White River — January 5 – 7, 2007

White River — 01/05/07 – 01/07/07

This weekend was a trip to Arkansas that was really supposed to be a trip to the North Fork of the White River on an unofficial Southwestern Illinois College Fly Fishing Class reunion of sorts. Tim Biesendorfer, Brian Wise, and myself had agreed to help Jim Laing and Brad Eirling with the weekend in getting these guys pointed in the correct direction. But the rain god was not cooperating and due to flows of more than 1100cfs on the North Fork of the White combined with the fact that several of the people traveling to the river are relatively new to the sport and to wading in general the get together was postponed.

Tim and I had arranged to head down on thursday night prior to the trip being cancelled which meant I was looking at a 3 day weekend with a hall pass. I made some phone calls and within a day, Tim Biesendorfer, Brent McClane, Brian Greer and Dr. Joel Postema were all-in. I made arrangements to camp at Bull Shoals State Park, and everything was in motion.   Somewhere in the blur of packing for this trip, I got a call from Tim saying he couldn’t make it….but the trip must go on.

What you have to understand is that this was the first overnight fishing trip that McClane and I have joined forces on since TroutBum and in good fashion consistent with past performance McClane was late (but to be honest, so was I). We picked up Dr. Joel in St. Clair and were speeding in the Durango with the $400 pop-up in tow.   We arrived at the campground around 10pm on Thursday night and met up with Ken Richards www.JustFishinGuides.com) whom was going to share a camp with us prior to his guide trip on Saturday. Ken is recovering from cancer and is finally back behind the oars of his driftboat after a long battle.

We rose early on friday to the voice on the telephone telling us that 3 units were online on the White River and 2 units were running on the Norfork. Please remember this, as this was a consistent pattern for the weekend.  Ken offered to take Joel and I out in his drift boat if he got to fish too (which meant I got to row his drift boat). We put in at the ramp near the dam and floated down to White Hole Access. The fishing was fair as we were catching fish and missing alot of fish throwing streamers on sink tips. The fly of choice was a #10 BH Olive Krystal Wooly Bugger as I seemed to recieve the most interest in this fly with a ton of follows and missed strikes. No big fish to report for the day or high numbers, but an enjoyable day on the river. I did learn a ton on this day, such as the importance of back-rowing a drift boat. I also learned that a drift boat doesn’t move as easily as a pontoon boat but there was also alot more weight in the drift boat than on a pontoon, so I guess it was relative. Lastly, after floating and rowing in a drift boat on 4 units and actually seeing the water that we floated I vow never to go to Arkansas and leave my pontoon boat at home as it would be perfectly fine on this water.

Friday night was filled with an appearance by none other than JimmyT and the sacrificing of about 100 marinated shrimp on the BBQ along side of some bratwurst. Plenty of beer was drank between the 6 of us as we shared stories around the campfire.

Saturday morning was a blur as JimmyT had offered to take two of us out on the River.  Since Joel was an out-of-towner and Brent hadn’t fished with a local on Friday they got the call and Joel and Brent out on the river as Brian Greer and I had decided to check out some other river accesses and try and catch some low water. We were successful in hitting some other accesses and marking thier GPS coordinates but we were also able to teach a few fish a lesson in the process (albeit they were extremely small fish). We found some fish near the Cotter Access that were very willing to eat whatever was thrown at them and we felt kind of guilty as onlookers would watch us land 6″ fish after 6″ fish. We had a laugh about it and decided to check out Mountain View Fly Shop and then head back to camp. Joel and Brent also did well in the boat, and apparently each had missed thier chance with better than average fish.

Saturday night was filled with much of the same in terms of the consumption of beer, sharing of laughs, and the burning of wood…..and water generation.

