Water levels were very low, so we knew that this would be a lake-like situation on the river. This part of the river was known to hold Grass Pickerel (our target) in the early 2000s, but we were unable to locate any on this trip.
|This part of the river had no perceptible flow.|
Matt flew out of sight, looking for pickerel, and I didn't see him for a couple hours. I never made it more than 100m past the bridge while I methodically probed for fish with my fly rod. Unfortunately, I wasn't having much luck.
I pulled my fly away from a few sunfish (they're a pain to deal with, especially in the kayak), but I also accidentally pulled a wooly bugger away from a 12-15" Smallmouth Bass! I was able to get the fly to him again, and he charged it, but pulled away at the last second. Other than that, the fish weren't into my flies.
|My jug (upper right) had a few tugs, but all I ever pulled up was an empty hook.|
I should have spent all my time downstream! The river really narrowed (to the point we had to get out of the kayaks after about 100m), and it started to get some current. One nice stretch was about 30-40m long, 1m wide, and probably only 0.5m deep. What I would have given to have had a seine!
That stretch eventually gave way to a much wider, very shallow run (with limited current) that went on for as far as we could see. It was time to set up shop for microfishing!
We only had ~1 hour left at this point, and I spent most of my time trying to catch my first member of Family Percidae.
I saw several Meramec Saddled Darters, but they were not interested in the pieces of worm I was offering. I was really struck by how large they were...a couple were as large or larger than the sculpin in my aquarium!
I was able to bring in several minnows (I could have had many, many more, but I got tired of catching them), and I succeeded in avoided all sunfish. Darters were, by far, my main target. We saw many Orangethroated, and a few Gilt, that were interested in the worm, but I wasn't having a lot of luck hooking them.
|Lifer #42: Bigeye Shiner!|
|Striped Shiner. This was the most abundant minnow in the stream, and they got to be rather large.|
|Another minnow I'll never identify.|
At first, I was getting them just out of the water. Then I got one a bit farther out. Then, I had a Gilt Darter almost over land when....it fell off the hook only ~6" from dry land and disappeared into the rocks.
My time was almost up....actually, it was past my turn-around time...when I finally hooked a Rainbow Darter and managed to grab it in my hand before it could fall off. My first darter!
|Lifer #43: Rainbow Darter|
Species encountered (visual or caught):
- Smallmouth Bass
- Green Sunfish
- Longear Sunfish
- Striped Shiner
- Orangethroat Darter
- Rainbow Darter
- Gilt Darter
- Meramec Saddled Darter
- Banded Darter
- Fantail Darter
- Bigeye Shiner
- Sand Shiner
- Blackspotted Topminnow
- Blackstripe Topminnow
|I had to take a photo of the sign for my son, Owen.|