Thursday, July 5, 2012

July: How the beat the heat

July 1: I had another opportunity to fish the Pot Hole. Jessie Scheve, Rod and I met at Rod’s home before driving down. Table Rock Dam began to release water at 1500 and know we will see some release water below Power Site Dam that evening.  We parked on the east side of the Pot Hole before 18:30. There was a mild breeze from the south, with no release water. The lake level was 653.2 feet. It was 1900 before we heard the horn sound to announce the release of water from Taneycomo. Jessie was the first to hook and fish; it was a large bluegill. I released a short large mouth. Thirty minutes later. Rod moved down the lake and found a 14.5-inch small mouth bass and a crappie. An hour later, I found a few white bass with the larger near 18”. The shad were moving but did not concentrate the fish with surface movement more along the west shore. This will be last trip for a while, with a planned trip to the Eleven Point mid-July.

July 15: Ann and I returned from St Louis after spending the weekend with Desmond our grandson, Jenn and Brent. We spent some time and had a few meals with Sean and Sarah.

It was a few minutes before 6 PM, Sunday evening after returning to Springfield…. I checked the computer links to verify the water levels and discovered Taneycomo was generating and on the rise... it was up four feet with 2 generators on line. I decided to drive to the Pot Hole to find a white bass or two.

It was after 7 PM and I parked the truck on the east side of the Pot Hole. There were a few people in the water and fishing the west bank. Four boats were moving around the rock pile. The lake continues to drop and is now at 652.4 feet. There was a variable wind and no current passing through the powerhouse. I caught a bluegill in a short time. There was some shad activity, but without the current difficult to concentrate the shad and white bass. I fished until 10 PM with a half dozen bluegills. It was a pleasant evening under the stars.

Eleven Point Trip
The Eleven Point River below the Hwy 19 Bridge
For me, trips back to the Eleven Point River is like falling back to sleep after a pleasant dream and replaying the dream over and over in my mind. The Eleven Point River is a scenic, serene stream with a touch of mystery; every evening a fog rolling in at sunset and that lifts the next morning. This wilderness with all of the sounds of nature; the screech of a bald eagle overhead, an orchestra of frogs in still pools, kingfishers constantly chasing and calling others from their favorite fish spot. And there are sounds I cannot explain; the movement of unknown creatures on gravel after dark, the call of a raccoon breaking the sound of insects in the air and trees pulsating to nature’s rhythm. It is difficult to sleep soundly at night, in a sleeping bag over gravel and stones. Many of these trips end the day with a threat of a thunderstorm with lightning flashes off in the distance without thunder. It is the movement of water over rocks and cobblestones creating the white water and a backdrop of constant sound, which is necessary for trout to survive; that brings me back. This is my dream and my reality when I return to the Eleven Point River.

July 18-20: Sean and I met Wednesday at Greer Spring access off of Hwy 19 for a three-day float and streamside camping through the blue ribbon section of the Eleven Point River. The day temperatures were hot (upper nineties); the river was low (2.95 feet with a 400 cfs flow), with outstanding fishing. We camped two nights on the different gravel bars and endured several thunderstorms. We enjoyed the waist deep pools; wet wading most of the day; fishing less than 1.5 miles of river a day, allowing the day to pass until the shadows cover the stream before setting up another camp for the night. We enjoyed camp stove breakfast burritos, ate our lunch from a cooler midday alongside the canoe and steak and baked potatoes in the evening at sunset in our campsite.  I made arrangements with Richard’s Canoe Rental to shuttle my truck and drop it off at Turner Mill access on Friday. Jerry told us the MDC had been planting trout the week before and we would probably catch a bunch of fish. He was correct, many trout eager to take a fly. I will admit many 14-16 inch were taken by a short strip of a Clouser, with other flies from the past working well. Sean and I totaled sixty rainbow trout, a few small-mouth bass with a green sunfish and small large-mouth bass for three days of fishing.

Evening fishing below the third island

The first night we camped below island #3. We saw eagles, a woodchuck going for a swim, deer running across the stream and an otter staring us down. There were a number of green heron with a blue heron protecting his favorite spot.

