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Al Agnew

Best laid plans...or I'm really tired of rain

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Mary and I were sitting in the hot tub this morning when she asked me what the weather was going to be.  I'd watched the long range forecast all last week, and it kept saying that this week there was a good chance of thunderstorms every day, so I'd kinda stopped looking.  I pulled up the weather on the phone, and it looked like no rain today until late this evening.  "Dang," I said, "I oughta go fishing."  Mary said she had a lot of stuff going on today but she'd be done by 5:30 or so and could come and pick me up if I wanted to float Big River.  So I took her up on it, and planned a good day's float with her picking me up at 6:30, figuring that I'd get off the river well before the rain.

Then I happened to look at the river gauges.  There had been a rise of about a foot up at the Irondale gauge, but it hadn't gotten down to where I was going to float.  I told her I was headed for the river, but there was a chance it might be too muddy to fish if that rise had made it down that far.

When I got to the river at the put-in, it looked like the rise was just getting there, but the water clarity was still okay, about 2.5 feet of visibility.  I'd rather it be clearer this time of year, but in the past I'd always loved that clarity on the Big for fishing crankbaits.

It was after 9:30 AM by the time I got on the water, and this was a bit longer float than I'd like for 9 hours.  Plus, I wasn't sure how well I was going to handle it; a couple weeks ago I tore a tendon in my left elbow, and since I cast left-handed, I was a bit afraid that I was going to be hurting after a while.  I thought I could paddle okay, but it was possible I'd be doing as much drifting and paddling as fishing.

I quickly found that I could make backhanded casts okay, but the only way I could make a forehand cast was to tuck my elbow against my ribs and use just my wrist.  But it was working okay.  And as I expected, paddling was no problem because you can easily lock your elbows in paddling.  I do most of my one-handed correction and positioning strokes with my right arm, so I was handling the solo canoe just fine.  

The first pool always produces a fish or two, but I fished down the length of it without a strike, using my homemade crankbait.  I thought that wasn't a good sign.  Then at the very bottom of the pool, I made a cast into a little pocket in the water willows, right up against the bank, and caught a nice 14 inch largemouth.  Maybe things were going to be okay.  Then I fished the next two pools with only a couple small spotted bass to show for it.  Not good.  By the time I'd covered the first couple of miles, from which I'd expect to catch 15 or so at least on a decent day, I'd caught 6.  None were very big.  I'd tried spinnerbaits and topwaters besides the crank, and none of them were working any better than the rest.

I passed a guy in a kayak, throwing a cast net.  Well, maybe that was part of the problem...maybe he was catching my fish.  Maybe it would get better after I passed him.

Nope.  The fishing remained slow, although I finally caught an 18 inch largemouth on the crankbait.  I was fishing carefully, making a lot of short casts in the murky water.  The arm wasn't perfect but I was doing okay, though not as accurate as I usually am.  The fish just weren't cooperating.  I caught a couple nice spotted bass, 15 inchers, and one more largemouth about the same size.  The smallmouth were all small, and not many of them.

When I stopped for lunch, I realized that I was well behind schedule, but I kept fishing the water thoroughly afterwards.  A couple more hours passed, and two things happened almost at once.  I sudenly realized I had well over six miles to go and only 3 hours of so to get there, and I was going to have to pick up the pace considerably.  And then...I heard the first rumble of thunder.  Surely it was a jet.  Very distant, very faint.  I grabbed my phone and checked the radar. All of Missouri west of me had been clear when I'd checked it this morning, the closest rain, other than a few showers in the St. Louis area, being out around Topeka, Kansas.  But now there was a big glop of thunderstorms about one county away and headed my way.  Dang it.  I put the radar forecast in motion, and it looked like the storms would reach me around 6 PM.  It was 3:30 PM.  Now not only was I going to have to cover more than 6 more miles, but I was also going to get stormed on before I reached the take-out.  But I had a back-up plan.  I texted Mary and told her it would be good if she could pick me up at 5:30 at an access that was only a couple miles downstream.  She was busy and couldn't answer me right away, so I kept fishing.  A half hour passed.  There was a bit louder rumble of thunder.  I glanced back upstream, to the west.  Dark clouds were gathering.  Then Mary texted me back, and said she couldn't pick me up until at least 6 PM.  It was obvious the storm was going to hit me a LOT sooner than that.  So, back-up plan number two...I called my brother to see if he could pick me up at another access, just a half mile downstream.  He didn't answer.  Things weren't looking good.  I kept fishing.  Then he called me back and I told him my problem. 

"Yep," he said.  "It looks like you're gonna get dumped on in a bout 15 minutes.  I'll be there as soon as I can."  

I quit fishing and paddled the last half mile.  Took me 10 minutes.  The sky was dark, the wind was picking up, and the thunder was a lot louder.  I got to the access, which requires a long walk up the embankment to the road.  I dragged the canoe up it.  My brother wasn't there yet.  The sky was black.  The first drops hit me, and I could see a squall approaching.  Would Donnie get there in time?

Nope.  A sold sheet of rain hit me, carried on a gust of wind that almost scooted the canoe out into the road.  I'd brought a raincoat, and had put it on, but no rain pants.  The upwind side of my shorts was soaked instantly.  In five minutes there were two inches of water in the canoe.  Then my brother arrived at the height of the storm.  We got the canoe loaded, both of us soaked as we climbed into his truck to go back to the put-in and pick up mine.

Did I say I'm tired of rain? 

So...I ended up with about 40 bass, with only the few decent spotted bass and the one good largemouth.  My fly fishing buddy out in Montana and I have come up with terminology for describing the fish we catch.  If it's 12 inches or a bit more, it's a "nice-un".  15 inches or so, it's a "good-un".  18 inches or better, "big-un".  So one big-un, and maybe three "good-uns".  That is not very good for this stretch, maybe a bit below average on numbers and well below average on size.  Oh well, it was a nice day anyway...until it wasn't.   

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7 minutes ago, Al Agnew said:

Mary and I were sitting in the hot tub this morning when she asked me what the weather was going to be.

I ain't here to make any assumptions...but if me and sugarbritches get in a hot tub and she starts discussing the weather, that might be a sign that I am a bit too relaxed.   😁 

On a more serious note, yeah I'm pretty tired of this rain.  I don't think we've had 6 straight days without some significant precip all Summer long.    Ground water (spring flow) shouldn't be an issue for quite some time.

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I had the same success Saturday.  Water only came up a foot but it was muddy with flotsam floating everywhere.  The only upside was nobody on the river.  The weather guy this morning said if we don't get another drop of rain the rest of the year we would still finish above normal for the year.  And right now we are more than a foot above normal. 

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I’ve only turned my sprinkler system on for about a week so far this year, it’s already turned back off. I probably could’ve gotten by with not turning it on at all. This is the first year that has happened that I can remember.

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I know this rain sure did a number on the Gasconade. It was starting to get low and clear up and now it's 6-7' high and chocolate milk and dropping hard. Looks like my hopes of getting in some low, clear water fall fishing is lost again this year.

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29 minutes ago, Seth said:

I know this rain sure did a number on the Gasconade. It was starting to get low and clear up and now it's 6-7' high and chocolate milk and dropping hard. Looks like my hopes of getting in some low, clear water fall fishing is lost again this year.

Tailwater trout is all we got now!!!

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7 hours ago, fishinwrench said:

You're just stuck on a species. 

White bass and hybrids absolutely love high & off-colored water.  😊

Oh smallies love it too. In fact, that is when the biggest fish of the warm weather season are caught is when the river is 5-6' high and mud. I can catch fish in the high, dirty stuff but it's not the way I prefer to fish.

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