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I always like it when someone I'm going to fish with wants to go to Maramec Spring. Unless it is winter season, I will go to great lengths not to fish in the spring branch, mind you. The spring is so manicured and crowded, and I always end up too frustrated with the crowds to really enjoy myself.

But I love going there for one reason that has nothing to do with the trout park: the Meramec River. It's unique because you can wade directly upstream for smallmouth bass, and downstream for trout. Both fisheries are good, neither great. The proximity of the two is what's special for me.

So, in short, today was a good day. I started out upstream from the spring branch. Smallies were on my mind from the moment I left home, and I couldn't get that Rebel Craw tied on fast enough. The first few fish were longear sunfish, aggressive as they are pretty and small. It actually took 20 minutes (rather a long time on this usually friendly stretch of water) to hook into my first smallmouth, and that was a little one, about 8-9 inches. But it wasn't long until I got into a rhythm and started catching fish. The trick today was to let the crankbait drift on the surface for a few seconds with a twitch or two before the retrieve began. Rarely was there a good take on the surface, but it would usually come almost the second I started the retrieve. This is a little tactic that I'm probably going to apply a good bit more in the future. The fish were in all the usual places, but in the hot sun anything with shade had an added emphasis.

After I caught as many smallmouth as I felt I needed to, it was time to see if I could bring a trout or two to net. No need to change lures, or switch to the fly rod. Just not in the mood today. The rebel craw hooked plenty of trout in the river below the spring branch, a couple being increasingly the hard to find brown trout. Those are becoming a bit too much of a rare treat on the Meramec, but I enjoyed catching and releasing them today. Compared to the stocked rainbows, they are just so beautiful and hard-fighting. Not much different from the smallies just upriver, really.

So that's it. No pictures, no big fish. I caught one brown and one smallie that each went about 14", but that was the best of it. But still, a great day, fishing a couple of distinct fisheries in one pretty short stretch of river.

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Yeah it does sound sweet and brings back memories

Many years ago I used to fish that same stretch. But I would usually park at the park and fish the opening siren for a limit of trout then hit the river heading upstream and down like you describe. Getting a limit at the open was normally about a 20 minute deal if that and then it was on to the river.

Like you say too I always thought of the smallmouth and Brown trout being very similar. Unlike the rainbow, the Brown prefers to hang near cover and will dart out to attack a bait like a smallie. And I would normally use the same baits for both and the baits would be big. Husky Jerkbaits and Rogues, or big floating Rapalas. With Browns especially, bigger baits would get bigger fish. I even caught them on buzz baits before while fishing for smallmouth below the spring.

Again this was many years ago and it sounds like there were more trout then. Sorry to hear it seems to be in such a decline.

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MDC stocking schedule is all screwed up for the red ribbon section of the Meramec. I remember the biologist recently saying that they stock the browns in late spring for the intended purpose that is when recreational river use is the highest, and therefore would offer the most enjoyment for those anglers. They gave up on the river as a Put-Grow-And-Take fishery. Now its managed as a Put and Immediate-Take fishery. By the time heat of summer arrives, the water is too warm in all but the first half mile where the spring branch enters. And that area gets hammered and poached pretty good.

If they did a stocking in late fall or early winter, when water temps have cooled back down and when pressure has eased -- those elusive browns might actually have a chance (at least for a few months) methinks.

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It was a fun time.

I'm just not sure the Meramec has what it takes to be much of a trout fishery below Dry Fork. Sure, you can catch fish, especially fall-spring, but I would never call it a destination. The water is just too warm in the summer.

But that 1/2 to 3/4 mile from the spring to Dry Fork has good fishing and not as many people as you think, at least to the degree where you can have a few pools to yourself. Plenty of rainbows all of the time, though mostly drab, stocked rainbows that are fresh from the park. I like fishing it, even if it's nothing special. That said, while I usually find rainbow, this is the first time I've caught browns in awhile.

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I enjoy the river for the same reason. If I want to fish for the day and not do a round trip to Montauk in one day. When fishing Montauk I head out of the park also. I believe the Current gets more pressure and I've had good luck with the Browns this year. I would assume that I've been when a recent stocking was. I did manage one at 16" on a 5 wt. Remember there are no fish in the river.

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