Monday, April 29, 2013

Playing with the Locals...A (very) Short Weekend TR

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My to-do list around home has been getting longer instead of shorter here recently. It seems that everytime I accomplish something and scratch it off the old list , there are three more things waiting to take their place in line. This isn't anything new to me , I've been there before and will likely be there again. Hell , what am I saying , I'm gonna be there for the rest of my god-given life at the rate I'm getting things accomplished these days!
So needless to say I was more or less forced into servitude around the house this past weekend instead of doing what I really wanted to do , which we all know is fish.
I did manage to make it out to the water twice while I was off , one trip over to a local lake not far from the house (what was supposed to be a run to QT for some gas for the weedeater turned into a two hour fishing expedition) and a nice Sunday drive with the better half that just happened to put us in the vicinity of a body of water I'd been wanting to check out...and yes , it was a total coincidence that I'd packed two flyrods and a bag of tackle along!
Both places showed me a little love and I was able to play around with a few of my favorite warmwater residents. While it wasn't non-stop fishing action by any means , when you know the rest of your day is going to be spent trimming ornamental grasses and spreading mulch in flower beds you tend to be ecstatic over the little things like a few minutes of fishing.
Here's to less lists and more time on the water.........
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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

4/12 - 4/14....Drift Boats ,Trout and Mason Jars

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Headed South Friday morning to meet up with a group of guys for a little fishing , drinking and general good time. The destination was Sunburst Ranch on the NFOW where Justin , the owner , was throwing a little shindig he aptly named the 1st Annual NFOW DriftBoat Conclave. He graciously opened up one of his rental cabins on the river free of charge and invited quite the band of houligans down to fish and party for the weekend. Just goes to show that sometimes it does pay to be a worthless trout bum.
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My boat ride for the weekend wasn't showing up until Friday evening so I loaded up the pontoon boat and planned on a day of solo floating before the rest of the group arrived. It was a beautiful Spring Ozarks day and I didn't waste any time after arriving to get on the water. After having Justin shuttle the truck I was soon floating down one of the prettiest rivers in the Ozarks.
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This river has it all , from the beautiful wild rainbows to the abundant browns on the lower end , this fishery always leaves me wishing I lived just a little bit closer.
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The fishing didn't dissapoint on this day either , it wasn't long before I was into fish , both bows and browns.
I spent most of the afternoon nymphing , catching fish out of pretty much every fast water riffle I stopped at.
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As the sun started to drop below the horizon the caddis started to pop everywhere and it was something just to sit back and watch the occasional small trout clear the water chasing his evening dinner.
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I suppose I might have been able to tempt a fish or two with an EHC but I was more interested in tying on something a little bigger and probing the depths for Mr Brown.
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I finished out the day chucking streamers to no avail , a chase or two but no eats , such is the nature of streamer fishing.
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By the time I got back to the cabin the party was just getting started. A few people were already there and more were arriving from various locations around the four state area. Before long the festivities were in full swing , grills were blazing and the mason jars were being passed around. Homemade bratwurst , deer steaks , grilled redfish , an entire buffet of sides and liquid apple pie to wash it all down. Good times for sure!
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Saturday morning had a few of us moving a little slower than normal (that apple pie kind of sneaks up on you!), but a big breakfast of homemade biscuits and gravy and the anticipation of a 70 degree day soon had everyone loading gear in the boats and headed for the river.
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Dan , Paul , Kevin and myself decided on an all day float from Kelly down to the landing at Justins new place. Kevin decided to put his new kayak in the water instead of hopping in a drifter for the day so we threw it in the Hyde and headed for the put-in. Once on the water our plan was to huck big stuff in search of unicorns , we broke out the nymph rigs occasionally when a particular spot warranted a deep drifted nymph , but for the most part we stuck to our guns.
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The very first fish of the day also happened to be the fish of the weekend for us , unfortunately he never made it into the net for pics. Paul hooked up with a big bow not thirty minutes into the float and we got several good looks at the fish ,which we estimated to be 20+ inches, before he came unbuttoned right at the net.
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Dissapointed...yeah , but shit happens and it was just more motivation to keep at it.
The bright sunny day and clear water weren't the most conducive conditions for the streamer bite but we managed to stick a few more browns and nymph up some bows as well.
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We stopped off about halfway through the float and had the usual streamside lunch washed down with an adult beverage or two. Some of the best meals take place on the river , I'm pretty sure an old wading boot would taste good if you ate it streamside and washed it down with a cold PBR.
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The afternoon continued with more of the same , throw streamers until you come to a good spot to beach the boat and then get out and nymph the runs that warrant that approach. We never hooked into anything else that could surpass Pauls first fish for "Fish of the Day" honors , but we had a damn good time working at it.
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We pulled over at the takeout with less than an hour of daylight left in the day...a little sunburned , out of beer and happy as hell!
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Saturday night picked up right where we left off on Friday with abundant food and drink. We had a fish fry with some local white bass , red beans and rice , hot wings , fried potatoes , cole slaw , cornbread , etc....etc. You get the point , we had enough food to feed an army and a never ending supply of liquid refreshments to wash it all down.
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Sunday we rolled out of bed , packed up and said our good-byes to the others before hitting the river. Paul , Dan and I decided to float the lower section as it had seemed to produce the most fish for us on the previous day. After a quick shuttle we were back on the river soaking up some sun and trying to catch a few fish.
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We spent a little time throwing streamers early and then as the sun got higher in the sky we broke down and nymph fished for most of the afternoon. The fish were cooperating again today and although we didn't stick any pigs everyone enjoyed catching numbers of average size bows and browns.
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Without a doubt the wild fish in this river have more fight in them than ten of their stocker cousins that inhabit most of our waters here in the Ozarks and we had a great time playing with them.
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We finished up the float around 3:00 leaving everyone time to get their gear packed up and still get home at a decent hour of the day. I'd met both Dan and Paul before but hadn't had the opportunity to fish with either of them yet , a couple of great guys and after this weekend I hope to make the next trip sooner than later.
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Big thanks go out to Justin and Amy for putting this whole thing together and working so hard to make sure everyone had a great time. Already looking forward to the 2nd Annual Sunburst Ranch Driftboat Conclave.....

