This was my fourth year attending the annual North Central Paralyzed Veterans of America fishing trip in Oacoma, SD (near Chamberlain) and this year I left with quite an adventure. My dad and everyone that is a part of this event look forward to this every year. A lot of times this is the only time we get out fishing throughout the year.
I met up with my captain Larry and Darrlyd bright and early Thursday to head out on a beautiful, sunny South Dakota day. We were happy to see the sun since it had been raining ALL week. The boat Larry had was beautiful. It had every bell and whistle you could think of and a lot of room for my chair in the back. It was a sparkly, silver brand new Ranger boat. Most of the boats going out are beautiful, but my boat was less than a year old. This was also Larry and Darrlyd’s first time attending the PVA fishing trip. We were second out on the water and took off right away down river. Now, I know a few points on the river from fishing it the last few years, but a lot of the scenery and water looks the same so once you get out there a ways, I couldn’t tell you where we were at unless we were close to the two bridges.
Larry’s boat is fast…we went and fished at White Creek for about an hour and with four poles in the water and not a nibble we decided to head down river. I thought we were going to just go a little ways and it doesn’t seem like you are going that far, but Larry was getting up to 55 MPH until we got to a little fishing honey spot and caught fish all day. Larry and Darrlyd were great fun and everyone caught their fair share of fish. Darrlyd and I don’t eat them so more for the other’s in the boat. It was an absolute blast all day.
Now, technically we are supposed to start heading in around 4ish and we needed ONE more fish to reach our limit. Me being the stubborn one that I am wanted to get that last fish. That fish obviously didn’t want to come in our boat so we decided to head in, but there was a slight problem…the big motor wouldn’t start. About an hour early the fish finders lost power, but no one really thought anything of it and we just kept fishing in our honey spot. I even caught a rock, yes a rock! It’s not as easy as you think and usually when you are stock on a rock you lose your tackle, however I got the rock in the boat!
Cell reception on the river is very limited to non-existent. You knew when you had it because every message you received in a no cell spot started going off when you floated to a spot that had a little bit of reception. We are a long ways from where we loaded in the water, I asked and was told about 10 miles. The little motor still worked so we started to head across the river as Larry saw a dock over there on the way out. No one knows we are out as far as we are and we only saw one other boat by us briefly so when I got some cell service I texted my friend Eric that we were stranded with no motor and we were headed to a dock. He got a text back to me he would tell Bob and they were sending out a boat.
We get to the dock and get me out of the boat so they can have a look at the batteries that I was on top of. There were four batteries for this boat. They got the jumper cables out and nothing. This new boat doesn’t start with a key, it has a keypad and nothing was clicking. Lucky for us one of the attendees and his boat crew drove down to this dock we were on and loaded there instead of driving the boat that far. I guess that was huge blessing in disguise because they offered to take Darrlyd back to the truck and boat trailer so we could at least get back. On Darrlyd’s return back he had to stop and help a lady from West Virginia stranded on the road with a dead car. He was able to help fix it and they were both on their way. This all took quite a while. We probably waited a good two hours, if not longer. At least the sun stayed out and it wasn’t too cold. Dad and Larry cleaned the fish so we didn’t have to do that when we returned to Oacoma. When Darryld returned he said they were going to hold some dinner for us and Eric also asked if they should hold something for us. This organization is so wonderful, I knew none of them would let us go without food no matter how late we returned.
It was about a 25 mile drive from the dock we were at which is also known as Elm Creek. I asked a perfect stranger where we were at to get a better idea while we were waiting and it is about a 30-40 minute drive because the first four miles is a country dirt road and it’s only one lane. When I say one lane I mean one lane. Now I am a city girl and have really never been on a country one lane gravel road in my life. What do you do if someone comes the other way? I guess move over in the grass, but since we are pretty much in the middle of nowhere, I highly doubt that is a big problem they have. We didn’t see another vehicle that whole four miles out. I got to go over and through my first cattle guard. Quite the experience and I really don’t know what they are used for. We saw a lot of wild life from deer, snakes, and turkeys to the most beautiful scenery you could imagine. It was definitely country and this city girl loved it.
I didn’t get a lot of photos on this trip for a couple of reasons. We were catching so many fish that it was hard to take time to get my camera out of my bag and due to getting stranded I wasn’t able to get photos of this fish once they were out of the boat. I did take some scenery shots with my iPhone. I guess if you are having so much fun to take photos you can’t go wrong with that.
I am grateful we didn’t have to get towed back down the river the 25 miles and I had Eric’s cell number. I was thinking about that while eating dinner. I am one of the few that uses a manual wheelchair and they are light. They were able to move me throughout the boat chairs and onto the dock fairly easily and lift my chair and put me back in it on the dock. If I had been in a power chair we would have had to been towed back. That would have been an even longer night. Even though it sucks that the boat motor died on this beautiful boat, there is a silver lining to every story. It could have been a lot worse. We all took it well and took it as an adventure. We all made it back safe and that’s what is important.
I am bummed we all missed the dinner and the events following, from the speeches and raffle prizes. I am more bummed my captains missed their first time seeing all this and even more bummed his boat motor died. At least it is still under warranty work. I do believe they had a lot of fun and I hope they come back next year! My boat captain was able to get his box of tools, a gift they gave all the captains.
It was too cold and too windy to go out on Friday. Had I really wanted to I know we could have found someone to take me on the water, but it was freezing on land, I can’t imagine how cold it would have been on the wavy water. A couple went out, but most called it a day and we all headed home early.
I’m already looking forward to going next year. These few days go by way too fast! We are in the stages of possibly planning a big family trip out there this coming August. I have a cousin who has never fished before or seen South Dakota. I hope we can work it out…there is just nothing like fishing on the Mighty Mo! Thanks so much North Central Chapter of the PVA for allowing me to go. We all appreciate it so much!!
For photos of the event please check out the North Central Chapter Paralyzed Veterans of America
Facebook page and my Photobucket
© 2013 Kristina Allen