Monday, August 31, 2009

Peculiar Story

A group of rafters from an unnamed Missouri town (town's name in title of Blog) joined us this weekend for an end of summer campout. They set out for the settlement of Dawt Mill late Saturday morning with three rafts and 13 souls. We only had three groups going to Dawt on Saturday, and after picking up all of our canoes we were waiting for the rafters to call us so we could end our day at Dawt. Late that afternoon we received a call from the Ozark County Sheriff's office saying they had found a person walking up the road from James Bridge who said his canoe had sunk and he was walking back to Sunburst where he had rented it. Knowing we had already picked up all of our canoes we thought they must be mistaken so we chose not to go searching for this lost soul. Finally around 7:15 Kevin and I decided to head to Dawt as we knew the rafters would be in soon as daylight was beginning to fade. When we arrived the drunken rafters were arriving wet, cold and drunk after a long day on the river. When I asked how the float trip went I received mixed results with some saying awesome, and others saying they would rather not talk about it. After taking some photos on the hood of the bus with Kevin, we finally got everyone into the bus and returned them to their campsite for the evening. The next morning a group of them came in and said that they thought they had lost someone on the river yesterday and wondered if we had any suggestions. We called the sheriff's office who had not seen him, and the other outfitters we called were unaware of any extra campers lurking around their campgrounds. With little to go on these bedraggled campers broke camp and set out on a search for their missing man. After several hours we had still heard nothing and assumed they must have found him wondering the streets of the OC (Ozark County). Later that morning the phone rang and with this call the mystery would be solved. It turned out the missing rafter who had had a falling out with his group, took to the highway to return to the campground. He was subsequently picked up by a good Samaritan and somehow ended up in Howell County. While in Howell County this good Samaritan who was not so good, was pulled over by the cops, and taken in for DUI. This leaves our lost rafter once again without a ride and no place to stay. This problem would quickly be solved as the sheriff's office ran the rafter's information and discovered he was on probation and was not supposed to be drinking. He evidently could not hide his intoxication and found himself spending the night in the company of Howell County's finest. He used his one phone call to call his "friends" and tell them he would be receiving a free transport back to his home jail in a few days so they need not worry about his whereabouts. Peculiar!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Sunburst Stimulator

While I enjoy living out in the middle of nowhere, sometimes simple things lead to big frustration. Amy has taken two trips to town in the last two days in an attempt to get a new cordless phone to replace the one that blew up due to a lightning strike. When you buy something new that doesn't work and you are 30 miles from town it really sucks! When you go back the second time and get another that doesn't work it sucks worse. When you also get an oil filter for the mule that is wrong that doubles your pleasure. When you take the old filter in to show them the second time and return with the wrong one again, you want to shoot the parts guy who swore it was the same filter. I guess I will take my second trip to town since May and see if I can come back with the right filter. If you are still reading this whiny blog you may wonder why I am telling you this. After Eli and I failed to change the oil filter on the mule, that frustration led us to the river for a little fishing before dark. While Eli picked flowers and threw rocks I slid out just below the island to see if any trout were in the mood for a little dinner. I picked this spot because it is the only place on our property to keep an eye on a 5 year old while having a realistic chance at bringing a few fish to hand, and bring a few fish to hand I did. As I tied on my new favorite fly (the golden hot flash) followed by a bloody mary dropper, I became excited as I noticed a little haziness in the water. I have found that the fish are more apt to ignore my tripping and fumbling around if the water has a little color to it, and tonight looked like it might just be perfect. Not long after my first cast I was slow to react as my indicator took several dives on successive casts. Daddy I need to go poop I hear from the bank. Luckily we were just down from the bathhouse so after a quick potty break back to the river we went. Just as had happened before, perfect casting technique (Eli is a witness) was rewarded with a sudden pause in the indicator and this time I was ready. I lifted the rod tip high and was met with a quick downstream run as I caught a glimpse of pink flash near the surface. After a quick battle I brought the 15" rainbow to hand and had Eli take a picture for posterity, promising him that he could reel in the next fish. Several casts later another rainbow was hooked and after reeling in the slack line I handed over the rod to Eli who courageously fought and defeated his first fly rod trout. Several other fish were caught and several were lost along with the bloody mary whose only trout was the first trout of the evening. While this was the only bloody mary I have ever owned I was not disappointed for this opened a spot on my line for my newest creation, the sunburst stimulator. This is a fly tied on a #6 hook with red and black chenille two short rubber legs at the hook end, and silver flash tied almost like hackle where the wing case would be. Once again I got bored when I was tying up my golden hot flash, and this new fly was the result. I tied this on as a dropper below the golden hot flash and went back to fishing without much faith in the little feller. As before, the fish continued to bite and a tiny streambred rainbow was caught as was a 10" brown, but each time I brought the fish to hand my disappointment grew as the sunburst stimulator continued to dangle from the golden hot flash that was nestled in the corner of each fishes mouth. Then it happened, as the sun faded over the horizon and fog settled over the North Fork, a perfectly placed cast was met with a violent flash beside a large boulder which had been the lunker's lair. I lifted the rod tip high and the pain in my tendinitis stricken right elbow told me this was not your run of the mill fish. I could see the a dark silhouette thrashing amidst the rocks in this run and new it had to be a brown. With no choice but to follow I yelled for Eli to circle around and meet me on a gravel bar just downstream. Skillfully playing this fish while talking Eli down to my location, I was finally able to bring a fat healthy 18" brown to hand. As I held the fish in the water I had Eli grab the camera out of my pocket and take a picture of me with my prize. Unfortunately Eli had taken the memory card out of the camera and the built in memory was full with pictures of Christmas from two years ago. We found one or two to delete, and amazingly the fish waited patiently as I gently held him in the current just knowing he would dash to freedom before we could get proof on film. Eli stepped back took aim and took the first picture in which I had no head - delete. Second picture a quarter head - delete. Third picture - half a fish -delete. Fourth picture -most of my head and good picture of fish, we'd decided we'd better not press our luck and headed home with proof. Unfortunately the picture did not capture the fly to which this lunker fell, but the excitement of catching an 18" brown was amplified many times over when I brought this fish up only to see that peeking out of the toothy grin of this broomtail was the red glow of the sunburst stimulator.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Things slowing down, fish heating up

