The Passing of a Spring River Legend

I first met Tom Anderson at the Lassetter Access on the Spring River back in 2003.  Mark Kotcher and I had headed back to the access for lunch and in rolls Dan Sears and Tom to do a little fishing.  Dan suited up real fast and was on to the water but Tom, as he always did, took time to talk with Mark and I about the Spring River and his love for it.  He then offered for us to hop in his mini-van and give us a grand tour of the various access points and fly recommendations.  We spent the next few hours with Tom riding to Bayou Access, Dam 3 access, and a few other places on the Spring River.  He offered his insight on how to fish the river, and didn’t hold anything back.  It was a conversation I remember to this day, and signified everything that is right with helping a couple of new to his river fishermen.



Tom lived near the Spring River for many years and considered it his home waters.  We traded emails off and on ever since that first trip.  A year after our first meeting, Tom and his wife joined Craig Peterson, David Stinnett, and I on our annual trip to the Norfork River.  We camped next to each other in our pop-up campers, and all I can say is that Tom was right there with us by the campfire during the trip and fishing as hard as the young bucks; with his wife up at the camper “tending to things”.  Tom landed a nice Norfork River brown during this trip, and it is this image of him that I will forever carry with me.  He was so excited over the FRS radios we convinced him to carry, and he hollered for us to come with the net, as the water was coming up and he wanted to land the fish.  He was all smiles, under his beard that night.

We traded more emails over the years and met up for dinner or breakfast once or twice in Mammoth Springs, but we only spent those two days fishing together.  Funny, how strong the memory of those two days on the river are.  Tom left this world on  08-16-2012, his daughter notified all those whose name was in his permanent address book of his passing on Sunday via mass email; I was one of those lucky ones to know Tom.  There was no public wake or funeral service, as Tom chose for his life to be celebrated and not mourned.  So to you Tom Anderson, I say thank you and god speed.

–Matt Tucker

Meramac River Float Report — February 25, 2006

Mark Kotcher, Brian Greer, and myself floated the Meramac on Saturday morning. We put in at the Hwy. 8 bridge and floated the 9 miles to Scotts Ford. It was a long float, and Gavin did try to warn me on several occasions to be ready to row, as there are some slow pools. But being the young punk that I am, I didn’t listen to him (but should have). Kotcher brought his kayak, and Brian and I were in our personal pontoons. I was surprised again at how skinny of water my pontoon will float me through….I was also surpised at how sore I am today from having to row against the wind the entire 9 miles.

I learned a few things this trip. The first being that I need to puchase a trolling motor if I ever am going to float that section of river again. The second this is that 9 miles is a LONG float and doesn’t allow much time for fishing. I broke my rod out 3 times for about a total of 20 casts. The third is that Mark Kotcher should never try to go underneath a sweeper in his kayak — he dumped it. On this trip I also learned that the Orvis waterproof camera bag doesn’t work worth a shit (ask Mark what happened to his Camera that he had in his). It was also brought to my attention, when we interrupted an anglers day to borrow his cell phone (just down from Suicide), that you can get Verizon cell service on the river (and that more than one person ought to bring a phone with them — as Mark was the only one that brought his and it got soaked). Shortly after Mark took his baptism on the Meramac, Brian realizes that the keys to his truck at the take-out are in his blue jeans………in my blazer at the put-in. But about the best thing that can be learned is capitalism is alive and well on the Meramac, where $30 will get you a lift from Scotts Ford to the Hwy. 8 bridge from a methed up camper. Oh, no one caught a fish — but after Mark spilled (about mile 4.5) we headed straight for the take-off.


Montauk State Park (Licking, MO) — October 8, 2005

This weekend was the maiden voyage of the newest Tucker Family Camper (a 1988 Coleman Sequioa Pop-Up). My wife and kids took out of St. Louis by 5:30pm on Friday for the trip down to Montauk. I will say the pop-up tows like a dream behind the Blazer. We made ok time, stopping for gas and dinner — we arrived at camp site #111 at 8:30pm. We were camping with Mark Kotcher (aka mkotcher) and his daughter. They had the fire going and we set up the camper and hung out by the campfire.

