Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Gasconade River, Osage County

The Gasconade River in Osage County, Missouri stood in marked contrast to the Big Piney River. It was wider, deeper, faster, and generally poorer for fishing.

Looking downstream from Pointers Creek Access pre-sunrise.
 While the Big Piney had many deep holes with steep rocky banks, the Gasconade was full of featureless plains under the surface, which made fishing challenging at worst, and difficult at best. Still, Kyle and I managed to combine for ~30 fish through the day.

I had no problem catching small Largemouth Bass on the Gasconade River. This monster measured in at just over 9".

We floated from Rollins Ferry Access to Pointers Creek Access, which was roughly 8 miles. We heard from a fellow kayaker that the distance can be covered in a little over 2 hours when the water is up, but the water was way down last Saturday. In fact, it was only flowing at ~1300 cf/s instead of the average of just over 3000 cf/s! The slow speed of the river, coupled with our desire to fish more than paddle, made for a pleasant 6 hour journey.

The Gasconade River just as I like it: empty.
When we launched the kayak at 6:15am there was only one other group in the parking lot, and they headed upstream after launching their jetboat. We wouldn't see another group for ~6 miles, and in the end we only saw two other boats total. We were surprised to see a handful of empty trailers at Pointers Creek around 12:30pm and over a dozen upon our return to Rollins Ferry at 1pm! I was thrilled to generally have the river to ourselves for the entirety of the trip.

The day started out cool and cloudy, but it didn't take long for the sun and heat to overtake the river.

I had trouble right from the start. After having a perfect trip on the Big Piney, I quickly lost two lures and a lot of line to the Gasconade. I believe I ended up losing five lures due to my own miscasts.

At the time of this photo, this was my personal best Longear Sunfish (6 1/8").
Still, we eventually found some fish with the lures. I was king of the Largemouth Bass, while Kyle seemed to exclusively hook Smallmouth Bass. I also managed to bring in some good-sized Bluegill (8 1/8") and Longear Sunfish (my personal best, 6 3/8"). Kyle also brought in a Goldeye! Forgot to get a photo of that one, though. He also managed to lose a very large Largemouth Bass that was likely over 2 lbs.

It's always fun to catch big Bluegill. This 8 1/8" fish was photographed underwater just before bringing him into the kayak.

The trip was relatively uneventful until we pulled up next to a half-dollar sized map turtle. Kyle lunged at it with his hand, and the next thing I knew we were both bobbing in the water with an overturned kayak! Kyle ended up losing his rod and reel, while I lost a box containing my favorite lures, my folding net and my fishing journal. We also both lost our cell phones to water damage. The worst part was that we were only 1000 ft. from Pointers Creek Access!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Big Piney River, Texas County

On 27 April 2012 Matt and I took my inflatable kayak to the upper Big Piney River in Texas County, Missouri. We decided to float ~14.5 miles from Baptist Camp Access to Mineral Spring Access. The water level was extremely low in places (only inches deep), and we spent a lot of time portaging the kayak until we passed Dog's Bluff Access. All that portaging made our trip take 12 hours instead of the planned 8-9 hours!

I was really impressed that my kayak (an inflatable Advanced Elements Dragonfly 2) handled the stream with aplomb. This was her first trip off of flat water. She seems to have survived without a scratch (literally) despite running a few small rapids and being extensively scraped along the bottom riffle after riffle.

The best fishing was between Baptist Camp Access to Tony Hogan Bridge, but we were able to catch fish just about everywhere we stopped and tried.

I spent the entire day using a small (~3") brown Zoom! crayfish on a 1/8 oz jig and managed to bring in 25 fish. Most of the fish were Smallmouth Bass, but I also caught a few Rock Bass, Green Sunfish and a Largemouth bass. There were lots of Longear Sunfish nipping at my crayfish, but they weren't large enough to get hooked. The Rock Bass were all around 8", while most of the Smallmouth were 9"-11" in length.

This 8 1/8" Rock Bass took the crayfish imitation while it was laying motionless on the bottom.
The day started out perfectly. About 65F and partly cloudy, but as the day wore on the wind picked up, the sky darkened and a torrential downpour was unleashed. After a few nearby lightning strikes Matt and I made it to the Rt. Z bridge and hit for about 40 minutes. While there we were surprised to hook several little Smallmouth Bass. Once the rain stopped and we moved on, I managed to bring in a pair of ~14" Smallmouth Bass that weighed about 1.3 lbs.

One of many Smallmouth Bass in the upper Big Piney River.

The largest fish of the day was a ~15" 1.4 lb. Largemouth Bass (the only one of the day for either of us)!

We watched this fish disappear as our kayak drifted near a few minutes before I hooked her. The hit was so subtle I thought I was snagged on a submerged log.

Matt tried to use the same lure set up as me, but had almost no success. The only thing different between our setups was that I was using 8 lb. fluorocarbon line and he was using 15 lb. braid. I'm of the opinion that using a clear line is very important on the Ozark streams.

Next up....the lower Gasconade River!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Three Creeks CA, Boone County

Despite the cold (35°F) weather, I opted to visit the Bonne Femme Creek at Three Creeks CA (Boone County) this morning. I know of a few deep (>6 ft.) holes that aren't too far apart, so I headed out in hopes of catching my first winter fish.

After a short walk down the trail you're greeted by a view from the top of the cliff. I enjoy the vista because it looks like there is no sign of human activity for as far as you can see.

A little more walking brings you down to the creek. The Bonne Femme eventually drains into the Missouri River, but it has many miles to go from this point. Just upstream from the point in the photo the Bonne Femme connects to Turkey Creek and Bass Creek.


I took my 4 weight fly rod this morning, and I started out with a bright orange wet fly that I tied last winter. I made a few casts into the first deep hole and noticed it was bouncing around underwater. Fish!

I watched the fly on a few more casts and decided I needed something a little smaller, so I switched to a size 12 nymph. The first cast brought in my first winter fish ever! A 5" Creek Chub.

Another few casts resulted in a similar sized fish, and a third Creek Chub (5 15/16") was eventually caught.

Despite about a mile of creek walking, the only fish I even saw were Creek Chubs and Orange-throated Darters. Still, it was nice to get out again for the first time in ~4 months and catch a few fish.

Next weekend, weather permitting, I hope to take the kayak to Little Dixie Lake CA with my new wetsuit and fish finder!