Montauk State Park (Licking, Missouri) — January 15, 2005

This was a trip that actualy had a plan. This weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting up with Brian Wise of Gainsville, Missouri. Brian is the head guide at River of Life Farm on the North Fork of the White River and consequently is one helluva fly fisherman. We had been trading emails back and forth about fishing together for some time, and finally the time arrived, as Brian was giving a presentation to the St. Louis County Parks Department on 01-18-05 about his home waters and because of this was willing to turn a trip to St. Louis into an excuse to fish together.

I met up with Brian at 7am at PJ’s Cafe in Licking, Missouri. The plan was to fish the Current River from the TanVat Access to Baptist Camp Access. Upon the drive to the river, my cell phone rang and it was Brent Hinds. We were supposed to meet up with Brent Hinds and Kris Maurer for a little fishing in Montauk Trout Park after I showed Brian the river. Brent was bringing some bad news though. The Current River was closed due to high flow, which meant if we got caught fishing the river it is a minimum $200 ticket. We checked out the river anyway and shot some photos, then headed towards the trout park to fish. It was the first time that Brian had fished a Missouri trout park and I wanted him to get the full experience. Although the weather, which was sunny, windy, with a single digit air temperature helped to keep the crowds off of the water, the high water concentrated the anglers into the upper section of the park.

We fished until noon with limited success. Everyone caught some fish, but not too many. I broke from fishing at 12pm to cook up some brats and set up for lunch on the cold winter day. After lunch we spent the rest of the afternoon exploring different sections of the park. Again, I don’t know how many fish I caught — it was more than 10 but less than 20. I do know that Kris Maurer was completely slaying rainbows off of the old low water bridge by drifting a mohair leech under an indicator (for awhile, he could do no wrong). The fly of the day proved to be a mohair leech again.

After closing out the day in the C&R section fishing for one of the hog fish near the bridge, we all got out of our waders and said our good byes and started making plan for the next hook up. Brian and I headed to Rolla to find a hotel and plan our assault on the water for Sunday. We settled on the new Holiday Inn Express in Rolla where we watched the Rams loose thier playoff game and tied a couple of flies while looking at fishing photos. Most importantly, the plan for tomorrow was hatched. We were going to fish Spring Creek.

Montauk State Park (Licking, Missouri) — December 31, 2004

This was the annual first trip of the new year for Craig Peterson and I. This was the 3rd annual New Year’s trip that we have taken, and hopefully it will continue well in to the future. Craig doesn’t get out as much as he used to, due to some job promotions and climbing the corporate ladder, so I let him choose the water. He chose Montauk based upon its close proximately to St. Louis (i said, tongue in cheek). We both needed to be back in St. Louis by about 3pm due to some New Year’s Eve festivities that we had previously planned.

I have fallen a little behind on fishing reports as of now (I have a couple more to write still), so this one will be short. We fished mainly the C&R area and the area around Hatchery Office. We picked up fish on a variety of flies, including some midges and mohairs. But the park was crowded, as that is what a 70 degree day in December would give you. It was very packed and it was tough to find some water to fish. Finally at about 11:00am we found a pod of fish and had a complete blast. We each caught about 25 fish in 2 hours or so and had at least 15 doubles. It was one of those times that we could do no wrong. We were laughing so hard, because the water we were fishing was completely overlooked by the hordes of other anglers. It was a good day and a great way to ring out the year. Hopefully 2005 is as chalk full of fly fishing stuff as 2004 was. Tight lines and fish hard.

Montauk State Park (Licking, Missouri) — December 5, 2004

I found myself sitting at Denny’s near I-44 and Bowles Avenue at 4:25am this morning, ordering my usual breakfast and awaiting the arrival of my fishing partners. It seems the drunks were out in full force on Saturday night as the restaurant was a mess and there even was a couple passed out in the booth next to me. The only thing I could think of is, how the heck is that guy going to fish today. By the time my breakfast arrived, it appeared that I would be on my own for breakfast. I was supposed to meet up with a guy and his son from the message board on my web site, but as sometimes goes when meeting people from the internet, they never showed. I finished my breakfast, left the waitress a generous tip (I have come to a point in my fishing life where when I walk in to this particular restaurant before a weekend fishing trip she has my Coke poured and my order placed and promptly asks me what river it is today) as she was run raggid that night but still was her chipper self to me. As I was walking out the restaurant to warm up the car, Kotcher came pulling in. We quickly loaded his gear into my Blazer and waited the obligatory 5 minutes (it was 5:00am already) for the guys that never showed, and we were on our way.

