North Fork of the White River; Resetting the Soul (Day 2)

2010-11-20pic030(Resized)No trip to the North Fork of the White River would be complete without an evening of pizza and beer at The Antler in Gainesville, Missouri.  After a day on the river on Friday (11/19), we found ourselves at The Antler enjoying Blue Moon on tap (surprisingly) and some pizza.  It was another late night and early morning, as we rose and hit Skeeter’s Cafe to soak up the alcohol from the night before.

On Saturday, we were met with slightly warmer temps and cloudy skies.  We decided to float from River of Life Farm to the Patrick Bridge access and rolled down to the river unloaded and ran our shuttle as Kyle Kosovich (Long Boat Outfitters) and Randy Hanner (aka “Randy F’in Hanner”, member of the USA Fly Fishing Team) were rigging up their boat and going to float with us for a portion of the day.  Randy and Kyle are good guys and they hung with Brian Wise, Evan Muskopf and I at The Antler the night before, trading stories and what not; good times, but I digress.

The morning started out slow as we chucked streamers (Sex Dungeons, Peanut Envy’s, and Circus Peanuts, along with a couple of Fly Tying Contest entries and some Brian Wise patterns specifically for the NFOW).  We stopped and got out to wade fish, when the first fish was picked up on a streamer.  We each saw the rainbow come from about 15ft away, and Evan was rewarded with the nice bow.  Brian mainly messed with video, which left me at the oars for a stretch, and Evan was rewarded with the first brown trout of the trip just below “the rock garden”; a trend that would continue for the rest of the float.

It was another good day on the river, as we hadn’t seen anyone else on the river until we floated by Sunburst Canoe & Campground, where we were greeted by pleasantries from the guys on the bank as we floated by.  Shortly just below their access, I was rewarded with a nice brown on a clouser minnow imitation.  After hopping out of the boat to get some photos; my search for a 20″ fish out of the NFOW still continues; but they are definitely out there.  t was a good fish to end the trip with and had we had any beer left, it definitely would have been a beer fish.  The rest of the float was done pretty haphazardly, except when we got around the islands, where each of us fished.  Evan did manage to pick up one fish, just above Patrick Bridge, on a Fly Tying Contest streamer.  We got some photos and floated the rest of the way out, content with two solid days on the river.

All in all it was a great way to reset the soul and clear the mind.  We are already putting dates on the calendar for a follow-up trip, which will happen in the next couple of weeks.  You can see the photos from Day 2 of the trip below:

North Fork of the White River; Resetting the Soul (Day 1)

2010-11-19pic007(Resized)Too much work and no fishing makes Tucker a very pissed off and unpleasant person….and angry man…if you will (or at least that is what I am told).  It had been way too long since I had held a fly rod in my hand and actually got to fish a bit for more than a couple of hours.  With a little bit of planning, Evan Muskopf from Feather-Craft, Brian Wise (head guide at River of Life Farm) and I had planned for a little R&R on the North Fork of the White River with floating on Friday (11/19/10) and Saturday (11/20/10).  The plan was solid and low cost, and I think we each needed it for different reasons.

After a late night catching up around a fire at Brian’s house until about 1am with lots of beer consumed and checking out all the various patterns that were turned in to the Feather-Craft Fly Tying Contest site that Evan and Brian are doing (some really cool stuff……that actually catches fish), we rose early at 5:30am for breakfast at Skeeters in Gainesville, Missouri then off to the River.  The Skeeter’s #7 breakfast is something to behold and definitely kept me full all day…….as we only had planned on a barley lunch on the river with some granola and jerky as fodder.  We rolled into Kelly Ford and dropped Brian’s boat in the water, rigged up and left Evan with the boat as we ran our shuttle to the Blair Bridge Access.  This had us fishing about 5 miles (i think) of trout water on about 315 cfs, which is the lowest I had ever fished the river…..and it is, as Brian had told me “more intimate.”

The fishing was good, but not great.  We first got on the river and rowed upstream to Lamb Shoal and then further upstream to where the spring dumps into the river.  We spent until noon on this section of river, with enough success to keep us there, but we needed to move on and get started on our float to Blair Bridge.  I was fishing a new Sage TXL 6wt 9′ – 6″ rod, and man is that rod money for fishing out of a boat.  I am definitely a believer of the longer rods when nymphing…..and already am eying a 10ft 5wt after casting Evan’s 10ft 4wt.

