Sunday, January 2, 2011

January: New Year at the State Parks

My plans for the weekend changed several times. I had considered camping with Kevin Smith Saturday night at Montauk State Park. He had a change in mind and went to Table Rock Lake State Park to fish Taneycomo and some of the small creeks around Branson. With Kevin’s new destination, I considered going down to fish Taneycomo after work Friday night. Then I saw the weather forecast, temperatures falling below twenty degrees after midnight to early Saturday morning; too cold to night fish.
Kevin had to leave his campsite Friday morning due to tornado warnings and torrential rains.

He gave an account of his trip in his blog:

So, I decided to return to Bennett Spring. The day was cool but remained above freezing for the afternoon. The day was bright as the high-pressure wave moved through the Ozarks. I started below the stone bridge and worked my way upstream. There was a significant midge and BWO mayfly hatch. The catching was steady throughout the afternoon with fourteen to hand and released. Two eagles were spotted, with a dozen deer seen at three different locations and a rafter of turkeys were seen in a field off of HWY 65. Hope to fish Montauk next week with Rod.

JAN 8, 2011: Ann was invited to make a trip to Michigan with Jenn, Desmond, Sean and Sarah, spending time with my parents. I was not able to find more days off from work. So, I stayed home with the cats. I had the weekend off and went fishing. On Saturday, Rod Pennington and I drove to Montauk State Park to spend the day trout fishing. When we arrive the park, I gave him a tour since this was his first visit to Montauk. There was a light snow flurry, with an overcastted sky that left ice in our guides most of the day. There were a dozen fishermen seen throughout the day. We fished zone 1 working our way upstream with dry flies. We found a few cooperative trout, taking fifteen rainbows with caddis patterns, a # 16 Adam dry flies. One eagle did fly over-head midday. Late afternoon, a fog formed over the spring creek and we finished the day at the spring. Rod seemed to enjoy the day, and his first fishing trip to Montauk.

We ate the park lodge that evening, they have winter hours serving hot meals with a few cabins open for the winter catch and release season.

JAN 9, 2011: Every once and a while you are given a day of fishing in which everything comes together: a overcastted day with a variable wind, a great hatch of mayflies and midges, and best of all, many trout actively taking a dry fly for three hours. The day remained sub-freezing with ice forming in my guides the entire day.
When I arrived the park, I saw two fellows at the outlet in zone two, a fisherman at the handicap hole; a total of four fishermen in the water for the day. I fished from the dam in zone 1, working my way upstream. I found an eagle perched in a sycamore across the handicap access ramps when I was getting ready to jump into the waders. So, I took the camera down to the waters edge to get a few photos.

I was in the water at 11 AM; the trout were forming rings as far as the eye could see. There were no other fishermen in sight, the trout were not alarmed, and they were on the hunt for insects on the surface.

The first three hours was bliss, taking trout was easy, spot one taking an insect and drop a dry fly in front of him, set the hook, over and over and over. I caught and released trout without counting; a pair of eagles would periodically fly overhead. A beaver was spotted in the water near the opposite bank; fresh signs seen below the Holland dam. this fishing at its best. I did see four deer and turkey while driving. It was a great weekend to be out and enjoying our state parks.

JAN 16, 2011: The weather turned out better that predicted, with a mild NW wind, freezing temperatures and high cloud cover with occasional sunshine. There were fifteen to twenty fishermen fishing the spring waters from the spring to the
Whistle Bridge. Rod and I fished in zone 1 above the dam. Rod fished a favorite spot he discovered many years ago and had success pulling one trout after another on a dry fly.

I repeated the same trek as past trips fishing upstream from the dam, wading around the deep holes throwing a dry fly to the weeds. The trout were taking top water with midges and Baetis mayflies emerging most of the afternoon. Rod and I released a total of forty plus trout for the day. The eagles flew over high in the sky; they did not perch near the water’s edge this afternoon. A red tail hawk sat on a branch across from me the on the right bank.

He flew off to pick up some weeds near the hatchery and spent twenty minutes picking through it looking for a tasty morsel. I took a few photos, with only the hindquarters in view. I was not able to get a good frontal picture. Rod and I fished to 4 PM. We saw a few deer along the roadside on our trip to Springfield. My next trip will be Friday with a high of 26°F predicted as a high. It should be a quite time at Bennett Spring.

Again, I return to Bennett Spring. The weather was predicted to be very cold after a winter storm passes through on Wednesday. I-44 was clear with the country roads still covered with ice and snow; the maximum driving speed was 40 mpr. It was after 11 AM when I drove into the park. The day was overcast and warmer than expected. There were a few cars passing through the park with no one stopping to fish the water. I stopped at the bathroom facility near the Holland dam and put on the waders; it is dry with a bench. I drove back to the dam and parked the truck in view of the river cam.

The spring creek was very active; a hatch of midges and mayflies were coming off with trout dimpling the water in all directions. I recorded action on video. I slipped quietly into the water above the dam and worked my way upstream like the previous trips. The trout were not picky taking my fly again and again, with a rate of 10-12 trout an hour. Most of the trout were normal in size with a few near fifteen inches. The time between noon and 3 PM was very active with the final hour, no hatches and the trout resting.

I did see an eagle upstream of me; it perched on a Sycamore limb over the water for an hour. A Red-tail hawk flew in and sat above for a few minutes; I was able to get a good photo of him looking at me.

Paul would say, you only get a few memorial days of fishing each year, I have had several for 2011 and it’s only January with three more weekends left. It is enough to return again and again…. Tight lines kds