Monday, July 21, 2014

Summer Vacation Part 1....Summertime Smallies

 photo P1080453_zps6b2bf6ea.jpg
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.
 photo P1080390_zps6b15e22a.jpg
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.
 photo P1080392_zps6d82cd5a.jpg
 photo P1080400_zpsa08a9a22.jpg
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.
 photo P1080454_zps248dda20.jpg
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.
 photo P1080404_zps35cfa681.jpg
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.
 photo P1080406_zpsbbb5bcd3.jpg
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.
 photo P1080408_zpsf355a4f6.jpg
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.
 photo P1080421_zpsc512f064.jpg
 photo P1080416_zps481d2723.jpg
 photo P1080422_zpsb050a337.jpg
We caught good numbers of fish again but the general size was still lacking.
 photo P1070924_zps675d05e2.jpg
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.
 photo P1080423_zps839f47bf.jpg
 photo P1080429_zpse913b226.jpg
 photo P1080447_zpsce93aceb.jpg
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.
 photo P1080411_zpsfdaa70c9.jpg
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.
 photo P1080449_zpsdf472200.jpg
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.
 photo P1080445_zps1a8f2735.jpg
 photo P1070910_zps08d2b5aa.jpg
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!
 photo P1070911_zpsf3688395.jpg


  1. i have to say, it looks pretty darn awesome - even for non-fishing me. :)

    1. Thanks Theresa...It's always nice to get away and commune with nature for a few days and that's exactly what we did. No cell phones or computers for three days...just moving water , good company and a nice campfire to finish out the day!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Another great trip for you, with some great pictures. You really can't beat what you said "No cell phones or computers, just moving water, good company and a nice campfire to finish out the day" I have a few more trips on the horizon and cannot wait! Hoping to make one of those trips to the south.

    1. Thanks Justin....Those ingredients alone are definitely enough to put a smile on my face , a few fish added in are just icing on the cake!

  4. Are you kidding me? What a great way to spend a vacation. I know you saw my posts about my vacation. That water alone makes the trip worth it.

    1. Thanks Howard...Just not being at work behind that desk makes it all worthwhile actually! Anytime you can spend a few days with a friend on the water is a good thing.

  5. You know it's a great vacation when the fish decide they want to meet you...the bigger ones are just waiting to meet you next time.

    1. I'm not sure there's any such thing as a bad vacation , but I always like to meet a few fishy friends along the way. I hope you're right but I'm not going to hold my breath considering the skill-set I have to work with!

  6. Great photos...and BEAUTIFUL STREAM!! :)

  7. Always enjoy the blog. I will have to find a way to make this happen myself!

    1. Thank you a kayak or pontoon and a day and we can always plan a trip!

  8. A few fish of the larger variety would have made it even better , but hey I'm not gonna complain about a few nice days on the water with a good friend.