Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sahoma Lake and Pretty Water Lake Kayaking

Little But Lovely Sahoma Lake
Originally uploaded by FreeWine
Last week Al emailed me about a lake near Sapulpa, Oklahoma called Sahoma Lake. He thought it looked like it might make a good spot for some group paddling trips. Since Sapulpa is about 45 minutes from my house, I think he may be right! Greg was looking for a new spot to fish, so we decided to make a road trip to Sapulpa.

Just two and a half miles from downtown Sapulpa is a large, well equipped recreation area on two small lakes. The larger of the two is Sahoma Lake and it covers about 340 acres.

Sahoma is an excellent kayaker lake for a number of reasons and a bit of a bummer for one reason. Sapulpa doesn't allow any jet ski or ski boats on either lake, so the only wakes you have to deal with are the ones created by our Oklahoma wind. Sahoma offers RV spaces, tent camping, a heated fishing dock, well equipped picnic areas, restrooms and great little bait store with food, drinks, information, permits and more!

Unfortunately, both lakes require boaters to buy local fishing permits (available at the bait shop). I don't like the hassle of local permits, but it is nice to know that they are using the permit money to stock trout, catfish and hybrid panfish in both lakes.

We didn't find time to paddle Sapulpa's other, smaller lake but I bought a Family Permit so I know we will be back. Pretty Water Lake is well named and apparently they mean to keep the water pretty, because the rule is: No Gas Engines on Pretty Water Lake.

Flatwater Paddling AND Trout Fishing Near Tulsa!

The City of Sapulpa stocks Pretty Water Lake twice a month from October through March with Rainbow and Golden Trout. The rest of the year they stock the lake with Channel Catfish and Hybrid Panfish. Naturally, there are good numbers of bass, turtles, cranes, ducks and other wildlife to enjoy at both lakes. Since Pretty Water Lake spills over into Sahoma Lake (see photo above), both lakes get stocked with some great game fish.

Sapulpa has developed two excellent flatwater resources for Oklahoma paddlers and kayak fishing enthusiasts, both within striking distance of Tulsa. Don't be the last to discover these two gems right off Old Highway 75. More Photos of Sahoma Lake & Pretty Water Lake in Sapulpa.

Got any stories of paddling or fishing this area? We would love to hear about it. Just drop us comment on the Oklahoma Road Trips Blog, anytime!

Kayaking T-Shirts

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I Went Kayaking on Salt Creek with My Son

I took Dylan on a Saturday paddling trip on lower Salt Creek near Okmulgee, Oklahoma. Check out our Flickr Set of Salt Creek shots for a few pictures of my young paddler tackling Okmulgee's shady and sheltered flatwater. We will definately be paddling this spot again.

As the fall colors kick-in, Lower Salt Creek should be excellent for kayak photography (the sport camera-makers love). Also, my Dad says there can be quite a bit of rolling whitewater here, when they are releasing water from Dripping Springs. More on that issue later...if I can find someone who knows!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Al Launches Flatwater Paddlers Oklahoma

You may have read some of the recent kayaking trip reports sent in from Al Want an OKC area paddling enthusiast. Now, Al has gone out and setup an interesting new Yahoo! Group for Oklahoma area flatwater paddlers. Here's Al's description of the new group:

"...a member-run group dedicated to those interested in canoing and kayaking the gentler rivers and other bodies of water NOT categorized as extreme whitewater. The group has no membership fees and the only requirement is that you occasionally leave the comfort of your sofa and join others in the enjoyment of outdoor paddling. It's a great way to grow social contacts and have some outdoor fun at the same time. In addition, the group will serve as a source of shared information to help build skills and coordinate activities. Most importantly of all, this is YOUR group. Join in and help promote RECREATIONAL paddling in our area."

That sounds pretty good to me, so I joined up! If you are interested in joining try the link below:

Click here to join flatwaterpaddlersoklahoma
Click to join flatwaterpaddlersoklahoma

... or search for Flatwater Paddlers Oklahoma on Yahoo Groups.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Salt Creek - Okmulgee's Finest Flatwater Paddling

Sunset on Salt Creek
Originally uploaded by FreeWine
Yesterday after work the weather was so mild, I just had to get the kayak wet. I've been paddling at Dripping Springs Lake quite a bit lately because it is so close to my home but the wind has made the water choppy. Since my Dad had been suggesting I try paddling Salt Creek for quite sometime, I decided to give it a try.

Salt Creek

Salt Creek is a deep and narrow creek that runs between Okmulgee's two lakes. There is a nice parking spot and an excellent kayak launch spot right across the road from the Dripping Springs Lake Dam. I paddled from the put-in down to where Salt Creek merges with Lake Okmulgee and then back. I didn't have a GPS but it felt like about 3 miles total. Naturally, there was plenty more water left for paddling, but I wanted to hurry back to the put-in to catch some pictures of the sunset. I think it was worth it.

