Jump to content
OzarkAnglers.Com Forum

Al Agnew

Fishing Buddy
  • Content Count

    6,089
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    17

Al Agnew last won the day on April 10 2018

Al Agnew had the most liked content!

5 Followers

About Al Agnew

  • Rank
    Smallmouth Bass Angler

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Male

Recent Profile Visitors

29,409 profile views
  1. My wife Mary is a wonderful woman. I told her I was going to float the river today, and she asked me where. Knowing that she would be the one to shuttle me, I said that I'd probably float the stretch that's the closest to our house so she wouldn't have to drive too far to pick me up. But she suggested I float my absolute favorite float, which I didn't do at all last year and usually only do once or maybe twice a year because it's a long float and a really long shuttle. I love that woman! So I was on the water at 7:30 AM for a float that's somewhere around 14 miles (because there aren't any convenient accesses in between). I usually float this stretch in the middle of the summer, when it's fairly low, and it usually takes 12-13 hours and I still have to paddle through some of the long, dead pools. Well, I knew it wasn't going to take that long this time. I'd told Mary to pick me up at 6:30 PM, and I could see pretty quickly that I could make it in that time frame, because the river was really moving. The first pool showed what the story would be--it's usually a very slow pool, but I was working just to slow myself down enough to fish. But I caught a 15 inch largemouth on a spinnerbait. I had tied on the spinnerbait on one rod, a topwater, a shallow running crankbait, and a deep running crankbait. The river was beautiful as far as visibility, about three feet, but I quickly established that the topwater was going to be tough to fish. I tried the crankbaits and caught a couple on them, but the spinnerbait was working best, and it was the most no-brainer lure to fish under those conditions anyway. I caught 12 bass in the first mile and a half, as usual a mixture of smallmouth, spotted, and largemouth, though only a couple of smallies. Then I reached a spot that really doesn't look like much, just a log along a low mud bank in 4 feet or so of water, but I've caught good fish there before, and this time the big smallmouth hit just as the lure came over the log. 18 inches; not a beast, but anything over 17 inches is worth mentioning, and an 18 incher deserved a picture. Not only that, but there was another one the same size following it around. After I netted it and released it, I tried to catch that other one with an HD Craw, but only got a nice 14 inch spotted bass. The fishing slowed. The next three miles I only caught about 10 more bass, though one of them was an 18 inch largemouth. And it seemed the smallies were the most inactive; I was catching mostly spots and largemouth. But then I put on a bigger spinnerbait with bigger blades, and bingo, I started catching more smallies. A 17 incher. A 17.5. Then I reached a long, rocky pool that was just lined with smallmouth. I got another 18, along with several other nice smallmouth. I was sorry to reach the end of that pool. I had just been fishing whatever I came to and pretty much letting the canoe drift with the current, just paddle strokes to keep it more or less parallel the banks. But now I slowed down and started fishing a little more carefully and thoroughly. I came to a short stretch of bank that always seems to hold a good fish, and sure enough, hooked one in the 18-19 inch class. It was a hot fish, leaping and swimming all over the river...and then it broke my line. There went that magical spinnerbait. I watched as it leaped three times trying to throw it. I hate it when I leave a lure in a fish. I went through a long stretch of fast, shallow water, catching small fish, mostly spotted bass. Came to a long, rocky pool, caught more small fish; not feeling real confident in my replacement spinnerbait. Fished it down one more good pool, with only a couple little ones. So I switched to a different one. The river split at a big island. Most of the water was going down the left, but the right had enough water to float, barely, and I'd never taken that channel. Near the lower end, it opened up into a short, fairly deep pool against a vertical mud bank. The other channel was coming over a shoal and sweeping along a huge log on the other side of this pool. It wasn't a spot that just shouted how good it was. But I quickly hooked a big one along the mud bank. 18 inches. Got it in, paddled to get into an eddy where I could take pictures without going downstream and messing up the rest of that 50 foot stretch of bank. Released the fish, got back into position, made another cast 10 feet farther along the bank, and hooked another big one. This one was