Friday, March 6, 2015
Kicking off Spring...With a Winter Fishing Trip
If you've been hanging around here for very long you might recall that I take 4 or 5 days off work each year on March 1st to hang out with some family and friends on opening day for Missouri's trout parks. This is one of those trips that definitely isn't about the fishing , if it wasn't for my dad and several of the others that have made it a longstanding tradition over the past 30+ years I'd probably be sitting at home on the couch with everyone else on March 1st , just wishing for Spring. There aren't any beautiful wild rainbows or adrenaline producing monster brown trout in play on this weekend. Instead it's all about sitting around telling stories of years gone by , eating, drinking and just generally taking a few days off to rewind.
March 1st is always the first weekend of Spring in my eyes , the weather usually isn't indicative of that change , but to me it's still the official changing of seasons. This year was no different on the weather front , it started snowing before I arrived on saturday morning and by the time I got my gear unpacked the ground and roads were covered with a blanket of the white stuff. Welcome to March in the midwest!!
I will say that the snow made the river seem even more serene and peaceful than it normally would be , and it's hard to picture anything much prettier than a new snowfall on the river.
While the weather didn't put a damper on our weekend (everyone still arrived safely) it did affect what I was able to do while there. My normal float trips on the river had to be nixed because my two wheel drive truck just wouldn't make it up the hills at a couple of the accesses. That didn't keep me off the river , it just meant I had to fish different locations or talk one of the guys in my group who were driving a 4x4 to give up their park fishing and join me. I actually did a little of each during my four day stay.
The weather kept a lot of folks at home this year I'm guessing , the crowds in the park for a weekend opener were as light as I can remember and after Saturday I never encountered another soul on the river (except for my ride and fishing partner).
I guess I need to retract that statement if I want to be totally honest...I did encounter about half a dozen expert anglers on the water over the four days , but I actually enjoyed their company.
I'm not sure what the fishing was like inside the park as I didn't bother to buy a tag and most of the guys I was with spent more time inside the cabin than on the stream. The river fished very well throughout the entire weekend though. The location didn't much seem to matter as the trout fairy had obviously stocked rather generously sometime recently and somehow these fish had run the gauntlet and escaped leaving the river in a 5 gallon home depot bucket.
I won't lie and tell you that they were all beautifully colored fish of massive proportions...most of them were recently stocked fish that had the scars and worn off fins to show for their time being held in a concrete raceway. I did manage a few small browns as well as a few rainbows who had been in the river long enough to lose most of their scars and develop some actual color.
The really enjoyable part of the fishing for me was the fact that I used my new two-handed switch rod the entire time , never even broke a single-hander out of a rod tube the entire four days.
I used the switch to swing smallish streamer patterns all weekend and regardless of how ugly the casting might have been , the fish didn't care and I really enjoyed the style of fishing. For that type of fishing (and it has definitely become one of my favorite ways to fish for trout in the last few years) I can't see myself ever wanting to use anything but the switch rod. The casting, the mending and even the actual swing of the streamer just seems so much more effortless with the longer rod , and that's before I even truly learn how to cast the thing properly. Let's just say that I broke the cherry on that new rod in fine fashion...the cork now has the lingering smell of fish and good cigars.
All things said and done it turned out to be another great fishing trip to notch in the books for 2015. Great company , good eats and a few days hanging out on the river harassing a few fish. That's enough to put a grin on my face that'll hopefully last until I can get around to planning the next outing...sooner than later works best for me!!
Posted by HighPlainsFlyFisher