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> > Trout and smallies by kayak

Report at a Glance

General RegionMissouri, Northeastern Ozarks
Specific LocationMeramec River
Time of Day7:30 A.M to noon
Fish Caughtbrown trout, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass
Conditions & Hatchessome caddis hatching, few fishing rising
high, off color water, a bit less than two feet of visibility
water temp 61-64

Details and Discussion

MotroutMay 24th, 2011, 4:22 pm
Posts: 319
I have a friend that lives along the trout portion of the Meramec River here in Missouri, and he invited me out to go fishing today. The Meramec is not a stream I fish very often...It's about an hour and a half from my house, it's big water with limited wade fishing options, and the areas around the public accesses are often too crowded to bother with. But this time I would have the opportunity to fish some water a little off the beaten path by using this guy's private access. This isn't a situation of fishing private water, something I don't believe in, the river's public, and it is a popular float stream, and there is plenty of public access, but I wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to try some water that doesn't get pounded by wade fisherman day in and day out. The Meramec is by and large a warm-water river, but the inflow of Meramec Spring makes it cool enough for trout fishing for seven or eight miles, and it is stocked with brown and rainbow trout by the MDC and managed as a trophy trout fishery. My friend's place was located about five miles below the spring, towards the lower end of the trout waters. I was told that while this part of the river holds trout through the year, the fishing is basically just an early morning and late evening deal once the heat of summer kicks in that far below the spring. So this is probably one of the last few weeks of the season where trout fishing will be an all day deal. I was also told that this part of the river held a healthy smallmouth and rock bass population alongside the trout.

We had very short, but torrential downpours both yesterday and the day before, so I was worried about the condition of the river. But in reality the river was high and off-color, but definitely within the fishable range. The water was green, not brown, and there was maybe two feet of visibility. Then I got my kayak ready to launch. The river here was deep with a moderate current, and my friend told me that I could easily paddle about a quarter of a mile upstream until I got to a riffle. There I could either beach the kayak and wade-fish the riffle, or work my way back down the slow water. I elected to paddle up to the head of the pool, and fish my way back down. Given the clarity of the water, I decided to go with a fairly sizeable fly, finally settling on a #10 BH Olive Woolly. I decided to take the water, temp, because, hey, it's not going to be long until it's that time of the year again. But that wasn't much of a concern, as it read only 61 degrees. It wasn't long before I hooked into my first fish of the day, and 11" rainbow trout. By the time I had fished my way back down to my starting point, I had landed two more trout and a rock bass, and all said I was feeling pretty good. I decided to keep drifting down until I came to the next riffle. Soon the pool began to slow, and on one bank it butted up against a bluff for a bit. It was very deep there, and I fished there for quite a while before moving on. It was too slow there for trout, but smallmouth and rock bass were there in plenty, including a few pretty nice bass. Then I paddled back up to the head of the pool and the riffle, beached my kayak on a gravel bar, and got out to wade fish. Wade fishing was a bit uncomfortable to say the least given the water conditions, and I had a very hard time getting my fly down in the fast water. I had kept the woolly bugger on, but added a strike indicator and split shot to the leader. Using this very ungraceful set up, I managed to land a couple of stocker sized trout before I got altogether tired of that kind of fishing, and got back into the kayak. There I took of the split shot and the indicator, and kept catching fish for a couple more hours, both trout and bass, before I finally decided to head out. By noon, the fishing was really starting to slow with the air temperature above 80 degrees and the water temp edging into the mid-60s, Also I needed to do a couple things back home before the day was over. It wasn't lights out, and I don't fish big rivers that often, but it was sure a lot of fun today.
"I don't know what fly fishing teaches us, but I think it's something we need to know."-John Gierach
Jmd123May 24th, 2011, 11:20 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2611
Man MO, that sounds like a BLAST! I just took my very first kayak float down the lower Au Sable yesterday, from a few miles upstream to a few miles downstream from where I live, and found some very juicy looking backwaters that I wouldn't doubt are just crawling with bass (saw a lot of commotion that might actually have been spawners - they're getting on the nests now). Didn't take the fishing gear but next time for sure!

Sounds like a very nice stretch of water you floated, and a nice variety of fish you caught. Those Ozark waters sure are pretty! I might just have to take a trip down there one of these days and join ya! Get yourself a waterproof camera so next time you go you can post some pics. Again, sounds lovely!


P.S. How big were the smallies & rockies?

P.P.S. Hiked back into the Marsh today - without fishing gear - and saw a bald eagle carrying a nice fish in it's talons. Could have been a sucker but might have been one of those bass that live back in there...
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
MotroutMay 25th, 2011, 10:29 am
Posts: 319
The smallies weren't big in the grand scheme of things. They ranged from 8 inchers on up to a couple in the 14 inch range. There are far bigger ones in the river, but these were big enough to fight hard on a 5 weight! The biggest rockies I caught were maybe 7-8 inches, most a lot smaller than that.

The Ausable is a river that is towards the top of my bucket list. I can't imagine living close enough to go on it on a regular basis.

You should come down here and fish the Ozarks some time for sure. Of course there are trout park like streams, but there are also some really awesome, almost wild rivers that fish really well for trout and smallies. It won't compete with Michigan anytime soon, but it's pretty nice all around!

"I don't know what fly fishing teaches us, but I think it's something we need to know."-John Gierach
Jmd123May 25th, 2011, 1:59 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2611
MO, my ex-wife is from Missouri so I have fished some of those streams - you may not remember that I did post some comments to that effect. I have fished on Crane Creek (my favorite), Capps Creek, and a couple of others, can't remember which but I know I did fish Roaring River and the Current at least once each. Did a little bit of "trout-parking" while there too, not my cup of tea but at least it was interesting.

BTW, the part of the Au Sable that I live near is NOT the trout waters, it's the lowest segment below the last dam (Foote) and it's too warm for trout. However, it is bass, walleye, and pike water, and it gets a steelhead run every winter (used to get a good salmon run 10 years ago but the run has collapsed due to a lack of food for the salmon in our part of Lake Huron). As for trout fishing, I go to closer, less-pounded streams like the Pine (closest but a bit silty lately) or the Rifle (farther but clearer). I'll probably find my way to the trout waters of the Au Sable some time this summer just to check it out, though, and I'll let you know what I find.

Any smallmouth over 10 inches is a fight on a fly rod! A 14-incher is a SERIOUS fight...

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...

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