programming alone was worth the cost to us.
Cyndie's Wildlife Sightings.
One of the keys to having a great time on a fishing trip, whether you are
catching fish or not, is learning to appreciate the total experience of being
on the river. If you're near the water in any area, it is a cinch you are
going to see a lot of birds and wildlife. It is amazing how, after a whole day
of catching little or no fish, one great wildlife sighting can make the day.
The White River in Central Arkansas was particularly rich in water bird life.
Most of the bird sighting report here came from there.
A Bald Eagle cruised the sky above us and then came and landed in a tree right
next to us on the Norfolk.
Canadian Geese, headed north for the summer, were staging along the river.
Snow Geese, very big, noisy, and pushy visitors on the White River.
Red Headed Woodpeckers were tapping in the trees all around our campground at
Several Blue Heron rookeries (group of active nests) were seen along the banks
of the White. Breeding season resulted in the most brilliant coloration of the
herons that we had ever seen.
A Ground Hog (Marmot, Whistle Pig or other small furry animal) took great
pleasure in teasing Rowdy in our campground at Bull Shoals.
A Red Fox was sighted along the road.
Bluebirds were in the trees at several of our campsites.
Never Mess Around with
a Man's Fishin' Hole. A lesson most definitely learned this winter.
We've been very active in Trout Unlimited now for several years. This year, we
got even more involved since we had lots of time to dedicate to our goal of
turning the Guadalupe River into a quality trout stream. Yes, this was
supposed to be about fishing and fishing is supposed to be fun. But, not
everything turned out that way.
First there was Jeff's idea to embrace the commercial interests in the
Guadalupe River trout fishery, like the trout fishing guides, and try to get
them more involved in the TU programs. That led to turmoil within the chapter
Then, there was the battle to get Texas Parks and Wildlife to change the
fishing regulations on the Guadalupe River. While TP&W proposed the
regulations based on sound science and the promise of a trophy trout fishery
within years, the proposal lead to a landowner revolt. Many TU members and
landowners along the river met in a tense public hearing in New Braunfels.
Landowners charged that TU members were elitist, flyfishing, SOBS that wanted
to take total control of the Guadalupe River. Negative stories ran in the
local newspaper. Essentially, landowners were not willing to give up their
"right" to fish for catfish with bait off their dock, no matter how good the
trout fishing could be.
Both of these run-ins (over the guides issue and over the regulation) were
driven by peoples' instinct to protect their own personal interests, at all
costs. In this case, if it was going to impact their fishin' hole, it couldn't
possibly be a good idea, regardless of the benefits to everybody else.
So, we took off for two years to go fishing and have some fun. Instead, the
tension is creeping back in. How did we get into this anyway? Is this stress I
feel creeping back in?
Previews of Coming Attractions.
In April we're off on the beginning of our trek to Alaska. It's a bit early to
get all of the way into the north country right off, so we'll be making a few
stops along the way. Check your schedule and see if you'd like to join us
In mid-April we'll be in Moab, Utah for a 3 day River Skills course and some
At the end of April we're
headed over to the Green River in the Flaming Gorge of Utah for some fishing.
This was one of our favorite stops from last summer.
Early May takes us back south a bit to Lee's Ferry in Arizona on the Colorado
River below Lake Powell. We'll be checking out what happened after the great
man-made flood you may have seen on TV.
The end of May we'll head up through Montana. We plan to visit the Missouri
River and Glacier Nat'l Park along the way.
Early June will take us into Canada, where we plan to fish the Bow River
outside Calgary and stop off in Jasper.
By mid-June we expect to be in Alaska. We already have one guest confirmed to
meet us in Anchorage. Who'll be next?
Stay tuned for reports on a 7 day fly-in, float-out trip into Alaska's
backcountry, a trip to the Kenai Peninsula and a drive up the Denali Highway.
The adventure continues!
New Boat Loader
A Visit to Whitewater
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