2009 Missouri Trout Odyssey — Day 3 (6 Streams)

The alarm seemed to go off a little earlier this morning, largely because we weren’t sure where we were headed.  We knew we were fishing Crane Creek, but we didn’t know exactly where we were going to fish the creek.  Last year, we decided to try our luck at the Crane City Park and other than spooking some sizeable fish, we only had one hook-up.  This is the one creek, which we wanted to definitely catch something on and we weren’t going to leave until that happened.  We rolled into the access, and followed the trail (in the dark) down to the stream and decided to try and walk a pretty good length until it was light enough to really fish effectively as well as to put some distance between us and anyone else that might have wanted to fish on such a stellar morning.  Crane Creek is a really neat place, although having seen the topography and the characteristics of the stream side…I can assure you that any rumors you heard about cottonmouths and copperheads on this stream must be true.  Some places look fishy….this stream simply looked “snakey”.  Brian was up first on the stream and after a little scouting was able to put eyes on some fish, and it was game on.  Shortly there-after, Brian had landed his first McCloud Rainbow out of Crane Creek.  What the fish lacked in size, it made up for in color and was a fine specimen.  During the excitement, we moved further upstream and as I was rolling tape Brian started to geek out at a nicer fish in the water.  I peered over the edge and laid eyes on a nice 18″ rainbow with a deep red band; but like that, it was gone.  Brian did pick up another fish on the hike out and then we traded places and it was my turn to hook-up on the stream.  I didn’t want to cheapen what Brian had done earlier in the morning, but I whacked two fish in about 5 minutes and like that we were off to Capps Creek.

Capps Creek is a put-and-take fishery, but as put-and-take fisheries go….Jolly Mill Park ranks really high up on the list of places for cool fishing shots.  As a fishery, I still don’t know what to expect from the stream; having only ever fished it at Jolly Mill.  From the looks of it (it flows through private land), it looks like it could hold some nicer fish and might be worth more exploring.  At any rate, we rolled into Jolly Mill and I grabbed a rod and hit the water.  Drifting / Swinging a streamer was the ticket and I was rewarded with a quick hook-up (while watching an even bigger rainbow rise on a feeding lane 30ft away).  I don’t know if I actually landed said fish or not, we were trying to remember that on the drive back; because I hooked up and lost two more fish.  All in all, Capps Creek produced exactly like we thought it would.  And with that, we were off to Hickory Creek, near Neosho, Missouri.

Hickory Creek is a shit hole.  I won’t even begin to sugar-coat it.  There are no fish in that stream, unless the hatchery truck comes and dumps them in there.  And when that happens, all the “trout fisherman” come out of the hills to load up the freezer and as quickly as the fish were stocked they are gone.  In two trips, we never even so much as saw a fish (although I think Wise got a take there last year).  To be super blunt, I don’t really care if I ever lay eye on the town of Neosho, Missouri.  It is just too damn hard to get to, and there isn’t much trout fishing to be had there.  In short, Hickory Creek ranks up there with the Urban Trout Program in my book.  Nothing more than a stream grocery store.  And with that we turned our backs on Hickory Creek and headed toward Roaring River State Park.

As Missouri Trout Parks go, Roaring River State Park is the mac daddy of trout parks.  Your chances of catching a “pig” within this section of water are greater than any of the three other trout parks (don’t believe me, check out some of the photos that Tim’s Fly Shop has of the pigs caught down there).  Both Brian and I were pretty excited to be headed down there again, the problem was that the weather was phenomenal and what should have been a nice quiet afternoon on the water turned out to be a really crowded hour or so spent at Roaring River Trout Park.  We quickly found a section of water, and I grabbed the rod and after a bit of time had picked up my first fish on an egg.  After that, we headed to a different section of the park to see if we could spot any of the larger fish….but we came up short.  With limited light left in the day, we hopped in the rig and headed to Roaring River Conservation Area to tackle the river outside of the park.

We rolled into the parking lot at Roaring River Conservation Area around 4pm, just as a fisherman was walking out.  He was an older gentleman that was severely out of breath.  We struck up a conversation about the fishing in this area (as neither of us had tried this section of stream before) and the old man called us over to his truck as he was stowing away his gear.  He told us the hike to the river was a “pretty good walk” and convinced us not to follow the trail, only to “turn left at the scared up tree”……i don’t know what concerned me more, the fact the guy was carrying a pistol, the fact that the stream was on our right as we descended and not our left, or the fact that he told us to rub our flies in powerbait before using them.  After grabbing a flashlight and Garmin, we headed down the trail and found the river after a “pretty good walk”.  Brian was up and he quickly laid eyes on fish, but they were a bit skittish and in the half hour or so we had before dark he didn’t bring one to hand.  We walked the stream up to where we thought the car was and bushwacked out to the rig.  This section of stream left us both wanting to explore a bit more of it, had there been more light and I think it would offer a good place to get away from the crowds if the people are too much at the state park.

After stowing some gear, he hit the road towards Lake Taneycomo.  It was going to be the second year in a row that we had planned to fish Taney after dark.  We rolled into the Outlet # 1 parking lot and I strung up a 7wt sinktip rod and put on a new streamer that IdleWylde flies had sent to FeatherCraft to test and after a few casts, the horn blew and i suddenly was sourrounded by other wade fisherman….at night…..what a croc.  Brian was messing around with painting photos with a flash light while I fished, and was rewarded with a nice strike about 30 minutes into fishing.  It felt alot bigger than it actualy was…maybe a 16″ rainbow.  We were starting to get crowded out by guys fishing at night with thier headlamps on…….so we de-wadered and headed into Branson to grab dinner and decided our plan of attack for tomorrow.

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