the best fish of the day, a beautiful 19 incher. Got it in while paddling over toward the other side, got into another eddy, took pictures, released it, and made a cast along that big log. Three casts, three big fish. This one was "only" 17.5. Next cast to the log, a 15 inch spotted bass that had another big smallmouth following it around. I didn't get that one, but I got another 16 incher when I got back over to the mud bank. That was terrific little pool! I got back into the main current, went down the pool catching small to medium fish, then hooked and lost a huge spotted bass, looked to be at least 18 inches. Went through the riffle below, made a cast to a little eddy along the riffle...another big fish. This one was 18.5. I caught a 16.5 in the next pool, along with a few other decent fish. Then another 18 inch largemouth. I looked at the time...4:30 PM, and I still had nearly four miles to go. Checked my cell reception, good enough. Called Mary, asked if she could pick me up an hour later than planned, since I was having a terrific day. She agreed. I love that woman. Well, the fishing slowed after that. I hooked two more big fish and lost them. Caught several more 15-16 inchers. I had been keeping count of the fish I caught and wanted to reach 100. I made it with two fish to spare...37 smallmouth, 37 spotted bass, 28 largemouth. Eight smallies from 17-19 inches, plus two 18 inch largemouth. What a great day. Wind was a pain at times, and it was a bad pollen day and I could tell it. Stuff was coming off the trees and covering the surface in places and getting tangled in my spinnerbait now and then. But the bluebells are in full bloom, and I saw a big tom turkey on a gravel bar; it flew across the river in front of me. And I timed it just right. I'd just unloaded the canoe when Mary pulled up to pick me up. By the way, the pictures are on my phone and I'm too tired to download them now. May post them tomorrow.
  2. Yep, I think that may be the biggest smallmouth I've seen come from that stretch of river; I've caught a bunch of 20s but never a 21 incher there in all the years I've fished it.
  3. You're in my stomping grounds; too bad I'm not there now. Looks like you were fishing at the city park. The near channel used to carry most of the water in the river, but this past year it all but dried up. We'll see what happens when this spring's flood comes. Whitefish are pretty bad fried. You can make them palatable by carefully cutting out the dark red meat along the sides of the fillet. But that's the reason most people smoke them...you can make a boot taste good smoking it. I also found that if you soak the fillets in milk for a couple hours it improves the taste considerably. My wife still can't stand them, but I thought they were okay like that. The big ones WILL hit a streamer. Several good accesses for wading at the level the river is now. There is a walk-in access south on Highway 89, a couple miles north of the Emigrant intersection. I think the highway department is doing some work stabilizing the bank just north of that access, and it isn't obvious when you're buzzing up the highway at 70 mph, just a tiny pull-off and a small sign. But it gets you into some nice braids. You can also work your way up the bank a bit and get into some braids and reachable water from the Carter's Bridge access, or cross the bridge from the access and work your way downstream. There's also some opportunity from the Free River walk in access just south of town. And some good braids at the Sheep Mountain access downstream from town on Convict Grade Road...but I don't know if they've replaced the bridge on Convict Grade just east of Highway 89. You can even wade and fish around the island where the river is next to the Highway just south of town, where DePuys Spring Creek enters the river, though that spot gets pounded. It's still a great whitefish spot if nothing else.
  4. My brother Donnie does a lot of fishing, much of it as an amateur in the Pro-am curcuits. He loves river fishing, but except for weekends he just doesn't have much time to do it. I've been trying to get him in the canoe with me (or the jetboat) for a couple years since the last time we fished together. Finally got it done today. A line of thunderstorms that dumped nearly an inch of rain in 20 minutes came through last night, and today was a lot cooler than it has been lately--barely 40 degrees when we started out on my home river. We had a 9 mile float planned, and dropped off his truck at the private access where we were taking out, and headed for the put-in in my truck. Only to find the access closed! Our only choice was to add a couple miles to the float by putting in farther upstream. The fishing started out great. I caught a 14 inch smallmouth on my second cast, and Donnie caught a 12 inch largemouth on his first cast. And then reality