Maramec Springs Trout Park (St. James, MO) — October 18, 2003

I made an uncharacteristic trip to Maramec Springs Trout Park today for the Catch & Keep season. The reason for my trip was for an Ozark Fly Fishers (OFF) outing. Ozark Fly Fishers is a St. Louis based fly fishing organization that is fairly active, and which I am a member of (although I am not a very active member — having never attended a regular club meeting yet). Mike Swederska is the Outings Chair for OFF, and had planned a “Buddy Outing” that would pair the clubs more experienced members with those that are just getting started. I consider Mike one of my fly fishing and fly tying mentors, having learned allot from him since getting started — thus I was quite shocked when Mike asked if I would give him a hand with “instructing.” Mike and I made plans to meet up at 5am at the Denny’s in Eureka for breakfast prior to driving down to the park for the whistle. When we got together for breakfast, I found out exactly what I was in for — Mike and I were the only “on-stream” instructors and there were 6 students (Al Bourisaw, the Education Director for OFF was down, but due to a recent medical procedure he couldn’t cast or anything — but he was there for encouragement). After rigging up my rod and throwing on my waders and what not, the fun began. Mike promptly assigned me the married couple of Mark and Mary Jo, and I thought I was relieved that I only had 2 students (but secretly wondered if Mike gave them to me for a reason). I helped them select flies (they were throwing buggers and leeches) and off to the top of the park we went. I will only say this about Mark and Mary Jo, if I were ever to be blessed with enough talent to be a guide it would be the potential for clients like these that would keep me from doing it. However, separately they were fine to work with — but god forbid they get within casting distance of one another. I didn’t fish that much, or hard, and spent my time answering questions or showing them why the fish feed where they do and what not (even had to instruct them on how to wade — as neither had ever waded in a trout stream before). I did hook up with two fish (one above the island) and one below the island in the deep water (both on leeches); but I didn’t get a proper hook set on either and promptly lost each fish. I left Mark and Mary Jo and headed back to my Blazer to get my 3wt and some tiny flies (and 8x tippet). I decided to take Mark and Mary Jo down the far bank and spot fish and try to explain fish behavior (and maybe even catch one or two). I dropped each of them in the water, and they fished downstream for a bit — which is when I gave up and went to visit with Al and Mike. I did drop down to the water on the far side occasionally and proceeded to get looks at a #18 brassie under an indicator on 8x tippet. They were having as horrible of luck as I was having and it was almost lunch time, so we broke for lunch. I ate my two packs of peanut butter crackers and bottle of gatorade and was back on stream to actually get 15 minutes of fishing in — no luck. After everyone was finished eating, we decided to switch students (Mike was now in for a fun filled afternoon) and I took Dick and John downstream to try and show them how to fish streamers. They were perfect students, each knew how to cast and only had questions that were great, and they didn’t expect to catch a fish and just wanted to learn how to fish a wooly bugger and a leech. I could sense that they were ready for a break, so we headed back up the far bank and I tried to explain to them fish behavior and why they are holding where they were holding. It was a BLAST, because they would ask questions about what I was telling them and they weren’t bickering with each other. We got off the stream by 3pm and met up with Mike and played around with all the different rods in his rod bag (trying to show the difference between weights of rods and what not). By 3pm, Mike had only landed one fish. Fishing was tough today for everyone involved. All in all it was a good day on the water, and good practice for my trip this Thursday to the Norfork River. Tight Lines………

Blue Spring Creek Report — March 15, 2003

Craig and I headed down to Blue Spring Creek, near Bourbon this morning. Neither of us had fished this water before, and after reading all the posts about it in the recent past — we had to go see for ourselves. We left St. Louis at 6am and were on the water fishing by 7am. We started down at the access directly across from Blue Springs Resort, and walked/fished down to the mouth of Blue Springs with the Meramec. We thought we would just hike down there and then walk the road back to the truck. Basically just getting a look at the lower water. That is one curvy little creek — imagine our surprise when we hit the Meramec and weren’t in sight of the boat ramp or road (actually it was a 100 yards or so upstream, but we didn’t want to wade up to it); so back up the creek we went. There weren’t too many fishy looking holes in that stretch of water (there were some, but not a bunch). Not a single fish spotted in that section of water.

