Family time at Bull Shoals

Mike Iaconelli sits on a cobblestone ledge that supports a steel fence overlooking the White River flowing below the Bull Shoals Dam. His two-year-old son, Vegas, climbs up and down the ledge, leans against the fence posts and is content to hang with dad.

The first day of the Bull Shoals Elite Series tournament has been postponed, but life goes on. For the pros that travel with their families, life brims over.

“I would have gone back to bed after they called off fishing today, but there’s no time for that with Vegas,” Iaconelli says with a smile. He looks at Vegas warmly through sleepy eyes.

The storm has yet to arrive. It will hit soon. The brief window gives Iaconelli and Vegas a chance to get out of the camping trailer, which is a short distance away.

Down below, the White River runs clear and cold past a wide shoal of river-smoothed gravel. On the edge of the shoal is the Chapman family. Brent and his son Mason cast for trout. Dad is clad in chest waders. Mason wears shorts and high rubber boots. The water is too chilly to wade in shorts alone.

Wife Bobbi watches young Makayla playing along the water’s edge. Makayla, wearing shorts and orange clogs, walks ankle deep in the water, oblivious to the cold. She’s found a large hawk feather that’s just the thing for swishing in the water.

With a light spinning outfit, Mason casts a chunk of shrimp upstream into the current. Every few minutes he sets the hook and wrestles a high leaping rainbow trout to the shoal. The trout are small, 10 to 12 inches, but frisky. Their slick pink sides brighten the gloomy morning.

Chapman is casting a small minnow crankbait and catching one now and then. It’s the calm before the storm. You can feel it coming. But, for the moment, there is this quiet family time together in a beautiful, serene setting.

The Chapmans and Iaconellis know there’s much more to life than catching bass.