Spring River (Mammoth Spring, Arkansas) — July 18, 2004

Fly Rod & Reel Trout Bum Tournament Check-In # 10

We arose at 6:00am on this last day of our trout bum adventure to fish the Spring River that rises from the ground in Mammoth Spring, Arkansas. After waking up all those crashing in our room. Not only did we manage to bum a room for our trout bum adventure, we allowed our unofficial Team Ozark Chronicles groupies (Team Chronic Smack) to crash on cots in our room. It was the least we could do for them, since they brought down a huge check for the folks at Hooked On A Cure. Ron Caimi, the bamboo rod maker from Waterloo, Illinois (www.troutcamprods) also drove down to fish with us on the Spring River and make the presentation of the rod he built (we did that on Saturday night – man what a beautiful rod) for the Hooked On A Cure raffle and he met up with us at the tailgate of Rich’s Bronco.

After cooking espresso by the propane burner on the tailgate of the Bronco and casting a couple of different fly rods, we loaded the truck with all our trout bumming gear and headed for the Gooseneck Island Restaurant on the bank of the Spring River for the world’s best biscuits and gravy (not to mention they make a pretty good ham & cheese omelets). Brent successfully bummed breakfast for the both of us, and we ate heartily (of course we had the biscuits and gravy). Owner Jack Bartruff was very happy to help out our cause for St. Jude.

We than got ready to launch the Hyde drift boat on the Spring River. Only Team Ozark Chronicles could successfully bum a Hyde drift boat from Wisconsin to be delivered and used on the last day of the trip. We had never met Rich Brown or Matt Pedersen prior to this trip (other than some emails back and forth), but a couple of comments about wanting to fish the Spring River from a drift boat and they agreed to come on down. So this might be the finest bum of the trip – get two guys to bring down their drift boat for us from Wisconsin and take us out on the Spring River in it. After the launch, we were on the water and fishing by about 8:30am. I made a comment about missing the early morning bite, when I was quickly asked “Are the trout in the Spring River different from any other trout, in the fact that they won’t eat all day long?” by Rich Brown. To which I had no replies and no worries, as the trout bum experience was nearing an end.

[From Brent] While Matt, Matt and Rich were putting in the boat, I took Ron to the hotel to get his truck, checked out of the room and noticed the fuel gage was getting on a quarter tank. I swung into Hocker Oil’s Gas+ station at the state line on highway 63 and explained what we were doing. As I suspected, you really need to get in touch with corporate offices of gas stations to get fuel, and that wasn’t possible on Sunday. However, the manager (who asked to remain anonymous) pulled $20 out of his own pocket to give to us. Can you believe the generosity of people? (This whole experience has really helped me believe in mankind again, as I have noticed myself getting a little cynical living here in the city.) I put the $20 in the tank, noticed it was pretty much full and hoped that would be enough to get us home.

[From Matt again] After walking the boat down a couple stretches of shallow water, I am now convinced the Spring River needs at least 6” more of flow to be prime drift boat water. But we got some interesting questions from the locals about the boat, as we truly believe we were the first drift boat on the upper Spring River. But watch out for when we win the pontoon boat from Cabelas, that should be prime for this river.

Fishing was slow for everyone. Well, everyone except McClane. I ended the day with only 5 fish brought to hand, but McClane brought to hand 19 fish for the day with his damn nymph fishing techniques. Just as we were getting ready to get off of the water and head home, Tommy Garner (http://www.tommygarner.tv/index2.html) and his wife Wanda Garner (http://www.womenanglers.us/) had arrived to shoot some video and photographs of our trout bumming adventures for their respective publications. Tommy was shooting some video tape and the fish were cooperating with McClane, while I was having trouble hooking up. But I was rescued when the battery for the video camera went dead, and he had to shoot still photos. I hooked up managed to land a fish for the camera as well. After some brief conversation and thank you’s, we headed toward the parking lot to meet Rich and Matt and have one last bummed meal before heading back to St. Louis.

We found ourselves at the D&W State Line Restaurant in the Ozark Heritage Mall in Thayer, Missouri around 4:00pm sitting at a table and awaiting the return of McClane who was trying to successfully bum a meal for the four of us. He returned, and said he successfully bummed some burgers and fries for the both of us but our “posse” would have to fend for themselves. During dinner, we relived some of the action of a day on the Spring River and our trout bum experience. In a flash, we were gone from the State Line Restaurant and on our way back to St. Louis. McClane pulled his best Mario Andretti impersonation, and had us back at my house in record time. To which I was met with a sign made by my daughters that read “Welcome Home Daddy.” As quick as I was met with hugs from my family, McClane was gone to see his special someone – and I completely understand. As much fun as we had during our trout bum, it is good to be home.

[From Brent] Yep, I would have to agree with Matt. This has been a trip of a lifetime, one I will never forget and one that I have learned so much from. At the same time…..I also couldn’t wait to get home to see my girl, Jen and all the animals. It’s good to be home. I think I’ll sleep good tonight!!


Tight Lines,

Matt Tucker & Brent McClane


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