Maramec Springs Trout Park (St. James, MO) — June 21, 2003

My semi-annual trip to Maramec Springs Trout Park during the “catch to keep bait fisherman cabaret” occurred today. Craig had tried all of Thursday and Friday to convince me to go fishing on Sunday morning (of course he had to be back in Edwardsville by 12pm on the nose) down at Suicide or Cardiac. I tried to call his bluff and said that the only way I was fishing was if we fished the park on Sunday morning. It was set. We were to meet up at Denny’s at 5am to take off. After the hangover, getting up at 5am, working till 2pm, and cleaning up my basement from the prior night’s festivities (had 7 guys over to tie flies and enjoy barley sodas) I was dead tired. So I grabbed my 3wt rod, waders & boots, and vest and threw them in my blazer and headed for bed at 8pm. Chris (a member of an STL internet email fly tying list I belong to) called me at about 8:45 wanting to know where and what time to meet up with us in the morning. Alarm went off at 3:45am and I was up, showered, and out the door by 4:10am to grab some breakfast. I get to Denny’s and the drunks were still out in full force — what an interesting crowd they were. I enjoy my breakfast and by 4:45 was done and sitting in my blazer waiting on Craig and Chris. I call Craig to see what his eta is and the phone is switched off. That ain’t good — he was still a sleep. I left a vulgar voice mail message with a few choice words and continued to wait for Chris. I called Craig five minutes later to see if I got through — got him. He was just leaving Edwardsville at 4:45am! I will give him credit though, he did not once want to bow out and still showed up knowing, full well, the amount of crap i was going to give him for being late — not once have I ever been late for fishing (“I’m Late” is a phrase you don’t want to hear from your girlfriend or your fishing partner). Chris did show up at 5am on the nose, and I explained to him that my fishing buddy was a boozer and had one of them fancy alarm clocks with the 45 minute snooze buttons that us regular folks couldn’t afford. We decided to wait for him and went in and had some coffee.

And they say half the fun is getting there. We got down to the park at about 7am or so, bought our tags (i picked up an annual parking pass for the C&R season) and found out that there was already 200+ people in the park. We rigged up and suited up (Chris was wet wading in the park) and headed to the water. The water was still up a bit and very murky — couldn’t really see any fish at all. I ended up showing Chris the length of the park and where the Management Section outside of the park started and what not while fishing every once in awhile.

After about an hour of walking around the park, I decided to head back up to the cable at the top of the park and fish (hoping it was not crowded). Chris stopped to fish some of the slack water on the far side of the stream away from everyone (he was overwhelmed at the number of people there fishing). I started fishing a #14 Sulphur crackleback with no luck. Then I moved down to the little part of the stream that splits the island and heads into the handicap pool. First cast I had a hookup with a little brown of about 8″ on top. I ended up missing 2 more fish there and decided to head back up to the cable and fish the crackleback there. I figure at least I didn’t get skunked, and the fish i did catch was on my 3wt and on a dry (even if you neighsayers say it was caught on a “crackleback”). I started casting and drifting my crackleback along the sidewalk path on the far side of the stream, and on the first drift I missed a fish. I fished to that side of the stream for about 10 minutes or so and ended up missing 3 fish and landing another brown trout of about 10″ or so. While i was unhooking and releasing the trout two spin fisherman came and sat on the concrete path at the exact spot i was casting to and starting my drift. After releasing my fish i asked them if they were really going to sit there, of which I got the reply, “well why not,” and I told them that surely they had seen me with the fish and the missed fish while they were walking up the path, and I got the “oh were sorry” routine. I gave them the “no that’s alright, you probably already scared the fish away so I am done anyway” and the “thanks allot you idiot” look and reeled up and headed back to the truck to pack up and head back to STL.

After telling Chris we were leaving (he was still in the slack water) and told him where and with what I was having the hookups we were on our way (Chris how did you do after we left?). It was a good trip. I got to give Craig lots of crap for showing up late (and I am not done yet), got to show Chris why I don’t fish during the catch & keep season, and caught 2 fish on dries with my 3wt (I committed to it, and only took that rod with me — so i wouldn’t have a choice (man do i need to fish with that rod more)). All in all it was a good day. I was back on my couch in STL by 11:45am (after 2.5 hours in the car and about 2.5 hours of fishing) and took a nap by 1pm. Not a bad day. This will be my last trout trip of the year (unless someone talks me into to fishing the Spring River or heading down to the White/Norfork before October), now its time to tie up some flies. — Matt Tucker

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