Friday, September 30, 2016

Some Much Needed River Time...Part Two

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I arrived home from my smallmouth trip early Tuesday evening and didn't even bother to unload anything except my dirty clothes bag and camp dishes that required cleaning. By Thursday morning I was already heading back South for another round on my favorite trout stream in the state of Missouri.
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I showed up just after noon and picked a proper spot for camp right on the edge of the river. Not the best afternoon shade but the trade-off was the sound of a nearby riffle to drift off to sleep to.
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I was meeting a couple of friends for this part of the trip but they wouldn't show up until Friday morning so I got camp setup and then kicked back in a comfortable chair with a nice view and a cold beer.
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With three days of steady fishing ahead of me I took it easy that first afternoon. The spey rod was broken out and I spent a few hours swinging some small streamers in the run upstream from camp. A couple of small fish were caught but the real intent of the exercise was to get in some much needed casting practice.
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That evening, after throwing together a quick dinner, I kicked back around a blazing campfire and had a few more adult beverages to finish off what was a great start to the weekend.
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The rest of the group pulled into the campground Friday morning and after getting tents and gear unloaded we decided on a gameplan for the day and headed out.
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This is by far one of the prettiest stretches of water in the Ozarks and a real gem when it comes to fishing as well.
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Smallmouth in the very upper reaches, wild rainbows dominating the middle river and good numbers of meat-eating browns and even a few white bass and stripers in the lower river. Pretty much everything a streamer guy could ask for in a body of water.
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We floated the wild rainbow section on the first day and while a few streamers were thrown along the way it was mostly a nymphing game. While I don't plan many outings anymore which are basically what we call "bobber trips", this is one river where a few days nymphing up colorful wild rainbows and scrappy browns is a true pleasure.
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Daylong floats accompanied with the usual streamside lunch (fried chicken, of course) followed by a night of sitting around camp stargazing and telling stories with a cold beer and a good cigar was pretty much how the weekend played out.
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Saturday we floated the lower stretch of river and got to sample some of the diversity that this stream offers in the way of fish, you can't beat these two species when it comes to heart pounding streamer action.
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Sunday it was back to the middle river for a shorter float that would put us back at camp in time to get packed up and on the road at a decent hour.
The fishing itself was very enjoyable, the numbers were about average and the fish size pretty much fell into that category as well, with the exception of a few real beauties that made it boatside over the course of the trip.
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While the trees havn't started to turn yet and the daytime temps were still warm enough to warrant a few quick dips in the spring fed waters throughout the day, the evenings were beginning to take on a subtle flavor of Fall. Just cool enough that the campfire was a welcome addition and not simply window dressing. And that sleeping bag actually got used for the first trip in who knows how long. The quiet and solitude that awaited us each evening at camp was the true indicator though, just a few weeks prior we would have had to share our riverside abode with more than just the local wildlife.
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A great week to start off what I hope is a Fall full of many more fishing opportunities just like this one.
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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Some Much Needed River Time...Part 1

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Nobody is happier than I am to see that big yellow bus pull up to the end of the street again each weekday morning. The official sign that Summer is finally over. Many of my favorite float rivers are also a favorite of the Summer party crowd here in the Ozarks, but by this time of year all but a few stragglers have thrown in the proverbial towel. Vacation season is over, kids these days seem to have school related activities that take up most weekends and football season sucks what's left of the crowd off the river.
Ahhhhh...hear that? I don't either, the sound of peace and quiet has returned to the river.
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This is definitely one of my favorite times of the year to be out floating and I usually try to take some time off work to take advantage of it. This year I took an entire week off work for my "Fall Break" and made plans to spend as much of the time as I could on the water.
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My first destination was one of my favorite smallmouth rivers in Missouri. This one I have to all but give up to the float crowd between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the hordes of people and shenanigans that occur on this river all Summer long would make most folks shake their heads. I know I do.
This time of year the people have gone but the fish are still there. I often wonder what the view from below must be like for these fish all Summer, a constant above water circus making it's way downstream every day.
I ended up spending 2 1/2 days in the area and floated the main river as well as one of the tributaries that run into it. While the main river fished very well and had some really good flows, the trib I ended up spending a day on was still ultra clear and the fish were spooky. They kicked my butt on this body of water the day I fished it. Saw lots of fish but they saw me first! Give me a river to float and put a streamer rod in my hand and I'm a pretty happy camper though, the fish are just the icing.
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The fishing wasn't great, but it was good. By good, I mean that I caught quite a few fish (more than expected actually) they just weren't the size I was hoping for. I had hopes that the cooler nights we'd been having might have triggered some of those beauties I connected with in the Spring to come back out and play once again. Alas, it just wasn't in the cards on this trip. I had one or two shots at quality fish that I somehow screwed up but for the most part didn't see many large fish and never landed anything over about 14". I think the excellent Springtime smallmouth fishing I had this year kind of spoiled me, but not so much that I can't still enjoy a peaceful day on the river catching numerous 10-12 inch smallies.
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After a busy float season the campgrounds mostly all close their doors and probably sleep it off for several weeks (can't blame them actually) so I slummed it behind a buddys rental cabin in an empty RV spot. Nothing fancy but I had a piece of green grass under the tent and I could see the river from my chair around the firepit, that was all that I needed to unwind from lifes daily stresses.
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I'll be planning a return trip in the near future for sure. Neither the river or myself was on our "A" game that weekend, after a long Summer I guess we both needed a little time to get back in the groove of things.
Here's to the next trip.....