Last weekend, Ben, his girlfriend from Nor-Cal named Casey, and I made a completely impromptu trip to the Ozarks that turned into a pretty amazing adventure. The whole ordeal started on Friday morning after a sarcastic text message sent to Ben regarding taking a weekend road trip and evolved into a full blown itinerary by the time I got out of school. I packed all of my gear into the 4Runner after I got off work that evening and headed South to Leawood to pick up the other two after my presentation on Big Game Flies Saturday morning.
We didn't end up getting on the road until around 2 in the afternoon and it was a little bit of a drive to Roaring River State Park where we were camping for the night in order to get Casey into some easy fish in the morning. We didn't end up setting up camp until well after dark considering sunset is just after 5 this time of year. Some brats were cooked over a pathetic, damp fire and sat around contemplating our hatred towards Trout parks and indicator nymphing when I got the bright idea to go night fish said trout park. For those of you who don't know, Roaring River closes at 8 in the evening, and we quickly got a reminder of that as we passed the Park Ranger station just on the corner of our campground. Needless to say we ditched the rods on a bench and hiked up to the spring where Ben took this badass high exposure shot of the hatchery. The view from the platform there is pretty incredible. That pond is chalk full of giant, brood stock trout lingering lazily on the top of the water column in the light radiating from the hatchery. It's really a cool thing to take a look at if you ever get the chance.
We awoke the next morning, took down camp, and drove down the road to Roaring River to get Casey into some hatchery trout but we quickly realized that she hated it just as much as we did. We talked it over and decided to make the two hour drive to Bella Vista, Arkansas/Pineville, Missouri to hit some of the tributaries of the Elk in search of Smallies. Ben ended up spinning some flies up in my car and left fuzz all over my passenger seat...
We ended up heading straight for a low-water bridge access near Jane, Missouri where we had previously been run off by a very mean landowner who we heard had passed away recently. This area has always produced very well for us and this time was no exception. Aside from the fishing, the whole section of water we walked was utterly breathtaking. It looked as if nobody had been there in a long while as a result of the aforementioned landowner. No trash, no footprints, no game trails... Nothing but bluffs, boulders, Ozark spring water, and nice smallies. Below are all of the pictures we took that day.
We then drove further south to visit one of the waterfalls I used to visit. While walking down the trail, I decided that I did not feel like going back to school for finals review so we all made the decision to stay an extra day. It was around that time that it started raining and the temperature dropped about 10 degrees. We made some calls and ended up heading to Branson to stay in a friend of our's guest house on Lake Taneycomo.
Essentially, we ended up staying up way too late and didn't end up being prepared to leave until Noon. We decided our best bet was to go explore more tributaries of the Elk so we drove back the direction in which we came towards the state line. We hit a few fish and had our mandatory run in with the police in Benton County, Arkansas when a cop cheap shotted me in a speed trap. Thankfully, he ended up letting me off with a warning and we went on our way.
After that ordeal, we ended up just going to a place we call "the mill" on Big Sugar Creek. We hit a few fish but mostly just froze our nuts off.
It was a pretty amazing few days and we definitely accomplished showing Casey what the Ozarks are all about. The weather was incredible for December to boot! Not to mention it was fantastic to get some end of the year smallies under my belt. I will dreaming of more until it gets a bit warmer!