Missouri Trout Odyssey III – Day 3

2012-12-08pic020800pxThe Missouri Trout Odyssey is a trip that Brian Wise and I dreamed up more than 4 years ago.  It originally started with each of us trying to bluff the other one into a “megatrip in the ozarks”, then it morphed in to how many streams can we fish and how fast can we fish them.  What has resulted is a helluva appreciation for all the trout water Missouri has to offer and a great time in the process, with lots of stories, pics, and videos along the way.  Each MTO is something that really can be explained in words — photos and video do it best.  But the best way to experience it is to get out there and do it yourself…..besides it is only 1200+ miles and 21 trout streams over 4 days.  As the years go on, less and less planning go into this trip, but we finish every trip telling each other that this is the last year we do it…..only to come back a year or two later and do it again.

Day 3 was our biggest drive day.  After breaking camp early on Saturday morning (much to the surprise of the 2 other groups camping in the campground), we headed south on a 130 mile journey to our next destination, Hickory Creek.  This little creek hasn’t really treated us well over the years of doing MTO, earning such nicknames as “the shithole”, but this year a new leaf was turned over.  Hickory Creek was the most surprising creek of this year’s MTO with several big fish presenting opportunities to both Wise and I (with no love, other than a hookup or two).  This was our longer driving day, and had us after finishing up at Roaring River, heading over to Taneycomo for some quick night fishing.  It was a long day, with more mexican food and lots of windshield time.

On Day 3 we covered Hickory Creek, Capps Creek, Crane Creek, Roaring River, and Roaring River Trout Park, and Lake Taneycomo.  6 more streams covered, for 17 total fished in 3 days.  Here are the photos from Day 3.

2009 Missouri Trout Odyssey — Day 3 (6 Streams)

The alarm seemed to go off a little earlier this morning, largely because we weren’t sure where we were headed.  We knew we were fishing Crane Creek, but we didn’t know exactly where we were going to fish the creek.  Last year, we decided to try our luck at the Crane City Park and other than spooking some sizeable fish, we only had one hook-up.  This is the one creek, which we wanted to definitely catch something on and we weren’t going to leave until that happened.  We rolled into the access, and followed the trail (in the dark) down to the stream and decided to try and walk a pretty good length until it was light enough to really fish effectively as well as to put some distance between us and anyone else that might have wanted to fish on such a stellar morning.  Crane Creek is a really neat place, although having seen the topography and the characteristics of the stream side…I can assure you that any rumors you heard about cottonmouths and copperheads on this stream must be true.  Some places look fishy….this stream simply looked “snakey”.  Brian was up first on the stream and after a little scouting was able to put eyes on some fish, and it was game on.  Shortly there-after, Brian had landed his first McCloud Rainbow out of Crane Creek.  What the fish lacked in size, it made up for in color and was a fine specimen.  During the excitement, we moved further upstream and as I was rolling tape Brian started to geek out at a nicer fish in the water.  I peered over the edge and laid eyes on a nice 18″ rainbow with a deep red band; but like that, it was gone.  Brian did pick up another fish on the hike out and then we traded places and it was my turn to hook-up on the stream.  I didn’t want to cheapen what Brian had done earlier in the morning, but I whacked two fish in about 5 minutes and like that we were off to Capps Creek.

Capps Creek is a put-and-take fishery, but as put-and-take fisheries go….Jolly Mill Park ranks really high up on the list of places for cool fishing shots.  As a fishery, I still don’t know what to expect from the stream; having only ever fished it at Jolly Mill.  From the looks of it (it flows through private land), it looks like it could hold some nicer fish and might be worth more exploring.  At any rate, we rolled into Jolly Mill and I grabbed a rod and hit the water.  Drifting / Swinging a streamer was the ticket and I was rewarded with a quick hook-up (while watching an even bigger rainbow rise on a feeding lane 30ft away).  I don’t know if I actually landed said fish or not, we were trying to remember that on the drive back; because I hooked up and lost two more fish.  All in all, Capps Creek produced exactly like we thought it would.  And with that, we were off to Hickory Creek, near Neosho, Missouri.

