Sunday, March 27, 2011
Lately my fishing trips have been rather unsuccessful when it comes to the catching aspect of things. My last two outings , one for wipers...one for walleye , both left me skunked at the end of the day,something that while it does happen is pretty infrequent when I'm on a trout stream. Let's just chalk it up to being early in the year and maybe a little lack of skill on my part , but needless to say I was ready to redeem myself on a few Taneycomo trout yesterday when I got the chance.
I pulled into the State Park campground about 10:30am , grabbed the usual site and threw up the tent so I could unload some of my stuff out of the truck before hitting the river. The water had been running most of the morning according to the schedule and would be shutting down at 11:00 if one was to believe the evil people who update the generation schedules , so I had some time to kill before the water dropped out. With camp set and a quick lunch taken care of I rigged up , donned the waders and headed down below the dam.
It was just after 12:00 now and as I drove across the dam I could see that the water was indeed shut off and almost fully dropped out , dare I say that the predicted generation chart was accurate today? I'll wait until the end of the day to make that call but the low water looks really good right now , the sun is shining and being a weekday the tailwater is relatively uncrowded by Taney standards.
I started right where I left off my last trip down which was midge fishing down below the Big Hole. A few fish were caught but the midge action just wasn't happening like it had been last time for some reason. No fear , these rainbows are always feasting on scuds up above in some of the faster water and without the crowds I had plenty of choices for prime fishing.
As usual the fish didn't dissapoint and plenty of chunky Taneycomo bows were caught on various bit scud and g-bug combinations with a #22 brown/olive g-bug probably doing the laymans share of the work. The largest fish was a colorful male just a hair over 22" , the only one I taped.
I lost a larger fish that probably would have went 25" , it came unbuttoned as I tried to get him close enough to slip the net under , two more feet and it wouldn't have been just another worthless fish story. The amount of quality fish in this place always amazes me and while it has those summer seasons where the tourists converge on the river like a plague of locusts (too dramatic??) it's definitely a first class fishery when it comes to size and numbers of fish. That's why I was here...if you luck out and the water is right the fishing is always dependable and that's just what I needed.
Around 6:00pm I think , the horn blew multiple times and what few people were still on the river headed for their cars. I managed to land two more fish while the water was rising and when it was inevitable I finally made my way over to the North Shore and finished out the evening catching a fish or two holding along the current edge. That night I had a nice hot meal to warm me up after a long day on the water , homemade chili..chips and salsa..and a couple 24 ouncers of cheap beer from the store down the road to wash it all down.
That's a colon cleansing combination if I've ever seen one , something about cheap beer and chili I guess.
The next morning I awoke to a heavy overcast and steady cold rain , I'd played the odds hoping that the weatherman would be wrong as he usually is, but damn the luck the forecasted rain felt awfully real to me. After making a quick cup of coffee and taking down the tent in the rain I headed down to check out the water situation. They appeared to be running a light one unit as was predicted , for once I was counting on them being wrong but it wasn't to be. I spent about an hour fishing in the light rain , catching a couple fish but not having near the success as the previous day. I really don't like wading these water levels as it's just hard to pinpoint fish location to any real degree. I had all day to fish but didn't want to stay here with these conditions so I decided to head over to Crane Creek and finish out my day trying to catch a wild rainbow or two.
By the time I arrived at Crane the sun had begun to break through the clouds and it looked like it might be a decent day after all. My first stop was below the dairy farm but another vehicle in the lot prompted me to drive on into town and check out the city park area. I saw one other vehicle here as well but didn't know where they were so I decided to head downstream. As I was walking downstream along the ballfields I saw three other fishermen in various locations , all working upstream through the water I had hoped to fish. Oh well , I was here already and had some time to kill so when I got to the railroad tressle I just sat down along the stream , lit up a cigar and relaxed for a while , about half a cigar to be exact.
I figured to give those guys enough time to finish their day without my interruption and with any luck I could fish through before anyone else arrived. After the mornings storms the day had turned glorious with warm sunshine and light winds and both the bugs and the trout were dancing on the waters surface in celebration.