set in...a fish now and then but far from fast action. And nothing big. The river had come up a few inches overnight but was still clear. But the wind was a lot tougher than I'd expected, since the forecast had said 10 mph winds. Donnie was fishing effectively from the front of the canoe, but I was working to keep us in position and didn't feel like I was doing much good. Given the length of the float, we were fishing fast-moving stuff, mostly spinnerbaits. Most of the fish were in fairly fast water and in eddies at the bottom of riffles. I tried topwater with no luck, and deep diving crankbaits with the same result. My shallow running crankbait caught a few. We were about halfway through the float when lightning struck. A huge smallmouth came out from under a rootwad and pounced upon Donnie's spinnerbait 10 feet from the canoe. "It's a good one...it's a big one...it's a REAL big one!" Yep, it turned out to be Donnie's personal best Ozark river smallmouth, a beast that was 21 inches and went 4 pounds 11 ounces! That was a bit of a signal that the fish were beginning to turn on, and for a couple hours the fishing got steadily better until along one rocky bank we were getting strikes on nearly every cast. But the day was quickly passing, and we still had a lot of miles to cover. So we had to speed up a bit, and the wind was blowing more strongly, so again we weren't fishing effectively. I called Donnie's second big one. We were fishing along a vertical mud bank that had produced a bunch of big fish for me over the years, and I told him that the sweet spot was a point that jutted out from the otherwise straight bank, and that there was always a big fish there. He made a good cast with the spinnerbait, and hooked a big largemouth, 19.5 inches and a bit over 4 pounds. I don't have anything much to report on my own fishing. I caught fish, but it was one of those days for me. Broke a couple off on the hookset before figuring out that the line was slipping into the gap between the spool and the housing of one of my reels, and nicking it. Missed a couple big ones. Another reel was malfunctioning. Snapped my last good spinnerbait off on a hard cast! Aarrggh!! But it was a gorgeous day (except for that wind)...warmed up nicely, bluebells carpeted the wooded bottoms and redbuds were in full bloom. I'm really glad I put Donnie on big fish, anyway!
  5. The Park Service closes the rivers when they reach what they consider an unsafe level. But once the upper Jacks Fork gets above 300 cfs, strainers and willow jungles become iffy. If you are an experienced paddler on fast water, you PROBABLY wouldn't have problems at that flow, but if you make a mistake it can be very dangerous.
  6. Mary was going to be gone from Thursday to tonight, so I had a choice to make...do I watch the NCAA tournament and overdose on basketball, or go fishing? I didn't make any real plans, just decided to go if the urge struck me. A couple months ago, after I'd gotten up at 5 AM to go play basketball from 6 to 7, with boat trailer already hooked up on the truck so that I could leave for the river right after basketball, Mary was telling her sister Tina what I was doing, and Tina said, "you know, it must be nice to have two things you are that passionate about." So really, although there is not much that would override my passion for fishing, this was basketball...but...I don't love watching basketball quite as much as I love playing. So when I woke up Friday morning, knowing it was going to be a nice day and the trolling motor batteries were already charged, I headed for the Meramec. This is usually the toughest time of the year for me to figure out the bass on the Meramec. They are leaving their wintering pools and heading for spawning areas, but they are so much in transition that sometimes it's hard to find them...or at least find some that are willing to bite. I headed up the river to a certain wintering pool, and then went right on by it to the next riffle upstream, which has a big slow eddy right up against the fast water. Sometimes, that kind of current seam seems to gather the moving fish. Sure enough, using a deep diving crankbait, I hooked a nice smallmouth on about the third cast. A couple casts later, another one. I ended up catching a half dozen there. Okay, got that figured out. But I was curious whether there were any fish left in the wintering pool, especially toward the lower end where I'd found a pile of them earlier in the year. A half hour and two small bass later, I concluded they were gone. So, find more eddies at the bottoms of riffles? I drifted downriver, fishing smaller eddies along good banks with some current, catching a few more small fish...and then a 17 inch male on the crankbait in one of those little areas. So I kept fishing down one more similar bank. Then I hooked a fish that felt much bigger. It