2009 Missouri Trout Odyssey — Day 2 (6 Streams)


Day Two of the this year’s trout odyssey began at 5:30am with a wake-up call, a quick cup of gas station coffee and some blueberry muffins as we drove to the TanVat Access on the Current River.  I was up, after being skunked twice yesterday, and I thought the Current would hold good things for me.  The weather was COLD, as we dropped into the river just above the TanVat access to fish the first run.  There was already a truck in the parking lot when we arrived, so we were not the first group on the stream.  I was rigged with a Psycho Prince Nymph under a thingamabobber indicator and proceeded to nymph the run to no avail, I switched to an egg, and then to a San Juan Worm to no avail — but I knew there was fish to be had there.  In a last ditch effort, I drifted a mohair leech through the run with no love what-so-ever.  I still had the skunk…..and it was beginning to stink…..really bad.  With the sound of the whistle ringing through the valley, telling all that it was “ok” to fish the C&R season the trout park, we retreated to the rig with my tail tucked between my legs as we drove toward Montauk State Park.

Needing to get the skunk off me in the worse sort of way, and the new Sage VT2 4wt that I had for this trip, we headed straight to the dirtiest place I knew to fish Montauk State Park, the ditch.  It isn’t pretty, and it isn’t tough but I quickly got the skunk off of me by catching a dink rainbow and proceeded to put PETA to its knees by wiping the skunk off of me by getting a little fish slime on the face……finally a fish.  I felt like a dirty whore standing there drifting egg after egg into the ditch with hook-up after hook-up and I new it was bad (kind of like going hogging…..it is fun, but only if know one sees you doing it).  Here I was shin-deep in the ditch and Brian Wise videotaping the whole damn thing, so I had to change that and summoned him into the dirty.  I am pretty sure he needed to shower after catching dinks on a neon orange w/ neon green tungsten beaded san juan worm, but we had a good laugh at each others’ expense and decided we needed to head out as we had some driving to do today.

We left Montauk and headed down Highway 19, one of the most scenic drives in the Ozarks as we were driving towards the Barren Fork Creek.  The Barren Fork Creek stomped us last year, but with the help of the Shannon County Conservation Agent we felt better prepared to tackle the beautiful wild trout stream.  We parked the rig near Sinking Creek and hiked downstream to the location of some stream bank improvements.  The river definitely has trout holding habitat, but the bluebird skies and the warmer weather made it a tough stream for us again this year.  Brian was up and fished a mohair leech through anything that looked like it would hold trout to no avail.  Despearate to prove that this stream held fish, we stayed here a bit longer than we should have, to no avail.  The river is tough to fish, but is a hidden Ozark jewel if you are willing to take the drive.

The next stop on our trip was the Roubidoux River.  The Roubidoux is a river that has not been historically good to me in the past, because of my previous experiences we blew it off last year with a little night fishing excursion, but this year when we rolled into the parking lot we got a few pointers from some guys that were finished up in the parking lot at the Waynesville City Park and we headed downstream following thier directions.  I was up for this stream, after my “stellar” whoring at the trout park I needed some redemption and was rewarded quickly with a rainbow while swinging a black wooly bugger with an egg dropper (he took the egg).  After a release, I hooked up again, and as it was getting later in the afternoon and with a good drive ahead, we headed back to the rig and headed towards Lebannon, Missouri.  But before we headed out, we needed to grab a photo of the MDC trout sign, and it was there that my waders met their demise…..a barbed wire fence that I tugged against leaving a pretty good tear in them.  My waders were no more, but there is no crying in trout fishing so we hit the rig and headed on down the road (secretly wondering if I remembered to pack a spare pair of waders).