We then headed up to the lowwater bridge directly up the road an fished there. We fished upstream quite aways. I didn’t see a fish, but the water was thinner and it looked like it could hold more fish. I stopped to fish a pretty deep run and Craig continued up past the second low-water bridge/driveway up to where the creek splits. He did see a couple of fish up there. Again, I didn’t have any luck. So I started to hike back to the truck. As I was walking back, Mike reached me on my FRS radio (he was on NN near the Meremac River and I could hear him transmitting) and we met up at where we were parked. Then the most interesting part of the day for me occurred. Mike pulled out his kick net and we went to go look at the bugs in the stream (we seined directly below the low- water bridge below the manmade rock dam). There was food all over the place — little green caddis larva, little orange caddis larva, helgramites, mayflies, crawdads, minnows, scuds (although not many), and some really big grub looking things (they had the color of the hellgrammite but were allot fatter — didn’t know if it could have been a stage of that insect or not — it really looked like a grub or caterpillar and was allot fatter than the crane fly larva that we got from SpringRise). That was pretty cool — Mike took some photos.

After talking with Mike for awhile, Craig and I decided to drive up to the highway and park there (where thickety ford road and NN meet) and fish upstream. We spotted two trout that were approximately 10″ long in the hole that is in front of the house and in sight of the Hwy (Mike later verified that he had seen the same fish). We couldn’t get them to take, so we fished all the way up to the next access point (it is the access with the plastic flowers) and only found a couple of really fishy holes. Craig and I each caught a chub and that was it for fish action. The holes that looked like there should be fish, we didn’t even appear to spook them (although they could have been gone by the time we got there). Once we got to that access we decided to head back to the truck and get on the road.

This was my second small creek fly fishing excursion (the first one was Mill Creek on New Year’s Day of 2003), and i don’t know that I will be ready for another one anytime soon. I think I may prefer the bigger waters than the smaller confined waters. Although, we didn’t see another angler all day on the stream and the scenery was great — so it was still a great day to be on the water. I know Mike caught two trout, he has pictures to prove it, which I guess gives us hope that Blue Springs Creek will rebound. — Matt Tucker

SpringRise at Westover — February 1, 2003

Yes, it was a great trip. In all we had 13 people show up (Me, Gavin, Brent, Joe, Andrew, Phil, Mike, Earl, Tom, Mark, Roy, Larry, and Scott show up at SpringRise (oh yes, and a man and his family from the small town of Deliverance that magically had truck troubles in front of the rearing ponds with a dip net in the back of their truck — remind us to tell you the story Gavin at the next tying night). There were 7 guys that met for breakfast at Denny’s (Mike, Earl, Brent, Andrew, Tom, Scott, and myself) — proving that I am not the only one that gets up at the crack of dawn when it comes to fishing.

As Gavin had said, the “feast” was the finest outdoor meal I have had EVER. Lots of food — Deer, Sloppy Joes, Chowder, Salad, Deer Sausage, Cheese, crackers, Cookies, Brownies, Beer, Wine, etc (and I am not listing it all). The conversation was great as well. Nothing like sitting around a table of food with 12 other fly fisherman for about an hour and a half drinking and eating — one is bound to learn allot (and I did). Also, I too will attest to Mike’s tool of trout torture. It was really cool. The stomach pump and the kick net were very interesting. It was a trip to see the different aquatic life in the stream and then match it with what was in a trout’s stomach (no globalls or pellets found).

