Wednesday, April 20, 2011
John Redmond & Melvern 4/18/11 "Chasing Spring White Bass..Hit or Miss"
The first week back to work after vacation is always a kick in the ass , it's that whole reality thing that you're not ready to deal with just yet. On top of the work drag I happen to be one of those people that waits until the last minute to do my taxes and then struggles through it bitching and throwing a fit about it the entire time, so by Monday morning I was ready for some "happy" time. That meant throwing the flyrod and some lunch in the truck and heading down the road somewhere with my fishing buddy for a few hours. It's amazing what a few hours on the river will take care of...all of that BS just fades away for a short time. My friends down in Springfield had been giving me reports of good fishing for white bass in several feeder creeks and tributary rivers down there for the last few weeks so I decided to hit a couple of local spots that I'd caught whites in years ago.
Feeling kinda lazy I slept in and didn't leave the house until a little after 8:00 monday morning which had me pulling into the town of Hartford just about 9:30.
It had been years since I'd seen this place but remembered well fishing it with my father for white bass at a place called Hartford Rapids. After a little searching I found the public access to the river outside of town and took off in search of some water I could fish with the flyrod.
The water was moving slowly and very dirty , chocolate milk kinda dirty , but that's pretty much what I expected from the Neosho River. Joe and I walked both up and downstream of the parking area , fishing where we could and never had a strike in about an hour and a half of fishing.
I know when to say uncle...so I decided to pack up and head to the opposite end of the lake and try my luck below the dam on John Redmond. This was another spot where I remembered catching lots of whites with my dad when I was younger and my hopes were a little higher about this location , especially when I arrived and saw they were running 3 gates.
I started on the east side of the river due to a construction project on the outlets (repairing and painting all gates at JR ) that had the road closed over the dam for several hours.
Joe and I headed downstream where we could scramble down the steep bluff and get to the water with some room to cast. The first thing I noticed was the large number of snakes evident among all the shale rock piles we were sliding down , not just a couple but maybe twenty! While I knew they weren't poisonous it didn't make it any more comforting as I slid feet first with most of my body dragging the ground at some point. We both made it unscathed and hit the first riffle we came to.
I was still throwing the same chartreuse / white clouser I began with on the river earlier and on about my third cast caught a dink white about 6 inches long. Allright I thought , the fish are in here... now we're talking!
Unfortunately I was still trying to keep that positive frame of mind an hour later when I hadn't gotten another hit and lost a dozen flies in the rocks.
I was hungry and needed a break so we drove over to the west side of the dam and grabbed an open table for lunch.
There wasn't a wait and the service was pretty good considering , Joe showed his approval for the ham and turkey on wheat. I preferred the liquid wheat myself.
After lunch we fished the west side for a half hour or so before deciding to throw in the towel and admit defeat. I'd been beat down pretty good today , I started out with high hopes for catching some fish and ended up just hoping with each cast that I wouldn't snag up again. I was headed home when I saw the Melvern Lake sign , twenty miles one way was doable , what the hell I'm a glutton for punishment.
We arrived below the spillway at Melvern to find a moderate water flow and nobody else around and as was only fitting I lost several more flies and snagged a small drum to end the day.
Three different bodies of water...various fly patterns...and only one small white bass , I've still got a few things to learn about this warm water flyfishing it appears. I didn't mind though , yeah catching a few fish would have increased my enjoyment exponentially , but it was still a beautiful day on the water with my favorite fishing buddy. If nothing else I got a temporary reprieve from the long list of chores stuck to the refrigerator door , I've already split it in half and designated the bottom half "fall projects"...in one quick swoop of a pen I was able to re-balance my work / fishing load into a more perfect equilibrium...life is good.
Posted by HighPlainsFlyFisher