We arrived at Montauk around 7:10am and took our time getting suited up, when Kris Maurer showed up, then Brian Greer (a guy from the message board on my site), then Ryan Mueller and his friend (I fished with Ryan on Taneycomo during our Trout Bum trip). We stood around for a bit trading fishing tips / recent experiences on the water since Ryan and Chris had fished the water yesterday and had good success with a purple midge pattern. We got suited up and headed our separate ways.

Brian and I headed to the Catch & Release area. Since he has only been fly fishing for less than a year and his biggest fish to date on a fly rod was a 13″ trout, it was something that had to be broken. We fished the water nearest the new habitat improvement, and had limited success. I hooked up with 2 very nice fish on beadhead olive leeches, I lost one when it snapped me off just as Brian was going to net it for me. The second one snapped me off clean, but might have been my biggest Missouri Rainbow Trout ever, if I would have landed. The biggest fish I caught out of this water (and subsequently the day) was a 17″ Brown Trout that fell to a black zonker. Brian had very good success and caught a nice rainbow — his biggest. But this trip, as most trips go, was about the fish that got away. Brian hooked and fought a very nice brown in excess of 5 minutes before he lost it as he was going to net it. It would have definitely made everyone’s day for Brian to land that fish. Next time Brian, I will keep my mouth shut……..

The rest of the day, the weather started to turn sour. I was prepared for 55 degree weather, and what I got was windy, rainy, and cold temps. I was very fortunate that I threw a pair of fleece wader liners and a zip tee in my bag before leaving or I wouldn’t have made it. We spent the better part of the rest of the day fishing some newer water (behind the lodge / hatchery) and upstream to the bridge. What saved my day from a numbers perspective was the 10 fish I picked up at the hatchery outlet in less than 40 mintues on a tan/ginger mohair leech.

Kris Maurer made his way downstream to the camp ground bridge to check out that water. He picked up some fish here and there and spotted one large fish. I drove down to pick him up and we walked the bank of the campground section of stream (this section is closed to fishing) to see if we could spot any fish spawning or at least try to put a reason as to why this section of stream is closed for the winter. We didn’t see many fish, nor any reason why this stream is still off limits, but we didn’t cover the entire area.

The day ended with us back in the Catch & Release area trying for that last photo opportunity that never materialized. The rain started to pour down a little harder, and Kotcher and I had decided to turn it in for the day about 1:30pm. After saying goodbye to Ryan and Kris in the C&R area, and getting out of our wet waders, we were on our way home.

The specifics for the day are as follows: Temperature = 28 – 44; Cloud COver = Cloudy; Wind = Windy; Number of Fish Caught = Matt (13), Mark (not sure), Kris (quite a few), Brian (quite a few); Best Fly = Olive Mohair Leech.

Montauk State Park (Licking, Missouri) — November 20, 2004

Kris Maurer (aka Maurer), Brent Hinds (aka Tiny1351), and I (aka Matt Tucker) met up down at Montauk this Saturday for some C&R fishing. The fishing was pretty good in my book. I honestly don’t have a clue how many fish we each caught — I am guessing somewhere around 20 fish each or so but I could be way off base. Highlights of the trip include a nice fish Maurer caught in the C&R area (I didn’t get to see this fish, but will be getting the photos developed hopefully this week); a nice brown I “caught” in the C&R section (it was foul hooked); a nice rainbow that I got to sight fish and land thanks to the net job of Maurer; Tiny learning how to sight fish in the riffles; but the highlight of the trip has to be the fish that got away. Maurer had a massive attack of a brown on the Spring Branch, but missed the chance. We talked about that fish the rest of the day. It was a great trip, and I hope to fish with these guys again. Oh yeah, the fly of the day was an olive mohair leech.

