Spring River (Mammoth Spring, AR) — October 4 – 5, 2003

If you are a numbers person, then this trip would have been for you. In 2.5 days of fishing on the Spring River, the four of us (Craig Peterson, Brent McClane, Todd Buttzlaff, and I) caught approximately 300 trout and 2 smallmouth in total (this is a conservative number). Granted Todd and Brent headed down a day earlier and caught 90 fish between the two of them (so the 4 of us only caught 200 trout in 1.5 days). Craig and I didn’t leave St. Louis on Friday until a little after 4pm – but the record will show that I was ready to leave by 12pm. On the drive down we got a call from Brent to check our ETA, we were near the town of West Plains and about 70 miles out or so. I asked him how their day was, and the response went something like “we caught a little over 90 fish between the two of us today between two access points………this was the most fish I have caught in one day ever.” Well, that got both Craig and I pumped. We got down there unpacked and popped a beer with Brent and Todd and decided where to eat dinner. I will also say this, when someone fished / hunts with me there is never a shortage of food; but, when you fish with those guys there is never a shortage of beer. After a fine dinner at Fred’s Fish House in Mammoth Springs, we were back at the hotel room tying flies and having a good time. I climbed in bed about 12:15 or so that night and was up (too early) at about 5:30am on Saturday. We met up for breakfast and were on the water by 7:30am or so. The first thing we noticed was that the water was extremely low – probably close to 2 feet lower than when Mark and I fished it in April (which is unusual as this is strictly a single spring fed stream with one feeder creek) and the places that I liked to fish were not near as deep as they were on my previous trip. I won’t bore you with all the details but Saturday ended up with me getting my butt spanked on the water – Todd and Brent gave me a lesson in nymph fishing and caught close to 90 again, Craig ended up with about 30, and I finished up with 17 (15 on mohairs / wooly’s and 2 on scuds). We fished the area near the spring and the Hwy. 63 bridge. This was our first trip to this section of water, and man did I like the way it looked. It was definitely nice water. About 9:00am there was a nice Blue Wing Olive hatch. This was the first BWO hatch I have ever experienced (or at least that I know of — as Brent and Todd are both Biologists and are familiar with insects and were able to quickly identify them) and it was a pretty good hatch. I do have a photo of the hatch, but when it got shrunk down for the site it lost the details. I must say that it is good to see another set of fishing partners give each other as much crap as Craig and I do. Fishing with Craig and I has been referred to as fishing with an Old Married Couple — well I now know what that feels like after fishing with Todd and Brent. Saturday, we finished up on stream and had dinner at Fred’s Fish House again (I figure if I eat enough fish, maybe I will start to keep up with them), and back to the rooms for beer and flies. I didn’t tie on Saturday night nor drink but 3 beers, and was in bed considerably earlier than the night before. I ended up getting about 2 hours of sleep that night, I guess it was too much fish from Fred’s and not enough beer (I hear that is a delicate balance) and arose to the sound of rain. We hit the stream on Sunday morning by about 6:45 and you couldn’t ask for better weather to fish with temps in the mid 50’s and cloud cover and the occasional shower. I ended up with 16 fish on Sunday morning, Craig landed 22 (although he might need to subtract the two he caught on the San Juan Worm), not sure how many fish Brent and Todd ended up with (but between the two of them, I would say they caught at least 35 fish) that morning. My biggest fish of the weekend was a nice fat 16.5” brown, Craig caught several beautiful browns a little bigger. It was a great weekend. We made the trip in a little more than 3.5 hours one way, so it almost qualifies as a day trip destination from St. Louis, if the fish were bigger (average fish was 10” to 13”). Of the fish that I caught on Saturday, most were Browns and on Sunday, most were rainbows. We caught a ton of fish, and had a ton of laughs (many at my expense, driving across the bridge on the Spring River yelling down to Todd and Brent that “Matt Tucker was a f#c% face” was one of them). I had two hookups with fish on the new sculpin pattern (Rag Sculpin), but the water wasn’t really good streamer water. It was a great trip, and hope to have many more like it – although next time I hope I just can keep pace (although 33 fish over 1.5 days is not too bad in my book, it was put in perspective by everyone else’s days). I also learned two important things this weekend – always make sure that you have a scud on the end of your line when fishing an indicator set up (don’t go about 20 or 30 minutes without a fly on your line without noticing) and indicator fishing is a lot tougher than it seems. Maybe one day this season I will leave the mohairs at home, although I don’t know if I am that strong.

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