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Couple of Hours on the Creek

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Lately I've been on this kick of searching out new local waters for my carp chasing addiction.
I've had limited success so far but I've found some areas that I'll be returning to once the weather warms up. I had a couple of hours to kill yesterday afternoon so Joe and I headed out to a new section of creek that I've been slowly exploring.
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A beautiful afternoon with my fishing buddy and another spot that gets an asterisk on the map.
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Monday, April 1, 2013

3/27 -3/28 "Creeks and Tailwaters...Road Tripping with Joe"

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After looking at the forecast this past week , Joe and I decided to disappear for a couple of days and see what kind of trouble we could get ourselves into. Winters been hanging on for too long now and I just can't escape the feeling that I should be out taking full adavantage of every sunny , warm day we have. It was a last minute decision type of trip so we departed a little later than normal on Wednesday morning after loading up the truck. I don't know about you , but I have a bad habit of needing to pack enough shit for a week even when I'm only gonna be gone for two days!
Our first destination was a small wild trout stream that I hadn't fished in way too long , mainly due to the drought we experienced for most of last year which kept me away.
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We pulled into the empty parking lot about 10:30 and I quickly got the two weight ready for some action. The sun was trying to break through the clouds and the temperature was already pushing past the fifty degree mark by the time we made it streamside. Spring like weather and an empty parking lot would have been enough to make the day a success for me , but after a few casts in the first hole things got even better.
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The fish in this little stream are some of the prettiest wild rainbows I've ever had the pleasure of catching , and to my great relief they were still swimming around and as beautiful as ever.
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We didn't work at the fishing too hard , making time to sit streamside and just enjoy the beautiful day , taking in Mother Natures signs of Spring that were evident all around us.
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We made our way back to the truck after a couple of hours and stopped for a quick lunch break. No gourmet camp food on this outing , we'd have to settle for roughing it with some homemade fried chicken and hot pickled okra (washed down with a cold beverage , of course).
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The warm sun on my shoulders felt so good that I was tempted to stretch out on the tailgate and take a siesta after lunch , but I was still itching to check out the rest of the stream that I hadn't seen in so long...the nap would have to wait.
After moving upstream to a new location we hit the trail again , Joe chasing tree rats around every corner and me keeping an eye on the creek for fishy looking spots that I didn't dare walk past without a cast or two.
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Two happier individuals you would've been hard-pressed to find on this afternoon.
I didn't land any of the larger fish that I've seen in these waters before , but I was no less content playing around with some of their smaller brethren. What these fish lack in size they more than make up for in sheer beauty and will to fight.
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We finished up the second stretch of water sometime late in the afternoon and decided to head a little further South and find somewhere to pitch a tent for the night. We had a couple of options all within an hours drive but decided on the closest tailwater about thirty miles away.
Camp setup was quick and painless , we only drug the shit out of the truck that we actually expected to use , which wasn't much.
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After everything was done we made our way down to the river to check things out before trying to decide what to do about dinner.
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From the looks of it they were running two units and the extra water had most of the other fishermen chased off , the place looked empty except for a few individuals standing at the hatchery outlets. I was tempted to wet a line , but after checking the time I decided to opt for dinner instead. With any amount of luck the corps would keep the water off for me tomorrow since they ran it today , yeah right!