When tackling 21 streams in 4 1/2 days, minimizing drive time is a big task, and today was going to put it to the test with a long trek which took us from the Barren Fork Creek all the way to Bennett Spring and the Niangua River.  Because daylight was dwindling and our time was limited, we drove into Bennett Spring State Park and headed to the hatchery outflow for a quick pick-up of fish.  The weather was unseasonably warm, and we were quickly reminded why trout parks are some of our least favorite places to fish in the fall / winter when the weather is nice as the park was PACKED with people.  I know alot of people look down upon people fishing eggs or san juan worms, but when fishing a new stream or needing to pick up a fish quickly they are great patterns to use in the Ozarks (and most anywhere).  I dropped down to the stream, and was quickly rewarded with a bunch of dinks.  The water was clear and also provided us a place to try out the homemade underwater housing that Brian Wise made for my HD Video Camera.  It held up and really did a nice job, even if Brian froze his hands holding it underwater.  With the whistle blowing, signaling another day of trout park fishing has come to a close, we headed towards the Niangua River, right outside the park.

The Niangua River fished really well for us during the 2008 Trout Odyssey, and we were looking forward to fishing it again.  We had both wanted to float the river last year, but schedules didn’t pan out before the party float season began, so this was our first time back on the stream.  Brian was up this time, and was quickly into fish at the public access.  Fishing was a bit slower this year, but we opted to swing wooly buggers this year and pick up fish.  The day quickly faded and it provided me with a chance to shoot some longer exposure shots on the water (something I have been dying to do for awhile now).  It is amazing how much color you can extract from an image that is shot at dark.  The colors are much more vivid.  After playing with the cameras a bit longer, we had had a long day and headed back to the rig.  All in all the Niangua delivered again this year.

We finished the day by eating at Senor Peppers Grill & Catina in Lebanon, Missouri.  It will be the last time that either of us ever eat there, what smelled really good outside was a damn nightmare on a plate when we got inside.  I ordered fajitas and was “rewarded” with grilled chicken strips and vegetables that were coated “generously” with the chef’s favorite store bought barbecue sauce.  It was horrid, and i have now met the first fajita I didn’t like (after all, it is hard to f ‘ up a fajita….just not in Lebanon, Missouri).  We had a good laugh, were left with heartburn as we headed out the door towards our destination near Crane, Missouri and Crane Creek.

The rest of the photos from Day 2 are below, enjoy.

Missouri Trout Odyssey (Day 1) — 7 Missouri Trout Streams

After a night of getting gear organized, rods rigged, and things generally ready to go for the 1000+ mile road trip to Missouri’s trout streams, the alarm went off at 5am. Winter camping at Montauk State Park is always relaxing and quiet as there were only a handful of other campers there and there were no RV generators to contend with combined with only a couple of locals driving through the campground at night.

4:45am. I crawled out of my bag and exited the Hotel Durango to go wake Brian up in his tent and begin the morning process of breaking camp. We were stowed away and ready to go alot quicker than I would have thought we were, and soon we found ourselves driving towards the TanVat Access on the Current River in the dark.

The logistics of this trip were pretty important. We needed to keep daylight driving to a minimum and maximize fishing time and the number of streams that we could fish. We identified Montauk State Park as a good starting point for the trip and laid out our plan of attack for the 7 streams we were going to fish today. We simply need to fish the Current River before the fishing hours within Montauk State Park to make this work.

The Current River is a great river. Sure it receives quite a bit of fishing pressure, but the pressure it receives is worth it because the fishing can be that good. We rolled into the TanVat Access around 6am to find two guys already unloading from their truck and rigging up. Brian and I kind of stalled and waited to see which direction these guys would head before taking off. They promptly headed downstream, so Wise and I headed upstream to the high bank and the first run just above the parking area. A Psycho Prince nymph under a yarn indicator was all the was needed to put the first fish on the board for both Brian and I. Brian was on the board with the first fish, as I was up-top shooting photos / videos, but after he hooked up we traded spots and I promptly hooked up and lost a fish (indicator, tippet, and fly) only to hook the same fish again about 20 minutes later and get back my previously lost Pyscho Prince, indicator, and tippet. We both had a laugh over that and decided we needed to move on to the next stream as this was also our first taste of running the video camera and fishing at the same time. This proved to be something that is very time consuming and requires constant coordination between the guy at the camera and the guy fishing.