In my humble opinion, Salt Creek offers the best flatwater, no-current, paddling in Okmulgee County. Salt Creek offers plenty of shade, still waters on a windy day, herons, osprey and other waterfowl all in a long no-wake zone far from the boat racers and jet ski hazards of Lake Okmulgee. Other advantages include plentiful camping and RV facilities at Dripping Springs Lake and Lake Okmulgee and a well paved road that leads to the put-in. Expect to see plenty of beautiful whitetail deer on the road at twilight.

A great spot to canoe or kayak that is just a few miles from my house. In my book, that is a discovery that rivals Columbus!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Failed Seal Launch, New Camera, Okmulgee Osprey

Lake Perception
Originally uploaded by FreeWine
This Thursday I decided to sneak off to Dripping Springs Lake for a little sunset paddling after work. The days are really getting shorter! Just a short time ago, I was leaving at 6:30pm for sunset paddling...these days it pays to leave immediately after work.

Since Dianne hasn't felt like kayaking much lately... I went solo. I always discourage other folks against solo paddling, but my new digital camera arrived Thursday and i just had to get it out on the water.

The camera worked quite well and allowed me to capture a shot of an Osprey hunting on Dripping Springs Lake as well as the picture on this post. Not bad for low light, handheld from onboard my kayak. It was the first Osprey I have ever seen in Okmulgee county.

Why the New Camera?

The truth is I killed my old one in my last solo paddling misadventure. A couple weeks ago, while Dianne was working on the lawn at our river lot, I decided to take a sunset kayak trip on the North Canadian River.

Since the levels have dropped back to normal, our bit of river frontage once again offers an unpleasantly steep spot for launching a boat or even stepping into the water. The last time I paddled here I had to do a seal launch down the steep bank and i made it fine. However, on the next attempt i got to enjoy a refreshing swim. Dianne had to paddle quite a ways downstream to catch up with my boat and paddle but she eventually returned with them. My cell phone and Panasonic FZ7 digital camera found the swim to be more than they could bear.

Cause of Disaster - Poor Paddling and Judgement

As I slid down the riverbank, I could not help but notice how much deeper the bow sunk in the river. Much more river water flowed into the boat from over the bow than the last time. I sort of spaced out on that as it was happening and when the bow finally popped up... I should knew the boat would shift rapidly and I should have braced hard with the paddle. Instead, I tipped over for a swim before paddling the first stroke!

On the previous attempt, when I successfuly made the launch, I noticed water coming in over the bow and decided I should attach my spray skirt before attempting it again. Unfortunately, I didn't heed my own advice. There were many opportunities for me to screw this up less and I missed most of them. I must honestly confess that the only thing i did right was wear my PFD.

Best Prevention - Good Habits

Everyone knows that bad judgement will get you into trouble everytime. However, too often we convince ourselves that we will be protected by our good judgement. Good judgement comes and goes with your moods and company. Good habits are your best bet
for preventing disaster.

Just last year, I was doing all my paddling with someone watching my back. I packed a dry box with me on every trip and kept my electronics safe in dry containers at launch and landing. Over time I have become increasingly careless and the
river saw fit to send me a reminder. My old Panasonic FZ7 is Dead. Long live the new Panasonic Lumix FZ8! I also lost like a million phone numbers that were on my phone, but this is how we learn, right?

TIP: Wear the PFD and use the dry containers especially at launch, landings and rapids.

Reset and Start Again

For the first hour of my paddling session at Dripping Springs Lake, I was terribly worried about killing my new camera. I expected this and working though it was one of my main intentions behind getting on the water as soon as possible with the new Lumix. After all, the camera holds little value for me, if I can't bring myself to take it on the water. That is why I buy fairly inexpensive digital cameras, I want to be able to fearlessly take the with me kayaking anywhere.

Of course, when I was shopping for a replacement camera I was really excited about trying out a new brand. I had my eye on a Fuji, a Cannon or a Nikon. When I did the math, the Panasonic just offered more bang for the buck. There are not too many camera's under $250 that can shoot in at 12x Zoom in RAW format, but the Panasonic Lumix FZ8 makes it easy and affordable.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Nuyaka Creek Wine Festival Saturday

Originally uploaded by FreeWine
I don't expect to get much time for kayaking this weekend...despite the perfect weather forecast and good water levels on both the Illinois River and The Lower Mountain Fork. I even have a new toy to play with: for my 40th birthday Dianne bought me a Pelican Bayou 160 Square Stern Canoe.

However, this weekend is the Nuyaka Creek Winery Harvest Festival. My folks own Nuyaka Creek Winery and they only do two festivals per year, so I like to be on hand to help out.

Thankfully, it should be an excellent day to get outside and mingle with some other Oklahoma wine lovers and maybe I can slip in for a quick paddling session on Sunday. Dianne and I will both be at the festival, if you want to stop talk about Oklahoma kayaking or Oklahoma wine drop by the festival Saturday. We would love to see you there!