Wednesday, June 9, 2010

June: At the lake and on the River

June 4-6, 2010: This past weekend Rod, Warren and I participated in the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) program MDC Discover Nature Women. This was the club’s third year being associated with this activity with us instructing fly tying. Some of you may remember Kevin Lohraff at our February meeting; he is the coordinator of this MDC program. We had two sessions to teach Saturday morning and Sunday morning. There were over eighty participates wanting to learn more about outdoor activities.

Friday June 4: we left Springfield after 9 a.m. and drove to moon valley on the Niangua River, which is upstream from Bennett Spring S.P. I took the truck with a kayak with Rod and Warren riding together from Springfield. It was after 10:30 a.m. when we drove into moon valley access. Unfortunately, there were thirty canoes in the water waiting for a church camp group. I was hoping for a calm day on the water; it was not to be. I shoved off, Rod and Warren drove to Bennett Spring to fish. We agreed to meet at the mouth of the spring creek flowing out of the park at 3 p.m.

I fished the first shoal after Moon valley, finding a few sunfish and three small-mouth bass before an armada of canoes passed through. I walked back up stream, waited for the water to calm down and fished through the shoal again finding another small-mouth in the hole below the riffles. I looked at my watch and realized it was time to put the paddle to the water. I had six miles to cover in two hours.

I paddled to Bennett Spring S.P. and was right on time. Rod and Warren were there with the truck, we loaded the kayak and we drove to Roach, MO to the Windermere Resort for the weekend. After arriving the resort, we picked up our registration packet, unpacked our gear, set up the room and had supper at the resort facility. We found and talked with Kevin Lohraff and Regina Knauer. After, supper we grabbed a rod and a few flies and walked to the lake. Rod and Warren started near the docks and worked their way to the cove. I walked to the end of the Windermere property and worked my way back. We caught a few white bass; a few small large-mouth bass, sunfish and Rod reeled in and released a carp. We called it a night at 10 p.m.

Saturday June 5: Our class met at 8:30 a.m., there were thirteen participates with plenty of enthusiasm and feathers flying in the air. For most, this was their first time at a vise tying a fly. The class went smoothly, we explain of the macro-invertebrate in the rivers and helped them tie three different flies.

We finished at noon and had the rest of the afternoon off, we stayed inside to tie our own flies since the temperature was over ninety and humid. That evening the MDC had a catered barbeque dinner.

The women had several programs with a campfire planned for that night. Rod, Warren and I grabbed our rods and went back to the lake. Warren stayed near the docks and caught sunfish galore.

Rod and I walked the cove and had a difficult time finding cooperitive fish. I finally caught a large-mouth bass at 10 p.m. Calling it a night at 10:30 and walked back to the staff lodge.

The next day we had another class with seven. It went better than the day before. We packed up at noon and said our good byes to Kevin, Regina and others. We returned to Springfield.

June 16, 2010: Jim Scheve and I had another day to fish the North Fork of the White River.

The river gage height was 2.9 feet and very wadable, near normal conditions and perfect for wade fishing Craig, owner of Pettit Canoe rental dropped us off at Kelly Ford and we fished 5 miles to Blair Bridge.

The water was clear and cool with a partly sunny sky that produced a few pop-up thunder storms in the afternoon. We heard thunder and saw the building thunderheads in the western sky; it rained on us on our drive home. Jim had a good day of catching, releasing a dozen to hand with several fish breaking off. I rolled a few in the riffles and released three rainbows, one was fifteen inches. Just below the River of Life Farm, we saw a deer running from the noise of a mower and ran the path along the river bank near us.

I turned a few stones and found a stone fly nymph willing to pose for the camera. We finished our fish day at Blair Bridge a few minutes before 6 p.m. Jim and I plan to fish the Eleven Point River next month.

Saturday June 19, 2010: I drove to Greer access on the Eleven Point River; I left Springfield at 6 a.m. with a light rain and a few flashes of lightning and sounds of thunder. I knew the signs, not a good start to a trip on a river.

Needless to say, I drove out of rain, driving 150 miles to the east then going south from Winona. I found Kevin Smith and Jeff House getting their watercraft ready to fish for the day. We made our plans several weeks before this day, with Kevin and Jeff driving down setting camp the day before. On Friday, they fished upstream above Hwy 19 Bridge finding a few rainbow trout for day.

The access was crowded with several groups renting canoes and floating for the day. We waited for them to depart and fished the areas not normally traveled by canoe at islands with the stream splitting into two directions. We floated and fished a three-mile section to Little Hurricane creek and camp on a gravel bar for the night. The gage height read 3.85 feet for the two days, which was up a few inches for this time of the year with the water slightly off color.

We fished slowly and steady throughout the day, the bright sun was hot with the cool waters keeping us comfortable while wet wading. Here is a photo of a damsel fly on the abundant stream side plants.

We found a few fish and considered it a good day of fish. We stopped at a gravel bar below Little Hurricane Creek, pitched the tents, gather some wood and fished again for a short time before preparing dinner.

I packed some halibut and garden fresh green beans; Jeff had some fresh corn on the cob, which was roasted over a campfire. We grilled the halibut and had more than enough to eat. We fished a short time after dinner. I saw some high clouds to the northwest and grew concern for an overnight rain; it did not happen. I did learn when returning to Springfield the next day; a storm did hit southwest Missouri dropping two inches of water in the rain gauge.

