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darbwa

Best Multi-day Float/Fish Trip?

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Not sure of the best spot to post this question.  This looks as good as any.  I only get one (2 if I'm lucky) good float trip every year and I usually spend as much time planning and preparing for it as I do on the trip itself.  So, in preparation for next year... Where would you go (river and section) for a 3 or 4-day canoe/fishing/camping trip that focused on smallmouth and why?  What if your focus was on any fishing or a combo of fish?

I always post about my annual trips here on this forum.  My post for last week's float down the Jack's Fork and Current should be ready to post by tomorrow I hope.  Thanks in advance for your feedback!

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Gasconade would be my choice.  Could do Riddle Bridge to Jerome in a hard fishing slow floating 4 day or Paddle the slow parts and make it a 3 day. 

We've done a 2 day from Riddle to Boiling Springs a couple times and it’s a great stretch for smallmouth, goggle eye and even some largemouth.  

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Gasconade as well. There is a new CG about 20 miles above Riddle Bridge. Ruby’s Landing is the name. There to Boiling Springs should be about 35 miles. Big Piney from east gate to the gasconade would work too.

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I have to say I am a bit surprised by the unanimous (although an unimpressive 2 of 2) Gasconade nomination.  I have never been on the Gasconade, but from what little I have read, I imagined it to be a bit slow and boring in terms of canoeing and scenery.  I also thought of it more of a powerboating river which, again, would make the canoeing much less enjoyable.  Are your recommendations more based on the fishing potential or am I off in my admittedly ignorant assessment of the river?

The Jacks Fork/Current and the Buffalo have proven to be nice rivers for multi day floats while the Kings and Elk rivers have been my single day fishing spots.  I have many rivers to cross off my list yet!

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Boats pretty much go away above the Big Piney River, so if you float the stretch that Gavin mentioned you wouldn't have to deal with many if any.  The bluffs and scenery, at least from Riddle to Boiling Springs, is rather spectacular.  The  bluff at Portuguese Point is one of the tallest and most scenic places on the river.  Below Boiling Springs the river does get a little more froggy with long slow pools and that is maybe what you are reading about.

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2 hours ago, darbwa said:

I have to say I am a bit surprised by the unanimous (although an unimpressive 2 of 2) Gasconade nomination.  I have never been on the Gasconade, but from what little I have read, I imagined it to be a bit slow and boring in terms of canoeing and scenery.  I also thought of it more of a powerboating river which, again, would make the canoeing much less enjoyable.  Are your recommendations more based on the fishing potential or am I off in my admittedly ignorant assessment of the river?

The Jacks Fork/Current and the Buffalo have proven to be nice rivers for multi day floats while the Kings and Elk rivers have been my single day fishing spots.  I have many rivers to cross off my list yet!

I would second the buffalo but sounds like you've already done it. Kings can be done multi-day too its a haul and sometimes getting the water level right can be tricky but definitely do-able.

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Have you done the lower Buffalo? Rush to the White River is a 2 night 3 day float in decent water conditions or go up one more access to Buffalo Point to add a day or you can camp near the mouth of the White River. We did really well in the last two miles and you could easjly paddle upstream to hit it two days in a row. 

The smallmouth fishing is probably a notch below the Gasconade but the setting (scenery, seclusion, etc.) is second to none. There are BIG fish there. We saw several big mommas on beds that we decided to leave alone last May. 

Even if you have been on the Buffalo, something about that last 25 miles is just special with the quiet seclusion. Even on a late May weekend we only saw about ten groups in three days. It would probably be almost 0 during the week. 

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Hmm...a lot depends upon what exactly you're looking for, and whether or not you need some canoe rental place for canoes or shuttle.  It also depends upon how much water you want to cover.  Personally, when I think of 3-4 day floats, I'm thinking 30-40 miles.   And you do have to decide which is most important...multi-species availability, scenery, solitude, lack of jetboats?

Because just about every major float stream, and a lot of smaller ones, in the Ozarks has enough floatable water for three or four days.  If you want to push the envelope a bit and do some of the smaller creeks in lower water levels, where you will have to drag and scrape over some of the riffles, your choices expand even more.

Here are some off the wall suggestions, though...

1.  Niangua River ABOVE Bennett Spring--there is a lot of water above the spring, something like 30 miles that is at least somewhat floatable even during the summer.  If you wanted you could extend it or start a little lower and include the trout section.  Of course, you could also do Bennett Spring to Lake Niangua and get the best of both worlds as well.  Just pick gravel bars that don't have roads or houses within sight, since lower Niangua landowners are notorious for harassing camping floaters at times.

2.  Gasconade River far above the stretches the others have mentioned.  Scenery isn't as good, but solitude abounds and the fishing is good for both smallmouth and largemouth, as well as the other usual suspects.  There is a LOT of water, with decent access, on the upper Gasconade...nearly 75 miles above Hazelgreen.

3.  St. Francis River--mostly a do-it-yourself float...you might possibly get the canoe rental place at Sam A. Baker Park to shuttle you far upstream, I don't know.  But Highway C-N bridge to Baker Park is a wonderful, if a little short for three or four days, float where you'll catch all three kinds of bass and probably have the river pretty much to yourself.  Or if you're adventurous, put in farther upstream at the Highway E bridge, where you'll be in the granite country of the St. Francois Mountains at least for the first day, with a couple of interesting rapids and some spectacular and different scenery.

4.  Upper Black River--if you can get somebody to shuttle you from Lesterville to the upper end of Clearwater Lake, that's a great three day float on the clearest water in the Ozarks (or at least ONE of the clearest stretches), with good smallmouth fishing, pleasant and wild-looking scenery (not much agriculture in the valley), and huge gravel bars everywhere.  Just don't do it over a summer weekend, because you'll be overrun with ATV idiots totally disregarding the law against riding in the river.

5.  North Fork--you can put in up at Topaz and have at least two or three days of smallmouth fishing before getting into the trout water.  Then just decide how far down into the trout water you want to go.  Blair Bridge is a nice take-out for that float.  Upper North Fork isn't floated all that much and is pretty nice as far as scenery.

6.  Bryant Creek--there are 40 some odd miles of somewhat floatable water, with several access possibilities for short three day floats to long 4 day trips.  Pick your poison.  Nice scenery though not quite on a par with the North Fork, water level can be iffy at times, but fishing is good and it doesn't see all that many floaters.

7.Beaver Creek--another one with over 40 miles of floatable water.  I've done Brownbranch to Kissee Mills in three days in the middle of the summer, with enough water to float.  It gets skinnier above there but is doable.  Nice scenery, good fishing.

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