Maramec Springs Trout Park — January 11, 2003

Today I went to Maramec Springs for some more C&R fishing, with Mike and Joe from the St. Louis Fly Tying Group on Yahoo. We all met at the Denny’s in Eureka for a quick breakfast and were on the road — we all drove down together in Mike’s Yukon (man that is one sweet fly fishing ride). We arrived at the park and changed in the Men’s Bathroom inside the “lodge” – – this was the first time I have done that, but since the temperature was 12 degrees when we arrived, I didn’t complain.

After suiting up we each went our separate ways — I walked down stream and crossed the bridge and began sight fishing to fish that I could see from the trail (I am really beginning to like sight fishing for fish). There was quite a crowd at the park today — way more spin fishermen than I can recall in a long time. The holes that held fish on the far side of the park still held fish, but they were covered with anglers. I proceeded to fish my way up to the top of the park near the cable (I was the only one up there), and was really surprised by the number of fish in the shallow riffles and one deep hole. I quickly started loosing flies on fish right away — I do not think 7x tippet that freezes is worth a damn, but they wouldn’t touch anything with 6x or bigger (the freezing temps combined with my bass fishing mentality early on, caused me to loose lots of flies and go through lots of tippet material LOL). I finally got in a rhythm and started landing fish on everything — it was as if once the fishing slowed down, I would change from a dry to a streamer or nymph and it was back on. The fish were very aggressive, and were hammering my balsa indicator like they were sharks attacking a fat surfer. I lost track of time, and then the other fisherman started showing up — there were fish everywhere in the park (seriously more fish than I have seen in awhile, which is why I don’t understand whey people have to crowd other people during the C&R season in the park).

I reeled up and started walking/fishing back to the truck for some water and a roast beef sandwich. I met up with Joe and we took a little break for lunch and to compare notes (Joe was not having near as good a day as I was having). We decided to head back up to where I was having all the fun (and hoping that everyone else had left for lunch, as it was about that time. I quickly LDR’d and hooked several fish, Joe started hooking into some fish as well. We fished there till about 2:30 and decided to fish our way back down the park in search of Mike, to compare notes and see if we were fishing till the end or packing up early (I am now convinced that I will start carrying my FRS radios while fishing, it would saved hikes like that). Mike had a heck of a day as well fishing a little black emerger. We ended up fishing till 4pm and packing up to head back to St. Louis. It was a great trip (probably the best trip to Maramec Springs I have had all season), the fish cooperated, and we saw a bald eagle several times (not sure if it was the same one or if it was a different one each time), my new St. Croix Ultra Legend 5wt and Ross Evolution Reel got broken in correctly (even if the first two fish were bluegill), and I caught by first brown trout out of Maramec Springs. Of the fish that were caught, 9 were rainbows, 1 brown trout, and 2 bluegills (the bluegills aren’t listed in the “flies” column, as they don’t count). It will probably be several weekends till I am on the water again, but I am already looking forward to that next hook-up. — Matt Tucker

Mill Creek & Little Piney River (MO) — Jan. 01, 2003

This was Craig and myself’s annual New Year’s Day fishing trip. This year we decided to check out some new water — the Little Piney River and also Mill Creek. We left St. Louis about 4:45am and arrived in the town of Newberg, MO by 6:15am or so. We found our way to Mill Creek and decided to park at the White Church and hop the fence at the gate (climbing over the gate, not the bob wire) and cross the field to the stream. This was our first trip to Mill Creek, and were really excited about catching our first MO Wild Trout. We hiked/fished downstream until we came to a “No Trespassing” sign nailed to a tree in the middle of the creek — it was a ways down stream. We did not see a single fish, other than minnows. We then decided to hike upstream from the church and see what lies upstream. We hiked all the way to the campground/low water bridge and did not see a single fish. We did see ALOT of spots that looked perfect to hold trout — however we saw nothing. We hiked back to the truck on the paved road that runs in front of the church from the low water bridge — that is quite the hike.

We threw the rods in the truck and decided to try our luck at the Little Piney — near Mill Hollow Access. We arrived there about 10am and grabbed our rods and hit the river. What allot of nice looking water — but still no fish (we didn’t even see one there either). We fished downstream until noon (about 100 yards downstream from the old bridge that is in the creek) and decided to head back to st. louis, as we had enough casting practice for the day. All in all, it was not that horrible of a trip. I did get to check out some new MO water, it was disappointing though to not spot any fish – – even in the deeper holes when overlooking them from a bluff. Mill Creek is a special place that looks as though it could be spectacular if the stream flow would remain constant and the Little Piney near Mill Hollow Access also looked like great water. I was told that the locals clean out the Mill Hollow Access as soon as the stocking truck leaves, and also that Mill Creek was hit hard by the drought the last several years, but wanted to check them out for myself. I will visit these streams again — probably in March or April, when there is a better chance of some dry fly activity. — Matt Tucker