As has been one of the few constants on this trip, the alarm went off at 5am and we were both up with hot showers and feeling pretty damn good after a warm night’s sleep. We were checked out and in the rig by 5:20 and through the McDonald’s drive-thru for coffee and breakfast by 5:30 and on our way to Roaring River to take on the first stream of 6 streams we hoped to fish today.
We rolled in to an access near a cemetery on Roaring River. Neither Brian or I had ever fished Roaring River and were quite surprised by how clear the water was and how “fishy” it looked. The snow was coming down and it was DAMN cold, so we broke out an extra layer of clothes and the Buffs to keep our face warm. We fished up and down the stream to no avail, with no takes or even seeing a fish. The stream was very similar to Spring Creek that we had fished earlier in this trip in both size and clarity. We gave it a valiant effort, but in the end, Roaring River won this battle. Feeling tired and battle sore, Brian decided to leave his mark on the battlefield by dropping a deuce in the woods before departing. He took a photo of it, and I strongly hope he saw a doctor after the trip (and brought the photo) to make sure that nothing was wrong with his insides….it just didn’t quite look right.
We pulled in to Roaring River State Park near the park office / spring headwaters and quickly grabbed the rods out of the rig and were fishing by 8:30am. I have only fished Roaring River State Park twice before, and each time I had fished it I was amazed at the amount of “pigs” that were present in the waters. This time would be no different. I was throwing a tungsten bh copperjohn under a yarn indicator and picked up a couple of fish just in time to hear Brian yell for the net. I walked down (cuz a good net man doesn’t get all overly excited in the moment of action) just to see the hook pull out and Brian’s face of disgust. He had lost the fish of the trip, thus far, and he knew it.
Across the stream from Brian and I, was Tim, the owner of Tim’s Fly Shop and institution on the banks of the Roaring River. Tim was catching fish left and right, and to add to the slap in the face — Tim hooked up with the same fish that Brian had lost and landed it. Tim has a scale built into his net, and the fish weighed just a tad over 5lbs. We both continued to fish, and I was camped out over a serious pig of a fish only have foul hooked him just under the mouth. I put a huge amount of pressure on the fish, and the hook pulled out but the fish was gone. Que sera, sera. We were off to Tim’s Fly Shop.
Tim’s fly shop was on the way from Roaring River to Hickory Creek, so we stopped off (I was running low on tungsten bh midges) and talked to Tim for a bit. His fly shop has improved greatly since the days of his little white building (which is right next door still) to a log cabin that is nicely decorated and fully stocked with whatever fly fishing gear you may need. There were even local fly fishermen hanging out in there, definitely a cool place to visit, and Tim definitely knows the waters around his fly shop.
We headed out of Tim’s Fly Shop towards Hickory Creek around 10:30am. Hickory Creek is a put-and-take fishery near the town of Neosho. Neither Brian or I had held out much hope for this stream as we couldn’t get any recent stocking information about it. We rolled in to the Neosho City Park, parked and found the stream. It was DAMN cold now, and the wind just wouldn’t let up. The eyelets on our rods were freezing with every cast, and we were both throwing meat at the fish (which meant stripping / dripping buggers and wet fans). The stream was definitely not the most scenic we had been on this trip, and won’t win the award anytime in the future, but it does provide a trout fishing outlet for those in the area and if I was in the area, I would be grateful for it. Fishing sucked though, with Brian only rolling one fish and me not seeing or feeling a damn fish. Cold and beaten, we had 3 more streams we needed to fish today, so we reeled up and were on our way back to the car, when we realized that gangs are everywhere…..even in the Ozarks….as there was gang graffiti written on the road and on one of the local water towers. Apparently there is a push to legalize marijuana in the little town of Neosho, and they are quite artful gangstas too. Fearing for our lives, we decided to mount up and exit the town of Neosho as quietly as we rolled in.
It was close to 1:30pm by the time we rolled in to our 4th trout stream of the day, Capps Creek. Capps Creek is another put-and-take fishery but this has got to be one of the most scenic streams I have ever had the pleasure of fishing. It could be the fact that you are fishing next to a mill that was built in 1848 and that there are actually trout in the stream. The snow and wind were still coming down, so that hampered getting good video or photos (I am a pansy when it comes to wet snow) but we gave it an effort with our point and shoots. Brian hooked up with the first fish, just under the spillway and that was all the fish that Capps Creek would give up in the brief time that we spent here. I had two hook-ups, LDR’s, but no fish landed. There is no doubt in either of ours minds that this stream does hold some fish and it is the only put-and-take fishery that Brian and I are actually excited about getting back to fish it. Not only from a fishing standpoint, but the photography subjects that are present on this site are enough to keep you busy for an entire day. But we had two more streams to fish so by 2:30pm we were on our way to Crane Creek.