Sunday morning we rose to more water generation and decided to throw in the towel and pack-up camp and head for home. We had a quick pit-stop in Gainesville, MO to have what could be quite possibly the world’s worst Philly Sandwich and what is definitely the world’s worst potato skins (they were steak fries covered in cheesewiz with Bac0 sprinkles). After dropping everyone off, I rolled into my driveway around 4pm on Sunday evening one tired puppy.
One final thought. I know that the Bull Shoals and Norfork dams are peaking facilities but why not try and give the fisherman a chance to see low water during a weekend. I believe that the Norfork has been running two units since before Jesus was born (I believe that is the proper phrase). And the guy that thinks it is funny to run 3 to 4 units during the day, then drop it to 1 unit at night, and back up to 3 to 4 units so there is not much of a chance to catch low water needs to be lashed with 12wt fly rods.


Meramec Springs Trout Park (St. James, MO) — April 16, 2005

I made one of my bi-annual trips to one of the trout parks during the catch and keep season on Saturday. The weather was perfect — mid 40’s when we arrived with the temps rising to the mid 70’s and sunny. It was a perfect morning, so I don’t understand what kept all of the people at home (unless it is the sky rising gas prices). Brent Hinds and I met up at 4:30am for breakfast at Denny’s and arrived at the park by 6:30am. We were on the water shortly after the whistle and fishing was good. I caught between 8 and 10 fish in little more than 3.5hrs of fishing on a #16 Olive V-Rib Bead Head Midge under a palsa indicator about 3ft deep. I also picked up a fish with a ginger / mohair leech. The morning was a good morning on the water. Brent took a baptism in the water, after falling in off of the concrete walk at the top of the park (nearly clothes-lining himself on the cable) but only damaged his ego a little bit when I couldn’t stop laughing. I felt bad……then I laughed some more. After we cleaned the fish, we farted around the park trying to hunt for a big fish or two to pick up. No luck in spotting those, so we decided to walk back up to the top of the park when we ran in to two new fly fisherman (Mark and Andy). We talked with them for about an hour and helped them with what little we could, before I had to leave to head back to St. Louis about 11:30am. It was a good day on the water, mainly due to the lack of crowds and the company. As before there won’t be many fishing trips until fall — unless they pop up like this weekends trip. Fish Hard……………….

Montauk State Park (Licking, MO) — February 13, 2005

Breakfast on Sunday was a feast (including biscuits and gravy, hash browns, blueberry pancakes, eggs, bacon, and sausage) and no one really seemed in too much of a hurry to get on the river. After breakfast, Tiny and I packed up the Blazer and suited up to hit Montauk Trout Park and the Catch & Release area on our way back to St. Louis. The guys that fished the park yesterday, said that they had changed up the C&R area yet again, and I wanted to go see it. They in fact did change it quite a bit, and you will just have to head down there and see it for yourself.

I was determined to catch a fish on the conehead slumpbuster, and a couple of trout park fish fell to it within several minutes of fishing. The pine squirrel really moves in the water, and I will be making these a staple in my fly box. Neither Tiny nor I were much into the fishing this morning and actually only fished for about an hour before deciding to head back to St. Louis and the chance to kick this sickness that we had.

All in all it was a great weekend, that I hope to make in to an annual “End of C&R Season” event. Those that attended this weekend were Brent Hinds, Kris Maurer, Brian Greer, Mike Goldneberg, Norm Crisp, Ron Caimi, Pat, Lee, Vic, and Joel. All in all it was a great group of guys and a good time, I think, was had by all.

Current River (Licking, Missouri) — February 12, 2005

Brent Hinds (aka Tiny)and I left St. Louis at 7pm on February 11. After an hour trip to the local Schnuck’s we were stocked with enough food and beer to feed an army for the weekend — in this case it was only about 10 Ozark Chronicles Message Board Members. It is amazing how much gear Tiny brings with him. I didn’t think we were going to make it, but we got all his gear in, plus all of mine, and all the beer / food. It was a long drive down as we were both sick and trying to get over some wicked cold that we had. You should have seen us, sucking down cough drops and cold medicine the entire drive down there.

We arrived at Montauk around 10:30pm and headed toward the condo that we would call home for the weekend. After a quick hello, it was time to unload the Blazer and enjoy the campfire and beer that were already being enjoyed by many. Norm Crisp, Brian Greer, Kris Maurer, Pat, Lee, Brent Hinds, and I all enjoyed the campfire and stayed up until it started to rain a little. I wasn’t feeling well and only sucked down one beer, before I opted for Gatorade and sleep on the couch (after losing to Tiny at Paper, Rocks, Scissors).

