A GREAT fly shop……in downtown St. Louis……

Living in St. Louis, Missouri we are accustomed to the finer things in life.  Great beer (Schafly Brewing Co.), great basebal (St. Louis Cardinals), great strip clubs (thank you Metro East area), but one thing that often gets overlooked is the great fly shop that sits near down town St. Louis (a mere 100 miles from the nearest trout stream).

Feather-Craft Fly Fishing is located on Manchester Road, in the municipality of Brentwood, Missouri.  It is a fairly easy to get to shop (assuming you know your way around St. Louis…..which isn’t that hard) filled with good people.  From Ted in the front of the shop manning the retail side to Evan, John, and Bob in the back making sure the catalog orders and web site orders get filled, to all the support staff.  What people don’t realize is that if it is fly-fishing related, and feather-craft doesn’t have it in stock, they can get it easily.  I always seem to walk in looking for something off the wall (tiny black thingamabobbers) and have found they always seem to have what I am looking for and if it isn’t out on the racks, they will get it from the back.

I bought my first fly rod there about 8 years ago from Joel and Ted, one day when i was skipping out of graduate school classes.  Ever since, I have had the pleasure of hanging out with a ton of the peoople that have worked there over the years.  Hella good fisherman, some of them are, and those that aren’t are just damn cool to hang out with anyway.  What you may not know is they have won the prestigeous Fly Fishing Retailers Fly Shop of the Year award in the past and are certain to win it again in the future.  We are spoiled in Missouri to be home to a fly shop of this caliber.  The place is just full of fun people, and tradition.  A guy can walk-in, bull shit with Ted up front and go sit down at the back table and tye up some flies while talking to the other employees or guys that are in there hanging out and shopping.

I try to avoid the blatant commercials for products and what not, but we often take the time in life to bitch about things when something is F’d up and hardly ever seem to take the time to say “job well done.” So I figured it was time to tell the guys at Feather-Craft thank you for a job well done. 

Matt Tucker, Ted Lammert, Steve Hemkens, Brent McClane before the 2004 Fly Rod & Reel Trout Bum Tournament inside Feather-Craft's shop in St. Louis, Missouri.

Sometimes You Just Got to Ask….WTF?

The good guys over at MoldyChum.com posted a link to the oddest “fly rod” that I have ever seen.  I don’t really know how to explain it without posting a photo of it.

Stream Master® Fly Pole
Stream Master® Fly Pole

I got to tell you, I don’t know what to think.  It reminds me of the old pocket rocket fishing pole days (with the built in reel), but only worse.  I wonder what type of action it has?  What will the FFF CCI’s do with such a mini rod, is this a true competitor to those that fancy the echo micro practice rods……Seriously man, this must prove that there is a market out there for anything.

NFOW….I Finally Made It My Bitch

There are certain streams that just haunt you.  The North Fork of the White River is mine.  The stream is about as scenic as you can get in the Ozarks and just screams Missouri Ozark stream.  However, after more than a 1/2 dozen trips there I was really beginning to wonder if there were damn trout in the river, or if my buddy Brian Wise was just pimping me out with fish photos shot elsewhere.

Well, after promises of Pork Chops in a white wine reduction sauce, served over a bed of wild rice, with fresh 7 grain bread and apple cobbler for desert being cooked streamside in a dutch oven combined with tthe fact that Brian kept screaming that I was finally going to get to see the river at something other than dead low if I came down to fish on 2/21/09, I felt obligated.  After all, how can anyone pass up a stream side lunch like that right?

I rolled into the metropolis of Gainesville, MO about 10:00pm on Friday night.  We caught up for a bit, but I was pretty tired, having been up since 4:30am this morning, so I hurridly crashed on his futon.  I was however suspect though, as I didn’t see any of the cooking supplies or smell any of Jenni Wise’s food goodness that she wips up in her kitchen……so i knew I was going to get fucked out of a perfectly good stream side lunch.  Damn it, the fishing better be good I thought as I finally passed out from being too tired.

