Wednesday, January 4, 2012

January 2012: New Year at the State Parks

Jan 2,2012: Hey it is another year, and back to Bennett Spring State Park. The morning temperature was in the low twenties with a robin blue cloudless sky. Rod Pennington, John Anderson and I left Springfield after 10 AM. We arrived shortly after 11 AM, with more fishermen than expected already in the water fishing (maybe twenty in zone 1). The stream was up nearly a foot before Christmas and was up a few inches this day. The stream was cloudy which is typical for Bennett Spring after a good rain. Unfortunately, the high and cloudy water, and bright sky made for a challenging day to take trout with a dry fly. Rod used a green grizzly wooly below the stone bridge with success; john new to fly-fishing had a few strikes.

Photo of a larger mayfly, possibly a Brown March

I did have a short time where the BWO were hatching near the bank and the breeze blew them upstream a ways until the trout discovered them. I used a short line and danced the fly on the surface, finding a few willing to take the offering. The cloudy water will last a few weeks, and hope to return on Friday.

Jan 6, 2012: Frank Moran and I planned to fish together at Bennett Spring State Park. I received a call early in the morning. It was Yvonne, Frank’s wife; she explained how Frank was ill most of the night and had to cancel our fishing trip.

I spent the early morning tying a few flies and quit at 9 AM, and decided to head to Bennett Spring S.P. The sky was clear with unseasonably warm temperatures. A mild wind, probably out to the southwest pushing the temperatures above 60 degrees. The park was crowded with more than fifty fishermen in the water from the spring to the dam (zone 1), with more fishermen unloading gear getting ready to start. There was a crowd in the water at zone 2 above the whistle bridge. I had some business to attend and made my rounds. Thirty minutes later, I looked over the situation and decided to retreat and left the park; not wanting to fish in a crowd.

I returned to Springfield, ate a lunch, called Table Rock Dam, no water running and headed south on Hwy 65. The parking lot was full at the hatchery, with most of the fishermen concentrated between the outlets and down to the rebar hole. I drove to the other side and fished the rocking chair hole, with two other fishermen within 100 yards. I took out a #16 crackleback threw it up stream, pulled it under and twitched it for a few strikes, and hook ups.

I waded across to fish near some exposed rocks and found a more trout switching to a #16 dry fly, then pulling it under and took a few more. There was a 90% moon rising in the east evening sky with a few hundred buzzards circling in front of the illuminating moon. It looked like Halloween. The sounds of peepers could be heard, they must be confused with the usually warm weather. I was still fishing after 4:30 PM, when Mike Allen called on the phone. I wanted to meet with him to discuss the trout habitat project for Taneycomo.

So, I left the water and talked with Mike for an hour. He said there are 213 rocks place in groups of three forming an equilateral triangle. The rock structures will direct the water and scour around the rocks, forming troughs for trout habitat. I was impressed with the amount of erosion that has occurred below the dam, many of these rocks are located where the water’s edge was five years ago.

Mike Allen will come to a MTFA meeting March 1st to discuss the habitat project.
It was a good day to fish, unbelievable January weather and great places to fish
JAN 20: It was a day without sunshine, with a high temperature in the low forties. The late afternoon winds became calm, with a light mist moving in at dusk, the weather service gave a wintery advisory with possible freezing precipitation north of Hwy 60. Rod, Jacob Scheve, Jessie Scheve and I set a date the first of the year to fish this day and we piled into Rod’s vehicle at 10 AM for a trip to Bennett Spring State Park. There was a light crowd in the park on this Friday. No fishermen near the waters above the dam and it became my area to fish for the day. There was a small hatch of BWO and numerous #28 adult white midges on the water. The trout were coming straight out of water showing their entire head, my guess taking cripples out of the surface tension, and from the numbers of adults, probably midge pupa. The #20 BWO dry flies proved ineffective and worked better pulling them under and twitching them to attract a few trout. I tried a caddis pattern with little reaction from the trout. At 3 PM and pair of bald eagles flew over head and perched on a tree half way up the bluff and remained there until 3:50 PM. Then they flew overhead of me on their way down stream. We fished until the sound from the horn, indicating 4 PM and we reeled in our lines and called it a day of fishing. On our way home several groups of deer were seen in the fields, giving clue to a weather change. It must be January in the Ozarks

January 28-30, 2012: I took a few days off to fish; checked a Missouri map and decided to fish new waters near Newburg. Plans were made; calls and reservations had been arranged and off for three days of fishing.