The fishing was good too. I didn’t have near the kind of numbers day one can have down there (Brent had a 40 fish day), having only brought to hand about 13 or so (10 before lunch and 3 after lunch — kind of makes you wonder…..). But I think the funniest thing to happen to me while down there was either me hooking and landing a dead/decaying fish or me snapping off a decent size fish and it swimming around with my scud in its mouth and my tippet still attached to my indicator (so you could easily spot the fish swimming down stream, because the indicator was on top of the water). Gavin later hooked my indicator (not the fish), and landed the fish (of which he said was close to 20″). Several of us brought down the FRS radios, and that was a hoot. I won’t steal Mike’s thunder but he caught a fish that brought him into his backing twice on his 2wt. At one point during the fight when the fish was taking line he keyed his radio and we could here the fish taking line of his reel like a mad man. The radios were a good time — I think I will start carrying mine more often, it beats yelling across the stream. All in all, it was a long fun-filled day. We got there about 7:30amĀ and didn’t leave till about 6pm or so (refer back to the deliverance reference). I will definitely coordinate another day like this in the future, as it was a BLAST. — Matt Tucker

Maramec Springs Trout Park — January 11, 2003

Today I went to Maramec Springs for some more C&R fishing, with Mike and Joe from the St. Louis Fly Tying Group on Yahoo. We all met at the Denny’s in Eureka for a quick breakfast and were on the road — we all drove down together in Mike’s Yukon (man that is one sweet fly fishing ride). We arrived at the park and changed in the Men’s Bathroom inside the “lodge” – – this was the first time I have done that, but since the temperature was 12 degrees when we arrived, I didn’t complain.

After suiting up we each went our separate ways — I walked down stream and crossed the bridge and began sight fishing to fish that I could see from the trail (I am really beginning to like sight fishing for fish). There was quite a crowd at the park today — way more spin fishermen than I can recall in a long time. The holes that held fish on the far side of the park still held fish, but they were covered with anglers. I proceeded to fish my way up to the top of the park near the cable (I was the only one up there), and was really surprised by the number of fish in the shallow riffles and one deep hole. I quickly started loosing flies on fish right away — I do not think 7x tippet that freezes is worth a damn, but they wouldn’t touch anything with 6x or bigger (the freezing temps combined with my bass fishing mentality early on, caused me to loose lots of flies and go through lots of tippet material LOL). I finally got in a rhythm and started landing fish on everything — it was as if once the fishing slowed down, I would change from a dry to a streamer or nymph and it was back on. The fish were very aggressive, and were hammering my balsa indicator like they were sharks attacking a fat surfer. I lost track of time, and then the other fisherman started showing up — there were fish everywhere in the park (seriously more fish than I have seen in awhile, which is why I don’t understand whey people have to crowd other people during the C&R season in the park).

I reeled up and started walking/fishing back to the truck for some water and a roast beef sandwich. I met up with Joe and we took a little break for lunch and to compare notes (Joe was not having near as good a day as I was having). We decided to head back up to where I was having all the fun (and hoping that everyone else had left for lunch, as it was about that time. I quickly LDR’d and hooked several fish, Joe started hooking into some fish as well. We fished there till about 2:30 and decided to fish our way back down the park in search of Mike, to compare notes and see if we were fishing till the end or packing up early (I am now convinced that I will start carrying my FRS radios while fishing, it would saved hikes like that). Mike had a heck of a day as well fishing a little black emerger. We ended up fishing till 4pm and packing up to head back to St. Louis. It was a great trip (probably the best trip to Maramec Springs I have had all season), the fish cooperated, and we saw a bald eagle several times (not sure if it was the same one or if it was a different one each time), my new St. Croix Ultra Legend 5wt and Ross Evolution Reel got broken in correctly (even if the first two fish were bluegill), and I caught by first brown trout out of Maramec Springs. Of the fish that were caught, 9 were rainbows, 1 brown trout, and 2 bluegills (the bluegills aren’t listed in the “flies” column, as they don’t count). It will probably be several weekends till I am on the water again, but I am already looking forward to that next hook-up. — Matt Tucker