Invasive Species

It’s 10 am. Your shaded eyes are open as the warming sun lights up your face and glistening arms, lining the water surface with sparkling dotted reflections and the tree tops with a golden coating . You are standing knee deep in a river, somewhere. The wind gently brushes the hair that sticks out your hat to the side of your face. Only the sounds of water, birds, bugs, and faint engines of planes thousands of feet off the ground are what you hear.
Ahh, the peace. The serenity. The…suddenly the still water you have been standing in begins to ripple like that scene in Jurassic Park. You remember! The one where the kids are in the car all by themselves and the cup of water begins to vibrate with distinct intervals. boom. First ripple is surprising but it was probably just a bug you tell yourself. Boom. Second ripple is alarming as you look around and see no signs of water disruption. BOom. Third ripple the sky begins to darken and clouds cover your once quiet and comforting sun. BOOM. Then you cautiously turn to gaze at the rivers bend and notice it. RAFTERS!!! Hundreds of them. Charging this way. Coolers, palm tree swim trunks, cheap light beer. Oh the horror. Someone please tell me I have teleported into a Jaws movie and some Great White is about to come jetting out of the water and begin feeding on the (not-so) innocent tubers, cause that would be epic! But, no. No such luck! Standing there, dumbfounded watching yellow and orange speckles of hard, water proof plastic half crushed by  every all you can eat restaurants  target market meander down this once beautiful, peaceful body of water. I can hear the river moan like a mountain mule as it’s being packed with 5 times it’s capacity carry.
Rafters!  The ultimate invasive species. The truest form of a fisherman’s arch nemesis camouflaged by friendly waves and colorful swimsuits. But do not be fooled. Sure the zebra mussel and lamprey eel are top of our list too. But when was the last time you saw a Zebra Mussel tote a cooler full of Coors light down a river and then following after it are 20-30 floating empties as a sign of either early on set alcoholism or a genuine distaste in water and appreciation for the environment. And when was the last time you saw a Lamprey Eel half naked screaming all the way down the river while getting out every once and a while to pee in the direction of a fisherman’s cast?

What happen to manners? And sportman’s etiquette. Just as a moving boater slows to pass an anchored boater avoiding risk of waves and disruption, so should the mannerisms of a rafter to a fishermen. And vice versus. You don’t see me climbing in that tube of yours mister Rafter and polluting it do you? So, why piss on my fish parade? Ok, so we got a little heated. Not all rafters are bad. But just wait until you check out the photos.

Ok so you’re probably thinking, “you should know better Riverbums to set foot in rafting waters.” Well turns out this river, the Little Wolf near Appleton Wi, is “usually” open for rafting downstream from the main bridge. But, due to massive rains and high water level, they decided (unbeknownst to us) on offering rafting above the main bridge. First time in 5 years. Great! So for a good 4 hours we put up with the rafts that just kept coming. Don’t get us wrong, we are all for enjoying a nice raft down a beautiful river. However, this was just a crowd of rafts, everybody bunched up together barely floating down like a wet pile of soft cotton stuck in-between 2 boulders. I almost felt embarrassed for them. At times, we had to wait by a boulder or on the side of the banks in fear we would get run over. Cause, it’s not like you can properly steer a raft, especially someone you can barely see their toes over their belly and has been drunk since 6 am.

We enjoy seeing the occasional kayaker or tuber. But, this wasn’t just a good ole fashion day in the water. We counted close to a hundred empty beer cans, 8 pairs of sandals, 4 sunglasses, and a suspicious looking pair of black speedoes left to rot in the water. It’s a shame that people can’t pack out what they pack in. Especially ones just lying back doing not much of anything. Like the NY Subway on monday morning work rush or the Chicago 94 spur on a Sunday evening in early Summer or even the fast lane at Six Flags… it was too damn crowded. So, we fished for a few more hours, racking in about 10 smallies, 2 northerns, and ok we’ll admit it, a few “miscasts” towards tubers. We decided to pack it in when we noticed 5 more buses full of invasive species but not before we snapped a view memories of the day…

A rafting fan recognized us from Outdoor Network as we had finished packing up and asked to take our picture, he sent it from his camera phone. Dad wasn’t smiling, but I whispered before the photo snapped, “When should we tell him that we have to confiscate the camera?” and he laughed right on schedule…
The Last Fisherman

The Reverend AC preaching repentance and salvation to a small group of rafters

AC at a pass with the rafters. Get ready for the questions…

And now for questions we get asked by rafters and the answers we wish we could use…

  1. “Are you guys Fishin?” No Flounder, we’re playing poker!
  2. “How’s the fishing?” Awful (cause if you say good, they’ll come back and this time with a rod too.)
  3. “What you fishing for?” Rafters
  4. “Catch anything?” Ya, Rafters
  5. “Is that a girl” No, that’s just a side effect of raftsickness. You better get out immediately, and bushwhack the rest of the way through tick infested brush as you trespass in a gun toting, Vietnam veteran’s farmland who is hiding in one of the trees waiting for an intruder. And nothing says easy target than a half naked man carrying a bright yellow tube and toting Coors light  reflectors.
Dad with a glowing smallie
MidAir Bass
A northern on spinner bait

Since we still had a day left off, we decided to jam pack it with fun events like half a day in the Apple River and half a day at the famous Oshkosh Airshow…

AC in the Apple River for a quick wade
Shot from the OshKosh Airshow – Taken by Dad
An amazing reflection shot by Dad
Cast Away,
AC & Dad

2 thoughts on “Invasive Species

  1. Aaah, rafters. Get them every Shad season on the American River. Sacramento County has an ordinance that there is no booze allowed on the river on holiday weekends and when ever they decide to ban it like the "rafters gone wild" day. Personally I'd get a small pen knife and as you palm it stab a bunch (of rafts, not rafters although that would be OK too). You can tell them the fish did it.

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