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……………….
I fished Maramec Springs Trout park on saturday for opening day of C&R Fishing with Craig Peterson and Mark Kotcher. It was a beautiful day, which of course brought out the crowds. As far as C&R season goes, I found the park very crowded. The water was up and murky, so it made sight fishing a little tougher. Everyone seemed to congregate in the places I like to fish — most everyone with a fly rod other than Craig, Kotcher, and myself were throwing big glo-balls and catching fish at ease. We did not venture to the dark side, but the thoughts did venture our mind. I was able to squeeze out about 12 fish within the last hour of fishing on an BH Olive FlashABugger (size 10). I hooked an absolutely beautifully orange brown trout (which I find rather unusually at Maramec Springs) that would have been close to 18″ but didn’t get a good hook set. All in all it was a good 4 hours of fishing. We were back in St. Louis by 2pm. I didn’t take my camera out of my bag this trip — so no photos (sorry). Not much to report this trip.
The temperature was 3 degrees according to the thermometer in the Dodge pick-up truck when Brent McClane and I pulled off of Hwy. 8 and into the drive towards the entrance to the James Foundation property. The gate to the property was open and the sign said “Free Parking” which led us to believe we were partly crazy for fishing when it was so cold as the lodge workers did not even want to show up to work today. There was only one other car in the parking lot, and we suspected that to be Joe Asinger from Blue Springs, Missouri and his 9 year old son Nathan with whom we were to meet on stream at some point today. After the initial hellos, we started to suit up. There is something to be said about stripping down and suiting up for a day on the river in single digit temperatures while standing on a sheet of ice — to me it is almost a religious experience. I think we finally got on the water around 9am or so and there was still no one else on the stream.
We all started at the top of the park, near the cable and spent most of the day in the upper stretches of the stream. By the time I got to the stream Joe had already caught a few fish including a nice 16″ rainbow which is when he found out the cold had drained the batteries in his digital camera — I promptly gave him 4 of my quick charge batteries and we were back on stream. McClane had tied up some experimental flies in the weeks prior to this trip after pumping the stomach of a trout on his last trip here. The flies consisted of a micro translucent egg pattern (I will concur with Brent — this one was not a GloBall) and a dry fly that was a modified Irresistible (Joe, Brent, and I swore to secrecy on this pattern — as we believe this to be the ultimate Missouri Trout Park dry fly). Joe had quickly picked up 4 fish on an olive beadhead with Brent and I fishing mohair leeches to no avail (each with some hook-ups but none brought to hand). Brent switched up to the modified Irresistible and started slaying fish with it, fished upstream and dry. Brent had picked up close to 7 fish really quick on it and that was enough for me, so I made the switch as well. It was a blast fishing this little fly. By noon I had only brought 7 fish to hand using various flies, but had countless rises and missed strikes (you had to strike quick with this fly or you missed the fish) and lost fish. Joe and Nathan left around noon and Brent and I fished the rest of the day in the upper section of the park — switching flies between the Irresistible and the micro egg pattern. We also started sight fishing to fish in the faster water. I was able to pick up three fish holding along the far bank one by one on top and was the high light of my day due to the conditions of the drift and the fact these fish were caught on top. By 3pm I still only had brought 10 fish to hand, but I still had one Irresistible left and I headed to the deep pool below the island to see how many I could pick up. By 3pm there were only 3 anglers in the park, all were fly fisherman, and Brent and I constituted two of those. In the last hour of fishing, I landed 10 fish on one fly all on top. It was an absolute blast. None of the fish were terribly huge, but they all had beautiful color. I must admit to crying wolf twice on what I thought to be a large fish and making McClane get out of the water and come up with the net — one of the occasions I snapped off on a large fish in the upper section and the second occasion was that of a foul hooked 16″ fish in some strong current (I thought the fish was bigger because it took a lot of line and I never really saw the fish). I finished the day with 20 rainbows — 2 on an Olive EZ Bug Sculpin, 2 on a #20 tungsten v-rib midge larva, 5 on a micro translucent egg pattern, and 11 on the modified Irresistible fished dry. Brent ended the day with 24 fish — 1 on a Tan/Ginger Mohair leech, and the rest pretty evenly split between the micro egg and the modified Irresistible Joe who left around noon ended the day with around 7 or more fish and was quite pleased with his results. All our fish were caught in the upper section of the park but no really big fish were caught.
