Montauk State Park (Licking, Missouri) — December 31, 2004

This was the annual first trip of the new year for Craig Peterson and I. This was the 3rd annual New Year’s trip that we have taken, and hopefully it will continue well in to the future. Craig doesn’t get out as much as he used to, due to some job promotions and climbing the corporate ladder, so I let him choose the water. He chose Montauk based upon its close proximately to St. Louis (i said, tongue in cheek). We both needed to be back in St. Louis by about 3pm due to some New Year’s Eve festivities that we had previously planned.

I have fallen a little behind on fishing reports as of now (I have a couple more to write still), so this one will be short. We fished mainly the C&R area and the area around Hatchery Office. We picked up fish on a variety of flies, including some midges and mohairs. But the park was crowded, as that is what a 70 degree day in December would give you. It was very packed and it was tough to find some water to fish. Finally at about 11:00am we found a pod of fish and had a complete blast. We each caught about 25 fish in 2 hours or so and had at least 15 doubles. It was one of those times that we could do no wrong. We were laughing so hard, because the water we were fishing was completely overlooked by the hordes of other anglers. It was a good day and a great way to ring out the year. Hopefully 2005 is as chalk full of fly fishing stuff as 2004 was. Tight lines and fish hard.

Montauk State Park (Licking, Missouri) — December 5, 2004

I found myself sitting at Denny’s near I-44 and Bowles Avenue at 4:25am this morning, ordering my usual breakfast and awaiting the arrival of my fishing partners. It seems the drunks were out in full force on Saturday night as the restaurant was a mess and there even was a couple passed out in the booth next to me. The only thing I could think of is, how the heck is that guy going to fish today. By the time my breakfast arrived, it appeared that I would be on my own for breakfast. I was supposed to meet up with a guy and his son from the message board on my web site, but as sometimes goes when meeting people from the internet, they never showed. I finished my breakfast, left the waitress a generous tip (I have come to a point in my fishing life where when I walk in to this particular restaurant before a weekend fishing trip she has my Coke poured and my order placed and promptly asks me what river it is today) as she was run raggid that night but still was her chipper self to me. As I was walking out the restaurant to warm up the car, Kotcher came pulling in. We quickly loaded his gear into my Blazer and waited the obligatory 5 minutes (it was 5:00am already) for the guys that never showed, and we were on our way.

We arrived at Montauk around 7:10am and took our time getting suited up, when Kris Maurer showed up, then Brian Greer (a guy from the message board on my site), then Ryan Mueller and his friend (I fished with Ryan on Taneycomo during our Trout Bum trip). We stood around for a bit trading fishing tips / recent experiences on the water since Ryan and Chris had fished the water yesterday and had good success with a purple midge pattern. We got suited up and headed our separate ways.

Brian and I headed to the Catch & Release area. Since he has only been fly fishing for less than a year and his biggest fish to date on a fly rod was a 13″ trout, it was something that had to be broken. We fished the water nearest the new habitat improvement, and had limited success. I hooked up with 2 very nice fish on beadhead olive leeches, I lost one when it snapped me off just as Brian was going to net it for me. The second one snapped me off clean, but might have been my biggest Missouri Rainbow Trout ever, if I would have landed. The biggest fish I caught out of this water (and subsequently the day) was a 17″ Brown Trout that fell to a black zonker. Brian had very good success and caught a nice rainbow — his biggest. But this trip, as most trips go, was about the fish that got away. Brian hooked and fought a very nice brown in excess of 5 minutes before he lost it as he was going to net it. It would have definitely made everyone’s day for Brian to land that fish. Next time Brian, I will keep my mouth shut……..

The rest of the day, the weather started to turn sour. I was prepared for 55 degree weather, and what I got was windy, rainy, and cold temps. I was very fortunate that I threw a pair of fleece wader liners and a zip tee in my bag before leaving or I wouldn’t have made it. We spent the better part of the rest of the day fishing some newer water (behind the lodge / hatchery) and upstream to the bridge. What saved my day from a numbers perspective was the 10 fish I picked up at the hatchery outlet in less than 40 mintues on a tan/ginger mohair leech.

Kris Maurer made his way downstream to the camp ground bridge to check out that water. He picked up some fish here and there and spotted one large fish. I drove down to pick him up and we walked the bank of the campground section of stream (this section is closed to fishing) to see if we could spot any fish spawning or at least try to put a reason as to why this section of stream is closed for the winter. We didn’t see many fish, nor any reason why this stream is still off limits, but we didn’t cover the entire area.

The day ended with us back in the Catch & Release area trying for that last photo opportunity that never materialized. The rain started to pour down a little harder, and Kotcher and I had decided to turn it in for the day about 1:30pm. After saying goodbye to Ryan and Kris in the C&R area, and getting out of our wet waders, we were on our way home.

The specifics for the day are as follows: Temperature = 28 – 44; Cloud COver = Cloudy; Wind = Windy; Number of Fish Caught = Matt (13), Mark (not sure), Kris (quite a few), Brian (quite a few); Best Fly = Olive Mohair Leech.