The headwaters of the Current River at Montauk State Park were next on our list, and we promptly headed to the C&R area where we were both rewarded with quick hook-ups. As Brian and I separated a bit and fished different water, I heard the call for “net” only to hurry downstream to see the tippit break on a nice fish Brian was trying to land (it took a globug egg). We fished our way to towards the Hatchery Office and our vehicle and I was rewarded with a nice rainbow on a Black BH Crystal Bugger in the big pool just above from the Hatchery Office.

We loaded up and started the trek towards the Barren Fork Creek. This was one of many highlights of the trip, as the drive from Montauk State Park to the Barren Fork Creek is one of the most scenic drives I have ever been on in Missouri. We drove past Akers Ferry and got to see the ferry still in operation across the Current River, then we were rewarded with hellacious views from atop the Ozark foothills that rival those I have seen in the Smoky Mountains. Simply gorgeous. On hindsight, I wish we would have pulled over to take a few still photos from this area — but we had fish on the mind. This is a trip that I will be going back on (but ensure you have plenty of gas in the tank, because there is not much out there).

I had only loosely GPS’d the access points using my computer, and since neither one of us had been to the stream before we really didn’t know what to expect or where we were going. To put it simply, the Barren Fork Creek is in the middle of NOWHERE. We didn’t know how remote it was until we were getting ready to leave, but more on that later. The Barren Fork is a small super clear stream that rivals the other wild trout streams in terms of scenery. We fished the access close to a Church and near the headwaters with the spring and struggled our short time on this stream. We didn’t spot a fish or see much holding water. We were walking out with our tails between our legs when a truck pulls in and blocks the Durango in. Much to our surprise (bars of Dueling Banjos were playing in my head) it was the Shannon County MDC Officer that had come to check on us. After quick hellos and checks of our coolers we got to talking and he was telling us about the vast public land that Shannon County has (over 135,000 acres of public land to hunt/fish on and only 8,000 residents in the entire county) he let it slip about some stream improvements that were done on the stream several years ago. At my asking, he did better than tell us about the stream improvements, he offered to lead us on the 1/4 mile hike down stream to these undercut banks that they built on the stream. By far, this was the best trout holding water we saw on this stream. As I shot photos and talked to the Agent, Brian tried his look at fishing the water where he was promptly rewarded with a strong take. But alas no hook-up or fish landed. The Agent wanted to check out the status of the stream bank improvements and we needed to move on to our next stream, so after he was done looking at the stream we hiked back out and we were on our way. That was my first enounter with an MDC Agent while fly fishing in Missouri and I was impressed with his professionalism, knowledge of the area, and willingness to just hang out and talk with Brian and I. The residents of Shannon County are very lucky to have him fighting for them.

We pulled out of Barren Fork Creek and headed towards the town of Salem, Missouri which would provide us with fuel and lunch for the rest of the day. As we barreled through a Burger King drive-thru (our only nourishment thus far) and towards the Mill Dam Hollow Access on the Little Piney we threw out the possibility of knocking off the remaining 4 streams today in less than 5 hours of drive time.

We rolled into the access on the Little Piney around 2:00pm and after saying hello to two spin fisherman that were heading downstream, we were on the water. It wasn’t long and the Pyscho Prince delivered again on a new river, for Brian. I had opted to fish the water nearest the access and was picking up fish with a Tungsten BH Copperhead midge under a yarn indicator. I think both of us could have finished the day out on the Little Piney, but we had to hit 3 more streams before the day was over so we headed back to the rig and on to Mill Creek we went.

GPS’s are a funny thing. It seems that if it was ever a public road, Garmin calls it a road and the drive from the Little Piney to Mill Creek, I am quite sure, could have been done without setting tire on pavement. Mill Creek is a small spring fed stream that meanders through typical Ozark bottom land and is home to a wild population of some of the most colorful rainbows that Missouri has to offer. At 3:30pm we were pulling into the new Bohigan Conservation Area access on Mill Creek. This was the Friday after Thanksgiving and both Brian and I were surprised at the number of people fishing Mill Creek. There were vehicles parked in several locations. We chose to check out the area nearest one of the springs and headed in to the stream. As has been my experience with this stream in the past, we were stood up with little more than a wet fly and wet waders to show for it. Realizing that we were going to struggle this afternoon on this river and that daylight was dwindling, we reeled up and headed towards Spring Creek.

