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Devan S.

Blue Ribbon Trout Slam Quest

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Figured now that I am closing in on completing the blue ribbon slam that I would post up some notes from along the way. We only had one goal in this quest and that was to catch at least a trout in each stream and then move on. If we liked a stream enough we could always come back later. 

First up was Crane creek. This is the closest stream to us being in SWMO so it was a quick trip back on May 7th. It was an afternoon trip and a drizzle of rain. Our big issue here was that we got mixed up and wasted about an hour exploring a small feeder ditch that flows in across from the ball fields. We had serious concerns here because we weren't seeing any fish in this ditch until we stumbled all the way down to where it runs into Crane. From there we moved around and parked at the ball fields and caught our fish on grey jigs thrown on spinning rods. 

Our big takeaway here was that we needed to plan and scout much better. We wasted more time a drainage ditch than we did actually catching fish. crane rainbow.jpg

I'll definitely be back to Crane.....more to come.

 

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Day 2(May 23)- Crane went so well that we figured with some good recon we could maybe get Blue springs, Mill Creek, Little Piney, and Spring Creek in one long day. OR so we thought. We rolled out at 3:30am on our way to BSC. 

We started at the access right off N highway. Buddy went upstream and I went down. I had nearly made it to the Blue Spring creek conservation pull off with the bridge when I ran into people that were fishing in front of me. I hadn't seen a fish yet so I headed back upstream and caught up with my fishing buddy at the low water bridge on N highway. There's a pretty good hole right below the bridge and he was fishing there. I rolled up and hooked a rainbow right off the bat on a jig. We continued fishing the hole but never had another bite(I am positive there is more fish there).

 BSC.jpg

Honestly at this point the pressure was building to keep on schedule but we still were operating as no man left behind. We had been here about 3 or 4 hours with 1 fish and hadn't seen many. 
We thought moving down towards the Meramec would give some larger water with better holes so we took off that way.....which was a bad call on a Saturday. We ran into the Blue Spring Ranch crowd and it was thick. We wasted about another hour before we drive directly back to the bridge hole to try and catch another fish there. We fished about 30 minutes and basically said we moving on and my buddy said lets just see whats upstream of the bridge. We crossed over and in the 200ft. long riffle above the bridge he caught a small rainbow just making random casts. Pressure relieved......Probably will never go back here honestly unless I was in the area...it just doesn't fit my fishing likes.

Mill Creek-Headed to Bohigian Conservation Area off CR 7550. We started at the bridge at CR1576 and headed up. Buddy ends up catching a small 6-8" fish within the first 150 yards behind a stump which immediately puts pressure on me to make up time. I hooked several fish in deeper runs and holes but was really struggling to land something. Finally I pulled one out of a big brush pile on a corner. Both fish were caught on wooleys with fly rods.

Mill Creek.jpg 

Pressure relieved and we only spent about 2 hours here. Nice little stream and if I was in the area I would go back. Off to Little Piney.

Little Piney- It was late afternoon and we knew we had a 3 hour drive home so we had effectively eliminated Spring Creek as an option. Lane Springs was closed so we went below the Highway 63 bridge only to discover the water in that run was fast and deep. (We hadn't checked the USGS gage but hindsight said it was something like 350cfs and the concrete structure really channelizes that location). In addition, the water we well over wader depth so we only had one hole to fish. My buddy lucked into a very small 4-5" rainbow fairly quick. I tried and tried and couldn't even get a bite. We pulled up and headed to what be believe is called Vida Slab bridge by the locals. We were greeted with quite the party going on and again deep enough water we struggled to wade. I hooked several fish but couldn't bring anything to the net. At this point, we bailed and headed home with me being behind a stream. We still had to come back for Spring Creek so we weren't terrible concerned about going out of our way again. 

We also learned waders are hot even if they leak so we ditched them going forward. 

 

More to come......

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Day 3 May 31- Plan here was Barren Fork, Current, and then hope to run back to Spring and Little Piney. We didn't know it starting out but today was going to be hard and miserable....Barren Fork up first. Roll out at 3:30am, arrive at about 7:30 am at County Road A-D pull off. Note: no waders this time and morning water is really cold. We worked all the way down to the private property sign without seeing a fish and were totally perplexed. Really struggled to even find water I like to fish. Pools and deep holes and deep runs zilch...nada....nothing. Late Morning we bail out and decide to head down CC and start at the confluence with sinking creek and work up. Note 2: nettles sting in shorts and crocs. 

