Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Two Nights , Twenty Miles of River and a Couple of Fish...A Smallmouth Float Trip

An idea and then a phone call. That was all it took to put things in motion for a three day , two night float down 23 miles of another Ozarks river in search of smallmouth. Kevin and I hadn't been on a real fishing trip since returning from Wyoming and it seemed like a fine time to fix that. Both of us agreed smallmouth over trout and camping on a gravel bar over a concrete pad complete with neighbors who hang those illuminated strings of plastic trout around their campsite. The weather was supposed to be perfect , too much so in fact , a beautiful September weekend is a surefire recipe for a river full of floaters and fellow fishermen around this part of the country.That being said , we'd just have to take our chances....
Kevin had to work until 4:00 Friday afternoon which would put him at the access around 6:30. Not much time to float with these ever shortening fall days, but still enough daylight to get away from the access and pitch camp on a quiet gravel bar. Myself on the other hand didn't have to work and planned to meet up with the shuttle service around noon on Friday and then be dropped off about 4 miles above the point where I was supposed to meet Kevin that evening.
It was around 1:00 when we pulled down next to the water and I started unloading three days worth of gear and arranging it on a boat that quickly began to look too small.
 photo P1060848_zps88815e7c.jpg
One last check to make sure I hadn't forgotten something I couldn't live without for three days and I watched my truck pull away as I shoved off.
It's always a good feeling to start one of these float trips. There's just something about the idea of having approximately 23 miles of river to traverse in three days and no other goals or problems to concern yourself with. It's just you and the river...and hopefully the fish.
 photo P1060728_zps00241870.jpg
I had an enjoyable afternoon float , I'd be lying if I told you that I fished very hard , but that wasn't really the point. I caught a few smallmouth and spent some time getting the gear arrangement worked out on my overloaded boat ,but mostly I just enjoyed the sun and the sound of cool water flowing over the rocks as I floated downstream.
 photo P1060797_zps8ad7b498.jpg
 photo P1060854_zpsff903b0d.jpg
 photo P1060837_zps975eb7ad.jpg
 photo P1060731_zps54d07bae.jpg
I called Kevin as I floated past the boat ramp he'd be putting in at in an hour or so. I told him my plan was to head on downstream and find us a good gravel bar for the night and get the party started ,a cold beer and a cigar were sounding awfully nice.
 photo P1060738_zpscd532bbd.jpg
 photo P1060740_zps562322d3.jpg
Kevin showed up as planned about an hour later and we spent the remainder of the night eating, drinking and sitting around the fire while discussing the next days fishing.
 photo P1060752_zps4b148f9c.jpg
 photo P1060758_zpsdee8b05c.jpg
Saturday mornings alarm clock was the sound of a blue heron leaving it's riverside roost followed shortly by a group of crows making enough racket to wake the soundest sleeper. After boiling water for some morning coffee we quickly broke camp and pushed off as the fog was still being burnt off by the early morning sun.
 photo P1060759_zps5d84c533.jpg
The weapon of choice was still a sinking line and an assortment of 6 inch streamers that I hoped would prove to the liking of the resident bass.
 photo P1060849_zpscb7e5af8.jpg
 photo P1060842_zps38e29dbb.jpg
It didn't take long to get an answer to that question as a chunky smallmouth chased and proceeded to smash my double deceiver. The morning was good and quickly getting better...
 photo P1060744_zpsb5397704.jpg
 photo P1060745_zpsb0ec4df0.jpg
The fishing was consistent and we had the river to ourselves until mid-morning when we started seeing a few floaters. We were both into the fishing and just floated and fished at our own pace , occasionally catching up with one another and trading results.
 photo P1060814_zpsbc9cc9e3.jpg
 photo P1060767_zpsac499775.jpg
By the time mid-afternoon came around we were passing the last access for the next 10 miles and leaving all of our company behind. This was truly the section of river we'd been waiting for all along...good looking water , smallies and best of all complete solitude.
 photo P1060819_zps8de6c1a3.jpg
 photo P1060766_zpsa0ef7154.jpg
 photo P1060769_zpscfa93b47.jpg
The fishing actually improved during the afternoon and we both caught good numbers of chunky stream smallmouths. We weren't able to break that revered 18" mark but the fish we did catch were well fed and aggressive , not much else a guy could ask for.
 photo P1060796_zps84169812.jpg
 photo P1060799_zps3d0fefec.jpg
 photo P1060805_zps7e5274d5.jpg
The hand held GPS read 12.4 miles when we pulled the boats over on our gravel bar for the second evening , a good chunk of water covered for a days float considering our modes of transportation.
Just like routine , we set camp and got a driftwood fire going to cook the evenings dinner.
 photo P1060827_zps52bc27e7.jpg
Nothing gourmet here ,but when eaten on the banks of a river under the stars it has no culinary equals.
 photo P1060830_zps8d7536a2.jpg
The remainder of the evening was spent sitting around a big fire emptying the remaining beer out of the coolers and telling stories about the ones that got away.
 photo P1060834_zps767bf80f.jpg
Sunday we were awoken by the same chorus of alarms as the morning before ,it seems you never have to worry about oversleeping when Mother Nature is your alarm clock. We made coffee and whipped up some breakfast burritos before breaking camp for the final 6 miles or so of river.
My first fish was hooked up before we got out of sight of the smoldering ashes from the previous nights campfire , picking right back up where we left off.
 photo P1060838_zps2b650ca4.jpg
 photo P1060837_zps975eb7ad.jpg
Another beautiful Fall morning floating down the river , the only distraction being the tug of another smallmouth from behind every boulder.
 photo P1060860_zpsc6ca38e8.jpg
 photo P1060868_zps77e92a07.jpg
 photo P1060764_zps812008a8.jpg
 photo P1060839_zpsd85cf072.jpg
The six miles went by too quick and we were slightly disappointed in the quality of water down here compared to the previous afternoon. We still caught fish from all of the spots they should have been , those spots were just fewer and farther between it seemed.
 photo P1060801_zps293f3af0.jpg
 photo P1060798_zpsd04b8444.jpg
I'm really not complaining , it only sounds that way. I'm pretty sure I had a smile on my face from the time I woke up until the time I closed my eyes at night for the entire three days of the trip.
I think it was around 2:30 when we came around the corner and spotted the takeout. A bittersweet feeling no doubt , while it's good to have made it to your final destination, it also means the end of another great trip.
 photo P1060857_zpsf46ba641.jpg
A little tired and sunburnt but otherwise no worse for the wear , we loaded up the boats and headed back to the pavement and a dose of least until the next escape plan presents itself.
 photo P1060811_zpsd127dcbe.jpg