Brian and I had fished Spring Creek once before in 2006 just after a period of extremely high water and did not fair very well with only 1 fish between the two of us. We were ready for a rematch and were on the water fishing by 4:30pm. We had previously learned that former Senator Jack Danforth owns property upstream of the access that we were fishing and had rumors of his family being fly fisherman and private stream improvements on his property — so we held up hope that this stream yields a healthy population of wild fish. However, our trip on this stream was cut short when a father and son rolled through the stream crossing and into the access we were fishing to “empty” their muzzleloaders from their afternoon road hunt (they were out of the woods way too early to be doing anything but road hunting). As the son set up a plastic bottle in the direction we were fishing, Briand and I decided it was time to reel up and head back to the vehicle. Just as we made it back to the vehicle and had our packs off, the first gunshot was heard and there was nothing but a dirt hill between us and his target. So we left Spring Creek with only 1 take and zero fish landed — but the belief that fish can be had here with the proper amount to time (we were hear for less than 45 minutes).

As we rolled out towards I-44, it was almost a joke that we were going to fish the Roubidoux at night. Neither of us had held out hope for fishing the Roubidoux and neither knew much about the stream as I had only briefly fished it once before. We rolled into the Waynesville City Park at dark (6:30pm) and quickly went to work throwing streamers off of the handicap fishing platform. This was probably our most feeble attempt at catching a fish that we threw up in the 4 days of fishing. The Roubidoux is a put-and-take fishery and from reports that we had heard the locals line up when the stocking truck arrives and there are hold-over trout in the stream but getting to them requires knowledge of the stream and access away from the access points. The Roubidoux offered little more than casting practice to us on this day and after about an hour of casting blindly in the dark we decided to call it a night and head back towards the Meramac River valley and wherever we decided to place our camp for then night.

With nothing more than a Whopper & fries for nourishment for the day, we opted to stop at a Mexican restaurant that is right off I-44 in Rolla (it is behind the Mobile station near Fast-Food row). The food was warm, and good (but to be honest warm dog piss might have been good about this time) and afforded us the chance to talk about where we were going to camp for the evening and our assault for tomorrow. We settled on camping at Onodaga State Park as it was close to our first stop in the morning, Blue Spring Creek.

There is something to be said for sitting around a camp fire after a long day in the car and on the river. It afforded us the chance to sit back and relax in the pitch dark (other than the campground hosts, we were the only campers that we could see) and just appreciate the Ozark winter. I think I finally crawled into Hotel Durango around 12am or so; looking forward to tomorrow.

Current River (Licking, MO) — March 26, 2005

Craig Peterson and I left St. Louis at 5:00am for what may have been the last trip taken in Craig’s fish car “old jap.” It served its purpose well, and took us on many good fishing trips — but it was time for the car to be retired. We were headed to the Current River this morning to try our luck at an area below Baptist Camp Access. When we left STL it was 55 degrees, but the temperature never got above that (and in fact when we got off the water the air temp was about 45 degrees). It had been awhile since Craig and I went on a solo trip, and we were due. Time to catch up on each other’s career paths, family life, and plan out future fishing adventures.

As we drove down the gravel road through the park and in the direction of Tan Vat Access, the waters were crowded with anglers in Montauk Trout Park (to think that two months ago the same waters were vacant of anglers) and we both mumbled something about being glad we were not standing in that mess. We drove past the Tan Vat Access at about 7:30am and to our pleasant surprise, there were no cars at the access and only two tent camps set up. But we had some exploring to do downriver of Baptist Camp Access, so on down the road we went until we arrived at Baptist Camp Access at about 7:40am.