Montauk State Park (Licking, Missouri) — September 5, 2004

David Stinnett and his wife were visiting us this weekend from near Dallas, Texas. David is a childhood friend of mine, that I recently introduced to fly fishing. He made his first fly fishing trip with us last October to fish the Norfork River. Since then, he is several dollars lighter and heavier in fly fishing gear and has many trout to his credit on the waters in Oklahoma and Texas. The problem is that these trout aren’t very big. He was lured to St. Louis with a promise of tickets to a Cardinals Game (we went Friday night, and the Cards beat the Dodgers, as Matt Morris struck out 11), a tour of Anheisur-Busch, lunch on “The Hill,” and the chance at some decent sized trout on Sunday morning by fishing the C&R area of Montauk State Park.

We left St. Louis at 4:00am, and were sitting at the Denny’s in Eureka by 4:15am awaiting the arrival of the standard fishing breakfast. I will say this about Denny’s. I thought that this would be quicker than backtracking to the Denny’s at I-44 and Bowles, but the service and the food wasn’t near as good. Looks I will have to go back to the regular location. After breakfast we took off for Montuak, and arrived at the Lodge / Park Store at 7:15am. I was wearing one of my Team Ozark Chronicles Trout Bum fishing shirts, and was quickly asked by one of the store employee’s “You Know about OzarkChronicles?” To which I replied, “Yes sir, its my site.” I find it quite humbling, the amount of attention that OzarkChronicles.com gets. David was really surpised by this, as well. We chatted about fishing for a bit, and about the Trout Bum experience and then it was time to hit the stream.

The park looked packed as we were driving through it, and I was not quite sure what we would find in the Catch & Release area of the park. I hadn’t fished it since the MDC did the stream bank “improvements” in this section, and I was not sure what to expect. Although I had already promised David a shot at a personal best rainbow. We walked into the C&R section and no one was there but the fish. The fish were pretty healthy in size, but the water was very unattractive. I think that that C&R area of the park has got to be the most unattractive place in Montauk State Park. But the fishing isn’t bad, and David wanted a shot at a big fish. Well, he got his shot for about 3.5 hours that morning fishing to fish that averaged about 2.5lbs. He had 4 quick hook-ups, but each snapped him off. He did end up bringing two fish to hand during the short time we were at Montauk. I landed 7 fish during the time on the water. The fish were fairly finicky and fed in spurts. David was having hook-ups on various colored glo-balls and an orange beadhead scud. I had luck throwing a white rag sculpin (# 4) as well as various colored glo-balls (I cheated though, and mine were tied simply by using the craft pom poms. David did catch his biggest rainbow of his brief fly fishing career to date I believe it measured to about 16″ or so. He will hopefully continually beat this fish as there are a ton bigger fish in all the streams that we will fish together this fall.

On the walk out, we ran into only the third other angler that we have seen. As we were approaching, I was quickly asked by the angler if I was Matt Tucker. The mystery angler introduced himself as Chris Maurer. He complimented me on the web site, and we had a brief conversation about the fishing. I have to admit to being bad with names and cross-referencing it to people’s identities on message boards (Sorry Chris). It is always a pleasure to meet new fly fisherman, especially those that post on OzarkChronicles.com. We wished each other luck, and Daivd and I packed up the Blazer and decided to show him the Tan Vat Access on the Current River. I was surprised to find only three cars and one tent at the parking lot, but a quick look downstream revealed 3 anglers. Due to time constraints, we didn’t fish, and after a photo or two we headed back towards the park and St. Louis. I had just started to tell Davide about the long hike from the parking lot up to the bottom of the park and how I will normally walk the field up and then fish back down to the access, when we came across three anglers walking back on the road towards the park. I quickly offered them a ride, and took them back to the camping area where they had parked. During the short ride with them, they had explained that the fishing was a little slow but they did come across two people cleaning fish in the Trout Management Section below the park to which they said that the fish didn’t look legal in length. This is something that I think the MDC, and possibly fly fishing organizations, need to do a better job of — hanging signage on the river explaining the regulations and the importance of them (along with the punishments). We were on our way back to St. Louis by 11:00am, after a great day of fishing. 260 miles driven, 3.5 hours of fishing for 9 fish. We were back at my house before our wives and kids were back from Grants Farm, so it was an absolutely perfect trip. Next time I will be on the water will probably be the North Fork of the White River the first weekend of October.