came to the surface, and I was excited. This looked like my first 20 incher of the year. I played it carefully and lipped it...well, maybe not quite 20 inches, but it was a heavy, thick female. I put it on the ruler on the front of the boat...18 3/4th inches! Wow, I couldn't believe I'd misjudged the length of that fish so much. Still, it was a great smallie. But then...I KNEW I needed to replace my trolling motor batteries. They had gotten to where they were only putting out half the power they had when good, but that had been enough the last trip I made before spending five weeks in Montana, and I'd kinda forgot about their deterioration. They had supposedly charged up okay the night before. But by the time I caught the big fish, they were about done. A half hour later, I was done...no power. So I headed back to the ramp, and decided to spend the rest of the day working around our cabin on the river, where I'd spend the night. Saturday morning was just too nice. I had to get back on the river. So as soon as the local boat dealer opened at 8 AM, I was there buying trolling motor batteries. I put in at the nearest access to the cabin and headed upriver, hoping the crankbait bite would continue. First spot, two small bass. Second spot, nothing. I tried a couple of riffle bottom eddies. Nothing. Headed upriver as far as I wanted to fish back down, and stopped at a pool that usually produced both winter and summer bass. Two more dinks. The next pool downstream has one of the best riffle bottom eddies of any pool on this stretch. The riffle is fast and dumps into the pool at a near 90 degree angle, with a smallish but beautiful eddy that drops off into 12 feet of water abruptly. First cast with the crankbait--16 incher. Second cast--a heavier fish struck. After the bad guess the day before, I figured when I saw this one that it was probably 18 inches. But it was another heavy female, and this time when I put it on the ruler, it came to 19 inches. The eddy produced four more fish, each one a little smaller than the last, the last one barely 11 inches. I fished down the pool below, catching one more small fish. By that time, you could tell it was a spring Saturday...the jetboat motorheads were showing up, people buzzing up and down the river joyriding, and I was getting a little annoyed. It sure is nicer to fish during the week. I came to a marginal riffle bottom eddy, and caught a marginal fish from it. Next one didn't look as good, and didn't produce anything. I couldn't find any more that looked like they would hold fish. I caught two more little ones, and then it was 4 PM and I was ready to call it quits. But it was nice to get into a couple of good fish, anyway.
  7. Started out at 48, got up to 51.
  8. You got that right! Unless you know somebody, we've pretty much lost the opportunity to float the Mineral Fork and long stretches of Big River and Bourbeuse River. Any time a new bridge is built, the old access is usually lost.
  9. I won't pinpoint the access, but it was in Crawford County and downstream from Maramec Spring. Certainly some stretches of the Meramec have more 18 inch plus smallmouth than others, but I've caught plenty of them over the years in every part of the river from "too small to float" to "too big and muddy". (Or...from Short Bend to Route 66 State Park!)
  10. Today I fished upstream from the riffle bottom eddy where I'd caught the 19 incher last Saturday, and it was a very slow day, highlighted only by an 18 inch largemouth...until I decided to head downstream to that eddy before quitting for the day. The eddy has one other feature that I didn't discover until today. There is a big log lying deep enough that it is barely visible at this level and clarity. The log is one of those ancient logs that were long buried under the alluvium until erosion exposes them, and like many, this one is perpendicular to the current. I love these prehistoric logs, partly because they always seem to hold big fish, since they are perfect ambush points with the current sweeping under them, and usually against high, steep mud banks that hold the kind of crawdads that big smallies love. I only caught two fish from the eddy this time, but the first one came off that log, and it was a good fish. In fact, I wondered when I was playing it whether it was the same 19 incher I'd caught on Saturday. But no, it was "only" an 18 incher. So that one spot has produced a 16, a 19, and an 18 (so far).
  11. You would probably be okay putting in at the bridge if you don't have to leave a car there. It's not easy but at least it's all downhill! I'd just unload everything quickly and wave goodbye to the wife.
  12. Yep, the Blackfoot is probably your best bet, but if it happens to be blown out the Missouri is a great backup plan. For your information, some streams in Montana are flooded right now, but it looks like the Blackfoot is at normal levels.
