Monday, July 21, 2014
Summer Vacation Part 1....Summertime Smallies
It's Monday morning , the day after , and physically I'm sitting here at work on my computer but mentally I'm still enjoying the memories from the 10 day vacation that is now officially over. There's nothing quite as annoying as the rude awakening of the alarm clock going off that first morning back to work , I wasn't sure whether I wanted to scream or cry! Oh well , all good things have to come to an end I guess...and I did enjoy a great week spent both fishing and scuba diving here in the Ozarks.
The first part of my vacation started Friday morning well before the sun thought about making an appearance. I was meeting my buddy Kevin down South on one of our favorite little smallmouth streams to spend three days floating and fishing. I pulled into our campground for the weekend just a little before 7:00 and found Kevin slaving over a campstove whipping us up a couple of breakfast sandwiches.
Who needs McDonalds with friends like that??
We'd already decided on a float plan for the first morning , a 6 mile float downstream from camp to the next public access. After unloading my boat and gear we made the quick vehicle shuttle and then started making our way downstream in search of Mr Smalljaws.
This was a new stretch of water for me on a stream that I've floated before a couple of times. We started catching fish almost immediately , little guys who evidently didn't let the hot overhead sun and crystal clear water deter their feeding habits.
I'm pretty sure I didn't catch anything over about 12 inches on that first float although I saw several larger fish hanging out in the shade and seemingly oblivious to everything I threw at them. While the fish were small in size they made up for it with attitude and it was a fun day of playing around on a beautiful small creek.
While the lack of large fish may be an end result to fishing a smaller creek during mid-summer it also comes with it's rewards , namely lack of other people. We didn't see another floater on the entire six mile stretch which in my eyes is well worth the trade-off. We took our time and spent most of the day fishing or dragging the boats through to the next good looking stretch of water.
After getting off the stream late afternoon we headed back to camp so I could get my tent set up and then spent a few hours driving around checking out other accesses and float options for our remaining two days. That night we sat streamside and enjoyed a great meal while watching the super-moon rise above the surrounding hills and listening to the whip-poor-wills sing their nighttime song.
Saturday we woke early and shuttled vehicles before sunup in hopes of getting on the water early to improve our fishing success. We chose to float a different stream on this day and knew that it would have a few more floaters as well so the early departure was a necessary evil. One thing is for sure , there's no better time to be on the river than sunrise. I'm not even taking into consideration the fishing , just being on the water and watching the sun rise over the surrounding hills is reason enough to set that alarm clock.
We caught good numbers of fish again but the general size was still lacking.
Actually , I think I just got spoiled on all of those early Spring trips when the pre-spawn piggies were putting on the feedbag for what was soon to come. I'm not complaining though , when given the choice between work and chasing smallies (of whatever size) I'm inclined to choose the latter.
We finished up the float just after noon and headed back to camp for some lunch and a break from the heat of the middle of the day. We did a little more scouting that afternoon and then retired back to camp to relax for awhile and wait on the sun to disappear. We had discussed trying a little night fishing on a stretch of water above where we were camped and decided this was the night. After another fine streamside meal we readied our gear and decided on two different stretches of water , Kevin was headed downstream and I was heading up. The moon was so large it brightened up the entire valley , other than tying on a new fly you could have fished without any additional lighting whatsoever. Unfortunately the fish didn't cooperate for me , I missed one blowup that about scared me out of my shorts and caught one little dink whose eyes were bigger than his stomach.
Even considering my near skunk I still really enjoyed the experience ,the river takes on an entirely new personality at night and it's almost like learning a new piece of water all over again. Needless to say I don't foresee it being my last foray into nighttime smallmouth fishing.
Sunday was the day we had to head home so we chose a little shorter float that was new to both of us to finish off the trip. We were up at the crack of dawn again , a pot of coffee and a couple of granola bars and we were headed out.
While I thought this stretch was one of the better looking stretches we had floated all weekend , the results were pretty much the same. Even with being on the water early and late we still couldn't convince any of the big boys that I know reside here to come out and play.
I'm pretty sure that the weather played a big role as well and I think my next trip to fish one of these small streams will be on an overcast rainy day. All in all it was a great way to start off my vacation week and I kind of hated to see it come to an end. There were things to be done though , I had to get home and unpack one truck full of gear and load up an entirely different one for the next leg of my journey. A day and a half to tie up loose ends at home and then I was headed back South to spend some time with the family at one of our favorite lakes. You never know....I might even get a little fishing in as well!
Posted by HighPlainsFlyFisher