The alarm went off at 4am, like the whistle at a trout park (loud and non-exciting). I jumped up and grabbed a quick shower and woke up Brian. We packed up the gear and were out the door in search of coffee and donuts as quickly as possible. It was during his time, that we finally found the Dunkin’ Donuts guy that sings when he is serving your donuts. He wasn’t much of a singer, he didn’t make a latte worth a damn, but he was a nice enough guy and it was breakfast. Besides, Brian not only has a way with the older female drive-thru workers; it appears he has a way with the slightly mind challenged Dunkin’ Donut workers too.
The drive from Branson to the Blair Bridge Access on the North Fork of the White River is a curvy son of a bitch during the daylight hours when you are a city driver. Combine that with icy conditions and nighttime conditions (the sun wasn’t up yet) and it makes from one long drive. We rolled in to the access around 6:30am and suited up in the cold and were soon fishing the run just below the boat ramp. One would assume that since this was Brian’s home turf the river would just bend over and let me have my way with it……..but like on my numerous other trips to the NFOW, the river made me its bitch with only 1 hook-up and plenty of missed strikes yet adding insult to injury Brian fished the water that i had been camped on an hooked a brown IMMEDIATELY. Fuck him.
The river is absolutely gorgeous, and there is definitely fish there, it is just that on certain times the river and I don’t see eye to eye; and the river tends to have its way with me like a whore on the east side. Brian picked up a fish, but saw the ass-whoppin’ that I was taking and offered to help…….proving it was karma I still didn’t pick up a fish. We laughed about it, enjoyed the scenery, and then reeled in and headed towards our last stop of the trip the Eleven Point River.
Neither Brian or I have spent much time on the Eleven Point River in the past, but we really need to not ignore the beauty of a trout stream. We rolled in to Greer Access on the Eleven Point River and re-rigged our rods, just in time to have Brian Sloss, the co-owner of Eleven Point Canoe Rental, to roll into the parking lot to say hello and offer up a few suggestions. We chatted for a bit, but needed to be in West Plains by 12pm (so technically we did all the fishing / driving in 3 1/2 days but we didn’t want to say anything), so we needed to get going on the fishing. We headed upstream and fished the area around the Hwy. 19 bridge. Brian and I both picked up a couple of fish rather quickly and were getting strikes and landing fish rather frequently just downstream of the bridge on an egg pattern under alot of indicator (8ft to 10ft deep). But all good things must come to an end, and we needed to meet Brian’s wife in West Plains so we reluctantly reeled up and headed back to the rig.
As we got back to the rig, we reflected on what we had just done. 20 trout streams in 4 days. Maybe it is impressive to some, and to others not. It didn’t matter to us. We had a hella good time, and with that we cracked the first beer of the trip and endulged ourselfs. After the beer, we peeled off the waders for the last time this trip, joked about running down to the Spring River in Arkansas, and headed back to towards West Plains our souls replinished with the trout streams of Missouri; 20 of them in total.