Gasconaide River

Posted by Al Agnew on September 26th, 2011
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Did you know that the Gasconade is the longest river that is completely within the boundaries of Missouri? And the longest undammed river left in the Ozarks? We’re talking 250 miles of floatable water. One of my goals is to someday float the whole thing in one trip, which would take at least three weeks. In the meantime, however, I’ve floated most of it at one time or another. I’ve done all of it from Hwy. E, 11 miles or so below the highest put-in, down to Paydown, which still leaves me a little less than 80 miles on the lower end to do someday.

The first time I was ever on the Gasconade was the float from Hwy. 28 to Jerome. The river was up a couple of feet and murky, and it was a lot bigger water than I was used to, having done most of my floating up to that time on Big River. I thought the river was always that big. I remember catching one very nice largemouth and a few smallies.

The next time was a three day trip from Hwy. 17 at Waynesville to Jerome, in early November. The river was very low and clear. I couldn’t believe the difference. That was a beautiful time to be on the river, with fall foliage in full color, but the fishing was tough.

I did several trips on the river below Jerome before the spotted bass started moving in, and caught some nice smallmouths. But I haven’t been on that part of the river in many years, and I’m kind of afraid to go now and find that it’s full of small spotted bass like the lower Meramec.

One of the most “interesting” floats on the Gasconade is to do the river from Ozark Springs to Hwy. 17 in low water conditions. As you get to the upper end of the Narrows bend above Schlict Spring, a good part of the river disappears! This is what is known as a “losing reach”, and during low water conditions, you’ll have about 75 cubic feet per second flow or more above the Narrows, and then less than 30 cfs below. I put in at Schlict Spring once and the river was barely a trickle there, and almost totally weed-choked. it was pretty difficult floating, though the fishing wasn’t bad for a while, but it got worse as we went farther downstream. Finally we were walking the canoe more than paddling it, the water was stagnant, the fishing was marginal at best.

Then we came to the Rockslide Bluff. This is a spot where a huge section of bluff collapsed on November 3, 1971. A section of cliff 200 feet long, 60 feet high, and 20 feet thick fell into the river and totally blocked it. It’s still an interesting rapid in the river there, and the bluff still looks like it was a fresh rockfall. It is here that the water that sank into the ground upstream starts to come back into the river. There are springs bubbling up out of the river bottom, and three good sizes Springs, Falling Spring, Creasy Spring, and Bartless Mill Spring, all enter the river within the next mile or so. The fishing–and the ease of floating–definitely picked up from there down to Hwy. 17.

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