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Much Needed Day on the Locals....Bass , Carp and Drum

While it may appear like I just dropped off the face of the earth after returning from my Wyoming trip , in all actuality I've just been busy trying to catch up on all of the chores around the home that I'd been putting off all summer. With Fall right around the corner I figured that I'd procrastinated as long as I could and had better get busy trying to scratch some items off that old list we all have.
While I'm still in the middle of a couple projects, I made time this week on one of my days off to get out and feel that "tug" again. Joe and I started off the day around mid-morning and headed out to a local reservoir to see if we couldn't find a carp or two to play with. The water was drastically cooler than on my last visit and while I didn't see lots of fish , the ones I did see were very active. I managed to pick up two nice commons and several smallish drum on our walk down the rocky dam face.
 photo P1060721_zps802e7307.jpg
 photo P1060715_zpsd7fdfa64.jpg
 photo P1060719_zpsacbb9743.jpg
The cool water really had these fish feeling their oats , the drum fought much bigger than they actually were and one of the carp had to be the best fight of the year. I love to see my backing knot , although I always cringe just a little as it slips through the guides!
 photo P1060711_zps8071ab12.jpg
 photo P1060712_zps965cd4fb.jpg
All of my fish came on rocks today. I had several shots at foraging fish on the surrounding mud flats but just couldn't get an eat.
I wondered to myself just what they were eating that had them snubbing their nose at my flies and on our way back to the truck I finally figured it out. The grass along the shoreline was full of these large yellow mayflies (Nice entomological terms , huh?) and I can only guess that they were rooting up mayfly nymphs.
 photo P1060724_zpsc2fb2edf.jpg
A great couple of hours and it really made me wish I'd been down to check things out sooner.
 photo P1060717_zps8c89a88b.jpg
With the cooler evenings ,I'd been wanting to get my boat out on a small local lake not far from the house and try to catch a few largemouth. With the fever revving up after a successful morning on the water I decided I might as well load up the boat and give it a shot.
 photo P1060692_zpse1f7baee.jpg
It was my first time looking for bass on the lake , my previous endeavors here all consisted of stalking the shores for carp. A nice little lake with some shallow weeds and deep rocky bluffs ,I was excited to get started. I didn't have long to wait before hooking up with what I'd came for.
 photo P1060684_zps92f0b027.jpg
 photo P1060702_zps3680ec7e.jpg
While smaller than what I'd hoped for at least it was a good start.
 photo P1060699_zpsd454649b.jpg
Being a weeknight there were very few people on the water and the weather was about as good as it gets. There's just something enjoyable about sitting out in the middle of a lake , kicking back and watching the sun set over the horizon.
 photo P1060704_zpsba157b63.jpg
 photo P1060707_zps0d47b6b3.jpg
I ended up landing several more bass but unfortunately none of them were any bigger than the first one , they could have all been siblings. All in all still another great outing and I'll be back before old man winter arrives to try and find some older and larger family members.
With any luck it won't be another month before my next post , I'm pretty sure that itch will need to be scratched again before then...damn those lists!