Saturday, January 21, 2012

Current River Trout Fishing Trip

My youngest son, David, and I took an excursion to the Current River last weekend before he had to get back to classes on Tuesday.  We headed out from our home about 50 miles West of St. Louis on Saturday morning and were fishing by early afternoon.

Photo taken at Baptist Camp Access of the Current River in
February of 2010.  The ice was hanging from the bluffs on our trip
beginning on January 14th of 2012, but there was much less of it.
We stopped by the Montauk State Park store to pick up a few beadhead eggs patterns and headed down to Baptist Camp.  We headed on down to Baptist Camp and got our lines wet right away.  I headed a little bit upstream and David headed downstream.  There are no great spots directly above Baptist Camp, and me not felling like going way up there, I decided to join David.

By the time I reached David he had already put a couple of stocker sized rainbows in his net and gently released them.  He caught several more before we left and I even managed to land one or two as well.

Typical Egg Pattern-
non-beaded
We used beaded egg
patterns to get deep in
the many deeper pools found
on the Current
We decided we would go down to our usual camping spot at Parker Hollow only to find it occupied.  We decided a nearly empty campground at Montauk State Park seemed like a good alternative.  We had gathered quite a bit of campwood for the fire down by Parker and it turned out to be plenty to get us through the weekend.

Saturday night was pretty chilly.  We pitched our one-man tents and built a fire to roast hot dogs before turning in for the night.  The one-man tents are nice because they are quick to set up and due to their small size, retain the body heat of the occupant.  Combined with our zero degree sleeping bags, we slept quite well.

The next morning we woke to 17 degree temperatures and a pretty steady breeze.  We knew it was supposed to warm to the fifties and the sun was out, so that made things seem a lot better.  We warmed water on the fire and ate oatmeal and then David was ready to hit the water.

I love fishing, but no one has the level of dedication to it that David does.  I took him down to the fly fishing portion of Montauk State Trout Park and turned him loose with the understanding we'd head somewhere else at noon.  I stayed in the truck until 10 am and then headed up towards where David had headed.

There is a boulder garden a little ways up the fly area and this is where he wanted to fish.  It turned out to be pretty heavily occupied so I found him fishing just down from there.

It had been a little while since we'd fished the park, and last year there were some pretty heavy floods that transformed the river in many places.  We had noticed this the previous day below Baptist Camp, where some of the holes that had held some big browns were either gone completely, or had changed quite a bit.

Anyway, at this part of the trout park, there had been a low-hanging tree just below the boulder garden riffle where I would drift a fly underneath and land a trout on almost every cast.  The tree was gone and it really made the area look different.  The fishing was still quite good.

David Mann fishing Current River
between Baptist Camp Access & Tan Vat
Access - January 2012
When I met up with David, we decided we'd kind of fish our way back to the truck, and then head back to Baptist and then fish our way up to the Tan Vat access. We caught and released quite a few fish on our way back down.

We actually got to Baptist Camp and started upstream around noon.  By this time the weather was outstanding, although a bit windy.  We stocked up on a supply of granola bars and water, grabbed our headlamps in case of an after dark return, and headed off.

One of the nice stretches of water on the
Current River between Baptist Camp
and Tan Vat - January 2012
This stretch of river is characterized by fairly long stretches of slow and shallow water broken up by some nice fishing riffles that empty into great fishing deep holes that hold some nice fish.

All the way up and as far as we got back downstream before it was too dark to fish, we stuck with egg patterns.  In reality, we could not solicit takes from the larger browns on these patterns, but the action was good enough on the smaller fish, we never switched to the nymph and streamer patterns that we typically do well on for these bigger fish.  It was just what we felt like doing this day.

Small Rock Dam just below Tan Vat Access
January 2012
There is some quite beautiful water and surroundings in this stretch.  There are small bluffs with small caves along the north bank of the river and on the south side there is somewhat of a trail that can be used in stretches you don't want to wade.
Tan Vat Access of the Current River - January 2012

David Mann fishing rock dam at
Tan Vat Access of Current River
January 2012
The entire stretch of river we waded, we encountered only two men that were floating from Tan Vat to  Parker Hollow.  I asked them how their float was going and they stated that they were spending much of their time dragging their canoe.  The stretch from Tan Vat to Baptist Camp is often a tough float, and at this time of year it is almost certain to be.  The floatable water improves greatly below Baptist Camp and gradually improves.  On a nice winter day, the Current is an outstanding floating destination if proper precautions are undertaken.

We arrived at Tan Vat at around 3 pm and fished here for awhile.  There was one couple we encountered here spin fishing, but that was it.  There were some cars parked in the lot so perhaps some folks were fishing the good spots upstream from the Tan Vat access.

We headed back downstream fishing casually, as we'd kind of satisfied our need to catch fish.  We enjoyed the scenery a bit more and did concentrate a bit more on the deeper holes where we's encountered some bigger fish on the way up.

Eventually the sun began to drop, and along with it the temperature.  We broke down our rods and took the trail back on the south side of the river.  We heard owls hooting and various critters scurrying away as we stumbled through the brush by now in the dark.  We got down to the access and managed to wade back across the river without a stumble.

David's Books he Brought Camping and Fishing-
  • Spanish Text (College Text)
  • Stars Upstream (Essay on Current River History and Experiences)
  • Walden
  • True Grit
Evening brought chili and fritos, one of our camping favorites.  That night was considerably warmer and we did not wake until the 8 am Montauk Park horn sounded the signal for the start of fishing.

We again had oatmeal and David got a last bit of fishing before our trip back to Mizzou.  I packed up camp and then retrieved him from the river.

These outdoor excursions, whether hunting, fishing, camping, or other are a restorative force for all of us.  David was returned to campus with a fresh and enthusiastic attitude after a great weekend of fishing.