We rose on Saturday morning to have a hot breakfast of sausage, eggs and waited for Craig Peterson to join us. Craig showed up, and we suited up and rigged our rods. Norm Crisp, Craig Peterson, and I opted to fish the river. We started the morning fishing from TanVat to just up from Baptist. We started by throwing streamers and the fishing was tough, we went some time without any of us hooking up well into the morning. I was throwing a conehead slumpbuster, while Norm was throsing a Clouser, and Craig was throwing a black wooley. The weather was perfect, the conversation was good, but the fish were not cooperating. Craig picked up the first fish, then Norm picked up a fish, then Craig started hooking up just up from Baptist. It was interesting to fish with Norm Crisp, as it was fairly apparent that our fishing styles were different and Norm moves fairly fast while fishing — opting to cover more water and present flies to more fish. We did spot a very large fish, just down from TanVat near the high bank. This fish, in my estimation, was at least 26″ and was the biggest Brown Trout that I have seen in the Current River to date. We watched the fish for several minutes, before Norm and Craig moved down the trail (which was soon enough to keep me from trying my luck on the monster). Craig had his casting mojo with him, as we were on a stretch just up from Baptist and picked up a couple of fish but missed a ton more. We headed back upstream and decided to try and catch the Caddis hatch on some water below Baptist.

We got to Baptist Camp around 11am and hiked downstream. I had never been below Baptist Camp Access before, so this was all new water for me. It was very cool. The fact that Norm and I fish completely different was again illustrated as we passed deep hole after deep hole on the way to Norm’s caddis water. Immediately arriving at our destination, I plopped down on the bank — man I got to lose some weight (LOL). While sitting on the bank, Norm and Craig were having a field day catching browns on a caddis pattern that Norm ties. I had on an elk hair caddis and missed several fish. We fished this water for about an hour or so, and both Norm and Craig tore them up — with me only landing a measly 5 fish. It was more dry fly fishing than I had done all of last year though. Craig had to get back to St. Louis, so he had to leave around 12:30pm and Norm had graciously offered to drive him back to his car at the condo and let me fish. I fished my way upstream and picked up occassional fish on Cracklebacks. I didn’t break 10 fish for the day — but all of my fish did come on dry flies (which is new to me). Norm hiked back down and ran into me, just as I was releasing a Brown. He was going to hike back down to the caddis stretch and I was not feeling much better so opted to hike back to the car and get some rest. I was feeling pretty miserable, and Norm called my cough a Foghorn most of the morning. On the hike back out, I ran in to Ron Caimi (www.troutcamprods.com) and he had found much of the same luck with the caddis as we did. The caddis started coming off at 11am and were heavy until about 2pm. They were about a #16 tan caddis. On the walk out, Ron and I caught up on things since it has been awhile since we have seen each other. Then it happened……..for the second time this season, I slipped in fell into the river — filling up my waders and buggering up my knee in the process. It was quite silly actually, since I took a spill in only about 3 feet of water after tripping up while trying to walk into the water. I did manage to take in more water with this spill then I did when I was on the Norfork in July, but it was still a dumb mistake on my part. I high-tailed it back to the Blazer, where I promptly stripped down to my underwear and drove back to the condo. It was then that I realized how truly bliss it is to be on a fishing trip — sick and soaking wet from about midchest to your toes — and driving back to camp in nothing more than a pair of underwear. It was definitely one of my finer moments.

Upon getting back to the condo, I took some ribbing by Pat and Lee (both of which were resting up and tying after a day in the trout park). I took the opportunity to take a hot shower and put on some dry clothes and take a nap. As everyone arrived back at camp, telling stories of the caddis hatch and the fish they caught, it was time for dinner. We ate like kings with T-Bones, Shrimp, Potatoe Salad, and a ton of other stuff (including some ultra-rare uncooked duck tips — which I passed on). Most everyone stayed up drinking and telling stories, but I was still feeling completely miserable so I opted for early sleep.

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.