Hickory Creek is a shit hole.  I won’t even begin to sugar-coat it.  There are no fish in that stream, unless the hatchery truck comes and dumps them in there.  And when that happens, all the “trout fisherman” come out of the hills to load up the freezer and as quickly as the fish were stocked they are gone.  In two trips, we never even so much as saw a fish (although I think Wise got a take there last year).  To be super blunt, I don’t really care if I ever lay eye on the town of Neosho, Missouri.  It is just too damn hard to get to, and there isn’t much trout fishing to be had there.  In short, Hickory Creek ranks up there with the Urban Trout Program in my book.  Nothing more than a stream grocery store.  And with that we turned our backs on Hickory Creek and headed toward Roaring River State Park.

As Missouri Trout Parks go, Roaring River State Park is the mac daddy of trout parks.  Your chances of catching a “pig” within this section of water are greater than any of the three other trout parks (don’t believe me, check out some of the photos that Tim’s Fly Shop has of the pigs caught down there).  Both Brian and I were pretty excited to be headed down there again, the problem was that the weather was phenomenal and what should have been a nice quiet afternoon on the water turned out to be a really crowded hour or so spent at Roaring River Trout Park.  We quickly found a section of water, and I grabbed the rod and after a bit of time had picked up my first fish on an egg.  After that, we headed to a different section of the park to see if we could spot any of the larger fish….but we came up short.  With limited light left in the day, we hopped in the rig and headed to Roaring River Conservation Area to tackle the river outside of the park.

We rolled into the parking lot at Roaring River Conservation Area around 4pm, just as a fisherman was walking out.  He was an older gentleman that was severely out of breath.  We struck up a conversation about the fishing in this area (as neither of us had tried this section of stream before) and the old man called us over to his truck as he was stowing away his gear.  He told us the hike to the river was a “pretty good walk” and convinced us not to follow the trail, only to “turn left at the scared up tree”……i don’t know what concerned me more, the fact the guy was carrying a pistol, the fact that the stream was on our right as we descended and not our left, or the fact that he told us to rub our flies in powerbait before using them.  After grabbing a flashlight and Garmin, we headed down the trail and found the river after a “pretty good walk”.  Brian was up and he quickly laid eyes on fish, but they were a bit skittish and in the half hour or so we had before dark he didn’t bring one to hand.  We walked the stream up to where we thought the car was and bushwacked out to the rig.  This section of stream left us both wanting to explore a bit more of it, had there been more light and I think it would offer a good place to get away from the crowds if the people are too much at the state park.

After stowing some gear, he hit the road towards Lake Taneycomo.  It was going to be the second year in a row that we had planned to fish Taney after dark.  We rolled into the Outlet # 1 parking lot and I strung up a 7wt sinktip rod and put on a new streamer that IdleWylde flies had sent to FeatherCraft to test and after a few casts, the horn blew and i suddenly was sourrounded by other wade fisherman….at night…..what a croc.  Brian was messing around with painting photos with a flash light while I fished, and was rewarded with a nice strike about 30 minutes into fishing.  It felt alot bigger than it actualy was…maybe a 16″ rainbow.  We were starting to get crowded out by guys fishing at night with thier headlamps on…….so we de-wadered and headed into Branson to grab dinner and decided our plan of attack for tomorrow.

