Eleven Point River Water Levels:
6/18 - 3.96...835 cfs
6/19 - 3.91...821 cfs
6/20 - " "
6/21 - 3.83...780 cfs
Water was green/chalky looking with slightly falling water.
This was one of those trips I'd been wanting to do for a long time but just never seemed to make it happen. After a little discussion , my fishing buddy Kevin and I decided to plan a 4 day trip to the Eleven Point for some floating and fishing.
I met Kevin at the Greer Crossing campground around noon on Friday , and although I had been worried about the water levels I was pleasantly surprised to find the river looking very good. The water wasn't dirty but it had that greenish , chalky look to it that some spring fed streams have. Kevin said water levels were pretty much normal for that time of year so I was hoping for some decent fishing.
Our plan was to set up a base camp at Greer Crossing for Friday night and then meet Kim , a friend of Kevins , Saturday morning for an overnight float down to Turner Mill. We planned to take out Sunday evening and come back to Greer Crossing for the night and then fish for a few hours Monday before hitting the road.
After getting tents set up and gear unloaded we decided to take Kevins canoe and paddle up to the highway 19 bridge and wade upstream from there ,fishing as we go. After waiting out a brief rainstorm under a tree overhanging the river we made our way upstream and beached the canoe. I started off nymphing with a two fly rig and Kevin was throwing a streamer (wooly bugger I think). It didn't take Kevin long to hook up on a beautiful Eleven Point bow. We both hoped that it was a good sign for the weekends fishing......and it certainly was. After working our way upstream for a while I heard Kevin holler "Good Fish" and I headed up to assist.A few minutes of battling the fish in the swift riffle and he brought to hand another bow , this one was a real beauty at around 18". After seeing Kevins fish I wanted my first Eleven Point bow even worse , and began switching up patterns and techniques trying to elicit a strike. All too soon I heard Kevin asking if I was ready to head back to camp for an evening meal and a few adult beverages. As much as I wanted to avoid the first day skunking I half-heartedly agreed and accepted my defeat at the hands of a wonderful river I had only just met. I had three more days in which to see if I could figure out the fish here....and I couldn't wait to get back at it.
Kim arrived as scheduled just a little before 9:00 the next morning. After arranging a vehicle to be shuttled to Turner Mill the next day by Richards Canoe Rental, we set off fully packed for a two day adventure on the river , mself in my pontoon, Kevin in his canoe and Kim in his kayak.
With such a short distance to cover in a two day float we took the opportunity to fish every likely looking hole thoroughly between the three of us. We worked our way downriver, each at our own pace , often times keying on different types of water due to fly selection. I had success fishing the deep scour holes at the tail end of riffles with either a pine squirrel sculpin or a two nymph rig consisting of rubber legged stoneflies. Kevin had his success dead drifting a wooly bugger or pine squirrel sculpin in the same types of water. Kim threw a sculpin imitation of his own creation called "meat and Potatoes" which the fish seemed to approve of quite well.It took a little trial and error but once I figured out what type of water these fish preferred to hold in I began to find active fish and started hooking up pretty regularly.
Most of the fish were of average size , 12-15 inches , but one or two were pushing the 17-18 inch mark. The fast water where most of the fish were coming from made even the smaller fish battle valiantly. I had no complaints at the end of day one , my first day skunking was nothing but a distant memory now. There's a certain satisfaction that comes with fishing a new river and cracking some of it's secrets , I was content in thinking that I had just given this river my best shot, and at the very least had won a few rounds.
I think it was just a little before 6:00 PM when we all converged at our camping spot for the night , a gravel bar just across from Little Hurricane Creek.
After getting tents up and a quick campfire going , we sat down to a delicious dinner of halibut steaks (caught by Kim himself) , fresh green beans and fresh corn on the cob. While none of the three kept tally of exact numbers, we all were in agreement that it was a wonderful day of fishing. The river wasn't crowded , the weather cooperated for once and best of all the fish were hungry and willing to play along with our notions of being competent fishermen against this tricky river.We retired that evening under a starry , moonlit sky that reflected off the water making it seem almost daylight at midnight....this is how all days should end.
Everyone was up early the next morning when I stepped out of my tent, Kevin was making coffee as well as cooking up sausage patties for a quick sandwich , and Kim was already packing up his kayak. We all ate sausage and sourdough sandwiches while we packed our gear and got rods rigged for the day. Before Kevin and I had even finished packing our watercraft Kim stepped out into the riffle in front of camp and landed two small bows. It appeared as though the fish gods might smile on us again today with beautiful weather and hungry rainbows.
This river seemed to have a good looking spot around every corner and I was glad we had all day to fish out the remaining couple of miles. Kevin and I tried to hit every spot that either of us thought looked promising and we were lucky enough to find some really great spots on Sunday. There were several spots that gave up 15-25 fish between the two of us and a couple of these were quality fish pushing 18". I have to say that these are some beautiful rainbows whether of the wild or stocked variety. We caught a few wild fish mixed in with the more abundant stocked fish.
After being in the river for a while even the stocked fish seemed to fight and look more like their wild cousins than some other rivers I've fished. I can only think that it must be the wildness of the river itself lending some character to these fish. We fished hard on Sunday and were well rewarded with great numbers and several quality fish at the end of the day. Hot , sweaty and tired, we drug ourselves off the river that night about 6:30 PM, loaded everything into Kims truck and headed back for Greer Crossing Campground.
Kim had to get back home for work on Monday , while Kevin and I were spending another night at Greer Crossing. It had been a long weekend and the beer supply was getting low so we made a trip into Alton for provisions. Smoked turkey legs , baked beans and numerous cold beers made up the evenings dinner. A good cigar and a roaring campfire rounded out the evening for me as Kevin and I sat around talking about the great fishing we'd had and began planning our next trip.
We woke the next morning and began taking down camp. Kevin had decided to hit the road back to Springfield while I was going to walk down and access the river at the highway 19 bridge and fish my way upstream for a few hours before making the long trek back to K.C. This section of river bested me only two days prior and I wanted a second shot. Redemption was quick as the first spot I decided to fish gave up two colorful little rainbows. I didn't make it far upstream in the two hours I fished that morning , but managed a half dozen or so rainbows. I decided to call it a weekend on one of the last fish I connected with , I always like to quit on a landed fish if possible and I knew better than to push my luck.
Sometimes you get lucky and a trip just falls together perfectly , weather is nice....crowds are light....good company to hang with.....and of course the fish choose to cooperate. This was one of those weekends.....heres to the next one.