I don't know how long I spent in several pools just watching those little devils coming clear out of the water after the little tan caddis flitting about the surface. I managed several very small fish on a dry fly but as is usually the case the majority of the fish were busy taking nymphs.
The fish seemed to be in the feeding mood today and any nymph presented fairly well through a good run would be rewarded with a 6-8 inch wild Mccloud rainbow in all it's splendor.
A beautiful day..a good gigar..my favorite two weight.. and a pretty little stream with wild fish to round out the package.
Does it get any better?? Probably so , but right now this was enough for me...life is good.
Two days filled with chunky tailwater bows and little wild Mccloud rainbows...just what the doctor ordered.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Spring is here and at this point I have mixed emotions as to whether I like it or not. I know it brings with it a few perks such as the warmer weather , great bug hatches and in some cases better fishing, but as I sit here taking a breather from raking the front yard in preparation for some lawn renovation I'm not all that crazy about Spring. I've noticed a lot more people out on my last couple ventures into the great outdoors as well , of course I havn't been out as much as I was in the winter because of all that damn yard work Spring brings with it. I guess it's a trade-off of both good and bad when it comes to the changing of the seasons.
I got off work Sunday night at 10:00pm and needed to wind down a little before having any chance at sleep so I stopped off at the house and grabbed my seven weight along with a box of flies and the dog and I were off to Hillsdale Lake to check out the dam for any walleye action.
I heard that the state had already put their nets along the face of the dam so I figured the timing had to be pretty close. I got to the lake at 11:30 and couldn't believe my eyes...there were 13 vehicles still parked on the Northeast side! I didn't want to fight any crowds so I drove across the dam and parked on the opposite side , where there wasn't another car , probably due to the inconvenience of a longer walk. I fished for about two hours and covered a couple hundred yards of riprap using several different flies with no success. I heard a few fish rolling farther off the dam but I never saw any fish up shallow. I spoke with one spin-fisherman who said he hadn't done any good either so it just wasn't the right night I suppose. It's not far off , could be tomorrow or next week but they'll be there before long.
A beautiful night with a great big moon to light the sky , only thing better would have been a fish..or even a bite!!
The next day after working around the house all morning I was still thinking about getting skunked last night at the lake and had this unwavering urge to do something about getting that mental picture out of my head. Hell , I'd been working too hard anyway it was time for a lunch break.
I grabbed an apple for me and a handful of dog biscuits for Joe and we hit the road for a little farm pond I know of that has a few bass and crappie in it. Only a 10 minute drive from the house and I'm standing on the edge of the water in a pair of flip-flops soaking up those 80 degree rays coming down.
This is the part of Spring I have to admit I kind of like. The pond wasn't "going" yet so to say , I caught about half a dozen small bass on a deceiver but it was still too early for much action.
I don't know, I'm still torn on this whole Spring thing....it's gonna take a few more trips like this to outweigh the list of chores that came along with my spring package.
Friday, March 11, 2011
With the weather looking hopeful and the day off Friday I decided to break out the seven-weight and the clousers and head South to Truman Dam where I hoped to get lucky enough to tie into a hybrid or two.
The generation chart showed several days of daily generation and the same scheduled for Friday so my gut instinct told me I might have a shot , that is to say in my eyes the conditions looked good.
I was lazy and didn't get out of bed until 7:00 and then I fucked around the house long enough that I didn't actually get on the road until about 7:45. The day was georgeous and as usual this prompted me to push the speed limit laws as much as I dared in anticipation of getting on the water , somehow I ran the gauntlet successfully and pulled into the parking lot on the West side of the dam right at 9:30. It quickly became obvious that I wasn't the only one with the day off and fishing on my mind. No mind , it's a big tailwater and it wasn't hard to find a spot with respectable distance between myself and the nearest person.
I tied on a chartreuse and white deciever style fly to my type 4 sinking line and began casting out into the fast water.
I consciously kept an eye on the other fisherman , hoping to at least see a fish or two caught thereby validating my assumptions that there were some fish to be caught. The pelicans and gulls were obviously having no problem finding dead or dying shad so that was another good sign for my chances I thought to myself. There was definitely a wide array of fishermen out today , it was obvious some were targeting catfish others crappie , walleye or maybe even hybrids like myself.
