Mark Kotcher and I headed down to the Current River on Saturday (May 31, 2003) for a very quick trip — approximately 250 miles roundtrip for 4 hours of fishing. Was it worth it? Yes. We left Denny’s at Bowles & I-44 at about 3:15am, hit QT for some coffee and bottled water and were on the road by 3:30am headed for the Current River. We arrived at the TanVat Access at 5:30am on the nose. We were suited up and started the walk upstream to the park — we had planned on fishing from the park down to TanVat access.
The first hole we stopped at there were fish rising everywhere. This was the most prolific sight of rising fish I have ever seen in Missouri. Mark got first shot at this hole, and I went downstream a ways to fish some faster water. The insects coming off were unreal — since I am no entomologist I have no idea what they were called, but they had black bodies and split tails and were tiny — like #24’S. My guess is that they were tricos, but I am probably way off. There were some caddis coming off as well, but not in the numbers like the other bugs. Mark fished a couple of different dries, and finally started getting hits on a #22 griffith’s gnat. He must have had easily 15 fish rising at anyone time in this pool — there rise forms made it look like it was raining on the water; very cool. Mark hooked up with his first fish on the griffith’s gnat, and I was still fishless. I put on my tan/ginger mohair leech and quickly hooked up with a rainbow. I then spotted a big fish (at least an 18″ fish) hanging on the bottom of the hole I was fishing. It was a big brown. It was sitting in a feeding lane and every once in a while it would dart out and grab something, then it would settle back on the bottom and just open its mouth as stuff drifted by. Very cool to watch. I fished for this one fish for about 30 minutes (throwing almost every subsurface fly I had in my boxes at it) and never got a look. I gave up and fished the hole, like I would any other hole and quickly hooked up with 3 more rainbows.
Mark wasn’t having any luck with the rising fish, missing some and what not. Then the temperature started to drop and the rising stopped. We fished our way downstream to the next big hole and I quickly hooked up with 2 fish in some deeper water. I then switched to a new color brown wooly bugger I had tied up (grizzly brown in color and nothing earth shattering — it looks cooler dry but looks like any other brown wooly when wet). I moved downstream a little bit and caught another rainbow. Continued fishing my way downstream, and hooked up with a nice brown trout of about 14″ or 15″ (my biggest fish of the day) with beautiful colors. Brown Trout are by far my favorite trout. We had reached the slower water, so I had reeled up and started the long trek back to the Blazer. We walked the stream back to the access and only ran into two other people (a man / wife couple fly fishing near the TanVat Access) the whole morning we were fishing. We spotted 5 snakes — not sure what kind they were, some were a little too close but most were sitting up on rocks sunning. We also had two deer cross the stream in front of us while we were fishing. Talk about a sight!
We were back at the access by 11am and driving back to STL by 11:30 or so (yeah we fished a little longer than expected). We we got to the access in the morning, the air temperature was above 70 but by 11:00am the temp had fallen to 63 and it was considerably cooler (I had wished I brought a jacket with me instead of the long sleeve shirt I was fishing in). The fishing really seemed to slow once the temperature started to drop. I ended this trip with 8 fish landed in about 4.5 hours of fishing (Mark caught one and avoided the “skunking” in his first trip to the Current River). The trip should have easily been a 15 fish morning for me — having lost many fish (I did have a hookup with another big fish that came up and boiled on top of the water, but that was it — i think it was just trying to tell me it was still there) and missing a ton of other fish with the streamers. Mark as well should have had a decent day, missing many fish on top and with streamers. We did notice the fish count seemed way up. My last two trips to the Current have been half day trips (leaving STL around 3am and getting back to STL around 2pm) and the river has not let me down — it has made each trip worth the drive (maybe the next trip Craig or Mark will drive and I can sleep…..LOL). All in all it was a great trip, and probably the last trout trip for me until late October. — Matt Tucker