Spring River (Mammoth Spring, AR) — April 4 – 6, 2003

What a weekend! I have decided to start charging Mark for fishing lessons. There will be no more — hey Mark, why don’t you stand here and cast there………..; every time I would say that he would catch a fish on the first cast. Or, my favorite, this is how you strip a wooly…..teach a guy to strip a wooly bugger and he will make you his bit$# the rest of the weekend.

We left St. Louis around 1pm (after a stop by FeatherCraft and Schnucks for some last minute supplies), stopped at Denny’s for lunch in Rolla and started the trek down to Mammoth Spring, Arkansas down Hwy. 63. When we left Rolla the temperature was close to 70 degrees, by the time we got to Cabool it had started raining but the temperature hadn’t dropped that much. In West Plains, MO we hit the hail and POURING rain — it was pretty nasty there on Friday. We arrived at the RiverView Motel about 5:30 or 6:00pm, checked in, and decided to hit the water for some night fishing in the rain and lightening. We fished friday night for about an hour in the rain and dark, until we got scared out of the water due to the lightening. I was throwing a tan/ginger mohair leech and missed one fish. Mark scored on one fish, right at the boat access, on a scud under an indicator. Friday evening fish score — Mark 1; Matt 0.

Saturday morning, we were on the water by 5:00am with no one in sight. The Spring River is absolutely a beautiful river. We took allot of photos on this trip, and they don’t even begin to capture the beauty of this stream. We started off by fishing the Lasetter Access (named the Lasetter Access, I later learned, because “Old Man” Lasetter used to charge $.50 to park and fish the river from his farm, or $3/night to camp there) which was in view of our hotel (basically, if you looked out the balcony of our hotel you could see the access). It is the only stream access I have fished in this river in the past. I picked up a couple of fish on a brown mohair leech, and Mark picked up a couple fish on a brown or black wooly bugger. We were supposed to meet up with Dan Sears (Danoinark) and Tom Anderson (not a STL group member) at around 8:30am. We had been fishing for 3hrs already, so I decided to fish my way back to the access point to meet up with Dan and Tom when they arrived.

They arrived around 9am or so (they had stopped off for a breakfast of biscuits & gravy — so they can be forgiven) and after introductions and some brief visiting, Tom offered to show us 2 other access points for the river. He took us to the Bayou Access of the river (down a gravel/dirt road about 4 miles — which I would have never found) and to the hatchery access. The Spring River has ALOT of fishable water. After about an hour of sight-seeing, we decided to fish the Lassetter Access the rest of the morning. All you MiniVan naysayers beware, Tom was driving a mini-van and I am convinced that they make great fish cars due to all the room — and he drove it like a baja racer to the Bayou Access. This is when Mark started his fishing lessons for Dan and I — Mark quickly caught 4 fish on a black wooly. Dan eeked out a fish, after listening to the advice of Tom and fishing a chute of water a certain way. I still hadn’t caught a fish, since returning from our car ride. Even Tom got into the action catching 3 fish in about 30 minutes from the riffle below our hotel. Dan and Tom left after about an hour of fishing or so. It was really nice meeting both of them and I look forward to visiting/fishing with them on future trips to Arkansas (or whenever they decide to venture up to our neck of the woods). Mark and I decided to hit Sonic for lunch (he had never been to Sonic before) and then try our luck at the Bayou Access. Saturday Morning Fish Score — Dan 1; Tom 3; Matt 7; Mark 11.

After a quick lunch at Sonic we headed to the Bayou Access. This was the first access that actually had people fishing it — however, they were all suiting up and leaving the water. This section of river was nice as well. This was the first time that I had fished this section of water — I heeded Tom’s advice and parked myself in a riffle in front of the access and eeked out 6 fish over the next 3 hours. Mark did a little exploring upstream, where Tom indicated there may be some bigger rainbows and caught one fish. The scenery at this access was superb. There was some canoe traffic at this access, but nothing like seen on Missouri waters (in total i think 5 canoes/rafts drifted past me in my riffle – – and all but 1 floated behind me and apologized for disturbing the fishing). We both got a ton of sun that afternoon, and by 4:30pm I had decided to call it quits and go enjoy some ice cold water and a shaded chair. When I got back to my Blazer, it was covered in Caddis. This was the biggest hatch I have ever seen — they were very thick and flying/crawling over everything. I opted to sit back and watch the water a little, to see if there was any dry fly activity — no fish activity what-so-ever. I gave Mark my 3wt and he went up to some slower water, where he educated chubs in dry fly presentations of tiny griffith’s gnats. This was the most enjoyable part of the weekend, kicked back next to a beautiful river with no one in site and no other sounds. We stopped fishing about 6:00pm, and after about 11 hours of fishing in the sun and upper 60 degree weather. Saturday Afternoon/evening Fish Score – – Mark 1; Matt 6. Total Saturday Fish Score — Mark 12; Matt 13 (after 11 hours)

Sunday morning we woke up at 5am to the wind howling and the rain, and very very cold temperatures. The temperature when we arrived at the Lassetter Access (after checking out of the hotel, and packing up the Blazer) was a cool 31 degrees with rain and wind blowing to 25mph. There was a 40 degree temperature drop, rain, and wind conditions that all indicated neither of us should hook up on fish — it was a prescription for FAILURE. This was perhaps Mark’s day — he put on a black wooly bugger and proceeded to school me. It was pretty cool to watch; he worked the far bank and hooked up with fish at ease. I finally switched from a black mohair to a black wooly (i was convinced up until this day that a black mohair could keep pace with a black wooly any day) and started catching fish. I picked up one fish on a crackleback on top (saw the rising fish, casted to the rising fish, caught the rising fish), and broke off a BIG fish that all I could do was get him to boil under the water — but Mark saw the boil from about 50 yards away, and the fish hit the leech like a freight train. When it wasn’t pouring rain, it was gusting wind — it was really tough conditions to be fly fishing. I squeaked out 3 more fish on a black wooly — the biggest being about 15 or 16″ and by far the fattest one for myself this trip. I packed up my stuff and headed for the Blazer, while Mark fished his way down to the access point on the far side of the bank. He continued to hook up with fish. His last fish was his finest of the weekend, he hooked up with a 16″ rainbow that was really fat and put on quite a fight (i watched him land the fish while packing up my gear). Mark ended his fly fishing lessons with this rainbow. He was pretty excited and pumped after 3 hours of fishing in these conditions. Sunday Morning Fish Score — Matt 4; Mark 14. Total Weekend Fish Score — Matt 17; Mark 27.

The Spring River is a beautiful river, and I will be back this fall. It is a beautiful spring creek fishery that i hope will continue to be overlooked by everyone. The fish are not big (averaging 12″) at the accesses we were at. — Matt Tucker

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