It was a camping weekend, and not so much a fishing weekend from the get go — which is why the family came along. Saturday night it was frigid. We stayed in a basic campsite (no electric) and the pop-up doesn’t have heat we froze that night. We woke up, started a fire, and cooked breakfast (eggs, ham, sausage) then decided to take everyone to the lodge to get their tags and to head over to the C&R area to let the kids fish.

The temps in the morning were in the low 40’s with sunny skies and a wind that could gust fairly hard. This was my first chance to fish the C&R area since they rehabbed it last winter and I am impressed with what they have done. New to the area is now you are only allowed to fish from one side of that section of stream — they also tried to creat a little more current in the lower section of the run. Make no mistake, it is still like fishing to fish in a barrel as there are a ton of fish in this section of water. But there are also a ton of anglers, and the fish see a ton of flies. Today was about the girls catching fish though. Mark and Alyssa scoped out a spot near the bottom of the C&R area and I took Hannah and Kaitlyn further up. A white mohair proved fatal for Kaitlyn as she quickly landed a rainbow when the MDC employee pulled up to feed the fish — well the girls were off like a stampede of buffalo to help them feed the fish and the MDC employee let each of them empty a bucket of feed into the runs. My youngest daughter is still talking about it. A big thanks to the MDC employee that took time out of her work to let the kids “help” her. Definitely put a smile on all thier faces. After feeding the fish, now Hannah wanted to catch one — so we put on a madame x and started to fish it dry. Hannah quickly caught 2 fish with a little help from me (she is only 3 — so I was helping her cast and set the hook). She got a kick out of watching the fish blow-up on the fly. After about an hour of fishing, each of the girls caught 2 fish, and I caught a few as well, they were ready for lunch and a playground. On the walk out, Mark and I decided to have some fun and I started throwing the “x” in the slower water at the end of the C&R area and the fish were going nuts over the thing. The last fish of the morning actually sucked my fly through its gills. It came out of the water several times and was a nice fish of about 16″that appeared to be foul hooked (and fought like it). Upon landing the fish and trying to unhook it, the fish actually sucked the fly through its gills somehow and I had to cut my tippet to unhook the fish.

After lunch and pointing the girls in the direction of the playground, Mark and I decided to get in 2 hours of fishing before he and Alyssa had to head back to St. Louis. Because it was right there, and the girls were “playing” near the water we opted to just walk down to the river behind our campsite and we fished from campsite 111 until the end of Loop # 3. It was interesting water that I have never fished, and Mark had only fished it once or twice. We fished dry flies the entire time. I started out throwing the same madame x and Mark threw a small crackleback. The fish were not as plentiful as in other sections of the park — but there were fish to be had. Several of us missed fish on top, and then Mark got into a group of risers and proceeded to get what seemed like hook-up after hook-up on his fly. I ended up changing to a crackleback as well and got a few rises and LDR’s but didn’t get a hand on a fish from this particular group. I did pick up a fish in front of the handicap access, but that proved to be the last fish of the weekend for either of us. By 4pm, we headed back to the campground and Mark called it a weekend, while I tidied up camp and got dinner ready.

There was no fishing on Sunday morning, just packing up the camp and heading to the lodge for breakfast (youngest wanted pancakes). I did run into Norm when we were at the lodge — and just had time for a quick handshake / hello (starving kids wait for no one).

It was a good weekend by anyone’s standards. To see the look on my kid’s faces when they hooked up with fish was priceless (as I am sure the look on my face was too), and the camper proved to be a sound $400 purchase. Hopefully that is the first of many future camping trips with my wife and kids. My youngest is already asking to go fishing again…….

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.

Maramec Spring Trout Park (St. James, Missouri) — November 13, 2004

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.