The Current River; Cedar Grove to Akers Ferry

2013-03-30pic002800pxThere 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.

A Quick Down & Out For Hannah & I

2013-03-16pic010original800pxWestover Farms near Steelville, Missouri is such a special place. The property and private trout stream have been through some ownership changes over the past years, but we are fortunate that the current owners share a love for the outdoors and a willingness to share it with others for a small fee. Best of all, they recognize the importance of kids fishing and offer discounts for children to fish their waters (and their dad’s to tag along to photograph).  Hannah, Bill Hentchel (my father-in-law), and I made the trip down to Westover Farms for a quick morning trip to get Hannah on the water.  After a quick morning stop at Lewis Cafe in St. Clair, Missouri and some of the best biscuits and sausage gravy served in Franklin County, we were headed southwest.  This was a relatively short trip, with the wind making it difficult for Hannah, along with the higher than normal flows, she quickly lost interest.  Rather than forcing her to battle through it and regret coming, we packed up when she was ready to head back and made the quick 1hr trip back to the house.  Even if there were not any trophy fish to photo, it was still a great day out on the river with the coolest fly girl I know.

North Fork of the White Harlem Shake

2013-03-02pic024800pxA day trip to the North Fork of the White River is always a blur.  We rolled out of my driveway at 2am to pick Dan Ritter up on the way for a quick day float with the Chasing the Dream Crew from Oklahoma and Brian Wise of Fly Fishing The Ozarks.  It was also the first fly fishing trip that my dad has taken with me in my drift boat; he even went out and bought waders for the occasion.  The entire day was a blur, the flows were perfect for throwing big streamers and my Dad, Ritter, and I set out in my boat to float from ROLF to Sunburst and then Patrick Bridge to Sunburst Canoe Rental’s Lower Landing, and Brian Wise, Chris Richardson, and Chance Maxville set out in Chance’s skiff to do the same.  There was a lot of hooting and hollering and it is always a good time on the river with those guys.  Too many stories to recount so long after the trip  some of the highlights included someone in Chance’s boat pulling a big log of a tree limb crashing down onto the boat, a viking landing at Sunbrust, and subsequent Harlem Shake video, and my dad absolutely cleaning up on drop-shotting trout with his ultra light rod set-up.  All in all it was a great day on the river.  We didn’t roll back into the driveway until 11pm that night, so it was definitely a full day…..but the next time the river is at 1000cfs….you know where I will be.  It was a great way to reconnect with my dad on a fishing trip, after way too many years.

Here is a link to the Chasin’ The Dream write up from this trip — Click here for their take on this trip.

Here is a link to the YouTube video of the Harlem Shake video we filmed at Sunburst Canoe Rental — Click here for the video.

Here are the photos from this trip.



Meramec River…First Descent….

2013-02-07pic038original800pxThe Meramec River is a river that haunts many of the fly fisherman that live in and around St. Louis.  It is one of the closest trout fisheries to St. Louis, the fishing isn’t always great, and you can’t just roll up to the stream hop out of your car and start fishing.  With declining fish count numbers and stream accesses with names like “Suicide” and “Cardiac Hill”, the Meramec River is for the committed.  Over the years I have heard the old timers at Hargroves Fly Shop talk of the white fly hatch and seen pictures from some of the guys at Feather-Craft of the glory days, and if you take a close look at some of the canoe outfitters that run floats on the trout waters, there are hidden photos of extremely large brown trout taken from the river back in the 90’s and early 2000’s.  With so much alure, and not much fishing pressure, I have been bound and determined to drift it in my drift boat…..if the flows hit the right level and I found the right group of guys to help get through anything we encounter.

After watching the water levels, Dan Ritter, Bob Weber, and I hatched a plan to float the river on February 7, 2013.  It was a solid plan, we packed the come-a-long hand winch, 300ft of rope, a chainsaw, bow saw, and a few other odds and ends we might need along the way, in addition to all our fishing gear.  With that, we launched the boat at the Hwy 8 bridge and set off on the float.  What an absolutely scenic river.  With the river flowing at 475cfs at Steelville, we had plenty of water to float and didn’t have to push the boat through any shoals.  That isn’t to say we didn’t run in to any problems.  Our first major issue was just before Dry Fork Creek, where two large trees were completely across the water.  Thankfully with the chainsaw, some tools, and some rope, we were able to drop the trees about 3ft and push and pull the boat over the hazard.  A little further down stream, we ran into a section of river that we lined the boat through — it looked alot gnarlier than it was, and on second through I could have tried to row it, but pussed out as we drifted up on it.  The fishing was tough, as the river has become.  Dan Ritter landed one rainbow in the section above the park, and then landed a brown near the cardiac hill walk-in access.  We threw big nasty streamers, and did get a few more follows and did see a few trout in the river as we floated.  Later, I inquired with the MDC Biologist for the river and learned that the brown trout population for the river is less than 11 fish per mile, so we were definitely pleased with the results of fishing for the day.  It was a great day, and if the river levels are right, we will be back on it again.  It is definitely a river that haunts me and needs our help.  I would encourage everyone to contact the MDC and tell them you are interested in helping the Meramec River trout fishery.  Here are the photos from our first trip down it.

White River Hangovers….


There is no better way to nurse a hangover than to head out to the river.  After a late night of partying at the boat ramp, none of us could exactly drag our butts out of bed very early, but rise we did.  We decided to nurse our heads with a float from Wildcat Shoals to Rim Shoals on the White River.  We pounded the bank, putting in time with streamers only to get a few eats today, but so it goes with the winter streamer game.  Not much to write about for this day, we finished off the water a little earlier than we had planned, so we sat at the boat ramp waiting on our shuttle and proceeded to empty the cooler of our boat and Dan Forget’s boat as we waited.  We ended up meeting a nice group of guys from Michigan that were pulling out their drift boats as well….and I am pretty sure we drank their beer as we traded stories about the day.  All in all, another good day on the river.