Originally I had planned on making it a 3 day trip with some friends to do a little fishing over the MLK holiday but for various reasons , weather being a big one, those plans had fell through. It's always difficult to plan trips this time of year as it's tougher to get people to commit when the chance of bad weather is always looming. My past experience has taught me to place almost as much faith in the seven day forecast as I do in the water generation schedule from the SWPA , at best you might get a 30% accuracy rate. Even so, the forecast for possible light snow and freezing rain on Sunday at home forced me to forego any overnight plans and choose a little closer destination which limited my choices.
I needed to get away , even if just for the day , so I called my buddy Kevin and we discussed our options for a day trip. After some indecision we chose to meet up down at the Niangua on Saturday morning and see about fooling a rainbow or two.
While the Niangua isn't even usually mentioned in conversations on Ozark trout streams, it's the closest coldwater fishery for me and I've grown fond of it's waters for reasons other than the fishing.
For three months of the summer the Niangua takes on a party atmosphere that can only be related to a combination of Animal House and Water World with a little Mardi Gras thrown in. If you head to the river during these months the aluminum hatch is epic. A handful of cheap Mardi Gras beads is highly recommended to enhance your on stream entertainment during slow fishing periods. I've even found that having a "rough day" of fishing can get you a sideshow if your supply of beads has already been depleted! While this whole scene doesn't lend itself to the making of a quality trout stream it does have one benefit , even after the party crowd is long gone the majority of fishermen seem to avoid this river, instead choosing to fish one of the more well known Ozark waters.
Granted the fishing is at best mediocre here even on the best of days , but for me there are days where all I want is a chance to swing a streamer through a riffle and hear the rushing of the water over the rocks.
I know there're at least a few fish in the river and the chance to relax all day and not meet another person on the water is just the fix I need after the everyday ratrace spits me out every week. To be honest I never have to leave dissapointed in the fishing simply because I go in with modest expectations unlike when I visit some other rivers. This in itself can make for a relaxing day of fishing, no pressure....no expectations.
Kevin and I met up around 8:30 and geared up in the parking lot. We both decided to throw small streamers today , Kevin choosing a Pine Squirrel Sculpin and myself a white wooly bugger.
Joe and I headed slightly upstream to work our way through the riffle out in front while Kevin dropped down to the bottom of the run to a small deeper pool.
The water was low and clear , testament to the fact that the Ozarks could use some substantial rains. While the fishing was far from fast and furious it took less than 20 minutes to land the first small bow on my white bugger.
I worked my way fairly quickly downstream swinging and stripping my fly through every piece of water I liked the look of while Kevin chose to hang around our starting point and work several pools thoroughly. A small group of wood ducks were the only company Joe and I encountered as we worked our way downriver from pool to pool.
Before I even realized how much time had slipped away it was already 12:00. I had managed to land 7 small bows (none of them would have had any problem fitting in a 12 inch skillet for dinner) in a few hours fishing which was just about an average day on this river.
My stomach was growling and I needed to see how Kevin was fairing so we headed back upstream to the vehicles. After finding Kevin we decided to take a little break and hit Reading's flyshop up the road before changing locations.
Charlie has one of the best flyshops around in my opinion , you just never know what you might find if you spend a little time wandering around. Close to an hour later and a few dollars shorter of pocket ,we got headed toward our second destination several miles downstream of our first stop. There was a section of water that I hadn't fished before in this area and this seemed like a good time to check it out. The three of us took off through a field headed towards water that we hoped would look fishy.
After a short hike we arrived to find some pretty good looking water and best of all we again had the entire river to ourselves. We fished our way upstream slowly , taking time to enjoy the peacefullness of just being on the water (that's another way of saying that we just didn't find many fish down here!). We each missed a fish or two and I managed to land one more small rainbow before we called it a day. While the fishing might have been a little slow , there are those times when slow is just what we're looking for. I got just what I needed out of my day on the water.....sometimes less really is better.