The downfall of today was that I didn’t get to fish with my Trout Camp Bamboo Fly Rod made by Waterloo, Illinois rod maker Ron Caimi. It is an absolutely beautiful 7-1/2′ 4wt rod that I have only had the pleasure of lawn casting a few times due to recent bad weather. Brent and I agreed that we probably shouldn’t fish with such a fine piece of equipment on such a cold day. Having never fished a bamboo rod before, I didn’t know if the cold would effect the integrity of the rod and didn’t want to take the chance. I will say this about his rod making ability though — this rod is a piece of art work and I can’t wait to fish some dry flies with it when the weather warms up a little. If this rod casts on stream as good as it casts in my front yard, I can’t wait to fish it. A more thorough review of the rod and my take on fishing a bamboo rod for the first time after fishing with graphite all my life will be posted to this site and a few other internet sites once I get to fish with it on stream a few times. The other cloud in the day was that we couldn’t get to fish the tail out of the riffle water because there was a guy that was camped out there for half the day. In my last trip to Maramac Springs (12-27-03) I had had some words with this gentleman because I felt he was crowding me (literally fishing his drift directly in front of me) and I was not about to give him the same discourteous fishing behavior that he showed me. It was funny to watch this guy fish though, as he was making quick casts and drifts and was literally trying to sight fish some sort of small fly, but the funny part was when he hooked a fish the first thing he did was hold his rod high (he held his rod higher than the photo of Brent McClane high sticking that fish that ran in the Post-Dispatch in early December) and looked around to see if we were watching him — he must have made 15 casts/drifts a minute, I wonder how his arm feels after a day of fishing like that. He finally left the park around 2:30 and cleared out of the riffle.
Today was the exact reason I love fishing the winter catch & release season in the parks. I love the cold weather, the fish cooperated, the crowds stayed home, and we even saw a ton of deer on the drive home. It was the coldest day that Brent had ever fished, but neither of us got cold while on the water. The weather cooperated and the wind stayed away. During the final hour of fishing McClane and I had the pleasure of meeting another guy from Ballwin, Missouri that was new to the sport of fly fishing and was making his first fly fishing trip. I walked back to the car with him and had a chance to talk with him, he ended the day with 4 fish on flies that he had tied him self in the St. Louis County Parks & Recreation Department’s Gone Fishing Fly Tying Program. What a great day to make your first solo fly fishing trip and he got the results as well. Kudos to him and everyone else that braved the cold and snow to fish today.
I fished Maramec Springs Trout Park yesterday afternoon (12/27/03) with Brent McClane, Joe Ondruss Sr., and Joe Ondruss Jr. McClane and I met at the Denny’s near Bowles and I-44 around 9:15am for breakfast and Joe and his son arrived around 10am and we were on our way. The plan was to fish from around 11am until the whistle at 4pm. The forecast was not pretty for today with windy conditions all day and gusts up to 40mph. The wind was out in full force most of the afternoon, but it didn’t seem to effect the fishing for some of us. We all started fishing the water at the top of the Park (above the island and near the cable) where Joe’s son took the first fish, a nice 14″ rainbow, on a white jig (he was fishing with an ultralight, as he does not know how to fly fish). Joe and his son fished on downstream to around the first bend while McClane and I stayed in the upper section of the park. When the sun was out, the fish were pretty easy to spot in the water — but they weren’t not so easy for me to catch. Brent ended up having a stellar day sight fishing to fish and ended the day with 15 fish (Partridge and Orange Soft Hackles, tan scuds, olive scuds, and olive brassies), all caught on the left side of the island from the deep hole up to the cable. I brought to hand one fish (caught on an olive #18 v-rib tungsten head midge) and lost 5 other fish on legitimate hook ups. Today was just not my day. I did learn not to overlook the fast water on the left side of the island for fish, there was a guy that was catching fish left and right in this water, and McClane had some luck in this water as well. All in all it was a great day on the water with great friends. This was McClane’s first trip to Maramec Springs in several years and he was impressed with the upper water. After this trip, we are leaning towards the color of scuds and main insects in this water as being olive (mainly olive scuds and such). Only the next trip will tell, but I will be sure to post up how we do. This was the last fishing trip of 2003 and what a great year it has been. I have been lucky to share the stream with some knew faces and made several friendships in the process. I can’t wait to see what 2004 has in store.
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………