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Posted by Phil Lilley on October 28th, 2016
If you have ever read many of my posts, it’s probably pretty obvious that I’m somewhat of a numbers guy. I track numbers and types of fish that I catch. I calculate catch per trip metrics, etc. So seeing that I am approaching my 1000th post on OAF, so I wanted that post to be something a bit more than just a reply. I have been traveling for work lately (with no fishing opportunities) and have not had the time to get out fishing or hunting until this last weekend. I have been trying to catch a Roaring river brown trout and a redspot chub the last couple of times that I have headed down that way. Over the last several weeks I have also dug deeper into on-line discussions and information about the Neosho strain of smallmouth bass. So I was able to take a day off last Friday and decided to head back down to southwest Missouri with the goal to catch each of these three fish.
Left the house in Columbia at 4 am and drove down to an access point on a tributary of the Elk River. I had seen some catch records for Neosho SMB in that area and also had confirmation of redspot chubs being caught there as well. By 10 am I was on the water. The creek was running gin clear and may have been somewhat low. I was seeing large schools of minnows and a fair number of crayfish, So I started with a 1/16 oz Ned rig with PBJ body. My first fish was a short bass, but not a smallmouth.
This creek was mix of gravel, some bedrock, and some large rocks. There was also some deadfalls and root wads creating depth and structure. The first smallmouths that I saw were actually up under some of the larger cracks and ledges in the bedrock. I got a couple to hit the ned as it dropped off the ledge in front of them. I also threw up near the brush and trees and caught some there as well. I spoke with some folks and am pretty certain that these are Neosho smallmouths.
I saw several larger SMB, but they were really spooky and I only ended up with a half dozen SMB on the day. The low numbers of smallmouth can be attributed as well to my targeting the minnows and darters in this creek. There were medium (ca. 20-30 fish) to large (>50 fish) schools in several of the pools. Most of them were cardinal shiners and stonerollers like this one.
fishing small 1/32 oz marabou jigs and worms I did land a few redspot chub females.
However it wasn’t until later in the day when I was drifting a worm into a school of large suckers that I caught a male redspot with the characteristic spot behind the eye. I may have to keep this stream in mind next spring when these males will be displaying their breeding coloration and tubercles.
I did not get any response from the larger suckers and decided to head out to another river access. So I left these deer and got off the creek.
Since I was so close, I headed towards and through Southwest City MO just to say that I was in the south westernmost portion of the state then into Oklahoma and then back into MO heading back north to my hotel. On the way back I stopped at an access on the Elk River and saw some interesting topminnows and a thin minnow species in large schools. However I could not catch any of the minnows, but did land a largemouth and a smallmouth on the ned rig. The smallmouth dropped off the hook just as I grabbed the jig so I could not see if it was a possible Neosho.
The next morning I went to the Roaring river. My plan was to park at the conservation area and fish both downstream and upstream from that access. The morning could not have been more pleasant as I got my gear on and the sun was coming up. As you can see there was a slight fog in the air.
I headed downstream at first and this section of the river has holes that can be mostly bedrock without much structure or could have large rock or wood creating the holes. The first couple of holes that I fished only held minnows and suckers with no visible trout. One or tow of these holes had the bottoms absolutely covered with minnows, again with most of them likely to be stonerollers.
I fished three holes where I had caught and seen trout on my last trip and came up with no trout. I did end up at a large hole behind a fallen tree and rootwad that had at least three browns in the hole. I could not get an interest in any bait that I threw at them. They just sulked on the bottom of the hole. So I headed upstream from the access point and got into more fishy water with deeper runs lined with large rock and other structure. I caught my first trout, a 16″ plump rainbow on a ginger/brown marabous jig in a pool just in front of a large fallen tree. It gave me a tremendous fight do to its size and its use of the current against me. I got it revived and back into its hole near that tree.
I caught a half dozen more rainbows on the marabou jigs, microjigs under a float, and small jerkbaits. I saw brown trout in areas that I would have predicted them to be, but no takers. This 12″ rainbow was caught with the microjig.
I also caught this 4.5″ rainbow on the microjig and float combination. I positioned the fish for a good photo of the parr marks on this fish. Sometimes you don’t get the shot that you expected.
So I ended day two with only rainbow trout, several minnows, and no browns. On the way back to my hotel I stopped in an talked with Tim at Tim’s Fly shop. I had been fishing 4 lb test on a small Pflueger reel because my Sedona reel with the 6lb nano and fluorocarbon leader was having drag issues. Fortunately Tim had a larger reel, which I bought and loaded with the nanofil line later that night. I was great to finally meet Tim and talk fishing, particularly about brown trout. Before I went into his shop, I really didn’t think that I had a chance at any of the browns that I had seen so far and was really planning on maybe heading to fish Crane creek for McCloud rainbows or the James for Ozark bass the next day. After our talk I decided to head back out earlier in the morning to try again. The next morning I got out and got to fishing one of the larger pools that I had seen the day before. There was a fallen tree that was laying perpendicular to the shore with the top of the tree in deeper water. I threw a jerkbait and got the hit I was hoping for and landed this 17″ plump brown trout.
I got the fish revived and feisty before releasing it back into the pool.
I had hoped to have gone fishing with Dan Hufferd on this trip, but that will have to wait for a later date. I also had three access points on the James river and tributaries figured out to try for an Ozark bass. However after meeting a half naked man at one access, high muddy water at another, and a blocked off bridge and many no-access signs at the last, I just headed home without wetting a line. All in all I considered this trip to SW MO a success. Maybe in a couple of weeks I’ll probably get back to thinking about different minnows that can only be caught in that area or of the McCloud rainbows in Crane and I will begin bugging my wife to let me head back down that way again.