"The solution to any problem -- work, love, money, whatever -- is to go fishing, and the worse the problem, the longer the trip should be." --John Gierach
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
All I Want for Christmas...is a Peaceful Day on the River (Chasing Winter Smallies!)
I do love the Holidays , don't get me wrong. The lights and festive decorations , the parties , all of the great food and drink and most of all ,the extra time made for spending with family and friends you don't get to see often enough the rest of the year. With all of these extra activities the last month has been busy for me , a few overtime days at work covering for folks on vacation and then a full plate of things to do at home as well.
Fast forward to this last weekend , with a forecast that was saying high temperatures around 65 degrees and myself with nothing pressing on my calendar for at least one day out of the two. I decided to hit the water and unwind from a little of this Holiday Madness that's been surrounding me here recently. With only one day to make this trip happen it kind of limited my available options due to drive time. I've basically got one river where I can go catch a few stocked rainbows or a couple of streams where I like to chase smallies during the warmer seasons that are within the 3 1/2 hour one-way drive time window I consider doable. Considering that it's mid-December and we've had some bitterly cold spells here recently , the stocked trout would have probably been my smartest option to take. Then again , I can't remember the last time someone told me how smart I was!
After throwing out a few feelers to try and convince someone else to join me on my December smallmouth float (and getting nothing but sneers and laughs)I finally just decided to go it alone.
This was one of those trips that you go into with no expectations , except the fact that you'll need more than shorts and a pair of sandals for this trip as opposed to your last time here , and that you probably won't see many others on the river. And in fact , both of those expectations came to be true statements. I'm pretty new to this smallmouth fishing thing but I knew enough to realize that fly fishing for them with water temps where they are now would probably be a matter of fishing really slow for a few bites in a day , not the fast streamer action I was used to. If nothing else I told myself it would be a good learning experience on winter stream bass fishing.
I arrived to the put-in just after 9:00 and loaded up the boat for a day on the water.
After pushing away and floating downstream for a 1/4 mile or so I realized what a good choice I'd made. I still didn't expect to catch any fish , but the peacefulness of an Ozark river in the winter is something you have to experience to understand. Eagles sailing overhead on the thermals , whitetail deer grazing along the riverbank and the sound of water breaking over the rocks at every riffle you come to. Merry Christmas to me....
I had a great winter day on the river when all was said and done. I worked really hard for a handful of bites from my intended quarry , and even managed to bring a few fish to hand.
The largest fish of the day (maybe pushing 15 or 16 inches) escaped at the last minute before I could get a decent mugshot , but even that couldn't wipe the smile off my face.
I never saw another person all day long...not at the put-in , not at the take-out and not anywhere on the five miles of river I floated. I'm sure I could have caught more fish if I'd have done the smart thing and joined the folks that I'm sure were out on the local trout rivers on such a beautiful day , but I enjoyed my time on the water learning a thing or two about winter stream smallmouth even more I think.
*I got a new camera after the last one quit on me after my most recent vacation. Still learning how to use it (would probably help if I'd read the manual but that'd be too easy) so some of the pictures are better than others. All of these new features are a learning experience for sure!*
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Sounds like a great experience. Having 5 miles of ozark water void of people is a gift by itself. Sharing it with a few fish and the other locals...is winning the lottery!! Now the challenge is finding ways to play more and win more!!ReplyDelete
Couldn't agree more with your assessment. As much as I dislike frozen fingers and guides freezing up after every cast...winter is still one of my favorite seasons simply because everybody else stays home!Delete
just awesome. sounds like a great day to me. :)ReplyDelete
Thanks Theresa...it turned out to be just what the Dr. ordered , a little time away from the hustle and bustle.Delete
Wish granted my friend.ReplyDelete
Truly fine fish for so late in the year.
Thanks Alan...while I didn't set the world on fire it was an enjoyable outing and I can even say that I learned a few things that might help me on my next trip.Delete
I think that new camera is working just fine! Thanks for sharing. Merry ChristmasReplyDelete
Thanks Lynn , it only took me half of the float just to figure out how to put the camera in Auto! Here's hoping that you and the rest of the family have a wonderful Christmas as well.Delete
We all know it's not just about catching fish, even so well done. i never tried winter smallmouth. may have to give it a try down on the river. thanks for the encouragement! Nice pics.ReplyDelete
Thanks....I saw a lot more fish than I caught , which tells me I was probably fishing too fast for the water temps. If nothing else I discovered a few wintering holes that I'll be hitting hard early next Spring when the fish are a little more actively feeding.Delete
Sounds like time well spent. I missed the window having made other commitments for Sunday and Saturday as you know sucked or at least it did here. Talk to you buddy!ReplyDelete
Time very well spent. I didn't hammer the fish obviously but still enjoyed the challenge of figuring things out. I'm pretty sure that it won't be my last winter smallmouth trip.Delete
As soon as I saw the weather forecast last weekend I knew that you were going to hit the water. Just a gut feeling. Looks like a good trip and some time to reflect during the holidays. Have a good Christmas Jeff.ReplyDelete
Thanks man...hey , shoot me a text or something when you get a chance. I texted you on Thursday I think to see if you wanted to go along with me. If you didn't get the message then I've obviously got the wrong number for you.ReplyDelete
I've actually got two numbers saved in my contacts that say Brian FSFF now that I look...obviously i used the wrong one??
Nice going Jeff. If I can't do it myself, I'm glad you are getting out and sharing your pictures. Just what the doctor ordered!ReplyDelete
Thanks Howard...That's just how I roll , helping out mankind one fishing trip at a time!!Delete
Seriously though , glad you enjoyed it and I hope you're still listening to those doctors and getting yourself healed up proper.
Looks like a great trip, indeed! I had plans to get out this past weekend, but an illness kept me inside. Glad to see that you were able to take advantage of the warmer temperatures. Curious...How did you get back to your vehicle? Do you call for a shuttle? Hike? Row back?ReplyDelete
Thanks Justin...Hope you're feeling better by now.ReplyDelete
On this trip I paid the standard $20 for someone to shuttle my vehicle down to the access I was taking out at. Honestly that's how I work it on most of the rivers I fish. Even if there are enough vehicles to do it yourself , for the price of $20 (split between two people if I'm with someone else) I'll pay it and take the extra time on the water fishing. I'm far too old and out of shape for that hiking 5 miles back to the truck or rowing back upstream stuff!!