While I had thrown in the cookstove and some last minute grocery items that I could whip up for a quick meal , I was feeling lazy this particular night and chose to visit my favorite BBQ joint in town instead. This joint has good que , but being from KC I can get plenty of that anytime I want. What this place does do exceptionally well is catfish , big ole fillets deep fried to a golden color with all the sides.
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If you're ever in Branson and looking for a good place to grab a bite , this place would be at the top of my suggestion list.
After stuffing my face and rolling myself back out to the truck we headed back to camp for the evening. Normally , sitting around a big campfire would have been in order for the night hours , but unfortunately the little c-store where I planned to pick up some firewood had closed down sometime during the past off-season.
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With nowhere else to get wood in the immediate area I decided that just kicking back in the tent with a good book didn't sound all that bad anyway.
The next morning when I awoke my first course of action was to call SWPA and get the Taneycomo predicted generation for the day. I almost couldn't believe my generation all day. Knowing that the crowds would start filtering back in with the water off I quickly took down camp and stopped off at the office to pay my site fee before heading down to the river. It was just after 7:00 when I pulled into view of the river and noticed there was only one other fisherman in sight.
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I had a feeling that would change pretty quickly so I hurriedly got ready and we took out for the lower section where nobody was at yet. With a midge pattern as my point fly and a size #20 scud for a dropper , I made my first cast into the current seam ten feet from my feet , and hit the first fish of the day. I think my second fish came on the third cast...and so on and so on.
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In all honesty the fishing was just stupid easy. Granted , I had chosen one of the better runs to start off in so I expected some instant gratification but I guess in my recent absence I'd forgotten just how fast and furious the fishing could be on this piece of water. That being said , they were just stocker rainbows who probably hadn't been in the river long enough to change their mailing address yet. I'm by no means implying that I didn't enjoy myself , because I most surely did. Anytime you can fish a popular tailwater like this one and have it mostly to yourself and be catching fish on almost every drift to boot , that's a great day in my book.
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Joe and I moved around a little , taking advantage of the lack of people and fishing several spots until around 10:00 when a few other fishermen started to show up. We put on a little clinic for another hour or so , until eventually a couple of other fishermen started crowding us a little too closely so we decided to take a lunch break in hopes that they would thin out a bit.
After lunch we moved downstream a little farther and got into more fish on the same setup. I really don't think I made 10 casts in a row all day without catching a fish or at least hooking one. I popped off one good rainbow , maybe 17 inches , but I didn't see or catch anything of any size all day long. After seeing the colors and un-blemished bodies of the wild trout on the previous days outing I couldn't even bring myself to snap many pictures of the trout I'd been playing with all day. Kind of like the fat girl you don't want your friends to see you with , but she's just too much fun to quit hanging out with anyway!
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We fished until the middle of the afternoon , when the poor slobs that had spent all morning with their wives walking through craft shops filled with hillbilly trinkets began showing up. I don't mind sharing the river with fellow fishermen but when folks start crowding me out of my spot I've had enough.
One last last fish and we called it a trip , a very good one at that. Joe took his place in the backseat and was snoring before we even hit the highway out of partners are all alike!!
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