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Al Agnew

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Got back to Missouri from a month in Montana over the weekend, and though I had things to do both Monday and yesterday, I got out for a couple hours yesterday afternoon.  I drove to one of my favorite small wading creeks, a half hour or a bit more away from the house.  The spot where I accessed the creek was a low water bridge that happened to be the spot where I caught my first ever smallmouth, back when I was maybe 6 or 7 years old.  Though the bridge has been replaced a couple times since that day nearly 60 years ago, it's still a nice spot to get on the creek.

Last summer, this creek was magic.  I fished it once in early summer and caught a pile of smallies, including a couple that were pushing 19 inches, which was bigger than I'd ever caught on this small creek, on a marathon wade that covered a full day and more than four miles one way up the creek.  I went again a little later with a guy visiting from Oregon, and the fish were still there, though he didn't catch any...I kept catching nice fish as I fished behind him.  So I was really curious how the fishing would be this year, since this creek tends to hold a lot more fish some years than others.

The first pool above the bridge is short, no more than thigh deep at most, and has little cover except a big log half buried in the gravel near the tail.  There were no fish on the log, but a 17 incher engulfed my topwater lure over next to the bank just upstream.  Then a spooked one the same size off the shallow bank where I was wading; I looked to see if it had been on a bed but there was no bed there.  I had a couple follows near the head of the pool, and then as I waded up to the riffle I spooked a couple more decent fish.  Okay, I thought, looks like last year's fish are still here.

And then I fished the next mile of creek without seeing but one 14 inch smallie, which followed my lure in.  I switched lures a couple times with no change.  Where were all the fish?

There's a pool about a mile up the creek, where you can drive a car right to the water's edge, so it's a popular swimming hole in the hot summer.  But for some reason it seems to always hold a couple of nice fish.  I figured if I didn't catch anything there I'd definitely call it quits.

Kabloosh!  A very nice smallmouth attacked the walk the dog lure on my second cast into the pool.  16 inches, not bad.  Then the next cast, SWOOSH!  This one was bigger, another 17 incher, very scarred and with worn fins, but fat.  A couple casts later, another strike, but I missed this one.  Okay, I'll fish two more pools.

The next pool was shallow, but it produced the biggest smallmouth of the day, an absolutely gorgeous 18 incher.  I thought about snapping a picture with my cell phone, because this fish was very richly colored, with bright red eyes, perfect fins, and no missing scales, totally unlike the last one.  But I was afraid it might be in spawning mode, and decided it was better to release it immediately.

Next pool upstream was deeper...but no fish.  I decided I'd gone far enough, and planned to fish a bit below the bridge when I got back down to it.  I watched a couple eagles as I made my way back down along the extensive gravel bars. I fished that pool where I'd had the one follow...and caught that 14 incher.  But when I got to the bridge, a large family was swimming in the plunge pool below it.  I decided to call it a day.  Not exactly as I had it planned, only five fish caught, but who cares when they are that kind of quality.

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Yesterday, the day before the season opens and the slaughter begins, I went back to this creek to fish downstream from the bridge.  Forecast was for thunderstorms starting about 1 PM, so I got on the water by about 8:30 AM and planned to stop fishing and hike back upstream around 12:30 PM.  Fishing started out a bit slow...I caught a 13 incher in the plunge pool below the low water bridge, and then went about 20 minutes and two pools before catching a 15 incher.  After that, I caught fish fairly slowly but steadily for more than an hour, until I got to one of the longest, slowest pools in this stretch.  I fished the upper end of it along the deeper bank and caught only a small largemouth, then saw a 20 inch class smallie and two more in the 16-18 inch range swim past me coming from the middle of the channel.  Fished down the upper half of the pool with only a couple small ones until I reached a nice downed tree that furnished about the most cover in the entire pool.  There I got savage topwater strikes from three different fish, landing two of them, both 16 inchers.  Fished on down catching several more fish in that same pool, and from then on I was catching fish just about every pool that was deep enough to hold them.  All on topwater, all the bigger fish were just savage.  I caught one 16 incher that was lying in a little rockpile--the remains of an attempt at bank stabilization that got bypassed by the creek; the present bank is 30 feet away and eating into a bottom field.  It wasn't any more than a foot deep around the rocks, and I'd made a cast to the bank and played the lure out toward the rocks, which were only about 10 feet from where I was standing.  When the lure got within about 6 feet of the rocks, this smallie just lanced out of that shallow water and crushed it.  

I didn't catch any over 16 inches, but ended up with almost 40, and probably 75% of them were between 13 and 16 inches.  Fishing was so good I just kept going, farther downstream than I'd ever waded.  Then I noticed the clouds gathering.  Looked at the time...12:45.  Looked like the weather forecast was going to be correct.  And I was 4 miles down the creek.  I had come to a long pool backed up from what I knew was a private low water bridge.  I thought I might hike the road back up to my truck...still better than 3 miles by road, but easier walking.  Then, as I approached the bridge, still fishing, a guy came out onto it on an ATV.  He watched me catch a 15 incher just above the bridge, and shouted, "Beautiful!"  Well, at least he apparently wasn't going to jump all over me for being on his creek.  I climbed up onto the bridge and started talking to him, and he asked me how far I'd come.  I told him I'd started at the bridge upstream.  He was amazed that I'd fished that far.  I said, "Yeah, gotta admit I'm not looking forward to the hike back."  "Well, I'll take you back," he said.  Wow, I was very quick to agree to THAT!  Perfect ending to a great morning of fishing.

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I can't believe it.  Finally find the almost perfect wet wading shoes, and they discontinue them!  I was going to order several more pairs, even planned to order in a bigger size and use them for wading boots over my waders for places where felt is banned.  Now I gotta do some research to find out if any of the other Five Ten products will work.  Arrgghh!!!

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10 hours ago, Al Agnew said:

I can't believe it.  Finally find the almost perfect wet wading shoes, and they discontinue them!  I was going to order several more pairs, even planned to order in a bigger size and use them for wading boots over my waders for places where felt is banned.  Now I gotta do some research to find out if any of the other Five Ten products will work.  Arrgghh!!!

I guess I will have to try to snag a pair somewhere before they are all gone. 

In your experience, does the size match your regular shoes or is it bigger/smaller?

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On 5/27/2018 at 4:05 PM, Al Agnew said:

Yeah, it's a long way between good pools on several of the creeks I fish, so you gotta cover some water to get to fish enough good water.  Good core exercise.  Really loving my 5-10 Water Tennies...best wading shoes I've ever had.

Agreed Al....no doubt those are some great waders

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