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Dead Ozark River Water: Why Is It Dead?

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Table rock lake is a massive stretch of frogwater, and they catch nice smallies there all the time.

Yep, 67 square miles of frog water.

Yesterday the brother and I broke into our usual routine of fishing heads and tails. We always start working pools from where the riffle is just deep enough to hold a ten incher or pockets behind rocks and logs all the way through to where the pool tails into the next riffle. As is typical this time of year once we got far enough down a hole that the current didn’t create eddies or seams the fish stopped coming. We found a few under logs and in chunk rocks but it was hardly worth the effort. No doubt my lack of angling prowess accounts for much of my lack of success in slow pools, maybe I just get bored fishing frog water.

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bluegill and crappie spawn is negatively affected by high water flows often associated with ozark streams. They may find some sloughs or backwaters and occasionally wash out of ponds so there are some but not usually enough to target.

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Actively feeding fish often sit the current areas. Oxygen levels better. Baitfish abundant. This time of year

This is spot on. When you float clear water streams, it is those long, deep, slow bends in the river that you will float over the top of some of the largest bass you'll see. Unless you make long casts from downstream though, you're unlikely to hook one though.

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Not all long pools are equal. On a river like the middle Gasconade, where by late summer the volume of flow isn't much and the pools are long and wide, it truly is almost dead water with little or no current. Sure you can fish those mile long pools, and if you're really lucky you might catch a nice largemouth in the middle of one, but you'll do a lot of casting and spend a lot of time for usually not much return. On the other hand, a long pool on Current River, with the volume it always flows, will still have noticeable current, and will be more worth fishing. On the Bourbeuse, those long, dead pools actually stratify, with hot water on the surface and cooler water below, and they don't have real good dissolved oxygen levels. No such problem on the middle Meramec.

The other thing to keep in mind is that in the summer (and even to some extent in the winter) fish that are lying deep in the big pools are almost never active fish, because their food isn't in that deep water. Fish move to the areas that are shallower and have current because that's where the majority of their food is.

So I won't fish the long, dead pools on the Gasconade, the Bourbeuse, Big, St. Francis...rivers that have low flows and long, wide, pools. I will fish the long pools on higher volume rivers.

As for fish besides bass, on some rivers you CAN find crappie in the long pools. The St. Francis is one of those. If you're specifically targeting crappie, just hit the long pools and look for brushy cover. There seems to be a school of crappie in each pool, but they seem to move around from one piece of cover to another. You can often find them somewhere in the pool, but you'll have to fish each piece of cover to do so.

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That was one thing I found hard to do when we fished the Current from 2 rivers to Powder mill last year. There was so much wide good looking areas to fish that it couldn't all be fished with the rate the water was flowing. It wasn't like the Meramec or the smaller streams where you know one side of the river is where the fish are going to be, the whole Current on both sides of the swifter pools looked like it could hold fish.

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Deep slow pools that are 100-200 yards long often have a "hump" in the middle of them that extends out from the inside mud bank (similar to a point in a lake). Usually it is silt or leaf covered and home to tons of aquatic insects, crawdads and leeches. The downside is that it is hard to approach without spooking any fish that are patrolling it.

If you have a rocky bluffy bank on the opposite side you'll usually have a 25 yard (or so) sweet spot in the immediate area of that mid-pool hump.

Wood cover on the mudbank side of a slow pool is usually worthless to everything except turtles and ducks. Herons don't even like it.

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Not all long pools are equal. On a river like the middle Gasconade, where by late summer the volume of flow isn't much and the pools are long and wide, it truly is almost dead water with little or no current. Sure you can fish those mile long pools, and if you're really lucky you might catch a nice largemouth in the middle of one, but you'll do a lot of casting and spend a lot of time for usually not much return. On the other hand, a long pool on Current River, with the volume it always flows, will still have noticeable current, and will be more worth fishing. On the Bourbeuse, those long, dead pools actually stratify, with hot water on the surface and cooler water below, and they don't have real good dissolved oxygen levels. No such problem on the middle Meramec.

The other thing to keep in mind is that in the summer (and even to some extent in the winter) fish that are lying deep in the big pools are almost never active fish, because their food isn't in that deep water. Fish move to the areas that are shallower and have current because that's where the majority of their food is.

So I won't fish the long, dead pools on the Gasconade, the Bourbeuse, Big, St. Francis...rivers that have low flows and long, wide, pools. I will fish the long pools on higher volume rivers.

As for fish besides bass, on some rivers you CAN find crappie in the long pools. The St. Francis is one of those. If you're specifically targeting crappie, just hit the long pools and look for brushy cover. There seems to be a school of crappie in each pool, but they seem to move around from one piece of cover to another. You can often find them somewhere in the pool, but you'll have to fish each piece of cover to do so.

Go ahead and paddle through those long deep pools, just means I won't have to contend with enticing sore lipped smallmouth to bite my lure. I believe their dinner table is close to their lair.

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bluegill and crappie spawn is negatively affected by high water flows often associated with ozark streams. They may find some sloughs or backwaters and occasionally wash out of ponds so there are some but not usually enough to target.

Now that makes a lot of since.

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