Montauk State Park (Licking, Missouri) — September 5, 2004

David Stinnett and his wife were visiting us this weekend from near Dallas, Texas. David is a childhood friend of mine, that I recently introduced to fly fishing. He made his first fly fishing trip with us last October to fish the Norfork River. Since then, he is several dollars lighter and heavier in fly fishing gear and has many trout to his credit on the waters in Oklahoma and Texas. The problem is that these trout aren’t very big. He was lured to St. Louis with a promise of tickets to a Cardinals Game (we went Friday night, and the Cards beat the Dodgers, as Matt Morris struck out 11), a tour of Anheisur-Busch, lunch on “The Hill,” and the chance at some decent sized trout on Sunday morning by fishing the C&R area of Montauk State Park.

We left St. Louis at 4:00am, and were sitting at the Denny’s in Eureka by 4:15am awaiting the arrival of the standard fishing breakfast. I will say this about Denny’s. I thought that this would be quicker than backtracking to the Denny’s at I-44 and Bowles, but the service and the food wasn’t near as good. Looks I will have to go back to the regular location. After breakfast we took off for Montuak, and arrived at the Lodge / Park Store at 7:15am. I was wearing one of my Team Ozark Chronicles Trout Bum fishing shirts, and was quickly asked by one of the store employee’s “You Know about OzarkChronicles?” To which I replied, “Yes sir, its my site.” I find it quite humbling, the amount of attention that OzarkChronicles.com gets. David was really surpised by this, as well. We chatted about fishing for a bit, and about the Trout Bum experience and then it was time to hit the stream.

The park looked packed as we were driving through it, and I was not quite sure what we would find in the Catch & Release area of the park. I hadn’t fished it since the MDC did the stream bank “improvements” in this section, and I was not sure what to expect. Although I had already promised David a shot at a personal best rainbow. We walked into the C&R section and no one was there but the fish. The fish were pretty healthy in size, but the water was very unattractive. I think that that C&R area of the park has got to be the most unattractive place in Montauk State Park. But the fishing isn’t bad, and David wanted a shot at a big fish. Well, he got his shot for about 3.5 hours that morning fishing to fish that averaged about 2.5lbs. He had 4 quick hook-ups, but each snapped him off. He did end up bringing two fish to hand during the short time we were at Montauk. I landed 7 fish during the time on the water. The fish were fairly finicky and fed in spurts. David was having hook-ups on various colored glo-balls and an orange beadhead scud. I had luck throwing a white rag sculpin (# 4) as well as various colored glo-balls (I cheated though, and mine were tied simply by using the craft pom poms. David did catch his biggest rainbow of his brief fly fishing career to date I believe it measured to about 16″ or so. He will hopefully continually beat this fish as there are a ton bigger fish in all the streams that we will fish together this fall.

On the walk out, we ran into only the third other angler that we have seen. As we were approaching, I was quickly asked by the angler if I was Matt Tucker. The mystery angler introduced himself as Chris Maurer. He complimented me on the web site, and we had a brief conversation about the fishing. I have to admit to being bad with names and cross-referencing it to people’s identities on message boards (Sorry Chris). It is always a pleasure to meet new fly fisherman, especially those that post on OzarkChronicles.com. We wished each other luck, and Daivd and I packed up the Blazer and decided to show him the Tan Vat Access on the Current River. I was surprised to find only three cars and one tent at the parking lot, but a quick look downstream revealed 3 anglers. Due to time constraints, we didn’t fish, and after a photo or two we headed back towards the park and St. Louis. I had just started to tell Davide about the long hike from the parking lot up to the bottom of the park and how I will normally walk the field up and then fish back down to the access, when we came across three anglers walking back on the road towards the park. I quickly offered them a ride, and took them back to the camping area where they had parked. During the short ride with them, they had explained that the fishing was a little slow but they did come across two people cleaning fish in the Trout Management Section below the park to which they said that the fish didn’t look legal in length. This is something that I think the MDC, and possibly fly fishing organizations, need to do a better job of — hanging signage on the river explaining the regulations and the importance of them (along with the punishments). We were on our way back to St. Louis by 11:00am, after a great day of fishing. 260 miles driven, 3.5 hours of fishing for 9 fish. We were back at my house before our wives and kids were back from Grants Farm, so it was an absolutely perfect trip. Next time I will be on the water will probably be the North Fork of the White River the first weekend of October.

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