Current River (Licking, Missouri) — February 22, 2004

This was almost the fishing trip that never happened. It had been some time since I had hit the water and I had the fever real bad. I had made tentative plans to fish the Current River with Brent McClane, but he had to cancel due to an invite to bird hunt — he definitely needs to get his priorities straight (although he didn’t make that trip either due to work,so it serves him right). A quick follow-up call to Mark Kotcher found me set to meet him at 3:30am at Denny’s at Bowles and I-44 and I was set, or so I thought. Saturday night I was filling my fly boxes with some flies when I got an instant message from Mark’s wife informing me that he had to cancel due to the stomach flu. Now I was pretty pissed and almost gave up on the fishing trip to the Current River (it is too long of a drive to drive those hours by yourself) when I posted a desperation message to the message board at OzarkChronicles.com. Enter Waterloo, Illinois bamboo rodmaker Ron Caimi to the rescue; “Matt I will meet you at Denny’s by 4am” his message read. Like a true fishing partner he was 5 minutes early (perhaps McClane should take lessons).

We arrived at the Tan Vat access around 6:30am and were suited up and walking up the field by about 6:45am. Fishing was slow, but the weather was awesome. In the first hole I hooked up with a little brown trout of about 13″ and as early as it was I thought the day would be alright — I caught this fish on a newly tied mini rag sculpin. It was some time before I picked up my second and last fish of the trip, a little 11″ rainbow on a black wooly bugger. I had two other legitimate hookups but couldn’t get either fish to hand. Ron decimated the shiner population of the river by giving them free air tickets with every strike. I must say that Ron’s hook setting is definitely on as I have never seen a person hook that many shiners on dry flies. I spent almost as much time shooting photos as I did fishing — and was rewarded with some great shots including a deer walking down the stream in the morning fog. Ron is a great fly fisherman and it shows in his casting ability. Ron wasn’t rewarded with a trout this trip, but to his defense he was fishing dry flies with one of his beautiful hand made split cane bamboo rods while most of the fish were hibernating on the bottom.

We witnessed some caddis coming off about 10:30 am with some random fish rising to them — but nothing that I would consider a hatch. We ran in to two other fisherman while on stream. The first gentleman was courteous enough to get out of stream when he saw us fishing down (observing the “upstream fisherman has the right of way” stream side etiquette rule) and came down to chat as this was his first trip to the Current. Just as we were fishing the last hole, we ran into two other gentlemen on a scouting trip to check out the river. It was a great day on the river and I definitely got my fix. The weather was perfect — high temp near 50 with morning temps in the 30’s, partly sunny skies, and little wind — and so was the river (although I will say that the river was definitely lower than on my last visit). I didn’t catch the number of fish that I quite honestly expected, but I didn’t get stood up at the dance and had a wonderful day on the stream. Looking forward to the next hookup……..

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