Brian and I were both excited to try our and at fishing Crane Creek. We hadn’t done much homework as to where to fish this stream, but we were excited nonetheless. We parked in town near the Crane City Park and fish around the bridge area. Stealth is the name of the game on this wild trout stream, where McCloud strain rainbows survive, or so we had been told. We put on our “A” game of taking turns fishing and shooting photos (it was still snowing / raining, so we didn’t bust out the video camera at this site or the DSLR). As dark was approaching, we decided to leap frog each other, so I hiked a trail down along the back of the baseball fields to be approximately 20ft from the stream and get busted just as my head popped over the bank. Man the fish on Crane Creek are S-K-I-T-T-I-S-H. Brian rounded the corner, just as I had my hat handed to me by the fish and we both decided to head upstream and give it a go just above the bridge. With long downstream drifts Brian was able to get 2 hookups, but no fish landed. He fished upstream, and I took my shot at the pool just above the bridge. On my third or fourth cast, WAM, fish on. I yell up to Brian and he comes running just in time to see me hoist a nice creek chub out of the water (notice I said “Fish On” not “Trout On”). It was at that point that we decided to reel in and head towards night fishing on Taneycomo. The one thing that will stick out about Crane Creek, other than how skittish the fish are, is how DIRTY the stream was. This was the dirtiest trout stream we had been on all trip, perhaps other sections of this stream not in the city aren’t as bad, but the section of stream through the city left lots to be desired. And I also can COMPLETELY see how this stream would be a haven for snakes in the spring / summer months.
We roled out of Crane Creek towards Branson and Lake Taneycomo with 16 trout streams fished in 3 days, and we were on our way to night fish the 17th stream of this trip. Lake Taneycomo is home to the Missouri State Record Brown Trout (and previous record as well), and is home to some seriously big fish. The reports of late, since the high water, has not been that great from a big fish standpoint but the numbers of fish caught have been good.
It was 6:31pm, when we rolled into the parking lots near the outlets on Taneycomo. There was only one other car in the parking lot and we saw only a couple of headlamps in the waters. I don’t understand it about night fisherman. Turn the damn lights off when you are fishing, don’t spook your fish. There was one guy fishing just downstream of us that had his light shining all over the river and it was on almost constantly. I just don’t get it. It was plenty light out, from the lights at the hatchery and dam, yet this guy was putting on a laser light show with his flashlight. Perhaps he was signaling the ganstas in Neosho. I guess we will never know, as when the wind picked up he headed in and left Brian and I out there freezing our nuts off.
It had been a year or so since I had been on Taneycomo, imagine my surprise when walking out there is a HUGE DEEP hole that is upstream of Outlet # 2. I had no idea it was there, and no I didn’t fall in it, but would have had Brian not said anything. Brian set up and fished this section and I headed upstream towards the cable. The Kelly Gallop Sex Dungeon was the name of the game for me this evening with my 6wt. Which created quite an adventure in the wind and at night. Brian picked up two fish on streamers, and I was again “O’fer” with only one hook-up and one massive strike. We fished until about 8pm and decided that 12hrs+ in waders was enough for the day.
We were cold, wet, tired, and hungry as we headed on to the strip in Branson to find a place to eat. We settled on a Mexican joint that served pretty good food (again, i think that would get downgraded if we weren’t fishing) but “it would eat” and was warm. We had fished 18 Missouri trout streams and had two more to finish out our trip. The weather forecast was for an inch or two of snow and possibly some freezing rain, and by the time we finished dinner neither of us wanted to drive the 2hrs towards Gainesville, Missouri so we grabbed a room at one of Branson’s Super8 motels and settled in with hot showers and about 2 hours worth of computer time transfering stuff from cameras to the external hard drives and what not. But we finished it, and were in bed by midnight again for some seriously needed sleep with 18 Missouri trout streams being fished in 3 days and 2 more to go.