Montauk State Park (Licking, Missouri) — January 18, 2004

This trip started out a little differently than most of my trips, my fishing partner Craig was on time for a change. Not only was he at Denny’s near I-44 and Bowles at 5:00am, he showed up 10 minutes early. I was in complete shock at the start of this trip. We were also supposed to be fishing with Brad Guenther today, but as is Brad’s tendency — he was a no call no show. Fishing, or not fishing I should say, with Brad Guenther is kind of comical in the sense that he always says he can make it and never does. We waited until 5:00am and we were off — figuring that on the off chance that Brad calls my cell phone, we will turn around and get him. He never called. The temperature when we left Denny’s in Fenton was 36 degrees and the wind had just really started to kick up. After gas and gatorade we arrived at Montauk by 7:30am and were suiting up in one of the nice warm restrooms. The temperature was still in the 30’s at that point and it really wasn’t all that cold — but we still needed to layer. We had just finished suiting up and rigging up when the whistle blew and it was time to fish. The first hole we fished (the deep hole below the C&R area) didn’t produce any fish for me for the hour that I fished it in the morning with my leech (there were stocker sized fish rising all over the place, but I was after the big fish that I saw swimming in that hole). I opted to head up to the C&R area and check it out, while Craig put on a #18 grizzly adams and proceeded to slay the fish on the top. Up in the C&R area there were a ton of LARGE fish and they were feeding like crazy. I put on my Tan / Ginger Mohair leech and went to town. I proceeded to hook up fish with ease in the water. My first rainbow was of decent size (at least 16″) and fought great. I also had a hook up with a HUGE Brown — with out a doubt the biggest fish that has taken my fly in Missouri. I threw my leech against the far bank and took one strip for it to hit the current, and then the whale of a fish came out of nowhere and inhaled my fly and then laid on its side like it was trying to get out of water only it was too big to make much of it and snapped my 6x tippet without hesitation. Needless to say my heart was pounding after that encounter. I proceeded to have lots of hookups on a variety of leeches and wooly buggers, with the end result being very few brought to hand. I threw white mohair leeches, black mohair leeches, brown mohair leeches, olive wooly buggers, brown wooly buggers, and black wooly buggers — but my Tan / Ginger Leech and my ginger sculpin seemed to produce the best. The highlight of the fish I landed in the C&R area was a 20″+ Brown that took a tan/ginger mohair leech. This fish was a huge accomplishment, because I sight fished to this fish all the way and set the hook as soon as the fish opened its mouth and landed the fish without the aid of a net or anyone else. After snapping a few pics of the fish it was time to revive it and off it swam — I just wish someone was there to share in the excitement. So I reeled up and went to show Craig the photos and was duly pumped. He had continued having luck with the grizzly adams on top in the deep pool and I opted to finish out the day in this hole sight fishing to the rainbows that were “spawning” in the riffle water at the head of the pool. It was pretty cool, spotting the fish and then tossing the leech up and high sticking it down to the fish and watching them turn on the leech and inhale it. The fish today were really aggressive and were hammering my leech and sculpin — I started the day with 8 tan/ginger leeches and ended the day with none of them left (breaking each of them off on a fish). Craig fished down to the hatchery office and back with a black wooly bugger and picked up several fish. In total I brought to hand 9 fish (with allot of LDR’s and a few foul hooked fish not included) and each of those fish were over 14″ in length. Craig brought to hand 13 fish and experienced the same thing with regards to nice healthy sized fish. We stopped fishing about 12:45 and in total caught 23 fish with each of us catching a fish of 18″ or better (Craig’s biggest was about 18″ or 19″ and mine was over 20″). The weather would not make up its mind what it wanted to do today — it would be sunny with no wind or it was cloudy with a steady breeze that made casting difficult. It was definitely a good trip and it was good to share the water with Craig again. Tight Lines….

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