Al Agnew

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Al Agnew last won the day on April 5

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About Al Agnew

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    Smallmouth Bass Angler

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  1. Interesting...I didn't fish much above Harper's, doing mostly handling the canoe for my buddy to fly fish. He caught very little. I started fishing about at the bridge a mile above Harper's, and actually had a lot of action between Harper's and HV. Still didn't fish all that seriously because my buddy in the front of the boat was kinda blocking off the kind of long casts you need to make when the Huzzah is clear. But I probably caught a couple dozen between Harper's and HV.
  2. There are several big pools above Rymers. Most of them can be waded at lower water levels, since they are bordered by gravel bars. Downstream, there's a long run of fairly shallow water and then you come to the big pool at the Bunker Hill Teachers' Resort. It's wadeable, and there is a long stretch of fairly wadeable water below it. Your problem will be water level. It's easy wading at less than 150 cfs, but not so sure about 250-300 cfs. Buck Hollow is somewhat wadeable at lower water levels, but there are pools both upstream and downstream that are somewhat deep bank to bank. I'm not sure I'd want to depend upon reaching a lot of water by wading at 250 cfs or more there, either. Actually, upstream from Alley may be the easiest wading. Lots of shallow water and big gravel bars, but there are still fish in that stretch. Of course, I haven't been on it since the flooding, so things could have changed some.
  3. Aarrgghh!!! Looks like I may have to drive with Mary to Portland OR and back, so I'm probably gonna miss the next week and a half of fishing. She had a "friend" who had planned for a year to drive with her to this big convention out there, and at the last minute looks like the friend is gonna back out...too late to even get a decent airline ticket. So I may be elected to be the driver. I don't mind because Mary spent a lot of time over the years driving with me to art shows, so I owe her, but I was really planning on doing some serious fishing while she was gone.
  4. Yep, I well remember the Fenwick rods being the top of the line. Back then, the handle was totally separate from the blank, and the blank had a ferrule on the butt end that fit into the female portion on the handle assembly. I remember when pistol grip handles first appeared, and my pride and joy rod-wise was a rod I had made from a Fenwick blank, carboloy guides, on a handle with a varnished wooden pistol grip! I also remember my first graphite rod, another one I made myself. The thing was like a pool cue, but it was light in weight and I tried to make it work for crankbaits--without much success. Back in the days of the direct drive reels, that Shakespeare Sportscast I pictured above, my first casting reel, was on a 4.5 ft. solid glass St. Croix rod, and I thought it was the bomb. Heck, after learning to cast with that set-up, every other rod and reel I got was easy! I wish I still had that rod. My first spinning reel, which I also no longer have, was an Abu-Garcia 314. The 314, unlike the 308 and 408, had a round gear box instead of an oval one, so it didn't look quite as cool, but it was a sweet reel. I paired it with a Garcia Conolon rod that was a very pretty sky blue color, and absolutely loved it. After replacing a couple of bail springs in that reel, I read about cutting the bail off and decided to go for it. It was absolutely perfect with the bail cut off, fitting my hand so well that I could operate it without the bail without thinking about it. It convinced me that cutting the bail off was the only way to go, so when I got a 408, I immediately cut the bail off that brand new reel. Unfortunately, I never noticed that the bail rotated the opposite direction in the 408. Instead of the bail roller coming around as you began to reel and naturally taking the line off your index finger, it came around the other way and pushed the line farther up your finger! So it didn't work at all without the bail. That was an expensive lesson. But I used that 314 until the Zebco Cardinals first came out, and then switched to them. Those original Cardinals were state of the art, for sure. The first really smooth reels, and practically indestructible. Reeling one felt like silk--even brand new, the Garcias felt like egg-beaters.
  5. The political pressures that moved the damsite made sense at the time. The farther downstream you go on the Meramec, the more developed and more valuable the land along the river is. The Meramec Park damsite was about as far upstream as you could go and still have a large enough dam to make a difference, and about as far downstream as you could go without getting into land that was too expensive. And while I agree that "it would've been nice" to have reservoirs that close to St. Louis, I'm another that was and is unalterably opposed to damming these three rivers. Yeah, on weekends the middle Meramec can be a zoo. Go during the week or in the offseason and it's still pretty much the way OTF described. In fact, in my experience, the Current and Jacks Fork are far more likely to be crowded on weekdays than the Meramec. To put it simply, I've floated pretty much every piece of floatable water in the Ozarks, and the middle Meramec is as high quality as any and higher quality than most.
  6. Glad you had a good trip. I really love the Courtois and Huzzah. The only thing they lack is a lot of high, impressive bluffs, which the upper Jacks Fork has in spades, and they do have a lot more alluvial bottomland along them, with some of it having been misused in the past. They are going to be tricky to paddle for a while with all the new downed trees.
  7. With all the changes to the rivers with the big floods, there are still a whole lot of spots that never seem to change, other than minor depth changes, and it seems to me that the more stable a piece of water is, the more likely it is to hold fish after a flood. Or any other time, for that matter.
  8. Seriously...if I'm using spinning tackle I'm using Power Pro. But, there's no way I can say it's the BEST braided line, because I haven't tried many others. There may be better braids out there, but PP works just fine for me. However...I'm at the point now where I almost never use spinning tackle, period.
