I fished Maramec Springs Trout Park yesterday afternoon (12/27/03) with Brent McClane, Joe Ondruss Sr., and Joe Ondruss Jr. McClane and I met at the Denny’s near Bowles and I-44 around 9:15am for breakfast and Joe and his son arrived around 10am and we were on our way. The plan was to fish from around 11am until the whistle at 4pm. The forecast was not pretty for today with windy conditions all day and gusts up to 40mph. The wind was out in full force most of the afternoon, but it didn’t seem to effect the fishing for some of us. We all started fishing the water at the top of the Park (above the island and near the cable) where Joe’s son took the first fish, a nice 14″ rainbow, on a white jig (he was fishing with an ultralight, as he does not know how to fly fish). Joe and his son fished on downstream to around the first bend while McClane and I stayed in the upper section of the park. When the sun was out, the fish were pretty easy to spot in the water — but they weren’t not so easy for me to catch. Brent ended up having a stellar day sight fishing to fish and ended the day with 15 fish (Partridge and Orange Soft Hackles, tan scuds, olive scuds, and olive brassies), all caught on the left side of the island from the deep hole up to the cable. I brought to hand one fish (caught on an olive #18 v-rib tungsten head midge) and lost 5 other fish on legitimate hook ups. Today was just not my day. I did learn not to overlook the fast water on the left side of the island for fish, there was a guy that was catching fish left and right in this water, and McClane had some luck in this water as well. All in all it was a great day on the water with great friends. This was McClane’s first trip to Maramec Springs in several years and he was impressed with the upper water. After this trip, we are leaning towards the color of scuds and main insects in this water as being olive (mainly olive scuds and such). Only the next trip will tell, but I will be sure to post up how we do. This was the last fishing trip of 2003 and what a great year it has been. I have been lucky to share the stream with some knew faces and made several friendships in the process. I can’t wait to see what 2004 has in store.
Sunday morning brought more of the same with regards to the weather, cold temperatures and the occasional flurry. We woke at 7:00am and after shower and a quick bite we were on the water. Today was a day of reconning for me. For today was the day that I schooled McClane in fishing. Fishing on Sunday morning was tough, but within my first two hours on stream I had brought to hand ten all on mohair leeches and sculpins. The bite wasn’t that easy though, as the C&R waters required me to be cast and move with stealth. Most of the fish I caught were while I was casting on my knees or stomach. I have always read about casting from your stomach, but never thought anyone did this, that was until I crossed the bridge over the C&R area and spotted some bruiser fish cruising and I wanted to catch them. I army crawled in the snow along the water into position and tried cast after cast to catch these fish, but I never got the big fish to strike and settled for their smaller relatives. It was fun sight fishing to larger than normal fish in the clear waters, for when you caught one you knew you had accomplished something. After awhile and a few more fish, I checked back with Brent, who was then fishing the water below me with Dave Dawson. They were not having that much luck, but due to the time we proceeded to finish the day off here in this pool. I ended up taking four more fish and evening out the total for the morning at 20 fish (17 rainbows, 3 browns). McClane would have probably caught up with me had we kept fishing , for he was really tearing them up on his tan scud at the end. We said our goodbyes to Dave Dawson, met an interesting fellow from Tom Hargrove’s fly shop nicknamed “Creepy” by Dave, and off we were back to reality.
The drive home was interesting, I couldn’t seem to stay warm. I think that the crawling around in the snow had gotten to me, and I couldn’t keep my body temperature up and was probably dead tired for only getting 8 hours of sleep over the past two nights. Just as we got into cell phone coverage, our phones had message indicators and the voice mail checking started. We each received voice mails regarding the newspaper article in the paper we were quoted in and McClane’s photo was in (we knew he was a camera whore). We stopped in Rolla to get gas and to pick up a Saturday St. Louis Post-Dispatch and read the article. It was a pretty good article if I do say so myself, even if it had McClane’s ugly mug on it centerfold style high-sticking a 12″ rainbow and it only quoted me once or twice. It was a fun experience. The rest of the drive home was filled with McClane and I bickering about the heat in his truck. We pulled into my driveway about 4:30pm on Sunday, just in time for me to shower and have dinner with my family. Later that evening I found out I was running a 102 temperature and must had been sick on the drive home. The Flu, or whatever it was that I caught, kept me out of work for half a day and sick for most of the week but the trip was definitely worth it and I would pay the price again. Total fish count for me for the weekend was over 40 fish in 2 days of fishing, McClane was close to 60 fish for the weekend. I think my next trip on the water will be our annual New Year’s Day / Weekend trip to new water, which is supposed to be the Roubidoux Creek this year. I can’t wait for the next hook-up.
Saturday morning brought snow, sleet, freezing rain, and COLD temperatures. I woke up at 7:00am feeling the effects of twelve beers and a night of tying flies. After banging on the wall of Brent’s room with my wading boot, and scaring what alcohol was left in him, we showered, suited up and hit the Lodge for some breakfast to soak up last night. We were supposed to meet Gavin Poppen and Mike Swederska, two other members of the St. Louis Fly Tying Group on Yahoo, for a day of fishing, but with the way the weather was turning we weren’t sure if they were going to drive down. A quick call confirmed that they were on Highway 63 and about a little less than 45 minutes away. We couldn’t have timed breakfast any better, for as we were walking out of the Lodge we spotted Gavin’s Jeep Liberty and we followed them to the first spot we were going to fish for the day — the Blue Hole. After some quick conversation, pouring of the sacrificial Bloody Mary and Dill pickle, and rigging up our rods we were finally on the water.