We called it a day before 9:30 p.m. turning in for the night. The river covered in a silver fog that radiated by the moon’s light. The moon was waxing, sitting in the western sky giving us light past midnight. The stream sounds whispered in our ears of sweet dreams and a better day of fishing tomorrow.

This is the view from our campsite of the river in the morning

Kevin was the first to wake, I heard him at 6 a.m., going through the dry good bag in his canoe looking for a coffee pot. The sun was not seen from behind the hills, with a persistent fog filling the valley. A few spinner mayflies were seen over the water making their final journey upstream to drop eggs on the water’s surface. We ate a quick breakfast, repacked our gear into our watercraft and back to the river and fishing before 7:30.

I found this fellow under my kayak, can you see his smile?

Kevin and Jeff floated on down to the boulder above Mary Decker shoal to start their day. I fished the shoal just below our campsite. I managed to hand release a few rainbow trout and a goggle eye in the deep water below the shoal.

Kevin and Jeff had a terrific day in a riffle above Hurricane Creek and the shoal above the cave hole releasing more than forty rainbow trout, maybe more.

I managed a dozen for the day with a fourteen-inch trout my best in length for the day. Kevin released a trout of nineteen inches with Jeff catching a plethora of trout.

I did video some of the river during the day of fishing and have it for your viewing pleasure. It was great to be on he best stream in Missouri and looking forward to my next trip.

Friday, June 4, 2010

May: Missed opportunities and despair

May 7, 2010: I made plans with Kevin Smith to fish and camp on the Little Red River in Arkansas. Kevin and a group of his friends make the annual trip to celebrate friendship and Cinco de Mayo. Kevin and Terry went down on Tuesday with Don May and Steve Bilon arriving on Wednesday. I was off on Thursday but had made plans to be at the MTFA meeting. So, my plan was to drive down Friday morning, stay for a night and return on Saturday. I had a hard time getting around on Friday, and finally had the gear packed and headed south on Hwy 65. I looked on the computer and printed directions to the little Red River. Unfortunately, I did not take the time to study them before leaving Springfield. After a few hours down the road, I realized my directions were worthless. I did not know the exact location of Kevin and were they were camping on the Little Red River. I drove for five hours and entered the city of Searcy, a small town northeast of Little Rock. I found the river, a featureless river with a color of mud in the middle of rice country. I was downstream from Kevin, later to find out at least fifty miles. Needless to say, I did not have a cell phone. In my despair, returned to Springfield that evening. I missed my opportunity to wet a line…

Norm and Warren exchanging fish stories

May 15, 2010: I had to day off before (Friday) with possible plans to fish the Niangua River near Bennett Spring. The rains before and during this weekend turned the usually tranquil stream into a raging river with the gage level up six feet. I drove to Bennett Spring S.P. in the morning and stood by with Norm, Warren Wilkerson and Rod before attending the memorial service to Dave Senderling. I returned to Springfield after the service to work in the afternoon.

Rod is feeling a chill

May 18, 2010: The weekend storms dropped four inches of rain. The rivers were swollen and the lakes levels on the rise. There were not many options to fish other than the Pot Hole. It was below 655 ft before the recent rains, now at 660 and filling the basin six inches a day.

I took the kayak down late afternoon.

The water from Taneycomo was flowing over the dam. I went to the usually spot hoping to find a walleye. There was not much action and finally hooked up at 9 p.m. which took me by surprise. The tippet failed and I broke off almost immediately, more despair…

May 26, 2010: Jim and I made plans the first of the year to get our fishing days together on the calendar. This was our first trip of the year and Jim wanted to fish the North Fork of the White River. This is Jim favorite stream with many years of experience fishing this river. His knowledge of the river, knowing the sweet spots enables him to be successful on this stream.

We left Springfield at 6 a.m. and arrived Pettit’s before 8 a.m. Craig told us Hammond Camp had dirty water upstream. The stream was up with reports indicating the level to be at 3.7 ft.

Jim getting started for a day of fishing, we put in at Blair Bridge

Craig figured we would have better luck starting at Blair Bridge and floating 2.5 miles down to Patrick Bridge for our day of fishing. We agreed…

Fishing below Blair Bridge

Just below the bridge, I came across a large snapping turtle, probably getting ready to lay some eggs.

Jim and I caught a few browns just below the bridge and continue to find browns with an occasional rainbow in the mix. The current was pushing our comfort limits for safe fishing, since the water was up. Needless to say, we did not have any slips into the drink. I did have a concern near the end of the day. Jim went on down stream with the canoe; I was to wade down stream fishing a seam. When I started out into the current became concern for my safety. So, I removed my waders, broke down my five-piece rod, boxes, wallet, and any thing that could possibly get lost and stuffed them into the waders. I rolled up the waders and placed them around my neck, just in case of falling. Once I walked off the end of the island had no problems wading down stream. The day was hot in the sun with thunderstorms building around us. We did not encounter any rain but did have several loud claps of thunder around us.

We did not catch any large fish this day, but caught and release a dozen trout. We have plans to return mid-June.