With a New Years resolution to fish more in 2013 , I couldn't think of a better way to kick it off than to spend the first weekend of the year floating a couple of my favorite Ozark waters. With that thought in mind , when a buddy called last week and asked if I had anything going for the weekend...I gladly said "I do now!"
The original plan was to meet Jeff and a couple of his friends from Jefferson City down on the White for a weekend of throwing big meaty streamers in hopes of sticking a big brown. Unfortunately , as is often the case , the SWPA and it's ass-backwards generation routine totally fubar'd those plans. If you've ever had the pleasure of fishing one of our Southern tailwaters then you too might have experienced the joy of dealing with inconsistent and unreliable generation schedules on a day to day basis. The saving grace of the weekend was that they ran some water on the Norfork Saturday , albeit an up and down pattern which never allowed the fish to settle into a feeding pattern (notice how I worked that excuse in before I even told you how we didn't catch any fish...I'm an expert at the fishing excuse game).
I arrived at Copper Johns resort Friday afternoon around 3:00 , after tossing my shit for the weekend inside the lodge I quickly rigged up a rod and headed down to the water below the resort.
There was an obvious midge hatch and I could see small groups of fish rising up and down the river all around me. I'm not one to look a gift-horse in the mouth , so I rigged up with a miracle midge below a palsa indicator and proceeded to educate a couple dozen stocker bows. The bite was good and didn't wain until it was too dark to see my small white indicator anyway , unfortunately it would have taken two or three of these fish to even make a good meal for the trout I was in hopes of playing with.
Seeing as the others in the group didn't head down until after work on Friday I had most of the evening to myself. I kicked back , ordered up a pizza , and cracked open a cold one while I watched "Johnny Football" whip up on the Sooners.
Saturday morning we got up , checked the generation schedule and made plans for the day. To our dismay the White was scheduled to be dead low for the fourth consecutive day , not good streamer chucking water. The Fork was only somewhat better with a predicted 1/2 to 1 unit on for most of the day. The streamer thing wasn't going to happen on the White and no one felt like dragging boats across shoals all day so we loaded up and headed over to the Norfork tailwater for the day.
Upon arrival at the Quarry Park ramp you'd have thought we were putting in on one of the Wests famous fisheries , there were no fewer than three drift boats at the ramp (besides our two) and several more visible that had already launched. Obviously the high water and excellent streamer fishing of the past couple seasons have gotten the word out.
Jeff and I pushed off first , followed shortly by Chris and Nick. Jeff and I were determined to stick to our guns and huck meat all day , pretty much regardless of water conditions or results.
In the first hour of fishing we turned a couple of decent fish and had a 25+ roll on a big double deciever that Jeff was fishing. None of them hooked up unfortunately , such is the game when you're fishing big streamers. We did get several fish to commit and actually eat...a handful of rainbows , a couple of 15" browns and one nice brookie that ate a circus peanut.
Chris and Nick had pretty much the same luck , landing several smaller fish but nothing of the size we were looking for.
The water yo-yoed up and down on us all day which didn't help the fishing , as I'm sure the other six drift-boats all throwing streamers didn't either. Still there weren't any complaints at the end of the day as we were loading up the boats , a nice Ozark day spent on the river with friends sits right there at the top of my list of things I'd rather be doing pretty much anytime.
We got back to the lodge after dark and threw together a quick dinner , nothing special , KC strips..baked potatoes..baked onions..bacon-wrapped asparagus..garlic bread. You know , just your average fish camp food.
Afterwards we sat down with a couple of cold ones and watched a fishing video and a little football. It's times like these that a man knows he's living right!
Sunday the scenario played out the same , wake up and check generation schedules and plan the day. With no water scheduled to run on either the White or Norfork we started looking for a plan C. After a little discussion we decided to pack up and head over to the NFOW for our last day.
Another good friend of Chris's joined us for this float , Rusty , a local guide for ROLF. His description of the recent fishing wasn't exactly glowing but at least we knew there'd be running water. Like all of the other Ozark rivers and streams the NFOW is in need of a good push of water to pick things up.
We decided on a float from Patrick down to the new Sunburst takeout , probably the best streamer water on the river in my opinion . Jeff and I continued to throw streamers , although we did downsize just a tad for the fish on the NFOW. The other guys did a little nymphing as well as throwing streamers but in the end the results were pretty similar.
A few small rainbows and browns but nothing of any respectable size was brought to hand. I have to say though , if I'm going to float a river and have a mediocre day of fishing , I can't think of a more beautiful piece of water to do it on.
We reached our takeout just as the sun was starting to sink behind the surrounding hillsides. After loading up the boats and saying our good-byes it was time to start my long trek back to KC.
It was a good weekend for sure. I met some great guys , made some new friends and caught a few fish...you just can't ask for any more than that.