(click on “HD” for best quality)
What started as an idea to fish the trout streams along Hwy 63 in southern Missouri during early 2008, transformed to the 2008 Missouri Trout Odyssey
where Brian Wise and I fished 20 of Missouri’s 21 public trout streams (we would have fished all 21 of them last year, except the stream that flows through Fort Leonard Wood requires a class prior to access…..and we had too many streams and too little time). With last year’s trip over Thanksgiving weekend under our belt, it wasn’t a question if we could pull off such a feat again in 2009, it was more of a question what we could do different, as there were several streams last year we would have liked to have fished harder but didn’t and with that, in September 2009 the plan was hatched to do the trip again, only this time we would switch out fishing and photography/video duties so that only one guy is fishing at a time. Last year, we were so immersed in the fishing the other stuff kind of fell to the wayside.
After waking early on Thanksgiving morning to cook breakfast for my wife and kids, my sister and her family, and one of my uncles prior to thier trip to the St. Louis Thanksgiving Day Parade (Biscuits & Gravy, Hasbrowns, Eggs, Belgian Waffles, and Biscuits) I was out the door headed to Rolla, Missouri to pick up Brian and his gear at the commuter parking lot. The looks I got from passerby’s as I wadered up in a parking lot a good 20 miles from the nearest trout stream in the middle of a college town was pretty comical but it was so cold no one offered up any heckles as they drove by.
By 10:30am we were loaded and on our way our first stream of the day, Blue Spring Creek
; a hidden wild trout jewel hidden near Bourbon, Missouri. We knew that our goal of 6 streams on Day 1 would be tough, especially because were were going to be tackling 3 wild trout streams in the group,with bright bluebird skies with a high sun. Fishing was going to be tough and Blue Spring Creek
held true to being tough on this day. Last year we fished at the first public gate on the right as you drive down the highway, however this year we fished downstream of the first pull-off on the left side of the highway (this is the first time I have ever fished this section of stream) and only had one take in the short hour we fished the stream (on a small brown mohair leech). The section of river holds trout, and alot of the runs just look “fishy”, but today was not the day. All was not lost, we got to see more of this stream than we did in previous years and we were greeted by sounds of turkeys gobbling as we exited the stream camera gear along with a myriad of deer carcasses from the recent passing of rifle season in the state. We were done with Blue Spring Creek and were off to see the Meramac River
and Maramec Spring Trout Park.
We rolled into Maramec Spring Trout Park on Thanksgiving Day around noon and were one of 4 vehicles in the entire park. The day was warming up, and the water was slightly high and off color. We needed to bang a fish out of the stream pretty quickly and headed to the faster water above the island near the cable. Within minutes Brian had landed his first fish on a psycho prince under an indicator, and missed then landed another fish. I quickly checked out a few locations that generally hold bigger fish but there were two anglers camped out on the water, so we decided to head back to the rig and drive to the end of the parking lot and hike down to the Meramac River where the spring branch dumps in.
Brian was up again in an effort to try out his new Redington CPX Switch Rod
he had gotten a few days prior to the trip. We parked the rig, and hiked towards the end of the park and the suspension bridge, where Brian quickly entered the water just below the Red Ribbon Trout Stream sign, and was quickly rewarded with a take and a hookset while swinging an articulated streamer. What we thought was going to be a healthy trout turned out to be a nice smallmouth brought to hand and a few laughs. The high sun made shooting photos tough and I only managed to get a few shots that were worth a damn while Brian fished the river. The water below the park was higher than normal and it would have made from some tricky wading, so with fish in hand and a long day ahead we counted the smallie and headed towards the rig and our next destination.
During the 2008 Trout Odyssey we fished the Little Piney River
at the Mill Dam Hollow access and had a good trip there, it was one of two rivers we actually wanted to go back and fish, so we figured if it wasn’t broken don’t fix it and headed back to the same access. As was the common theme on Thanksgiving, we arrived and found we were the only vehicle in the access point. We hopped out and I grabbed my 4wt and off we went to fish the water just below the access. Like a fat kid on prom night, the fish just didn’t cooperate with me in the one hour we spent here and I couldn’t raise a fish so I retreated to the car with my tail stuck between my leg still with the skunk on me.
“Trust in Garmin” brings a whole new meaning when you are following outdated maps and driving through the Mark Twain National Forest, what once was a road now is a driveway, etc. It was a great reminder that I needed to update my maps and ensure that I have the topo maps loaded on my hand held GPS but I digress. We trusted in Garmin for the most part, but made a few departures when the sultry voice of my GPS was going to take us straight through a barn or living room. Garmin did provide us with one easter egg on this trip though….as we were rolling down the road, I glanced over to the left to be greeted by the sight of a Missouri Mule in a parking area, with no human in sight and no rigging on the mule. It was an oddity that made us turn around and go check out the animal….i bet someone was pissed he got out but I digress.
We rolled into the Forest Service Picnic Area on Mill Creek
, while barely setting a tire on blacktop, just in time for Brian to be out of the rig and running towards the stream. The water was slightly higher than it was last year and off color, which should have been ideal for fishing; but this year, Mill Creek had our number. Brian fished a section of stream about 100 yards long to no avail with a nymph rig, then switched to drifting / swinging a mohair leech down the same section before retiring to the rig and stowing the rod and camera gear off to our final destination of the day, Spring Creek. It was another year, and another frustrating trip to Mill Creek. The stream definitely holds nice fish, now if we could just get the timing to coincide with “the trip” that would be ideal.
Neither one of us have come to expect much from Spring Creek, a small wild trout stream that flows into the Big Piney River near the town of Doolittle, Missouri. Brian and I have fished it on several occasions in the past, out of shear hope and chasing a dream that some of the bigger fish may have made its way down from the Danforth Property on the river. We certainly figured that today would be no different than our past trips, and rolled into the parking area near a low-water crossing just at dark as we walked upstream. I was transfixed on shooting some low-light photos, so Brian grabbed the rod and rigged it with an egg pattern under an indicator. Within minutes of being on stream, we were rewarded with a beautiful 5″ par marked beauty of a wild rainbow from the stream. Both of us were surprised, and slightly shocked, but figured it was a great way to end the fishing for the day. We stowed our gear and headed towards Rolla and eventually Licking, Mo and the Scenic River Inn on Hwy63.
Out of the 6 streams fished, we had caught fish in 3 of them and didn’t fish any of them for more than an hour at a time, funny how the small wild fish was the trophy for the day but it was definitely the conversation at the Huddle House in Rolla as we enjoyed a nontraditional Thanksgiving Day feast of scrambled eggs and hash browns. Brian and I had jokingly made a pact to only eat at Mexican restaurants this trip, but on Thanksgiving Day at 7pm that is easier said than done, and Huddle House was one of the few restaurants that were open (although later we started to compromise with fast food so long as we had a burrito or wrap). We rolled into Licking around 9pm tired and ready to hit the sack, but we had photos to go through, video to transfer, and batteries to charge and up and at them again at 5:30am on Friday morning. All in all, not a bad way to spend Thanksgiving.
The rest of the photos from Day 1 are below, and the video will be up shortly.