We were staring down the tail-end of the trip as we woke up in our hotel room in Ava, Missouri. We had three streams we needed to knock off today, so that would mean a lot of driving as we fished our way east across the bottom of the state. The first stop on this leg of the trip was Brian’s home waters, the North Fork of the White River near Dora, Missouri and the Blair Bridge Access.
The North Fork of the White River is a fly-fisherman’s nirvana. This stream is what every trout stream in the state wishes it could be (well maybe not the Eleven Point..). I rigged up the rod, and there was something about this morning that I just knew I was going to have my ass handed to me on this river…again. Brian Wise couldn’t save me as I had my first take only to not get a solid connection and like that it was off. The more I threw the 12ft long indicator, #4 rubber leg stone, #14 psycho prince dropper rig the more I became frustrated with this river. The more I became frustrated, the more I loved it. It is a vicious cycle. But all good things come to an end, and we needed to get moving, so after the berating I was taking from Brian on the stream I quickly handed him the rod and he hooked up with a dink brown just as we were walking out (but he too….had to work for it….eggs really do catch fish anywhere).
As we rolled out of the access, I marveled at the ridiculous concrete work that the access had just received. This must be the biggest MDC waste of money, since stocking trout in Hickory Creek
. Of all the things to spend money on, turning a perfectly good gravel parking lot into a concrete parking lot is not one of them. Hell, I would rather see another boat ramp or the money go to raising the bridges at McKee Bridge and Patrick Bridge. At any rate, I digress.
We had thought about adding the tailwaters of Arkansas on the trip, but I had really wanted to get back to the Spring River
, as I hadn’t been on it since October. So we set our sites across Hwy 160 towards Hwy 63 and headed south to the town of Mammoth Spring, Arkansas. I didn’t have the Bayou Access marked on the GPS, but we found it just fine. Bayou Access is one of the nicer sections of the Spring River with plenty of different habitat to fish. The water was up, and the wading was very limited, so Brian grabbed his rod and headed upstream to give it a shot. He worked a section of stream right in front of the access and was rewarded with a rainbow on a psycho prince. It had started to rain a bit (the first time on the trip), so it was time to put the camera gear up and with that, we found a drive-through for lunch and headed towards the Eleven Point River
having just fished 20 streams in 4 days.
What can I say about the Eleven Point River, it is a beautiful untouched jewel of an Ozark trout stream. The Eleven Point has always fished well in my previous trips to it (I wonder why I don’t fish it more), and this trip would be no exception. The thing about the river is that it is a river that needs to be floated (moreso than any other river in the state). Unless you are willing to hike the Ozark Trail, the wading opportunities on this stream really are not that present. We pulled in to Greer Spring Access, we met up with one of Brian Sloss’s newest employee’s, Tito. He was a really good guy, gave up a handful of his personal flies and pointed us in the right direction and after some general chit-chat we were off. The Eleven Point held true to form and I was rewarded with two fish pretty quickly while fishing a 12ft indicator rig with a rubber leg stonefly and an egg dropper (both fish took the rubber leg). Just as we were heading back to the car, Brian Sloss (Eleven Point Canoe Rental) rolled in and we stood around as we de-wadered and recounted the trip we had just completed. It was good to catch up with Brian and had we stood there much longer, I am sure the beers would have been opened and a campfire would have been found; but we were haunted by th skunk on the Current River
and needed to head north back to the Current River and towards Rolla (our original starting point).
On the drive north on Hwy. 63 we stopped just south of Licking, Missouri and had to have one of the finest dinners I have ever had on a fishing trip at Black Forest Grill. The ham steak that I had, was simply amazing. If you are looking for a great place to grab some eats when around Licking, I would definitely check them out. After dinner, we headed towards the Scenic Rivers Inn to sort through video and photos and gear before hitting the Current River in the morning.