Fine Day On The Gasconade

Posted by Al Agnew on September 26th, 2011
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It wasn’t because I read the article in the St. Louis newspaper (see the thread in the Meramec River message board), honest. I’d already planned to drive over and fish that stretch of the Gasconade this week. In fact, when I read the article it kinda bummed me out–it could possibly bring a drove of people to that stretch of the Gasconade.

I called my dad and told him to be ready one day this week, I was taking the jetboat to the Gasconade. I asked my wife Mary if she wanted to go, too. As it turned out, she was only free to go today (Wednesday), so that’s when we decided to go.

It’s a bit over two hours from my house to the Gasconade. We left before 7 AM and got to the river a little after 9. It had been close to 30 years since I’d been on that particular stretch. I still remembered the first time I was ever on it. The river was a couple feet higher than normal, and I was used to fishing rivers the size of Big River. The Gasconade impressed me as being HUGE. The fishing, probably due to the high water, was mediocre.

The last time I had been on it was in early November. The fall colors that year were spectacular, and we were on that stretch the last day of a four day float trip. The fishing (again) was mediocre at best. I was hoping for better things today.

We motored several miles upriver before starting to fish. The first fish I caught was a 17.5 incher. It had a deformed spine and was rather crooked…had it been straight it would have been over 18. Here it is.  It came on one of my homemade crankbaits.

After that auspicious beginning, the fishing pretty much died for a while. Dad was throwing a spinnerbait, but not getting bit. I tried topwater and my homemade spinnerbait with little to show for it. Mary…well, she was disappointed because I had failed to bring any of her favorite lure, a Rattletrap. So she was casting one of the homemade crankbaits occasionally between periods of reading and soaking up the atmosphere. I think she was the one to hook the next fish, losing it close to the boat.

By the time we stopped for lunch, Dad had switched to a soft jerkbait, while I continued to experiment. But after lunch, things began to pick up. We all started catching some fish, mostly smallies 13-14 inches, fun fish to catch. Then I heard Dad grunt, and looked back to see his rod well-bent. The fish was the biggest of the day (that we actually touched, anyway), a fine 18 incher.

Shortly afterwards, Mary decided to fish for a while, and almost immediately hooked a fish that looked to be a twin of Dad’s, but it just wasn’t Mary’s day–this one got loose near the boat. A bit later, I had one that looked a bit bigger yet take my crankbait, but it wasn’t on long.

We drifted down and reached the access a little before 5 PM. We’d probably caught around 40 bass among the three of us. Certainly not an exceptional day numbers-wise, and I’ve had some better days with big fish. But it was still an exceptional day of fishing–gorgeous scenery, great weather, enough fish to keep it interesting, a stretch of river I’d been wanting to fish again for years, an eagle sighting…and a day spent with the two people I love most in the world.

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