Sean and I met at Montauk State Park on Saturday. He had a late start from St. Louis and I arrived several hours before him. I took care of the motel room, unpacked the truck, and sent a text to him providing the room number and where I could be found on the river. He arrived after 1 PM and found me in the waters near the lodge. I decided to take him above the dam and finish the day in zone 1, hoping to find some trout willing to take a dry fly. There was a white midge hatch with a few caddis popping out of the water after laying eggs on the stream bottom. There were a small number of mayflies near the aquatic plants. The day was much warmer than forecast, in the high fifties, which is not typical for January.

Sean and I returned to the lodge after 4 PM, had dinner in the lodge and returned to our room to add new leader to one reel, add backing and line to another reel and practice knot tying. We turned in after 10 PM.

The next day, we woke after 7 AM, made a pot of coffee. The ground was cover in frost, the sky was clear, with the air crisp and clean. Rod and his friend John Anderson planned to leave Springfield at 8 AM, and spend the day with us. We did not expect them until 11 AM.
Sean and I started above the dam and worked our way upstream. We fished some of my favorite areas and made our way to the spring, the origin of the Current River. It was almost 3 PM, and we retreated to find a spot to finish the day. Other fishermen occupied our most productive waters and we continued downstream and finally found Rod and John near the blue hole.
I hooked my last fish for the day ten minutes before 4 PM and called it last cast, last fish. Rod found one on a dry fly a few minutes after that and continued to fish to 4 PM. Sean said his had missed three trout looking for his last trout for the day with the siren sounding to end the day of fishing. Sean and I released twenty-eight for the day with many short strikes. Rod said he and John had a great day.
I was to stay another night at Montauk; Sean was to head back to St Louis and Rod to Springfield. The lodge diner closed at 2 PM, so we all caravanned to Rolla and stopped at Bandanna’s BBQ for dinner. After, dinner, everyone took off in different directions, and I returned to Montauk State Park and turned in for the night.

January 30, 2012: The next day I woke after 7 AM, made a pot of coffee and started to pack out. My plan for the day was to fish the Blue ribbon area on the Current River just outside of the park. In the afternoon, drive north to another blue ribbon stream, Mill Creek, south of Doolittle/Newburg.

It was a frosty day, with a clear bright sky and little wind. I parked the truck at the end of loop four camping area and walked down stream, past the water treatment lagoon. I entered the stream below the cabins, and tied on a small Clouser minnow pattern to search the stream. It took an only few casts before I hooked up, and released a 12-inch rainbow. There were several more strikes on the Clouser before it was lost to bottom. There was some surface activity behind a large rock, with adult caddis popping out of the water. I tied on a caddis imitation pattern, which was not good enough to fool with one take after an hour of fishing. I left the stream at 11:30 AM, wanting to get on the road and on to Mill Creek.

After leaving Montauk State Park, I drove north on Hwy 63 to Edgar Spring. I turn left on State Hwy M and on to the community of Flat before hitting the gravels roads to Bohigian Conservation area. Mill Creek runs north to the Little Piney River through Bohigian. There is at least five miles of stream; much of the stream is very shallow with small pools and pockets near root wads. I do not know much of the area but plan to contact the MDC and get some history and details. I fished it until 5 PM and manage six trout using a wooly worm streamer.
The largest trout was fourteen inch taken just above a beaver dam. The other trout were in the 6-8 inch range.
I finished my drive going north to Doolittle and on to I-44 to Springfield. It was three days of good fishing, I plan to return to Mill Creek and check out Spring Creek along with the blue ribbon waters of the Little Piney River.