5:00am comes early when you are a 350lb man sleeping on a futon meant for a kid.  Nothing feels better than sitting up after a night of that.  But it beat the hell out of camping or sleeping in the car, which leads me to believe that I just like to bitch for the shear fact of bitching.  Nice.

We were loaded with Brian’s clacka hooked up in no time and by 6am we were sitting in Skeeter’s restaurant being served a heart attack on a plate to fill our souls on this ass cold morning.

We rolled into Kelly’s Ford access on the North Fork of the White River by 6:40am and were soon launching the boat and storing our gear when it decided to snow.  Life was good.  The day started out as a typical day on the North Fork of the White River starts out for me, with no fish at the first hole we stopped at.  This however, would prove to be only a fluke as once in the boat we proceeded to hook up with ease at every stop and run that we fished.  Some runs, thanks to Wise’s generousity on the oars, he would row my fat ass upstream and we would do it again.  The first drift we did that, I went 3 for 3 on consecutive drifts.  Nice.

It was a good day on the river and I learned a few things.  Dropper rigs suck ass.  I can’t tie them worth a shit, but man are they effective.  I also learned that you need to fish this river deep, which would explain why my previous attempts at ignoring Brian’s suggestions of fishing deep and my stubborness at wanting to prove him wrong by catching a fish out of his river on a turks tarantula have proved useless.

In the end it was a great day on the river with a ton of fish caught and twice as many missed.  The North Fork of the White at 740cfs fishes rediculous out of a drift boat (but a highside won’t clear the bridges), and it was a great day with a really good friend.

As for lunch, well….it was beef jerkey, poweraide, and combos…..what more do you need when you are catching fish.

Ground Zero….Finally!

Because of the wind, the people, and general consensus of happiness fly-fishing away from other people on the White River (thanks to the help of Jimmy “T” Traylor of FlyFishArkansas.com) we had pretty successfully avoided the masses at the base of the dam.

However, a trip to Arkansas with low water and not at least witnessing the behemoths that lurk in the C&R waters below the dam is like going to a strip club in East St. Louis and not getting a lap dance.  It simply must be done.  When in Rome, you do romans….right?

So with that, we packed up early from Gaston’s White River Resort and checked out and took the 5 minute drive up to the base of the dam.  Jimmy “T” Traylor had booked a trip for today on the last minute, so he was off picking up his “sport” for a day of fishing.  As is the standard fair, the parking lot was crowded with license plates from all over.  I promise I did my best to put up with all the people, really I did…….but in the end I just couldn’t fish with 30 other people……the shallow stillwater of the base of the dam was calling.

You see, this is where I should’ve walked over to Brent Hinds (who was riding back to St. Louis with me, and told him I was heading up stream….with the Durango) but that would be too easy (besides he was in the throngs of all the people at Hellen Keller hole).

So off I went.  I was surprised to find out that I was only the second car at the top, and the other guy was still rigging up.  So I hopped out of the rig, grabbed my rod, and walked the trail down to the stillwater.  Fishing at the base of the dam isn’t easy, at times it isn’t hard either, but if the sun comes out and there is no wind…..it can be damn tough fishing in this 18″ section of completely still bathwater.

Today was a good day though.  A #18 trout crack under a very small amount of yarn kept the fish interested in the 2 or so hours that I fished up here.  This section of water I have found is best fished by essentially standing still and letting the fish cruise to you.  It worked today, once I got near one of the many depressions in the stream bottom.

I also had the pleasure of running into Mick Spaulding on the river again this morning.  We essentially fished across from each other and really had the time to catch up as we were midge fishing to feeding trout, stopping our conversation only to land a fish.  Mick is in the process of developing a fly-fishing related web site that I can’t wait to see.

In the end it was a good day on the water.  Lots of fish caught but no pigs.  It will give me a reason to head back down there for sure.