Jacks Fork

Overview

Posted by Phil Lilley on January 2nd, 2012
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The Jacks Fork is actually three streams in one. The upper portion, from the Prongs down to Alley Spring, is a small stream that flows through one of the narrowest canyons in Missouri. It is generally floatable only in spring or other high water periods, and when it’s high enough to float easily the fishing can be difficult, partly because of the strong current and partly because of the number of rental canoes you will encounter on nice weekends.

Expect to find beautiful smallmouth habitat with one rocky bluff pool after another, with short, steep riffles in between, until you get close to Alley Spring, where the stream starts to widen and become shallower and more gravelly. Alley Spring often more than doubles the size of the Jacks Fork, and the influence of the cold spring water makes the section from Alley Spring to below Eminence rather poor smallmouth habitat. However, this section has an excellent population of chain pickerel which can be great fun. Look for them in slow or slack water with wood or weedy cover.

The river finally begins to warm below Eminence, and the last section down to the Current again becomes good smallmouth water, although it is affected by overuse and excess fertilization, caused by the run-off from horse manure from several large trail riding operations around Eminence. You will mostly see these effects in late summer when the river is low.

The entire Jacks Fork is excellent goggle-eye fishing, and largemouth will be found in a few slack water areas.

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