Fly Fishing the James River in Missouri

Recently on my fall break…my wife and I visited Branson, Missouri for a week. If you haven’t yet made it to Branson, it is quite the city…and quite the story. Branson sits along the White River. In the old days, prior to 1957, The White would regularly flood and thus the powers to be came up with the brilliant idea of placing dams along the river to both reduce flooding and to provide power, electricity through the various hydro-dams. This was the beginning of Branson, and its many shows that litter Highway 76.

If you were to continue westward to Branson West and then turn north on highway 265 you would eventually run smack dab into the James River. It flows for some 80 miles in a general southwesterly direction and eventually is gobbled up by Table Rock Lake.

The James River is situated right in the midst of the Ozarks and quite frankly is some of the most lovely water and scenery that I have experienced while fly fishing across America. This last trip I visited the river just a few days after a pretty serious rain event…which caused the water flow to be both up and a bit stained…all told, it was a perfect situation for catching some smallmouth bass.

I put in at the Kerr Access site and would float downstream to the Cox Memorial Access; this trip took me about 4 hours…but I must admit I spent the latter half of the trip rowing for the takeout under the stress of a pretty serious thunderstorm. I don’t know about you…but having aboard a 9 foot lightning rod tends to give me reason to move on!

Keeping in mind that the water was a bit cold and we were now in mid-October…the fishing was fairly good as I caught and landed one nice spotted bass along with a half-dozen smallies. The flow on the day was perfect and kept me and my boat tooling along at about the right speed to cast and drift.

I can’t wait to get back…preferable earlier in the season where the water temps are a bit higher and there is a little more overhead light. The river is a total joy to be upon and I am sure that somewhere, lurking beneath one of the thousands of boulders that are strewn along the bottom…is a big, hearty smallmouth ready to do battle.

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