Montauk State Park (Licking, MO) — February 13, 2005

Breakfast on Sunday was a feast (including biscuits and gravy, hash browns, blueberry pancakes, eggs, bacon, and sausage) and no one really seemed in too much of a hurry to get on the river. After breakfast, Tiny and I packed up the Blazer and suited up to hit Montauk Trout Park and the Catch & Release area on our way back to St. Louis. The guys that fished the park yesterday, said that they had changed up the C&R area yet again, and I wanted to go see it. They in fact did change it quite a bit, and you will just have to head down there and see it for yourself.

I was determined to catch a fish on the conehead slumpbuster, and a couple of trout park fish fell to it within several minutes of fishing. The pine squirrel really moves in the water, and I will be making these a staple in my fly box. Neither Tiny nor I were much into the fishing this morning and actually only fished for about an hour before deciding to head back to St. Louis and the chance to kick this sickness that we had.

All in all it was a great weekend, that I hope to make in to an annual “End of C&R Season” event. Those that attended this weekend were Brent Hinds, Kris Maurer, Brian Greer, Mike Goldneberg, Norm Crisp, Ron Caimi, Pat, Lee, Vic, and Joel. All in all it was a great group of guys and a good time, I think, was had by all.

Current River (Licking, Missouri) — February 12, 2005

Brent Hinds (aka Tiny)and I left St. Louis at 7pm on February 11. After an hour trip to the local Schnuck’s we were stocked with enough food and beer to feed an army for the weekend — in this case it was only about 10 Ozark Chronicles Message Board Members. It is amazing how much gear Tiny brings with him. I didn’t think we were going to make it, but we got all his gear in, plus all of mine, and all the beer / food. It was a long drive down as we were both sick and trying to get over some wicked cold that we had. You should have seen us, sucking down cough drops and cold medicine the entire drive down there.

We arrived at Montauk around 10:30pm and headed toward the condo that we would call home for the weekend. After a quick hello, it was time to unload the Blazer and enjoy the campfire and beer that were already being enjoyed by many. Norm Crisp, Brian Greer, Kris Maurer, Pat, Lee, Brent Hinds, and I all enjoyed the campfire and stayed up until it started to rain a little. I wasn’t feeling well and only sucked down one beer, before I opted for Gatorade and sleep on the couch (after losing to Tiny at Paper, Rocks, Scissors).

We rose on Saturday morning to have a hot breakfast of sausage, eggs and waited for Craig Peterson to join us. Craig showed up, and we suited up and rigged our rods. Norm Crisp, Craig Peterson, and I opted to fish the river. We started the morning fishing from TanVat to just up from Baptist. We started by throwing streamers and the fishing was tough, we went some time without any of us hooking up well into the morning. I was throwing a conehead slumpbuster, while Norm was throsing a Clouser, and Craig was throwing a black wooley. The weather was perfect, the conversation was good, but the fish were not cooperating. Craig picked up the first fish, then Norm picked up a fish, then Craig started hooking up just up from Baptist. It was interesting to fish with Norm Crisp, as it was fairly apparent that our fishing styles were different and Norm moves fairly fast while fishing — opting to cover more water and present flies to more fish. We did spot a very large fish, just down from TanVat near the high bank. This fish, in my estimation, was at least 26″ and was the biggest Brown Trout that I have seen in the Current River to date. We watched the fish for several minutes, before Norm and Craig moved down the trail (which was soon enough to keep me from trying my luck on the monster). Craig had his casting mojo with him, as we were on a stretch just up from Baptist and picked up a couple of fish but missed a ton more. We headed back upstream and decided to try and catch the Caddis hatch on some water below Baptist.

We got to Baptist Camp around 11am and hiked downstream. I had never been below Baptist Camp Access before, so this was all new water for me. It was very cool. The fact that Norm and I fish completely different was again illustrated as we passed deep hole after deep hole on the way to Norm’s caddis water. Immediately arriving at our destination, I plopped down on the bank — man I got to lose some weight (LOL). While sitting on the bank, Norm and Craig were having a field day catching browns on a caddis pattern that Norm ties. I had on an elk hair caddis and missed several fish. We fished this water for about an hour or so, and both Norm and Craig tore them up — with me only landing a measly 5 fish. It was more dry fly fishing than I had done all of last year though. Craig had to get back to St. Louis, so he had to leave around 12:30pm and Norm had graciously offered to drive him back to his car at the condo and let me fish. I fished my way upstream and picked up occassional fish on Cracklebacks. I didn’t break 10 fish for the day — but all of my fish did come on dry flies (which is new to me). Norm hiked back down and ran into me, just as I was releasing a Brown. He was going to hike back down to the caddis stretch and I was not feeling much better so opted to hike back to the car and get some rest. I was feeling pretty miserable, and Norm called my cough a Foghorn most of the morning. On the hike back out, I ran in to Ron Caimi (www.troutcamprods.com) and he had found much of the same luck with the caddis as we did. The caddis started coming off at 11am and were heavy until about 2pm. They were about a #16 tan caddis. On the walk out, Ron and I caught up on things since it has been awhile since we have seen each other. Then it happened……..for the second time this season, I slipped in fell into the river — filling up my waders and buggering up my knee in the process. It was quite silly actually, since I took a spill in only about 3 feet of water after tripping up while trying to walk into the water. I did manage to take in more water with this spill then I did when I was on the Norfork in July, but it was still a dumb mistake on my part. I high-tailed it back to the Blazer, where I promptly stripped down to my underwear and drove back to the condo. It was then that I realized how truly bliss it is to be on a fishing trip — sick and soaking wet from about midchest to your toes — and driving back to camp in nothing more than a pair of underwear. It was¬†definitely¬†one of my finer moments.

Upon getting back to the condo, I took some ribbing by Pat and Lee (both of which were resting up and tying after a day in the trout park). I took the opportunity to take a hot shower and put on some dry clothes and take a nap. As everyone arrived back at camp, telling stories of the caddis hatch and the fish they caught, it was time for dinner. We ate like kings with T-Bones, Shrimp, Potatoe Salad, and a ton of other stuff (including some ultra-rare uncooked duck tips — which I passed on). Most everyone stayed up drinking and telling stories, but I was still feeling completely miserable so I opted for early sleep.