I moved twice before lunch , both times only after I'd fished the area pretty well with both deceiver and clouser style patterns of varying colors.
One foul hooked catfish was all I had to show for my effort up until that point , I'd seen a few small crappie caught as well as a white bass or two but no walleye or wipers.
Lunch was quick buffet style on the hood of the truck , then on downstream to try another hole. I was fishing the water as well as I knew how , trying to work both the bottom and top water columns with different fly patterns. Seemingly the only thing I was accomplishing with any level of success was leaving a trail of deep clousers hung in the rocks that litter the riverbottom in that area.
I did manage to land two small crappie , so I guess I can say I avoided the skunk , but technically I didn't catch what I went in search of so in my mind it was a skunk. Not that surprising , it's still early and although I'm not sure what the water temp was Joe looked cold as hell standing in the water , still trying to grasp the whole flyfishing thing outside of being for his sole entertainment of chasing and occasionally barking at the colorful line floating on the water.
Even so he's still my favorite and most agreeable fishing partner and just spending a nice spring day throwing some flies around (away) and hanging with him was as good as it gets.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
I came across this on one of the local fishing forums and found it important enough to post here. These hatcheries help provide many of the great fishing opportunities that we are blessed with here in the Ozarks region. If you feel as strongly as I do about this situation please take a minute to click on the link below and sign the petition. It may very well be saving a fishery right in your own backyard. Thanks.....Jeff
Saturday, March 5, 2011
GutBuster Trip 2011.....I know it sounds like a competitive eating club gathering at Lambert's but it's actually a tradition started over 30 years ago by my father and some of his friends. It started out as a few guys heading down to BSSP for a couple days of fishing and hanging out on opening day and gradually morphed into a full fledged 5 day annual trip that we all look forward to.
The participants have changed some over the years due to the usual life changes that prohibit us from doing the things we love , you know... wives , kids , jobs and all of the other day to day B.S. we have to deal with. The group now have all been going for at least 20 years, with only occasional absences when they're inevitable. We stay in the same 4-plex in the park every year and the place has basically become a home away from home between Feb. 28th and March 4th every year.
My dad started taking me to Bennett when I was still in middle school and it's where I caught my first trout and also where I caught my first fly rod fish. I quit going for a while during my high school years when I was confused and thought that there were other things in life more important than fishing, namely girls , but I've since gotten my priorities straight. Apart from those few times I can't imagine being anywhere else come March 1st. I know that a lot of folks (some that I fish with personally) dislike Missouri's trout parks and saying that you participated in the opening day festivities is on par with admitting you got drunk and did the fat girl over the weekend. I myself have evolved over the years from being a hardware guy to strictly a flyrod fisherman and I admit that the park fishing scene doesn't hold the same attraction for me that it once did. I travel frequently to much better fishing destinations and as with most fly fishermen have come to appreciate my solitude out on the river. I guess at this point I'd have to relate our annual pilgramage to the likes of a deer camp on opening day , just a bunch of guys getting together to eat to much..drink too much and basically do those things your wife wouldn't let you get away with at home.
When I get to the point that I can't enjoy that anymore then I figure I'm taking myself way too seriously as a fly fisherman , after all isn't having fun the bottom line?
I left Kimberling City early Monday morning and headed back North towards Bennett Springs State Park. The usual routine would be to unpack all the groceries and supplies for the week and then for Rob and I to hit the Niangua River for the rest of the day.
Unfortunately the less than stellar water conditions on Monday (the river was too high and muddy for much of anything) left us with limited options. After some discussion we decided to kick back and take it easy for the day instead of driving at least an hour and a half to another stream for only a few hours of fishing. We made a trip up to Reading's and killed at least an hour wandering around the shop searching through his vast array of merchandise. I ended up buying several hackles and some other fly tying supplies that I probably didn't really need as well as a good book to occupy my time in the evenings.