  13. The MDC access is long gone. If you want to know why...when they bought it, they knew that the connection to the river from the parking lot was problematical--there was a little creek, deeply incised into the flood plain, between the parking lot and the river. There was no way to get past it. But adjoining the parking lot was a parcel of private land that had a lane going right down to the river at the mouth of the creek. So all you had to do was to go sideways out of the parking lot and immediately onto that little lane, and then in 30 feet or so you were at the river...except, you were technically trespassing on private property when you did that. I think MDC thought they could negotiate an easement or buy that little lane outright and solve their access problems. But apparently the guy wanted a LOT of money for it because he knew he had MDC over a barrel; he was their only choice. For a few years, everybody just used the lane with no problems, but I guess the landowner finally gave up on making a deal with MDC and told them to keep people off his property. So MDC shut it down. I have no idea whether they still own the land, but the parking lot is blocked off and there are posted signs all over the place. You used to be able to put in at the old bridge, though it wasn't particularly easy. But when they built the new bridge, they didn't make any provisions for parking along the gravel road coming into the Blackwell Road on the east side at that point like there had been before. So now it's a steep hill down to the river from the road and no good place to park. I've done that and parked a few tens of yards away on the side of the road, but I''m always uneasy about doing so, since I'm barely off the road and I expect the county to ticket me or something sooner or later. It's doable, barely...I've thought about just putting in there and then crossing the bridge and parking somewhere on the other side...there's a bit more of a choice in parking on the other side. But nobody seems to do it. So basically there is no good public access at Blackwell. I'm fortunate in having a landowner friend and having permission to use his put-in spot these days, but I doubt if he would be willing to let people he doesn't know use it.
  14. Mary was going to be gone from Thursday to tonight, so I had a choice to make...do I watch the NCAA tournament and overdose on basketball, or go fishing? I didn't make any real plans, just decided to go if the urge struck me. A couple months ago, after I'd gotten up at 5 AM to go play basketball from 6 to 7, with boat trailer already hooked up on the truck so that I could leave for the river right after basketball, Mary was telling her sister Tina what I was doing, and Tina said, "you know, it must be nice to have two things you are that passionate about." So really, although there is not much that would override my passion for fishing, this was basketball...but...I don't love watching basketball quite as much as I love playing. So when I woke up Friday morning, knowing it was going to be a nice day and the trolling motor batteries were already charged, I headed for the Meramec. This is usually the toughest time of the year for me to figure out the bass on the Meramec. They are leaving their wintering pools and heading for spawning areas, but they are so much in transition that sometimes it's hard to find them...or at least find some that are willing to bite. I headed up the river to a certain wintering pool, and then went right on by it to the next riffle upstream, which has a big slow eddy right up against the fast water. Sometimes, that kind of current seam seems to gather the moving fish. Sure enough, using a deep diving crankbait, I hooked a nice smallmouth on about the third cast. A couple casts later, another one. I ended up catching a half dozen there. Okay, got that figured out. But I was curious whether there were any fish left in the wintering pool, especially toward the lower end where I'd found a pile of them earlier in the year. A half hour and two small bass later, I concluded they were gone. So, find more eddies at the bottoms of riffles? I drifted downriver, fishing smaller eddies along good banks with some current, catching a few more small fish...and then a 17 inch male on the crankbait in one of those little areas. So I kept fishing down one more similar bank. Then I hooked a fish that felt much bigger. It came to the surface, and I was excited. This looked like my first 20 incher of the year. I played it carefully and lipped it...well, maybe not quite 20 inches, but it was a heavy, thick female. I put it on the ruler on the front of the boat...18 3/4th inches! Wow, I couldn't believe I'd misjudged the length of that fish so much. Still, it was a great smallie. But then...I KNEW I needed to replace my trolling