Fishing conditions on Saturday were tough to say the least. The temperature was in the mid to upper twenties with a slight breeze, there was a wintery mix of precipitation falling (snow / sleet / freezing rain), and the fish just weren’t cooperating. We fished from the Blue Hole upstream until lunch with limited success. I had horrible luck on this section and resorted to snapping photographs of the others fishing. I did have one legitimate hook-up but I lost him. Gavin and Mike had a little better luck than I did, but not that much better. Brent on the other hand, well lets just say he lived up to his celebrity status. Brent proceeded to wipe up the stream with his scuds and his ability to fish under and indicator — both I firmly believe are an art form. After a hot lunch back at the condo, we decided to fish the C&R area and the waters near it. My luck changed in the afternoon, and I was able to land over 10 fish on mohair leeches, Mike Mercer Rag Sculpins, and tan scuds. Brent continuted to terrorize the fish with his scuds and probably landed over 25 fish for the day. Mike had some success fishing his teeny weeny parachute adams to risers, and Gavin ventured up to the C&R lake with his 6wt and sinking line to fish for Shamu with limited success (landing 3 rainbows). At 4:00pm the whistle blew and Mike and Gavin were on thier way back to St. Louis, after quick conversations with McClane, Dave, and myself. Saturday night was not to be a repeat of Friday night, as I doubt our livers could take another night. We were both wiped after dinner and found ourselves tying flies and ready for bed by 7:00pm. I hit the sack around 8:00pm but was back up around 10:30 or so, as I couldn’t sleep. I ended up tying a few dozen flies in front of the television and reading the latest issue of American Angler from cover to cover until about 2:30am and I finally drifted off to sleep.
In true McClane fashion, he arrived late to my house on Friday morning. After checking out the camper (he had never seen it) and loading all my gear, we were on our way for a weekend of fishing by 9:30am and sitting at Eat Rite diner in High Ridge, a mere 5 minutes from my door step, for breakfast by 9:35. Any good fishing trip needs to start with a country fried steak and scrambled eggs with cheese — Brent is slowly learning. By 10:00am we were fully on our way and by 11:30am we were in Wal-Mart shopping for food and beer. We bought just enough beer to last us two nights of moderate drinking — an 18 pack of MGD and a 12 pack of Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat — and were on the road again. Checked into the room and suited up to fish by 1:45pm.
Friday afternoon might have been the best trout park fishing I have ever experienced in Missouri. In the two hours that we fished, Brent and I brought to hand a combined total of no less than 30 fish with many more lost. The fish we were catching were bigger than normal and also had a lot more fight in them, with many leaving the water more than once during the fight. A white mohair leech proved deadly for me on Friday, and Brent tore them up with a #16 tan scud. Towards the end of the day Friday, Brent and I were walking down the bank when a guy walking past asked if we belonged to the St. Louis Fly Tying Group on Yahoo. When someone recognizes you like that, it is either a good thing or a bad thing, but given McClane’s rise to celebrity on the past fishing trip we couldn’t deny that we were members of this internet possee. It turned out to be Dave Dawson, one of the few list members whom I had not had the pleasure of sharing water with yet. In true fashion, we all fished the big pool directly below the C&R area and Dave promptly caught a very nice fish on a glo-ball nonetheless. The whistle blew at 4:00pm and we walked back to the truck. We invited Dave to come up to the condo and tie flies with us later this evening after we have dinner at the Lodge. He agreed and the evening was set.
Montauk Lodge is a very interesting place. The food and atmosphere is great and the employees and patrons aren’t affraid to tell it like it is. McClane and I picked a table ordered a couple of steaks and while we were waiting on them, started a conversation with another set of fishermen next to us. From the looks of the two gents, they didn’t appear to have that good of a day and the conversation verified it. McClane and I had agreed we could have left at 4:30pm on Friday and the trip would have been a sweet success; but we didn’t know what we had in store for ourselves this evening. After chowing down the steaks, we got back to the condo and started tying up some flies. Dave Dawson arrived around 7:00pm. Dave is the owner of Eagles Park Campground, near the Tan Vat Access of the Current River, and one heck of an interesting fellow. The drinking and tying commenced (see photos). I won’t go in to much of the details, for it was a night that one had to experience for one’s self, but it was definitely interesting and we accomplished several things. First we actually tied some flies (I tied up a dozen #12 white mohair leeches); McClane and I learned that tying a Glo-Ball the Dave Dawson way takes a skill that at least one of the two drunk city boys doesn’t possess; we learned that Dave Dawson is a wealth of knowledge about the river and the area; we drank all the beer we had bought for the entire weekend (and Dave even brought over his own 12 pack — so that is like 42 beers between 3 guys); McClane in a fit of drunken rage baked a gooey butter cake and burned the bottom of it so bad we could have used it for a frisbee in the field down by the lodge. When McClane looked down at his watch and announced it was 2:30am, we were all in shock as the time just flew by. We picked up and it was off to bed to dream of fishes.