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!

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