We hiked downstream until we could not take it anymore, and had to fish. We ended up hiking to some new water that neither Craig nor I had fished before, and were considerably farther downstream than the previous stretch we fished with Norm Crisp in February. Fishing was tough. The morning found us throwing streamers with limited success (more lost fish, than landed fish). I broke off a nice fish on a rag head sculpin, and had several follows only to not get a strike. Craig picked up one fish on a white angel hair streamer that he picked out of my box. It was a slow morning to say the least, but we were on the river — so it wasn’t all bad. About 11am, I was frusturated and decided to switch to a crackleback. As is almost always the case, the crackleback produced and I was rewarded with a nice 12″ brown with beautiful red spots. I finally got the skunk off of this trip and was hoping for things to turn around. Turn around they did. After going all morning without seeing other anglers, we were greeted with canoers and kayakers and at least 8 other fisherman and no other fish. We opted to hike / fish back to the access and were packing our waders away about 1pm.

It was a tough day on the water, with only 2 landed fish to show for between the two of us. It was a great day, and it was very encouraging to see the number of fish in the stream. We did spot several fish in the 18″ range, but couldn’t get a strike. It was a great day on the water, and unfortunately it will be my last for awhile, as the next trip isn’t planned yet……….Fish Hard.

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.

Current River (Licking, Missouri) — April 16 – 18, 2004

This weekend was a mini get together for members of the St. Louis Fly Tying Group on Yahoo, and some other select St. Louis area fly fisherman. I had been looking forward to this trip, since it was almost a month since I had been on the water. The trip had started out to be one that McClane and I were going to leave on Thursday night and arrive down on the Current River late that evening — instead McClane didn’t have a chance to be late……because he cancelled on this trip due to “work” commitments. I scrambled to find someone to ride down with me in the maiden fishing voyage of the 18ft travel trailer I had bought on eBay last november. The trailer has proved to be a little too much weight for my Blazer in its first outing to Washington State Park (near Desoto, MO) in March, so I borrowed my brother’s Tahoe for this trip since there was a ton of Ozark highway miles.

I finally got Mark Kotcher to ride down with me and by 8am on Friday morning, we were on our way. Towing the trailer with the Tahoe was night and day when compared to towing it with my Blazer. Gas mileage sucks while towing, but the accomodations were nice. We finally got down to the EaglesPark Campground in the Trophy Trout Management Area on the Current River, just outside of Montauk State Park around 11:30am or so. Several other people had already arrived and were on the water. We quickly set up camp, suited up, and hit the Current River at Baptist Camp and fished upstream. We ran in to Illinois bamboo rodmaker, Ron Caimi, taking a lunch break at his vehicle and said our hellos (he was part of the group that was staying at the campground and one of the tents were his) he informed us that the fish had really turned off around 11am, but the morning brought a ton of stockers on caddis imitations. The weather was unseasonably hot and the temperature was near 90 with bright blue skies, when we finally got on the water and started the trek upstream. They had previously stocked the river with several thousand Brown Trout a week earlier, but the fish were not anywhere to be seen in these section of river. As we worked our way upstream, Mark Kotcher picked up two Brown Trout on an elk hair caddis and I missed one fish. I was not feeling well on the water today (probably a combination of allergies and dehydration) and was pretty set on just walking upstream to the bluffs and fishing. We never made it up to the bluffs, and fishing was so slow and crowded that we quit fishing around 4pm and waded back to the Tahoe and decided to check out the other accesses and then head back to camp. There was a ton more cars at the Baptist Camp Access, complete with a group of guys swimming in the big hole in front of the access. At Parkers Hollow, we only saw one car and I didn’t think the water looked very attractive so back to camp we went to wait for everyone else to arrive (I drank a ton of Gatorade and actually took a nap and tied some flies — I was pretty anti-social on Friday). The others started to arrive around 5pm and set up camp and Craig made it down around 6pm.

