Well…as they say, all good things must come to an end and by the time you read this column I will be knee deep in a volleyball season; one with which I have very high hopes, but prior to the official start of the season, Jonas, Dad and me took a quick trip, a 350 mile voyage into the heart of Missouri to visit and fish Montauk, one of the state’s four trout parks. The last week of July set up to be a hot one and it didn’t matter where you were…with that in mind I packed the camper, flyrods, waders, boots, a little food…and for sure my fly tying case and headed west, I turned the Suburban left at mile marker 195 off of I-44 and headed south on Missouri 68 to Salem, a few more miles and a right on 32, followed by a left on 119 takes you directly to the trout park.
The beauty of Montauk is that it has a spring that pours approximately 80 million gallons of cold, pure spring water into the current river…the 56 degrees is perfect for a wide variety of fish, but for sure rainbows and browns. The plan was simple I would let Jonas fish the park and I would fish the Blue Ribbon trout stream of the Current River. A Blue Ribbon stream means it is catch and release with a daily limit of one trout that has to be over 18 inches.
Within 30 minutes of un-hitching the camper I was headed off to the river, fly rod in hand, looking for a variety of trout…but with my sights set high on catching a big brown trout. Jonas was off to the spring and after buying a $2 dollar youth trout permit could legally keep four trout per day for a possession limit of 8. Dad had a stack of outdoor magazines and looked happy propped up under a 100 year old Sycamore tree…thus we were off to catch trout.
Just below the park is a sign that runs over the top of the Current River that lets you know you are now leaving the trout park and entering the blue ribbon portion of the river… and about 10 feet past the sign was a pile of rainbows all stacked up, looking for a meal. I tied a bitch creek onto my 6 weight fly rod with a full sinking type 3 line and started picking them off; over the next 90 minutes I landed 13 trout and all were of good size with one chunky rainbow going a good 3 pounds. Jonas on the other hand didn’t fare so well the first night out as he had his floating line and couldn’t get deep enough in the water column to do any good…ah, beat by dad once again.
The next morning would be a 180 turn around for Jonas as I hooked him up with my 4 weight, sink tip line and a couple of my special flies…when he finally made it back to camp he was smiling as he had caught 14 trout and had stringered 4 big ones for his daily limit. I on the other hand had left camp on a long, one way journey to the Baptist Camp that was supposed to be about 4 miles downstream…I made a deal with dad that I would try and be to that point by 11am; knowing that walking, fly fishing and catching can all make plans go array. I figured that I would be the first one on the river but as I neared my jumping off point I met two old timers and managed to have a quick chat with one of them; he told me that the spring storms had messed parts of the cover up but that there were a good number of brown trout. That was welcome news to my ears as I love catching and fishing for the apex predator…the brown.
The first fish I caught was a small, 12 inch brown, followed closely by two good rainbows and one other small brown. I moved along and came to a point where the water slowed and trees overhung the river…it screamed out at me…brown trout! I made a cast under the limbs against the base of the gnarl of roots and stripped my olive wooly away when the big tug happened; an 18 inch brown slammed my bugger and the fight I had looked for had come and found me. I quickly got the fish on my reel and made sure not to hurry or force the fight and at the same time started back pedaling to a spot where there was much less current. As the brown turned from side to side it was hard not to notice the beauty of this great fish and as I finally slipped my net under him I felt a huge relief and for a few minutes could enjoy the trophy of morning. I snapped some photos and slipped this great fish back into the cool waters of the Current River; took a look at my watch, it was 9:15am and I knew I had to be moving to make the take out point…but all the remaining toil was well worth the moments spent tugging on my end, in battle with one of God’s great creations.
Our four days came to a too-soon ending…but fish were caught and memories made as the three of us spent a few days amidst the Ozarks, eating lunch meat, tying flies and all while Enjoying the Great Outdoors.