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Kevin Short: Mud Bunnies

4/27/2009

Somewhere between Lake Wheeler and the Upper Chesapeake Bay, the mud became almost comical.

It's like everywhere we've been this season, there's been a little black cloud (or two or three) that would show up and rain on our derby. Sometimes it might rain for a day or a couple of days, or every other day, or three days in a row; but there's been rain at every stop.

Having a drought? Who you gonna call? Bassmasters — Drought Busters Extraordinaire.

This has been one of those crazy seasons where you start every morning in Gore-Tex and many days, you finished the afternoon in the same clothes, if not more. Every one of us has the Handyman Tan — bronze from the neck up and the wrist down. And that's all.

We should change the name from the "Elite Series" to the "Brown Hands Tour." I left home four weeks ago with seven pairs of shorts. I have yet to put one pair of them on my body. It's been cold and raining or just raining or just cold almost every day of every event so far.

This season, I've become much more aware of the mud around me. Its consistency, its color, and its squishiness. Obviously, different dirt makes different mud. Pretty interesting to pull into a campground, take a look at the dirt, and be able to tell what type of mud would be formed within a matter of hours of our arrival. I've become somewhat of a mud authority.

Lake Amistad hadn't seen rain since the previous October until we showed up. Drought problem solved, as the region received several inches in a matter of hours. In addition to the rain, the high on Day One was 45 degrees; it's rarely that cold down there, and even rare for as long as it was that week.

We also had mud in Del Rio. I'm not sure that I've ever seen mud in Del Rio. It's usually just limestone dust on the dirt roads. Limestone dust on everything, for that matter. It's the desert, for cryin' out loud. Dust was not a problem this year, though. We had soft, limestone mud.

Lake Dardanelle had rain; lots of rain. It rained cats and dogs and chickens and turkeys. The grass in the state park really hadn't started to grow well yet, so we had mud.
Even with the paved pads in the campground, there was still mud. A nice red clay mud. Red clay mud that stuck to everything. Red clay mud that was hard to get off of everything. Almost like it had some kind of bonding agent that helped it stick.

Mud on the truck. Mud in the truck. Mud on the boat. Mud in the boat. Mud on the boat trailer. Mud in the camper. Mud on shoes. Mud on clothes. I've had mud this season in places I wasn't aware you could get mud. How do you get mud on baits in boxes in your boat? How does that happen?

Lake Wheeler had some of the hardest rainfall I've ever seen in my life. The afternoon of Day One, it was raining every direction at once. Before that Thursday afternoon, I had never been outdoors when it was raining so hard I felt that I was drowning, there was so much rain in the air.

Point Mallard Campground had some water on it, to say the least. It also had mud. Sort of a dark, loamy mud. Barely mud, as there was quite a bit of sand mixed in with it, but still mud. Thanks to the sand content, it wasn't very sticky, though.

The first Northern Open on the Upper Chesapeake Bay had three days of light, but steady rain (with highs in the mid 40s). Elk Neck State Park Campground had some of the soggiest ground I've seen.

You would squish water out from under your feet when you walked across it. It also had mud. Hard to stay off the grass (mud) when the camp pads are narrow. You have a tendency with the 3500 dually to cut the corners on it a little when you pull in and out of the pad.

Cut corners = mud. A light grayish tan clay mud in the campground and in the parking lot at the marina. Somehow we managed to run the truck and boat through the mud and we had mud up to the center of the wheels on one side.

We did finally get a break in the pattern the competition days of the Open, when we had three absolutely beautiful days. Morning lows were in the 30s but the afternoons warmed into the 70s by the end of the week. While the weather was wonderful, it also baked the mud onto the truck and boat.

Now we're at Smith Mountain Lake State Park and — surprise! — it's raining. Fortunately, they've done some improvements at the park and dumped several tons of gravel on many of the sites here.

Even with the rain, it looks like the mud may not be that bad. I'm being optimistic here and hoping that the mud bowl is over. If not, it appears that the mud here will be somewhere in between loamy and clay. A nice, thick brown mud that might not be too sticky.

Maybe I can keep it out of the boat for the week.

For more info on Kevin Short or to contact Kevin, check out his website at www.kfshort.com.