OK…so, let’s talk a bit today about another of the four Missouri Trout Parks…Montauk State Park is located in central Missouri about an hour south of Salem. I like to think about the four trout parks like they were kids….if you have more than one you will understand that each one is very different and Montauk is different from Bennet in that it is kind of like a little brother; a bit smaller and at times can be a hassle.
Let’s not jump to conclusions…but let me explain about the hassle part. I am not a big fan of fishing in crowds. You might say that trout parks equate to crowds, but that isn’t necessarily the truth. At times, while at Bennet…you can find space to yourself, especially in zone 1 which is for fly guys only. Montauk is usually a bit more crowded. I have fished within the park probably 20 or so occasions and usually there are enough folks that you have to pull up stakes and move a bit to find some open water. Understand that as a streamer guy I am swinging flies and need a bit more water downstream, below me, than does a dry guy or a nymph person.
That being said, I really like Montauk because the water is in most places a bit smaller than Bennet; I don’t know the exacts but I think more on the lines of 70 million gallons of spring water a day flows downhill towards the Current River (more later). I like to drive up towards or up completely to the spring, jump in and head down current towards the lodge, etc… Most times, if available I will have my wife or another drop me off and that gives me the day to be ‘footloose and fancy free’.
At the top, near the spring, it is narrow and stealth is important…however I have found that a floating line with just a bit of weight on a wooly (various colors) or a type 1 sink tip with a trout candy (usually cream colored) is the fly of choice. Most days the water is clear enough that it will allow you to see some or most of the trout, getting a bite is another story as they can become quite finicky.
I won’t go into detail for each section of the spring to river; but let me jump ahead to the Current River. It is one of my favorite places to fish, anywhere and about anytime. At the end of the park, you will see signs that tell you that you have moved out of park boundaries, you will enter in the Blue Ribbon section of the Current River.
The Current River is one of, if not my favorite place to fish in Missouri. From the end or boundary of the park you can fish downstream to the first take out, Tan Vat; probably about 2-3 hours of walking and fishing. Next up is the Baptists Camp, another couple of hours…then there are additional spots downstream whereby you can get picked up. This is some wooly country and the fishing can be good to great. I have not caught a very large brown although I know they are there because late one night I watched as one came ripping through a shallow area on its way upstream. Frankly, I first thought it was an otter…it was that big. I have caught fish in the 18-20 range and lots of rainbows in the 14-18 inch range, but you will find The Current is a wild and scenic river and well worth spending a day or two moving through.
You can watch my video (below), fly fishing the Current River, and get an idea of what the water looks like…but trust me, it is cool and clear and in some spots is moving at a rapid rate. My line of choice on the river is a type 1 sink tip; I find this allows me to get my streamers down a bit…and at some points you may need a weighted wooly or something of that nature to get the fly into the deeper holes.
Give Montauk a try and I am sure you will be pleased as it is a well-run and a nice facility. The folks at the lodge, campground, etc….are always nice and helpful and have about anything you might need for a day on the water. If you can make a trip there in mid-week then I don’t think you will ever encounter crowds that can’t be negotiated…however I would give weekends from April to September a break or make sure you have a dose of patience along!