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Justin92297

Wade Fishing At The Shut-Ins

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Speaking of slick rocks, I went to Silver Mines once a couple years ago, summertime, relatively low water, and just about killed myself on the slick rocks. What footwear are folks wearing in places like that ? I dont mean what brand, but are you doing felt or what ? I have tried regular soled waders, tennies, sandals, and it all seems to result in spectacular falls. Same result in places like that big bedrock-ish bottom at that gravel operation a bit above Leadwood on the Big River.

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Nothing I've ever found beats felt (and I'm going to be wearing it wherever it's legal), but even felt isn't magic. It just helps some.

Not only are the rocks slick on the St. Francis shut-ins, but the water is often just murky enough that you can't see where the best places to put your feet are. I try to look for spots to place my feet where there is a little bit of loose gravel, failing that, flat solid rock. Worst place to put a foot is sloping solid rock, guaranteed to give you a bad fall. Best thing you can do, though, is carry a wading staff. It ain't magic, either, but it sure helps.

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I fished it alot when i was younger. Better fishing on the upper end. We used craw cranks,small silver grubs,jig and frogs. We caught plenty of smallies,nothing giant but tons of fun. We would jump from rock to rock, wouldnt dare try that now. Wear good tennies and stay out of the moss if you can. Like they said, wait for some rain then go!!!! Be prepared its a long way back to the car. Food, phone, first aid, etc. Post your results, would love to hear. Would drive from stl down there all the time. Solitude city!!!!! Bring camera.

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I've fished the shut-ins from Millstream to Silver Mines quite a few times. Floated from Silver Mines to Hwy E once. I've had some good times, but very few. It's just not ideal smallmouth water, and I don't think the population is good. I've done much better just above Hwy E bridge, but this is pool water. You need a canoe, float tube or kayak to fish it properly. Big smallmouth hold around the large, mid-stream boulders with current.

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Yeah, unlike some rivers, it seems the farther downstream you go on the St. Francis the better the fishing gets. I've always found the upper areas around the shut-ins to be mediocre fishing. I believe that one problem is the geology itself. The upper river from Farmington down to about E Highway drains a lot of igneous rock areas and a lot of the Lamotte sandstone, and there aren't a lot of limestone and dolomite formations that produce chert gravel. So much of the bottom of the river is either solid rock or sand, and the solid igneous rock is highly infertile compared to the limestone and dolomite. Even as infertile as most Ozark streams are, dolomite and limestone cobbles and chert gravel produce a lot more bottom organisms that feed game fish than granite and sandstone does. When you couple that with the very low flows of the upper St. Francis in the summertime, which makes it a stream with trickles between nearly stagnant pools, it simply isn't real good habitat. Below E Highway, the river has more flow (it has picked up the flow of the Little St. Francis) and it has entered formations with more limestone and gravel.

On the other hand, you can get into some interesting fishing on the upper river for species other than bass. Every big pool usually holds a nice school of crappie, and there are a lot of channel catfish.

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I've fished Millstream Gardens for years and did well when the water was rising on tube jigs for smallies.  Even have caught a few large walleye out of the holes in early spring.  Very dangerous place for wading.  You will fall regardless of your footwear.  I refuse to fish here alone anymore since falling seems to happen often!  I've also witnessed the cottonmouths coming out in early spring and sunning on all the granite boulders.  I've never seen so many poisonous snakes in a two mile hike.  It makes a man watch where he puts his wet feet! 

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On 1/26/2015 at 2:26 PM, rFisherk said:

Sorry: I said just "above" the Hwy E bridge, but I meant to say just below. Actually, the good water goes for a mile or more below the bridge.

Hwy E (Cedar Bottom) to Dug Hill Bridge (Hwy C/N/Jewett) is excellent fishing.  However it is an ALL DAY float and a lot of work.  A friend and I did it once years ago in early August and I felt like I'd went the distance with Creed when we got to the truck.........  Pretty sure we caught fish that had rarely if ever seen baits.  We still talk about that trip occasionally, but neither of us have been back since.   At 22, the work was worth the reward.  At 44, I'm not so sure......... 

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