The book was "Trout Country" by Bob Saille , my first time reading this author. I finished the book before the week was over and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good read. I spent part of the afternoon tying flies and the remainder was spent catching up with the guys and doing what we do every year...eating and drinking too much , thus the name of our little get together. Tomorrow morning was opening day and the parade of people that would be standing shoulder to shoulder for the event had begun to assemble throughout the park...another year had gone by and it was good to be back with old friends again.
Tuesday morning most of our group headed down to the Whistle Bridge well before dawn to secure their spots, they always start the season fishing Zone 2 in front of the bridge and it usually provides good action for them with their spinning gear. Rob and myself on the other hand slept until 6:30 and then made our way up to the Spring where we hoped to find a little room to play with. The water was still high and off-color even in the spring branch so the fishing was going to be tough to say the least. I sat down on a bench and just watched for a while until a few people started clearing out, it didn't take long between the cold fingers and lack of fishing success. I grabbed an open spot and in about 5 casts caught two small rainbows , that was all I had time for this morning as breakfast was at 8:30 and Rob and I were the cooks.
For about the last 5 years Rob and I've taken at least one day and hit another river somewhere during our stay , usually Taneycomo when the generation permits. This year we'd decided that opening day would be a good time to get away , let the water come down a little and the crowds thin out some while we caught fish elsewhere.
Generation was predicted to be off by 9:00 am so we figured the water would be dropped out by the time we could make it down after breakfast. After the day I had on Sunday I was pretty anxious to get back down there anyway. We pulled into the parking lot below the dam about 10:45 and found low water and only a very few people fishing being midweek.
I knew where I was headed and quickly rigged up a midge setup and headed down below the Big Hole. I was smiling before I even made it to the waters edge...I could see fish midging everywhere up and downstream , even more fish than Sunday with fewer fishermen.
All I can say is WOW! , the midge fishing was as good as I've had on a tailwater in a long time , maybe ever.
The calm conditions allowed me to sight fish up and down the river in the shallow flats where the fish were voraciously feasting on the multitudes of midges. I again caught fish on drys , soft hackles and zebra midges with the hot fly for me being a size #22 miracle midge about 18 inches under a half palsa.
By far the best midge fishing I've ever encountered and personally I can't imagine it being much better on any tailwater anywhere. Nothing huge was caught but several fish pushing 18 inches came to hand and the numbers of fish caught would have been considered a great day on any river in the country.
Rob chose to nymph fish the area up around re-bar hole and he had a great day as well , catching fish almost at will on a g-bug and scud rig. About 5:30 that all too familiar sound that I've grown to despise began resonating from the dam, two units were being cranked up , but it was too late to ruin our day. I made one last cast and as if on cue hooked into another quality bow....just how I like to end the day.
By Wednesday morning the water at Bennett Springs had come down and cleared up enough to put the fish back in a feeding mood , but best of all it appeared that a lot of the opening day fishermen had packed it in and headed home as the stream wasn't crowded at all.
We fished all of our favorite holes and caught good numbers of freshly stocked bows that still had the battle scars to prove they had come from a concrete raceway only days before. Missouri must be hurting for money because I think they've been starving some of those poor fish. I have to say the majority were some of the smallest fish I've caught out of there in years. Even at that I wasn't about to complain, the weather was beautiful for once and I had the afternoon to fish a few of my favorite spots in comparitive solitude for a trout park.
We saw some pretty large hatches of BWO's and even some small size #18 mothers day caddis later in the day. The water was still too off color for the fish to have much interest but I always enjoy watching the bugs come off anyway. Thursday was a carbon copy of the day before with even fewer people fishing in the park and lots of willing fish in most of the holes we fished. The only photogenic fish we caught out of the park was a nice little brown that Rob landed Thursday afternoon out of the High Bank hole.
There was a time when we'd catch a half dozen browns out of the park in a weekend but nowadays you seem lucky to catch just one. Those damn commitments in life sent me back home Thursday evening , one day earlier than the rest of the group. I couldn't get Friday off work so my trip was over for this year. Once again a great time was had by all , fish were caught , memories of past trips were relived..and maybe most importantly plans were made for next years trip , I wonder if I'm the only one who's already looking forward to it.