With a couple of vacation days to burn before the end of the year I decided to take advantage of the nice weather and get away again this past week. It was another short trip as the wife had a three day weekend planned which required me to be home on Friday as well. When your trips have been as few and far between as mine have lately it really doesn't matter , you take whatever you can get away with.
I packed the truck up Tuesday evening after work and Joe and I hit the road early Wednesday morning headed back South again.
After spending a couple of days on the closest coldwater fishery to my house last week I was looking for a change of venue. Another couple hours down the road lies one of my favorite Ozark streams, that was the destination of choice this week.
We pulled into the campground around 10:00 and quickly got camp set up for the next couple days.
This particular State Park campground has over 250 sites but when I paid the ranger in the park office he told me that I was the only camper in the park...that's exactly the reason it's my favorite time of year to visit these places. After rigging up the rods and getting everything set to hit the water it was already approaching lunch-thirty so a quick sandwich was made before heading out on the river.
Joe and I spent the first afternoon plying the waters on one of my favorite stretches.
The first thing I noticed when we got on the water was the multitude of bugs coming off. Mayflies...Midges...CaddisFlies , you name it and I saw it coming off. Not only were the bugs out in full force but the fish were looking up and gorging themselves on this veritable buffet line. I wish I could say that I took advantage of the situation and tore them up on dry flies , but I didn't. It wasn't for a lack of trying though. I spent most of the afternoon switching between spinners , emergers , cripples...everything from an EHC to a size #22 midge dry made it's way onto my line at some point. I managed to catch a half dozen or so small fish on top , but when it looks like every fish in the river is taking bugs off the surface of the water in front of you that's not much consolation. Eventually I ran out of flies to experiment with and the fish were getting full by then anyway. I decided to tuck my tail between my legs and go hit another section of stream before dark...with an indicator and a Beadhead Hares Ear trailed by a big orange egg. Sometimes you gotta stick with what you know!!
We fished right up until I had to turn on my headlamp to find my way along the trail beside the river.
The last hour or so I switched up to a larger streamer and chucked it into likely looking holes , without any success I might add. I knew the low clear water wasn't conducive to large streamers but it's still my favorite way to fish so I didn't really mind the lack of success.
That night Joe and I ate like kings and kicked back around the campfire for a few hours before hitting the tent to finish off the night with a good book...my kind of day.
Thursday morning dawned a little frosty , the chill in the air had it feeling more like winter, but that feeling wouldn't last long once the sun made an appearance.
After the thermos was filled with a warm beverage and a quick granola bar eaten we were off to give it another shot.
There were a couple of folks around today so we simply picked an access with no vehicles in the parking lot and started fishing. I was still feeling a little sting from the ass-kicking those dry fly fish had given me the day before so I started off nymphing to try and get things off to a better start. Fishing was pretty good , although I did notice that the low water had the fish much spookier than normal for this body of water. I'm sure those deeper holes I was fishing were a pretty popular spot for anyone hitting the river so those fish had probably seen it all in the last few weeks. We managed to stick a few decent fish , nothing extraordinary , but a nice day of fishing nonetheless.
It was a beautiful day and we made the most of it , hitting several spots and catching decent numbers of small bows and browns before it was time to call it a day.
It was coming up on 4:00 when I finally decided to catch one more and then pack it in for the long drive home.
Not a bad way to start off my five day weekend , now if I could just get out of Christmas shopping with the wife and battling that mad holiday rush that seems to be prevalent everywhere you go this time of year. I'm pretty sure my odds were better with the ultra-picky dry fly fish I encountered Wednesday afternoon than with the wife actually giving me a hall-pass on the shopping!!