Originally fishing spring creeks on our journey was an afterthought, but as a lack of watercraft combined with high and cold rivers found us grasping at straws for fishing opportunities, we turned to these havens in an attempt to redeem ourselves.
Our first spontaneous decision to explore an MDC access came only an hour before sunset after a long day spent fruitlessly driving and wading blown out rivers in search of smallmouth. In sheer desperation and hunger, we stooped so low as to cook our lunch in a vault toilet during a rainstorm, using toilet paper to do our dishes. Earlier that morning we had spent many hours nervously wading the churning waters of Bryant creek and the upper North Fork of the White river, all to no avail. With swift water near the tops of our waders we threw our entire selection of streamers into every pocket and backwater we could reach with our sink tips in hope of feeling the tug of a feisty Ozark bronzeback. On the road again that evening we noticed a promising stretch of water passing underneath the highway, and dipped off of the road for shits and grins when we saw an access sign.
We arrived at a pleasantly calm looking creek and rigged up our three weights for the first time on the journey. Tying on leeches, both of us had a hit within four or five casts into the first hole, and not ten minutes after hitting the water I landed a six inch parr-marked rainbow after swinging the leech past an undercut bank. In no time at all, the sun began to sink behind the hills and a few caddis began to come off, and the switch to dries was made, resulting in several fish on a small hair wing before it became too dark to see our casting. Feeling quite satisfied after catching more fish than we had the entire week prior, we deemed the day a resounding success, and continued our drive to St. Louis to catch the Fly Fishing Film Tour.
The selection of films was awesome and got the two of us itching for more than what we had encountered during the few days. We did some research on access points, spun some bugs to restock our boxes and decided to revisit the same general area. We parked the 4Runner near the access, paid the parking fee in all change from my ashtray, and trekked down to the water with rods in hand hoping for a day as successful as the previous evening had been. We both tied on size 14, depth charged, sculpin olive leeches and made our way down Creek X. Throughout the course of the day, the two of us hit accumulatively upwards of 225 mostly stream bred rainbows, many over the 12 inch mark which is amazing for any spring creek in Missouri.
As the sun started to dip below the Ozark Mountains that surrounded us in all directions, a tan caddis and small grey mayflies started coming off and fishing heated up even further. Though the bugs were coming off, the bite was still crazy on leeches as the fish were fiercely aggressive and more than willing to chase on the strip. I personally threw them until darkness crept up on us.
The aforementioned last two days were an amazing end to our two fishy weeks on the road and probably one of the most incredible times I've ever had fishing Missouri Spring Creek water to date. I count down the days until I have similar areas basically in my back yard!
Until next time