Lake Whitney State Park
We arrived at Lake Whitney State Park around 1 p.m. on Friday. After checking in at the park's headquarters, we set up camp in campsite 129 at the end of the Sunset Ridge Camping Loop. We were surprised at how beautiful it was. If a large trailer had occupied the campsite between us and the lake, it would have effectively blocked our view of Lake Whitney. But the campsite was closed for repairs, resulting in a view that would have been worth the price of two campsites.
After setting up camp, I walked across the road hoping to find good fishing spots, but instead, a ledge overlooking thirty feet of jagged ankle-breaking rocks that secured the lake's shore from any laid-back recreation.
The Clay Bank area was not more than 200 yards from our campsite, and the path to the water was easily accessible. From the bank, it was difficult to tell how deep the water was, but I thought I'd try. I attached a pumpkin-seed rubber worm to the end of my line and cast it into the cove. As I reeled in my line, it felt like I was getting nibbles, if not actual strikes. I was encouraged, but after a few casts, I realized the "nibbles" were caused by my hook hanging up on small rocks a few inches beneath the lake's surface.
I tried ten or so different lures but didn't expect to catch any fish in the shallow water until I saw the tail of a 20-inch fish break the surface not far from where I stood on the bank. I felt better about my chances of catching a big fish, but my luck didn't change.
I like catching fish, but I like fishing even more. Just being outside with nature is rewarding enough if you can forget about the bounty and take the time to observe the wildlife that surrounds you. A flock of egrets flew low overhead. A few minutes later, another flock flew by, accompanied by a Blue Heron. I looked around on the shore and found a pile of fish bones from what appeared to be a fine day of fishing. One skeleton was from a good-sized yellow catfish. Only the skull and part of the spine remained. Someone had a savory catfish dinner that night.
After a morning of fishing, we drove to the small town of Whitney to have lunch at the Texas Great Country Cafe & Pie Pantry. The restaurant's name was too long to display on the front of the building, so the sign only read Cafe. We parked our vehicle in the back and walked to the front door.
"Come on in, darlin!" hollered one of the waitresses as we walked through the glass entry door, "Give us a minute to clear a table for you. We've been busy this morning."
"No problem," I replied, "We aren't in a hurry."
"This place is packed. The food must be really good," I whispered to my wife.
A minute later, the waitress returned from another dining area and headed toward us.
"Follow me, hon. I've got a nice table for you two right back here," the waitress said as she walked us to our table. "Do you want to start with some iced tea, sweetie?"
"That sounds mighty good to me," I said.
"How about you, pudin?" she asked my wife.
"Yes, that sounds great."
We studied the menu while she left to prepare our drinks. I had planned to order a salad until I saw a waitress deliver a chicken-fried steak to the table next to us. "That's what I'm getting," I said. My wife poked my belly and smiled, "You really should get the salad." We ordered our food, ate slowly, and got iced teas to-go when we were ready to leave. On our way back to Lake Whitney, we hit the grocery store to stock up on food and supplies.
After we stowed the groceries, we grabbed our camp chairs and sat by the lake most of the afternoon. There were lots of fishing boats that trolled by, but we never saw anyone catch a fish. It would have been fun to watch someone get that big strike and land that trophy bass!
It was getting to be time to start cooking dinner. But I was still full from lunch (That chicken-fried steak was delicious). We decided to microwave a bag of popcorn for dinner instead of preparing a full-blown meal.
Later, some campers parked nearby invited us to watch the sunset with them. We graciously accepted and dragged our chairs and an ice chest to their campsite. It was perched on a bluff above the lakeshore and had a wide-angle view of the sunset. The conversation flowed well as we discreetly enjoyed a few adult beverages while watching a perfect day disappear into history.
We enjoyed every moment of our stay at Lake Whitney State Park. Next time, I might take my kayak or see if there are fishing guides in the area that don't charge an arm and a leg. Either way, I would like to try fishing from somewhere other than the rocky banks of Lake Whitney.
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