On the way home Friday (November 28), I got a voice mail from Brent McClane asking me if I had seen the email from Teak Phillips (a staff photographer / journalist with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) wanting to do a story on winter trout fishing and wanting to tag along on a trip this weekend. Brent was kind enough to leave me Teak’s number so I called and set up to meet Teak at 6:30am on Sunday morning at the Denny’s in Eureka. Originally, Brent was not interested in going but given the opportunity to fish with a journalist he didn’t pass it up and quickly called me back while I was on the phone with Teak. We were both pretty pumped about the opportunity to fish with a journalist, and were really looking forward to this trip — although Teak assured me it wasn’t that big of a deal and he was going to fish a little too.
In talking with Brent on Friday night, we had decided to forgo the Maramec Springs Trout Park and Meramec River and fish Montauk and the Current instead — based mainly upon increased water flows and some recent good fishing reports. I got to Denny’s at 6:00am and still considered it a late start (normally I am at Denny’s by 4:30am waiting on Craig’s hung over ass to show up) and read the paper waiting on the others to arrive. Teak showed up promptly like a new fishing partner should, followed by Todd Butzlaff and then Brent (apparently Brent was supposed to ride with Todd, but due to his uncanny ability to not show up to anything without a camera on time he had to drive himself to Denny’s). After a good breakfast and conversation we split into two cars and were on our way to Montauk by 7am.
Teak and I rode down together, and chatted about fishing and hunting on the ride down. It wasn’t an interview but simply just two guys talking about fishing and hunting and getting to know each other — with Teak taking a couple pages of notes. Being an avid fisherman, he was just looking for some photos and some “filler” for his story. Teak and I were in the midst of solving all of Missouri’s trout fishing troubles when Todd’s Explorer pulls along side us and out the back window hung Brent’s bare naked ass. It has been some time since I have seen a full moon at 7:30am on I-44. I secretly wonder if Brent and Todd weren’t putting on a little show for the truckers and were just trying to hide it by pulling a prank as such. In all seriousness, I haven’t busted a gut that hard in a long time. Poor Teak probably didn’t know what to think — having just met us about an hour earlier. He definitely won’t forget this trip.
We got down to Montauk State Park around 9:30am and were suited up and fishing shortly there after. We started off fishing a shallow run of water and were sight fishing small soft hackles (#16 and #18 Partridge & Orange) and scuds (#16 Tan Scud) taking turns fishing the run in a rotation. Once you hooked a fish, foul hooked a fish, got hung up, or lost your fly you were out of the hole and the next guy in the rotation took a shot at the fish. Brent caught the first fish in the hole, then Todd, then me all while Teak was taking photos (trying to get the “work” out of the way). It was a fun way to fish, sight fishing to larger than average trout in shallow water. After we turned those fish off, after an hour or two, we hiked up to the Catch & Release area.
In the C&R area, we each caught fish. Why is it that while casting to a feeding 25″ fish I can find the only tree along that bank within 100 yards (those that fish there no the exact tree I am talking about) and lose 3 flies in a matter of 20 minutes — yelling curse words like a drunk sailor after each cast. I moved up to the outlet pipe and fished along with Brent and Todd for those monster fish hanging in there. This was true combat fishing among friends — and we would not have had it any other way. We each caught a few, Brent foul-hooked more than his fair share (I guess that is what happens when you fish 2 and 3 fly rigs — when will he learn it is streamer or bust), and Todd ended up with the most colorful (and biggest?) fish of the day. In an effort for Teak to avoid the tail water combat, he stayed back in the slower water fishing to rising / feeding fish with no one else around. He may have been the smart one.
We then headed back to check out the shallow run of water and see if the fish were back — they were not; so we each fished our own water for a bit. I went to the big pool just below the C&R area / road bridge and fished a leech in the pool. On the second cast I hook up with a nice rainbow and call Brent over to get some photos. Since he had just purchased an underwater housing for the camera, we decided to give it a try and take some underwater photos of me fighting the fish (see the photo gallery). We even got a close-up of the fish with my tan/ginger mohair in its mouth. It ended up being a nice fish (around 19″+ by Brent’s estimate) and we got some decent photos. Which leads me to my next epiphany while fishing with Brent — I don’t smile in photos, and even a decent fish doesn’t look that decent in photos of me and the fish (thanks to the term “husky”). I will need to work on both of them if I am ever to compete with Brent in the photo pimping contests. After landing the fish we met up with Teak and Todd and headed to the lodge to pick up drinks and crackers………and vienna sausages for Teak.
We ended up at the Blue Hole next in the fly fishing only area of Montauk. That was my first time fishing that section of water and man is it a neat little stretch of water. Craig and I will definitely be fishing there on the next trip. I ended up catching a few fish out of the hole on the tan/ginger mohair, including a real nice and fat fish (see photo of the fish next to my rod in the photo gallery) but I also noticed something. It appears that I may need to tie up some smaller mohairs as I get allot of short strikes — so I am going to tie up some #12 and #14 leeches and see what happens. Everyone but Teak took fish out of this hole, it was a fun spot to fish. On the way out, I spotted some large fish holding against a bank but the problem was that I was up on the road and Brent was down in the water. So we spotted for him while he fished to these fish (several nice fish) and it was then that Brent transformed into the true camera whore he is. Between all the photos Teak was shooting (actually the back lighting, scenery, and stream made it look really really cool) and Brent’s pimping for the camera, one would have thought that there was a GQ Fly Fishing photo shoot going on. Brent ended up taking one or two fish out of that hole, and by then it was 3:30 and I wanted to check out the water above Tan Vat.
Brent and Todd had never ventured very far above Tan Vat, and I wanted to show them the two nice runs that have been good to me in the past. We start walking through the field and get about half way there and then the bellyaching comes — Brent asks “Dude, are we going to have time to fish?” I didn’t want to comment, because I know secretly our new “camera whore” was only thinking of camera light and the chance for more photos — I wonder if Teak knows he created a monster. So Todd and I went up and fished the hole near the boulders while Brent and Teak stayed and fished the run near Tan Vat. Todd and I saw lots of fish, but couldn’t bring any to hand (I had one hook up and LDR) and opted to start wading down stream around 4:30 or so and checking on the other guys. Brent had landed one, and pumped its stomach and found an orange body caddis larva in its stomach (about a size 16 orange soft hackle with dark hackle), but didn’t have anything that looked like it. In a last ditch effort I fished the big pool above Tan Vat until about 5:15 and caught one largemouth bass on a mohair.
This was a great trip. Any time you get Brent, Todd, and I on the same trip it is going to be fun — but if you can’t take the trash talking you might as well stay home. Teak fit right in. It wasn’t at all like fishing with a journalist, but merely like fishing with another fishing buddy; hopefully we didn’t freak him out too much and he will join us again. For a day to do a story on winter trout fishing in Missouri, it wasn’t much of a winter day — the high was near 70 with sun most of the day and only periods of wind. But the type of weather we had today, is actually pretty common when fishing the winter months. The river changed from last year. The low water and then the recent high water changed the river a little, some of the holes have silted in a little and others have gotten a little bigger — much to be expected over the course of a year. Total stats for the trip ended up as follows — Brent landed 9 or 10 trout (only one Brown trout) all on soft hackles or scuds; Todd landed 10 or 12 trout (no Brown trout) mostly on soft hackles; Teak did not land a fish; and I landed 7 trout (no Browns) and 1 largemouth bass mostly on tan/ginger mohair leeches (and one trout on a partridge and orange soft hackle). We are already making plans for the next trip down to Montauk and the Current River to test out my new camper and fish for the weekend. I am already looking forward to the next hook-up.