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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.