While the cfs was lower, the fishing methods were largely the same as they were with more flow.  Long dual fly rigs with a heavy front fly and a dropper about 18″ below under a thingamabobber indicator.  One of the benefits of fishing with Brian and Evan is all the cool stuff Brian gets to play with as part of his help with Feather-Craft’s Fly Tying Contest site (big plug for it here, submit a fly for the 2011 contest).  One of the things is Wiggle Dubb dubbing.  Brian started tying a very generic stonefly pattern with originally enough called “The Wiggle Stone” and according to Brian, it had been catching the shit out of fish.  Well, he was right, 90% of the fish we caught on Friday came on this new pattern.

The North Fork of the White River is such a jewel trout stream.  We floated the entire day and didn’t see another fisherman, and the weather was a little cool but definitely beautiful.  I didn’t worry about the camera or photos and actually enjoyed a day on the water.  We couldn’t have spent a more relaxing day on the water, with the first beer being popped at 8:30 and the last being consumed around a camp fire about 12am….leaving just enough time for sleep in order to do it again on Saturday.  The photos from Friday are in the gallery below.

Trip Report: Westover Farms; Still Opearting and the Trout Are Willing

2010-11-06pic002(Resized)A lot has changed over the years for at least one of Missouri’s private trout fisheries, Westover Farms.  Rumor has it, that Westover Farms is now tied up in some sort of bankruptcy / foreclosure / FDIC debacle; but that doesn’t change just how special this particular piece of property is (hint:  you can read about the rumors here).  Rumors or not, Tom and Lisa (the caretakers), are still employed and operating the property for the bank and believe it or not, you can even still fish there and book lodging and what not.

Hannah, my 8 year old daughter, has been on me about getting her back down to Dry Run Creek, but work obligations have kept me in St. Louis more frequently than in years past and I haven’t found the time to get away.  Enter Westover Farms.  Kids 12 and under can (with reservation and possibly a paying adult) fish for free.  A quick call and return call from Lisa and Hannah was all set up.  With temps set to be in the low 20’s in the morning, I did my best to convince Hannah to postpone the trip (admittedly she doesn’t have near the clothing to stay warm while fishing in such cold weather), but she would have none of it and even teared up at the thought; so the trip must go on.  I did my best to postpone the inevitable cold start with a long breakfast at Cracker Barrel and by 7am, we were off to Westover.

The fishing was, as it has always been, good.  But it was apparent that this isn’t the Westover Farms of Springrise at Westover days.  The fish in the “garden section” of the stream were actually pretty wary of people and casting a shadow on the stream caused them to disappear into the various undercuts and vegetation and what not.  Because of this and the vegetation that was let to grow along side of the stream in this section, it required a little more accurate casting and line control than what Hannah possessed, so we headed off down to the creek section of the property; where Hannah found her grove and immediately started picking up yearling…park marked / white tip finned rainbows…..with relative ease in various riffles on a San Juan Worm that she had tied herself.  As we walked the property, we ended up down where the “garden section” dumps into the creek and the fish were stacked up as they had always been.  Hannah was mesmerized by all the fish in this section, but there was already a guy fishing this section (with little success), so we decided to try and wait him out, as he was there first.  But there is only so much waiting an 8yo can do, so when the guy stepped out of the stream to take a leak, I told her she could start casting and she immediately started catching fish.  The more she caught, the harder the other guy tried, but with no luck and he reeled up his line and walked away without saying a word.  I am not sure if the guy was pissed that we “low holed” him…..if that is what you want to call it, or that he was being out-fished by an 8yo; but either way Hannah thought it was pretty cool that she was catching more fish them him……and quite frankly, so did I.

On a separate note, Brent McClane met us down there to try out some new video equipment that he is working on, and I am really hoping to see some uber cool stuff coming from him soon.  All in all, it was a great couple of hours on the water with Hannah and looking forward to more in the future.  The trip wasn’t really about shooting photos or what not, so i only snapped a handful of shots, but the gallery is below.