Thursday, June 13, 2013
6/8 - 6/9 "Ozarks Smallmouth...Can you say New Addiction?"
I've been wanting to get out and do an overnight float for smallmouth for quite a while now. I love my trout fishing, but this time of year most of the areas I like to fish get overrun with people...canoers , family vacationers and those fair weather fishermen that seem to congest every inch of stream or river once Summer rolls around. After doing a little research and realizing just how many warm-water fisheries were as close to me than alot of the coldwater rivers I frequent I decided it was high time to broaden my horizons.
While I've caught several smallies on the fly as accidental by-catch I honestly hadn't ever taken a trip with the sole purpose of targeting smallmouth in mind. I know..I know...what was I thinking all that time?? With that idea stuck in my head I made a few calls and rounded up a couple of willing participants for an overnight float on one of the lesser known smallmouth bass streams in the state. "Lesser known" usually indicates that the quality of the fishing is sub-par compared to the more well known waters but we were willing to make that trade-off for a couple days of peace and quiet on a beautiful river.
We met up Friday and got all of the gear packed in the boats and then started the weekend off proper with a few adult beverages before calling it a night so we could get an early start the next morning.
Saturday morning we hooked up with our shuttle and then dropped the boats in the water at an empty access. Kevin led the way in his kayak while Jeff and I followed behind in the drifter.
The plan was to float about 2/3 of the 18 miles on the first day , spend the night on a gravel bar and then finish up the next afternoon with ample time to get unloaded and make it home before dark.
The river was in great shape and at times it looked like every rootwad or large boulder should have a smallie sitting behind it , although we couldn't have proved it by the number of fish we were getting to come out and play. We managed to catch a couple of fish apiece before deciding to find a good spot for a streamside lunch and a cold beer.
After lunch we continued on downstream , chucking streamers and the infamous wiggle minnow at every likely looking hole along the way.
The fishing continued to be a little slow after the break , the sun was high in the sky with no clouds so we chalked our struggles up to the weather. Even though we weren't just slaying the fish nobody had any complaints about the way the day had went. We had a cooler full of beer and food , a beautiful river , nice weather and good friends to share it with. Honestly , the fishing was just icing on the cake.
We started looking for a spot to put up camp towards evening and finally pulled the boats over on a nice gravel bar around 6:30. Tents were set up , wood gathered and the evenings meal thrown on the fire.
After a full day of rowing and fishing , dinner that night tasted about as good as I can remember any meal tasting recently.
With all the work out of the way there was nothing left to do now but sit back and enjoy a few cold ones while staring at the campfire.
Sunday morning we woke early to a gray sky and cooler temps. The forecast was for a 40% chance of rain but by the looks of things that chance was slightly lower than it should have been. After taking the tents down we cooked up some biscuits and gravy for breakfast and then hurriedly pushed off , hoping to get a mornings fishing in before the storms moved in.
We had gotten a couple of miles down and the fishing was picking up with the overcast skies. We still weren't sticking fish right and left but definitely getting enough action to make things interesting.
About that time Mother Nature decided to unleash the skies on us unfortunately. We continued to fish through it , still catching a fish every once in a while , that is until the lightning started getting more pronounced and the rain started coming down in buckets.
We were already soaked to the bone so that wasn't a big deal , our main worry was that the already high river would start rising again and create issues for us. It was decided to start making for the take-out point before things got any worse. The rain didn't let up much at all before we got to the access an hour or so later , soaked through and a little chilled we were all ready to get off the river.
As we walked up towards the parking lot we started to get this uneasy feeling , sure enough the lot was totally empty. We had told our shuttle to have the truck there by noon but due to the weather we were a little earlier than expected. Not knowing when our ride was showing up (and no cell service whatsoever to make a call) we made the best of it. Someone grabbed a tarp out of the boat and we got the jet-boil going to make a pot of coffee while we waited.
We hung out in the rain for an hour before we heard the welcome sound of a trailer bouncing along the gravel road coming our way.
What's a fishing trip without a little adventure anyway?
Posted by HighPlainsFlyFisher