Dragonfly nymph

Only a few mayflies and caddis in the air, the cobblestones in the river upon inspection had plenty of caddis larva and mayfly nymphs. Mosquitoes bit as we sat in our chairs waiting for darkness. The adult dragonflies could be found over the stream in most locations, with the bats coming out after sunset to feed on these insects in the night air. With the stream level down, there are more places to pitch a tent. There are a few new down trees in the water. The epic floods from 2008 and 2011 moved tons of gravel downstream from the scoured banks. There are fewer habitats for the trout with several productive waters too shallow to hold trout; these stretches are featureless with small gravel and sand on the bottom, not many bugs or plants in these areas. Hopefully time will restore these areas. 

The canoe is packed and ready for another day of fishing

The second night we pitched a tent on a gravel bar below Little Hurricane Creek. It was late afternoon with clouds building, the temperature in the high nineties. Sean decided to rest under a shade tree and I stumbled downstream to the white water. The best fish of the trip happen before and during a pop up thunderstorm that came in almost undetected. The skies darken slightly, when the rainbow took my fly. I had to hand drag the reel to slow the trout’s escape. The rainbow fought hard in the strong currents. Finally it came to hand, with a picture and release. A clap of thunder followed by rain came in as I released the trout; with two more bolts overhead; a few moments later, a flash and boom almost instantaneously. I did feel uneasy and sat on the left bank with the warm rain pour over me for five minutes. It stopped suddenly and the sun came out again. I fished a little longer and realized it was time to return to camp. I found a marked trail and hiked back to camp. Sean and I sat for a moment to rest, and we could hear thunder again, indicating another storm was on its way. We unrolled our mats and took to the tent for a fifty-minute shower that lasted until 6 PM. The passing of the front dropped the temperature twenty degrees; with our damp clothes we could feel a slight; it felt good to be cool. 
Best trout of the trip below Little Hurricane Creek
The next day we passed through Mary Decker shoal, to other blue water holes where Sean out fished his father. We finished at the white water above the Cave hole, where Sean caught the only wild trout of the trip. 
A stretch of water before Mary Decker Shoal
It was after 2 PM, the truck was waiting for us at Turner Mill Access. We unloaded the canoe, packed the truck and drove over dirt roads to Hwy 19. Sean and I took different paths, Sean went back to St. Louis and I returned to Springfield. We were both exhausted from the heat, slightly sunburn and delighted for the opportunity to share three days on the Eleven Point River. Now I can sit back in a chair on the porch and dream of fish with cold-water rivers, planning my next trip to the Eleven Point River.

July 25 2012 Wednesday: It’s a day off for me; I decided to drive to the Pothole and search the water for some white bass. One advantage to fishing the evening to dark is the air begins to cool after a 100-degree day; it is a relief to night fish Bull Shoals Lake. Keith Pennington was in the water when I parked the truck. He had fished the morning at Bennett Spring State Park and had a good day with a number of rainbows taken on a dry fly and a nice 18-inch brown trout caught in zone 1. Keith had already picked up a few largemouth bass before I arrived.
A weekend crowd at the Pothole
The lake continues to drop with the level at 650.3 ft with a steady flow moving through the powerhouse. The eddy pools have moved downstream with many of the shore features exposed. There were a few fishermen standing on the gravel bar with a few fish taken. I did not see many shad breaking the surface. I did release a large white bass and caught an 18-inch drum after sunset. Keith did well, releasing a dozen large-mouth bass with a few measuring 16-inches.
A blue heron on watch
July 28, 2012 Saturday: Rod and I drove together, we returned to the Pothole for an evening of fishing. There was a family and several fishermen on the gravel bar with little space left to fish. There was water moving through the powerhouse and the lake level was at 650.8 ft. We fished on each end of the fishermen and moved to the center when people left. Rod caught a small line bass and bluegill. I could not find a fish until I moved down in front of the three trees and managed a crappie. We finished at 9:30 PM with the constellation Virgo in the western sky looking down on us.

A beaver found near the water's edge in rock opening
July 29, 2012 Sunday: Rod and I returned to the Pothole and decided to make a change by fishing the west side of the Pothole.  We started near the dam and worked our way downstream. I was across from the three trees and met a beaver resting in a small cave den along the water’s edge. I took a picture of him and retreated. I did not want to cross in front of him and block his path to the water. I walked back to where Rod was fishing; he had caught and released 15 bluegills of all sizes. I managed to release a few bluegills, a trout, a line bass and a smallmouth. There were six fishermen on the east side standing gravel bar with a few leaving at 8 PM, Rod and I decided to finish the evening on the east side. We went to the other side and fishing until 9 PM without hooking a fish. We met Tom Ciocco, he had been fishing this area several times with success.

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