This is an annual trip that I've written about before here on the blog. Some family , some friends and a tradition of heading South every year on February 28th to spend four days eating , drinking , fishing and catching up on time missed. For lodging we stay in one of the cabins inside of Bennett Springs State Park and get to be witness to the craziness that is an opening day at one of Missouri's trout parks.
I lost the desire to fish among the crowds of people more than a few years ago , luckily for me there are other opportunities to fish in relative solitude just a short drive away. I still get to spend a long weekend with a great group of guys and while they enjoy partaking in the madness inside the park I sneak away and enjoy some time on a peaceful river.
This year we all headed down on a Friday and got settled into our temporary home for the weekend before noon.
With groceries and gear unpacked I decided to head down to the river and see what the conditions were like since I hadn't seen the river in awhile. With the park not opening until the next day the river was unusually crowded at the nearest access so I headed downstream to some private water that I figured to have all to myself. After paying my two dollar access fee I made my way down to the river and found just what I had expected , nobody.
I spent the next couple of hours swinging small streamers through some of my favorite runs and catching several small rainbows.
A pair of immature eagles were the only company I encountered the entire afternoon to my great pleasure. Nothing like a day on the water with only mother nature to keep you company
That night , after a meal that could have fed a small army , we sat around readying gear for the next morning and enjoying a few cold beverages. The rest of the group had plans to be up early to get their spot in the park , while I intended to sleep in and start breakfast when I got around. After breakfast I had plans to drop my boat in for a four mile float on the river where I hoped to have the same results as the previous afternoon , solitude and a few hungry fish.
After a lumberjack breakfast that would have sustained the normal person for several days , I headed down to the river access right outside the park and loaded up for the float.
Between the impending winter storm forecast and the dropping temps all day I didn't have to worry about any crowds on Saturday , I passed two guys in a canoe in the first mile and then never saw another soul the entire day.
The fishing was as good as I've seen it on this river for awhile. A couple of nice holdover rainbows , two small browns and a bunch of stocker bows made it a very enjoyable float for sure.
All of the fish came on my mink sculpin pattern in a light olive color.
While I'm sure there were some spots where I could have picked up a few more fish with an indicator and nymphs , but I much prefer to swing small streamers and the fish seemed to approve as well.
I made a full day of it and didn't get of the river until the sun was starting to dissapear below the horizon.
The evenings dinner was already started by the time I got back to the cabin which left me with nothing to do but take a nice hot shower and sit back with a cold beer. I love my camping expeditions but sometimes it sure is nice to have the comforts of home after a long day on the water.
Sunday we awoke to snow , sleet and temperatures around twelve degrees. Needless to say, nobody was in a big hurry to hit the water. As a matter of fact , I don't think anyone else was even considering it.
After another big breakfast I decided to head out and see if I could steal a few hours on the river without freezing my fingers off. It was no big surprise that I didn't see a single person on the river and only a handful of folks in the park.
The place looked almost deserted for an opening weekend , probably as few of people as I can remember ever seeing on an opener.
I fished off and on all day at a couple of different accesses, catching good numbers of rainbows, and never saw another fisherman. The one advantage to nasty weather.
Another great dinner and an evening spent sitting around with good friends in a warm cabin , telling stories and having a few adult beverages made up the remainder of the night.
Monday was my last day and when I awoke the temps had dropped down to eleven below zero! I had a few cups of coffee and got some gear packed before breakfast , debating whether to fish at all before heading home considering the weather. I finally decided to make one pass down through the closest public access and call it a weekend.
I caught three small rainbows , still swinging my small streamer patterns, before I couldn't feel my fingers and my reel had locked up solid.
That was enough for me , even I have a limit. I headed back to the cabin to say my good-byes and grab another cup of coffee for the road. Another great trip in the books , one of many in 2014 I hope.