motor batteries. They had gotten to where they were only putting out half the power they had when good, but that had been enough the last trip I made before spending five weeks in Montana, and I'd kinda forgot about their deterioration. They had supposedly charged up okay the night before. But by the time I caught the big fish, they were about done. A half hour later, I was done...no power. So I headed back to the ramp, and decided to spend the rest of the day working around our cabin on the river, where I'd spend the night. Saturday morning was just too nice. I had to get back on the river. So as soon as the local boat dealer opened at 8 AM, I was there buying trolling motor batteries. I put in at the nearest access to the cabin and headed upriver, hoping the crankbait bite would continue. First spot, two small bass. Second spot, nothing. I tried a couple of riffle bottom eddies. Nothing. Headed upriver as far as I wanted to fish back down, and stopped at a pool that usually produced both winter and summer bass. Two more dinks. The next pool downstream has one of the best riffle bottom eddies of any pool on this stretch. The riffle is fast and dumps into the pool at a near 90 degree angle, with a smallish but beautiful eddy that drops off into 12 feet of water abruptly. First cast with the crankbait--16 incher. Second cast--a heavier fish struck. After the bad guess the day before, I figured when I saw this one that it was probably 18 inches. But it was another heavy female, and this time when I put it on the ruler, it came to 19 inches. The eddy produced four more fish, each one a little smaller than the last, the last one barely 11 inches. I fished down the pool below, catching one more small fish. By that time, you could tell it was a spring Saturday...the jetboat motorheads were showing up, people buzzing up and down the river joyriding, and I was getting a little annoyed. It sure is nicer to fish during the week. I came to a marginal riffle bottom eddy, and caught a marginal fish from it. Next one didn't look as good, and didn't produce anything. I couldn't find any more that looked like they would hold fish. I caught two more little ones, and then it was 4 PM and I was ready to call it quits. But it was nice to get into a couple of good fish, anyway. This post has been promoted to an article
  15. I'm not familiar with the Polson area, but I know the Flathead is not one of the best rivers in the state. Ovando is near the Blackfoot and Little Blackfoot, both excellent fishing in some stretches, and that fly shop should be able to steer you to some good wade fishing. You will also be at least passing through the Craig and Wolf Creek area on the Missouri, which is some of the best fly fishing in Montana. While the Missouri is pretty big water, it is wadeable in places and the fish are everywhere. You will need to pack for cold weather and mild weather both...it can be snowing and well below freezing in early April, but also can get up into the 50s and 60s. Theoretically that's before the snow melt starts so the rivers should be in good shape, but a lot of Montana has had a LOT of snow this year, and I know the snow is still on the ground right now even in low elevations in many places. A sudden warm up in the next week could melt all that snow and blow everything out but the Missouri--as a tailwater river it is almost always fishable. I keep the weather for Livingston, where we live part of the year, on my phone, and it looks like it's not going to be all that warm between now and then, and not even all that warm during the week you'll be there...mostly highs in the 40s. But there's a good chance of more snow this coming week, and then rain the next week, which could still melt the snow some. So I'd have a plan to fish the Missouri if the other streams get muddy--it doesn't take a whole lot of melting to dump some mud into the "natural" rivers this time of year. I'm not sure what advice to give you on boots or shoes...if your wading boots are felt-soled and there is snow on the ground yet, felt is terrible in snow. If you have non-felt soles for Missouri (Montana allows felt still), they might do better. Pack basic nymphs like Hare's Ears, Princes, Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns, etc. but plan on buying a few nymphs on location...there are some nymphs that do well on the Missouri that you won't find many places other than fly shops in the area. Most people go small on the Missouri, like #16-22. But on some of the streams that may not be as clear, #12-14 can be better. Wooly Buggers or other streamers if the water is a bit murky or it's a dark day. You can have excellent dry fly fishing in early April, especially blue winged olive and midge hatches...I wouldn't be without a supply of Griffith's Gnats in early April.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.