Monday, November 24, 2014

Lake Carl Blackwell - 2

An egret seaching along the shore for breakfast.
Lake Carl Blackwell is beautiful. It lies 6.8 miles west of the west edge of Stillwater, OK. It can be found on P.32, Grid D-5 of the DeLorme Oklahoma Atlas and Gazetteer, or P. 47 of the Lakes of Oklahoma map book published by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board and Department of Wildlife Conservation. The lake, facilities, and surrounding lands are owned by the Oklahoma State University. It was built in 1937, is 3,370 acres, with a shoreline of 59 miles. The ravines or canyons the lake filled created a half-dozen fingers that not only give the lake its long shoreline, but also a number of havens for fish and wildlife. All the facilities are concentrated in the southeast corner of the lake, leaving all the rest of the shoreline natural. The surrounding lands are used by OSU for agricultural research. The shoreline is quite varied from mud, gravel, rock ledges, bluffs, reeds, and prairie grass.

There are many obstructions at or just below the surface.  Here
a spine of rock ran a hundred yards or more out into the lake.
The day paddling west along the shoreline was wonderful. I was hoping to get all the way to the bridge at Perry Road. If I could find a way to launch there, I could continue exploring the shoreline without having to backtrack. Unfortunately, with the lake being down about 6 feet, the headwater stream, Stillwater Creek, dried up and left me stranded in mud before the bridge came into sight, but I was close.

In the photo above, as I worked along the shore, I came around a point and found a spine of rock extending a hundred yards or so out into the lake. Rather than running all the way around, it appeared there was a small break between the boulders and the shore. I approached ever more slowly as more and more rocks came into view. I figured I could just inch my way through as I found an opening between the rocks. I was looking into the sun, so my vision was not the best, but proceeded, knowing I could always change my mind and go around in hopefully deeper water. I was half-way through when the rocks all around Buddy suddenly exploded. Some hit the canoe, one came half-way into the canoe, some slid beneath me as I felt them thumping my butt as they squirmed between my thin hull and the bottom, and they all threw a wall of water into the air that thoroughly soaked most of my upper torso. The dozens of rocks turned out to be carp bottom feeding in the shallow water. These fish fascinated me, as they would push themselves further and further into water only a few inches deep. I found one that had dried itself out so much that its gills were out of the water. It would lay over on one side to wet gills on one side, and then roll over after a bit to wet the other side.

A carp feeding in shallow water.
I was on the lake for six hours, but only went 12.5 miles, so obviously enjoyed plenty of time exploring, taking pictures, and even enjoying lunch and a couple rest breaks ashore.  A few flat boulders on the shore gave me a nice place to eat lunch. While there, I wanted to get a picture of Buddy, but I had the 400mm lens on the camera, so had to walk a good distance down the shore to get enough of the canoe in the picture. As I was walking back up the shore, I started hearing someone walking in the water behind me. I turned around to find some cattle that had materialized out of the tall weeds.

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