The fishing was much of the same on Saturday morning, several of the guys in the group set out to float from Tan Vat to Parkers Hollow (including Mark Kotcher — who was trying out his pontoon boat for the first time), while Craig and I got on the water early and parked at Tan Vat access (with the plan to fish down to Baptist and back and make the trip last a full day). We got to the access around 7am and there was already a ton of cars there and as many people suiting up and getting ready to hit the water. Craig and I were already suited up so we made our way across the pool and high tailed it down river. I picked up two browns and Craig picked up one brown prior to 10am, but then the fishing just shut down. We fished down past the bluffs and were frusturated and hot — the weather was near 90 again with bright blue skies and there were more people on the river than I had ever seen. We decided to head back upstream and fish some of the runs that we had skipped over when trying to stay ahead of all the other anglers. It paid off, as I foul hooked (it was hooked underneath the mouth — so is it really a foul hook) a beautiful Brown Trout on a leech pattern but lost the fish (it was faul hooked anyway right……LOL). We both agreed to hit the car for some liquids and check out some of the other accesses and campgrounds. I took Craig to Parkers Hollow and there were at least 10 cars parked down there, complete with about 4 anglers cleaning trout in the river as we pulled in. We then hit Cedar Grove Access (man that is quite a drive from Parkers Hollow) and watched as a school bus load full of people launched at least 10 canoes on the water. On the way back to camp, we checked out Baptist Camp Access and were amazed at the amount of people and cars that were parked there. We grabbed some food and headed in to the state park so that Craig could call his wife. We were both frusturated and didn’t really feel like fishing (afterall, today was a carbon copy of yesterday) so we checked out the campground in Montauk (only 3 campsites not occupied in the whole place) and were back at camp by 2pm. After a nap and some rehydration we were tying flies in the camper as the other anglers whom had had much of the same luck (or worse) than we had made there way back.

Saturday night was when the main festitivities were to start, complete with a feast for kings and a huge bonfire (bonfire compliments of Dave Dawson — proprietor of EaglesPark Campground). We sat around the campfire and compared notes from the day as we waited for the fire to get just hot enough to start cooking. It was then that I realized we had assembled a great group of guys together to share a campfire and a river with. Gavin Poppen was in charge of cooking the meat for tonights dinner (18lbs of Pork Steaks from Mattickers Meat Market in St. Louis), Dan Burleigh prepared some kick-ass chili, and I assembed the italian salad that McClane had sent down (he volunteered to bring a salad — before he knew he couldn’t go). It was a great meal with great guys. We continued drinking until I went to bed about 2am, and some people were still up at 3am (when nature called for me). Most of what went on Saturday night, is best left at “You had to be there.”

1st Annual Campout on the Current Attendee List:

  1. Gavin Poppen
  2. Craig Stevens
  3. Keith Stevens
  4. Bill Peterburgo
  5. Craig Peterson
  6. Adam Smith
  7. John Nesselrode
  8. Dan Burleigh
  9. Andrew Arnold
  10. Matt Tucker
  11. Ron Caimi
  12. Brian Meiss
  13. Mark Kotcher
  14. Dave Dawson
  15. Norm Crisp
  16. Joe Weber
  17. Tom Hargrove
  18. Gene Horbelt
  19. Keith Gamn
  20. Several Other Unidentified People

1st Annual Campout on the Current Top 10 List

  1. Norm Crisp’s wisdom on getting older (Never Underestimate a fart)
  2. Gavin Poppen’s 6 foot bamboo rod
  3. Mark Kotcher’s maiden voyage of the personal pontoon
  4. Camp Tucker (and the fact it only has 2 windows that open)
  5. John Nesselrode & Craig Peterson’s humor
  6. The 60′ bonfire
  7. Tom Hargrove’s m-80 and the general burning of stuff
  8. Cutthroat Beer & Little Yeoman Beer
  9. Matt Tucker’s BBQ smeared all over his body
  10. Dave Dawson’s Hospitality (stay at EaglePark Campground when you are down there)

This trip was not about catching fish (seems like I would say that, since I only caught two fish), and we didn’t even fish on Sunday morning. Actually Mark Kotcher and I got up around 6am and packed up camp and headed for home (after stopping off at PJ’s Diner in Licking for breakfast). This trip reminded both Craig and I why we do not fish during the warmer months — the fish didn’t bite as well; and the river was crowded. We both left this trip, thinking that we probably won’t fish again until the fall (unless there is a cool day with some rain that just begs for us to be on the water) and spend the summer tying flies. Even though there was disappointment in the fish cooperation, I will be back for the campout next year. Until the next hook-up……………