Lake Taneycomo — January 1 – 2, 2006

Craig and I took off for Taneycomo at 7am on 1/1/06 – after collectively having about 5 hours of sleep between the two of us after some New Year’s Eve Partying. We were to meet up with a member of the
FFAM forum for an afternoon of fishing, and ended up meeting him at 11am at River Run Outfitters near the dam (big plug for a NICE SHOP near a great fly fishing destination). We didn’t have any hotel reservations or plans other than to fish. We accessed the lake from the old boat ramp on the KOA side and fished from about noon until dark. Leonard was absolutely knocking them dead with a “Roo Scud” (tied out of kangaroo) and was content with the smaller fish (the size was smaller than an average trout park fish) and those were not the fish that I had come to catch, so Craig and I went to look around and try our luck at sight fishing in the skinny water. Craig did extremely well with a small renegade right at the end of the day, but I only brought 2 to hand and they were dinks. I did snap off a “decent” fish above Outlet # 1 (near the point above the outlet towards the cable) that I never saw and made 2 runs on me and then snapped me off but the fish had shoulders.

We grabbed some dinner at a TexMex place in Branson (not recommended) and because the weather was so unseasonably warm we ended up throwing sleeping bags on the hillside near the parking lot at Outlet # 1 on Sunday night. It was a great night to be out under the stars — and not too cold. We grabbed some shut-eye from about 7pm until 11pm and then suited up to night fish. That night had the makings of a great night, as Craig and I both hooked up within minutes of getting to the water, but then the wind turned on. And man did it blow. Craig and I both think that we have never fished in wind as strong as it was blowing. We toughed it out until about 2am and then we conceded to mother nature. I ended up with 2 browns (both over 16″ and one closer to the 18″ end) and a nice rainbow of about 15″ or so all on a white rag sculpin during the night fishing session and craig ended up with 2 rainbows (1 about 16″). We headed back to the parking lot to get some shut eye (I opted for the front seat of the Blazer, to get out of the wind — but Craig toughed it out sleeping out under the stars. We woke up Monday morning and the wind was howling worse than on Sunday night, so we decided to head home. Was hoping to run into some of the big bows that are going through the motions, but I guess we were too early….

We did stop by Bass Pro Shop on the way home (Craig had never been) as well as checked out Roubidoux Creek — didn’t spot a single trout (but lots of bass and a deer leg or two for good measure).

–Tucker

Lake Taneycomo (Branson, MO) — May 27, 2005

We spent Friday playing miniature golf and visiting the Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum in Branson, when it started to rain. We headed back to the hotel to get out of the rain, and I convinced Karen to let me stop by River Run Outfitters. Well, the shop was not very busy and Stan and Carolyn were on vacation, so I didn’t hang around there long. Back to the hotel we went, when my saint of a wife offered to take the kids to the indoor pool and give me the car to take to the dam and fish for a bit. I told her I would be back by 8pm and was off. Unfortunately, I must have had some bad karma as the generation gods seemed to be playing with the water levels (up and down) and I couldn’t seem to get any drift right. I hooked up with 2 fish in 3 hours and then decided to put the rod away and shoot photos of other fisherman and of the outlets……I can only take so much of being surrounded by a ton of fish at your feet only to not catch anything (and I refused to shuffle).

Lake Taneycomo (Branson, MO) — May 26, 2005

After spending a full day at Silver Dollar City with my wife and kids, on the drive back to the hotel I just had to stop by the dam and check on the lake level, much to the dismay of my wife and kids. She must have seen my mouth drooling as we pulled up and there was little generation. She offered to take the kids back to the hotel to get ready for dinner and leave me here to fish for a little bit. Well, I jumped at the opportunity. I rigged up my 4wt rod and headed down from the top parking lot, near outlet # 1. It was one of those short times on the river when I could do no wrong. A #20 bh zebra midge under a palsa indicator about 4ft deep was the ticket, and I was rewarded with a nice 17″ rainbow and a 16″ brown on back to back casts. The rest of my short time on the water was filled with landing fish, snapping off fish, and missing a ton of fish. I have made an effort to fish with nymphs and indicators more since my Trout Bum adventure and I am really enjoying it. It wasn’t more than an hour and a half and my oldest daughter came down to the river to get me, just as I snapped off a fish near the mouth of the outlet (come on, everyone has to give a shot at some of the monster fish in there at least once)…..