Tuesday, December 4, 2012

December: Fishing MO State Parks

Zone 1 Flies only is above the dam 
November 30, 2012 Friday: A group of us had the opportunity to stay at cabin #9 at Montauk State Park this weekend. Rod Pennington, Ralph Eichholz, Warren Wilkerson and I made plans to attend the MTFA winter meeting Saturday at noon in the lodge at Montauk State Park. We decided to extend the meeting time to a three-day weekend to fish the parks waters, which is the spring that begins the Current River. Rod, Warren and I arrived before noon on Friday, unpacked the vehicles and set up the cabin. The cabin had been remodeled recently with white pine interior and furniture, in addition to new appliances (stove, microwave, coffee maker and more). We were told six of the cabins in the park had been worked on over the past year.
Warren standing in front of cabin #9
Friday afternoon, we found our rods, gathered a few flies and jumped into our waders. Rod, Warren and I walked to the pool above the dam and worked our way up stream. The sun was bright with little or no wind, for me difficult conditions to catch a trout. Rod managed to take a few with his dry, I missed a few.  A deer came up behind me and watch me from twenty feet. At 3 PM, I moved to the waters below the dam and with a wet caddis fly took six trout in the last hour of fishing. At 4 PM, the whistle sounded to end a day of fishing. We returned to the cabin, Ralph arrived. He had been fishing the upper end near the spring. He caught a few with soft hackles flies. Rod provided dinner by bringing quail. We thawed them out, and covered them in flour and fried more than enough for the four of us; with mash potatoes and gravy, and peas. Everyone had their fill with a few quail left over. Rod left after dinner and returned to Rogersville, he was to run in two races Saturday morning. Warren, Ralph and I turned in at 9 PM.
December 1, 2012 Saturday: Saturday morning, we started the coffee at 7 AM. By 8 AM, breakfast was on the table with eggs in the hole, thick bacon and juice. We were in the water by 9 AM, I fished the section of stream near the old mill, and Warren fished a little farther downstream near the outlet. Warren had some success pulling few out of the deep hole. I took several Parr trout with a dry fly measuring five inches. We fished until 11:30 AM, broke for the MTFA State meeting in the lodge. There were ten members present from Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield Chapters for the 1.5-hour meeting. After the meeting, my son Sean arrived from St. Louis. We returned to the water near the mill, I worked my way upstream and Sean fished downstream. With an hour left, Sean met up with me and we went to the water below the dam. There was some surface activity but few fish came to hand. We stopped fishing with the whistle and returned to the cabin. Rod had some lingcod, rockfish and a package of white bass thawing in the refrigerator. I cut the fish up, battered them and fried them for dinner with fried potatoes, peas and cake for dessert. Sean returned to St Louis after dinner. Warren and Ralph turned in at 8 PM. Rod and I watched a few episodes of the Big Bang Theory on his computer, in memory of our trip to Alaska. We turned in by 9:30 PM. 

A portion of the stream near the mill
 December 2, 2012 Sunday: I started the coffee at 6:30 and had breakfast on the table a little after 7 AM. After breakfast, we started to pack out and settle our bill with the lodge. We were in the water by 8:30 AM. Rod went to the water near the mill. Ralph went to the spring. Warren and I walked to the pool above the dam. Warren was going work his way to the catch and release waters to fish for the day. I decided to fish from the dam to the spring. I made it to the spring by 3 PM having to leave the water twice to move around group of fishermen, for only a short distance. My Montauk box of flies went with my son back to St Louis, so I used a box designated for Bennett Spring. The first fly of the day was a McMurry ant and fished it with some success. It took fish from the edges of the aquatic plants. When the hackles fell off the fly, it was replaced with a deer hair caddis. This fly worked well in small pools near structure.  As I worked my way upstream, I would throw midstream to the edges picking up a few. I concentrated my time in favorite areas, which did produce a trout to hand. It was afternoon; I fished a stretch of water very productive in past years. The hole was full of trout, but the trout refused my dry fished. When I ran out of water, I tied on a #14 wooly work and fished it as a streamer; of course it was attached to 2# tippet. The good news the trout hit it hard breaking off four flies in the process with a few hooked and released. Another productive spot was below the spring with a down tree harboring trout; these trout were happy to take a #18 BWO. I had released twenty-four trout before 3 PM and was making my way to the spring. 
A rainbow trout caught near the spring at Montauk
The best trout of the day was found along the opposite bank from the main spring outlet. There I was able to finish the day with thirty trout at 4 PM. I walked back to the truck, which was near the cabin we stayed at for the weekend. Warren was waiting for me. Rod had left at 1 PM and Ralph left at lunchtime. It was an excellent weekend to fish, with unseasonably warm weather with an overcast sky on Sunday to help me catch a few trout. I am making plans but hope to return mid-January for another adventure.
The spring is near by
Dec 16, 2012 Sunday: Rod Pennington, John Anderson and I had the opportunity to fish Bennett Spring SP on Sunday. The day was more like a day in March, instead of late December. The sky was bright with temperatures in the low sixties and very light breeze throughout the day. My task to take a few trout with a dry fly proved to be difficult with a half dozen released from hand. Rod had better luck with eight trout, taking trout on a dry fly and green woolly bugger; in addition Rod released a chub. John caught a brown trout and released a rainbow. Later in the day, John fell into the water below the dam. Rod reported the next day; a nail impaled a tire and was flat.
Rod calling it day of fishing
There were two dozen fishermen in zone 1, with some reporting a good day of fishing. Rod watched a few shuffling the bottom to pick off a few fish below them. Shame on them!!!We saw eight deer, a dozen turkeys and hawk all within a mile from the park on Hwy OO on the hill. The day to get outside to enjoy the weather was outstanding, the fishing was good with the ability to catch trout challenging.

The baetis mayfly on the water
December 21, 2012 Friday: I fished a day after some seasonal weather blew in with a light power of snow seen in the shadows of buildings and on the north side of trees. The morning left frost on windows and windshields with temperatures in the mid-twenties. The day warmed to the mid-fifties with a light breeze blowing upstream. The sky was true blue with no clouds in sight. I was in the water by 11 AM with a few fishermen upstream near the New Holland dam. There was no one else in view until 2 PM. There was a good hatch of blue-wing olive (BWO) mayflies and midges later in the day.

The trout were selectively taking the BWO may flies, the dry flies I tie took a few dozen trout from 11 Am – 2 PM. Three fellows came in after 2 PM, about the time the hatch had expired. One of the fellows walked right up to me as I was fishing, I actually took my dry fly and set it next to his boot. He waded in above me and was in a hurry to get to the dam and had to pass by me as I worked my way upstream. And that is the reason I look forward to cold, snow and below freezing temperatures, it will usually keep these guys home in front of a television; providing peace and solitude for me reminiscing my youth in Michigan.

It was a good day to fish and catch trout… it was good to see a good hatch of Baetis mayflies coming off the water. The forecast for the next two weeks looks like winter in the Ozarks with freezing temperatures every morning; looking forward to some peaceful fishing once again.