Weekday business has slowed to a crawl which has allowed me to pursue a few other activities for recreation. Yesterday Amy's Dad and I planted a few acres of alfalfa for wildlife on his property, and I have been brush hogging some plots that are in need of replanting this fall. We have several acres of food plots here that I typically rotate year to year for birds and deer. Last spring I planted millet and sorghum in several plots and as it is now maturing, songbirds swarm out of it as you drive by, blue grosbeaks, indigo buntings and goldfinches seem to be the main visitors. I will soon mow some of that down and plow it which will bring in the doves, and then reseed with wheat and clover for deer and turkeys. These plots are down around the campground and because we enjoy watching the wildlife we don't hunt in the riverbottom.

Monday morning I received a phone call from Brian Sloss the owner of Eleven Point Canoe Rental who wanted to come over for an afternoon of fishing. He arrived at around 1:00 and since my shuttles were done I decided to join him. We both were a little apprehensive about the fishing prospects as a bright sun shone directly overhead. This apprehension was quickly put to rest as I quickly caught and released a parr marked rainbow on the far side of the island. As Brian worked down stream ahead of me he caught several small browns and hooked and lost several others. It seemed like red was the color they were after as I caught my first fish on a red soft hackle, and Brian was catching his on a Bloody Mary #10. Brian saw the beating he was giving me so he waded up and gave me one of his magic flies. Not long after I caught a 10" brown quickly followed by a slightly larger one. Disappointed with the performance of the hot flash, under which the bloody mary was tied, I decided to put on a yellow variation which I had just started tying this week. Not long after putting this on I hooked into a gorgeous 15" bow which took me for a ride all over the run just in front of the campstore. Not to be outdone, the original hot flash which Brian now had tied on caught the biggest brown trout of the day, a fat 14 incher.
After catching and releasing a dozen or more fish we moved down to slippery riffle where I had hopes of another dozen hookups. That was not to be the case but we did add another 4 or 5 fish to the count, mine caught on the golden hot flash and Brian's caught on a squirrel nymph. The squirrel nymph is tied with a yellow body and seemed to be working nearly as well as the bloody mary. We concluded that red and yellow were definitely the colors of the day so when you come down be sure to have an arsenal with plenty of those colors in tow. It did seem like the larger flies were catching larger, but fewer fish.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Good fishing despite the hot weather

Here is a fishing report we received from a fly fishing friend from St. Louis who was here this weekend. Thought you fishermen might enjoy hearing from someone besides me, fishing the same old fly in the same old place, a few more weeks and maybe I'll have some time to explore other parts of the river.

Justin and Amy,

Thanks for another great trip down to Sunburst. As always the hospitality is great and my buddies loved the setup down there. I am sure they will be coming again. We had a slow day floating from Patrick down to James on Friday afternoon, probably around a dozen browns on a Size 10 Red Fox Squirrel Nymph taken under a Pats. Saturday we we’re able to stay ahead of the crowd and had a nice day hooking a lot more fish. We fished from Lamb Shoal above Kelly to your place. We hooked several big ones and turned them but they got off early. Thanks again and looking forward to getting down there in Sept. & Oct. a lot after the crowds slim down. Talk to you soon. I attached a photo, not of a big fish, just one we caught. See ya next time!