There are not many rivers in Missouri that allow trout fisherman to float in a drift boat through a National Park, but the Current River is one of them and at 825 CFS on the Akers Ferry guage, the Current River is just too damn sexy of a river to pass up. This is a float that Paul Chausse, Dan Held, and myself have been wanting to do for quite some time, but we were always waiting for the right river level, but Saturday, March 30, 2013, was the day. We put together this two boat exploratory trip to see how the section of river from Cedar Grove Conservation Area to Akers Ferry fished out of a drift boat. This trip I was joined by Evan Muskopf and Brian Carr in my boat and Paul Chausse had Dan Ritter and Craig Peterson in his boat. It was a good group of guys and we knew we were in for a good day on the water as we hooked up with a rainbow on a streamer within the first 30yds of our float and the day only got better….particularly with Brian Carr’s antics of finding interesting ways to fall into the river. We had a lot of fun this trip. This section of river is part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverway National Park and is an absolute joy to float through with plenty to see. While we didn’t put huge numbers of trout in the boat, we all caught enough fish to keep us interested and the structure on the river and the scenery were more than enough to fuel us to get back down and do this float again. Out of a drift boat, this float is probably floatable down to around 425cfs or so at Akers Ferry. Here are the photos from our trip.
“Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes, well, he eats you.” — The Stranger from The Big Lebowski
Saturday morning came early, after a late night. We rose and readied ourselves for our three boat drift on the White River. After plenty of discussion the night before, with me apparently being a little more vocal than most, we decided on floating Dam to Wildcat again on Saturday. The weather was much nicer this morning, with plenty of cloud cover and just some misting rain every so often. We were all fairly stoaked to begin the day, so we dropped the boats in at the Dam Site Ramp in the State Park and ran our shuttle to Wildcat Boat Ramp.
While dropping the trailers off at Wildcat, I had the chance to meet up with Corey Dodson, Chance Maxville, and thier group of guys from Oklahoma as they were floating from Wildcat Schoals Boat Ramp to Cotter (about a 6 mile float). It was cool to finally meet these guys and say hello; but there were fish to be caught (or so I thought), so we were on our way.
To say the drift boat craze has caught on in the Ozarks might be a bit of an understatement. Four years ago, when I would take my boat down there, you might see one of the other 4 guides (at that time) out in one but just on the shuttle drive we saw at least 6 other drift boats either at the ramp or on the road being trailered to a ramp. It is pretty cool to say the least.
Evan Muskopf and Brian Greer were in my boat, Dan Held and Paul Chausse were in thier boat, and Ray Riedy and Jeff House were in Ray’s skiff as we started the float. The fishing details are pretty basic and for every trophy fish grip and grin you see with a pig trout and a streamer hanging out of its mouth there are handfuls of trips like the one we took today. Meat was thrown in the wind to no avail and no hard chases in our boat. Paul / Dan managed to put a 20″ fish in thier boat, and the other two boats (ours included) managed to eek out some dinks but that was it. The streamer game is a nasty game at times, and sometimes dues need to be paid. Today we paid ours. Just like the quote at the beginning of this blog post.
Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes, well, he eats you.
Evan Muskopf and I headed south on Thursday (02-02-2012) to meet up with Paul Chausse, Dan Held, Ray Reidy, and Jeff House for a three day fishing trip on the White River. It is sort of an annual February pilgrimage for me, yet it had been a few years since JimmyT and I had fished together in February. With that in mind and despite the drift boat in tow, we jumped at the chance when JimmyT offered the opportunity to get Evan and I out in his boat for a day of fishing.
We arrived late on thursday night and after a little scheduling conflict (and my lack of procrastination in reserving my RV for an additional night), we grabbed a room at River Rock Inn in Mountain Home. We were up early and on the way to meet JimmyT, we stopped and picked up Ray Reidy and Paul Chausse at Wildcat Shoals Boat Ramp and shuttled them back to the Dam Site put-in for their 11 mile float. After some breif catching up, they were on thier way and we were on our way to meet up with JimmyT at his Wishes & Fishing Fly Shop in Bull Shoals.
We wadered up and dropped his boat in for a very wet day of fishing. The rain was fairly consistent throughout the day, with some downpours here and there. The fishing was consistent enough to keep us interested, but the big fish on the streamer bite wasn’t really there. We focused our efforts mainly on the catch and release area, doing several drifts and picked up the occassional rainbow; but the big browns eluded us. Perhaps it was the number of boats that were out there (at any time there were at least 12 boats within eye site). At JimmyT’s urging, we switched to one of his rigged up 11ft nymph rods and on the first drift I picked up a “barely 20 inch” brown trout. It was a good fish, and only on the White River can a guy be a little disappointed with a 20″ fish…..but I know better on this river. We got lots of love on the nymph rig, but our hearts were with the streamers so we switched back and threw more meat the rest of the afternoon with the same results. The thing is, though, that even with the weather being as wet / cold as it was; JimmyT was on his game keeping the boat positioned perfectly and giving us the shots we needed.
As the day wore on and the temerpature began to drop with the river level (the generation was letting up), I asked for mercy as I was wet and cold, so we headed back to the ramp and to Wishes & Fishes Fly Shop for some beers and catching up out of the rain. We headed back to the Bull Shoals State Park Rent-An-Rv and unloaded our stuff and plenty of food / drink were had as the entire group (Evan Muskopf, Brian Greer, Dan Held, Paul Chausse, Ray Reidy, and Jeff House) were present and recounted the day before more storms rolled in. It was a great way to start February, even though the truly big fish didn’t cooperate.
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:
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.