  9. My buddy and I floated from the John Coleman bridge to Huzzah Valley on Thursday. I figured Cory and company at HV would have scouted the creek between Harper's Slab and HV and cleared any bad blockages, but was curious to see the creek upstream from where they usually run floats. Lots and lots of new downed trees, making many stretches obstacle courses, but surprisingly few real blockages. We came to only four spots where we had to get out of the canoe, and only one where we actually had to drag it for 20 yards across a gravel bar to get around the downed tree. On another, I was able to push and pull it through the smaller branches of the tree, and the two others had sneak routes, little channels that were too shallow to paddle but made for easier dragging. However, once the creek goes down another few inches those channels will be dry. However, if you're not an experienced canoe/kayak paddler, there are other places where you probably need to be prudent and walk it around. There were several other places in fast water and sharp bends where you could easily come to grief. And that includes at least one place between Harper's and HV. Lots of changes, and many of them for the worse. One formerly good pool was almost completely filled in. A couple others had shallow gravel deltas filling the upper portions. On the other hand, a couple of pools had deepened considerably, all the way down to bedrock or to large rocks where it had formerly been gravel.
  10. Good idea to do the scouting and post this. We really ought to have anybody who floats any stream section after the floods report on what they encountered. To that end, I'll post my trip on the Huzzah.
  11. Didn't you know? I decided that Power Pro wasn't any good
  12. I don't know which is worse...not getting many fish to bite, or losing every big fish you hook. That's where I am right now. Floated a nice Ozark smallmouth creek Thursday. Got plenty of strikes, caught enough little ones, but hooked a solid 20 incher, got it right up to the canoe, and it made one last leap and threw the lure. Friday, waded a trout stream full of wild rainbows. Caught plenty of fish, including an 18 incher, but lost one that was well over 20 inches. And then there was the smallmouth I lost a few weeks back that was the biggest one I've had hooked in several years. In fact, although I've hooked a number of smallmouth in the last year that I'm pretty sure were over 20 inches, it's been way too long since I actually was able to touch a 20 incher. It's beginning to get ridiculous.
  13. Old? That ain't old. This is a little older:When I was a kid back in the 1960s, one of my dad's fishing buddies still used them. This one is on an old steel casting rod. Dad started me on casting reels when I was about 8 or 9 years old. He had been using these up until just a couple years before he started teaching me to fish for bass:They are Langleys. Direct drive, very small and lightweight reels, were about as good as it got for a while. Then Dad and his fishing buddies started using these:They are all Shakespeares. On top right is the most famous of them, the President. But Dad and his cronies didn't like it...too heavy. On top right is Shakespeare's first free spool reel, the Free Spool Sportscast. The free spool button is in the center of the handles. It was okay, but after they used it for a while they switched to Ambassadeur 5000s. The bottom two were the gold standard of direct drive reels as far as they were concerned. On the bottom right is the Sportscast Direct Drive, my first casting reel, the one I learned to cast with. It was a sweet reel that could easily cast 3/8th ounce lures, and could handle quarter ounce lures once you got really good with your thumb. On the bottom left, the absolute top of the line, the Presidential. It was a very light, very fast reel that could cast light lures with ease. But then the Ambassadeurs got popular, and we mainly switched to them:Top right is a 5000 with the original handles. But by the 1970s the oversized handles were the rage on the young tournament scene, and the other two have aftermarket oversized handles. The 5000 was so popular that finally Garcia started producing variations. The bottom left two are Ambassadeur 2500 Cs, a much smaller, though hardly lighter, reel. It came with the counterbalanced single handle like the one in the middle, but I soon decided I liked two handles much better...I was always trying to grip the counterweight, so I switched out handles on the one on the far lower left. Then the 5000 D, the reel on lower right, came out. It was a free spool reel but with a direct drive feature. There was no positive anti-reverse, instead you loosened or tightened a drag. Tighten it all the way down and the reel was essentially a winch that had no drag. Loosen it, and the handles turned backwards as a fish ran with your lure. I loved it for winter walleye fishing, because I could loosen it almost all the way, and when I had a reel propped on a stick, baited with a live minnow, and a walleye would pick it up, it could run with the bait with little resistance, and the handles would turn backwards, but if I was fishing in strong current, I could set it to where the current would not pull out line but a fish could. Sweet reel, but was VERY slow, something like 3.4 to 1 gear ratio. It wasn't until the Shimano Bantams appeared on the scene that we started switching over from the various Ambassadeurs:Top three are original Bantam Mags, a terrific reel for the times. Lower left is one of their cheaper variations that Shimano produced for the American market once the Bantams got so popular, a Coriolis. Big, clunky, slow reel. Finally, on lower right, the old green Curado, still probably the best reel for the money Shimano ever produced.
  14. Yep, though I hate seeing people kill non-venomous snakes, and venomous ones out in the wild, I don't blame you a bit for dispatching that one in that situation. It's not like copperheads are a rare species.
  15. If the fry survive the flood on a river, they should do well afterwards, but surviving the flood is the key. I just saw Thursday that there are still a lot of smallmouth on beds in the stream I floated, so hopefully they'll produce enough late fry to keep that year class intact. Lakes are different, in that the flooding shouldn't affect fry survival. The brown trout on Current River might see a big growth spurt eating all the hatchery rainbows that got washed into the river.