We fished upstream until we ran into a house(which we would realize later was private property). We did see a couple fish but boy were they spooky for 2 lumbering gorillas splashing through the water. Again not much of habitat like I like to fish, buddy managed to hook 2 fish below a small waterfall below a bluff line. I botch the landing on one fish and broke him off in the process. The other fish pulled loose. At this point its mid-afternoon, we're wondering what we have gotten into. Its hot and miserable and we're not catching fish. We bail out. Buddy decides his fish counts as its my fault breaking the line. 

Current River- We arrive late and know we don't have a lot of time. Start at the end of Montauk and hoping at this point to just salvage 7-8 hours of driving and actually land a fish. At this point, I swim through a hole and get my phone wet......bad choice but good news we catch fish. I hooked a stocker brown and shortly after he catches a nice rainbow. I realize both are probably stockers and this is a "blue ribbon challenge" but we met the requirements. Also I have never been to the current and will be back so someday I'll catch a real stream bred bow. River is beautiful and I really like Montauk much different layout compared to Roaring River. 

Current Brown.jpg

Inthenet.jpg

Current walk.jpg

 

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Day 4 June 13- Day 3 was miserable and did not go as planned. In fact other than Crane/Mill, none had gone as quick/easy as we thought they would. I was behind by 2 streams. I had been given a pass that we could stay the overnight if it was needed. Plan was to hit Spring Creek first to get my buddy to Silver, then since we were in the area I would try to finish off Little Piney. Barren Fork was in the plan but we agreed we would re-consider after Spring/Little Piney. USGS told me Little Piney was lower than last time. Our stretch goal was to get down to NFOW or 11 pt. and try to get one of them early Sunday morning. We knew they were high but with zero first hand knowledge we thought maybe we could find somewhere to luck into fish. 

Wheels up at 3am to arrive at Spring around 7:30am. Head down CR6410 to a forestry service road. Head downstream....Immediately find a deeper run into a brush pile. I like this. RIght after the brush pile the river turns....deep run against a bluff and finishes in a deep hole. Awesome. Water is a little dirty. Awesome. First cast...break off my wooley in the trees. Not Awesome. Go to tie on and realize I forgot my fly box in the car. Not Awesome. Still have my box of jigs. Toss on a heavy one. Grey/Red. First cast and strip and see the flash and rod doubles over. Fish on. 

Spring Creek.jpg

Spring Creek Bow.jpg

I am really happy with this fish. It played out like I wanted. Feels good to call your shot more or less. Buddy comes up. I said let this hole calm back down. He fishes through with a wooley. Switches to a bright pink San Juan and basically pulls off the exact same drift and again boom. Fish on. His fish jumped probably 5 or 6 times several feet out of the water and was basically the same size as mine. 

Off to Little Piney by 8:30am......Thinking the water is lower and I liked the run below the 63 bridge we go there first. Throw a jig a few times...nothing. Then fish start hitting on top. Tossed out a small midge and immediately have my Little Piney done.

 Little Piney.jpg

It happened so fast I threw back and caught another on my second cast. Gave my rod over to my buddy and he caught one too all cookie cutter fish. Just like that we're off. 

Barren Fork-The plan here was to start at the lower end and work up to the little waterfall and catch one fish and bail. Unfortunately the water was lower than last time, and we didn't see any fish working up to the water fall. Pull out the map and find a low water bridge. Fish the deep hole behind it....nothing. @Johnsfolly had posted about a hike into the middle section where he caught a good fish so even though it was 1 pm we decided to try. We parked off the side of the road near the bottom of the middle section and bailed off the hillside. I am glad I brought along tennis shoes and jeans for this. Got to the bottom and immediately saw fish and much better habitat. First deep hole at the bottom of a run and I was done with Barren Fork. 

Low water bridge

Bridge.jpg

Walking down the road

Walking.jpg

Fish

BF Bow.jpg

Honestly it happened so fast we didn't want to hike back up and out. So we fished another 20 or so minutes and my buddy caught a fish and got his picture so he didn't have to blame me anymore for not having a picture of a Barren Fork fish. Note-This hike out is straight up hill. We managed to find an old 4 wheeler trail which eliminated a lot of bush wacking but its still rough. 

At this point, were both tied at Silver and headed to the 11 pt. far sooner than expected. 

Eleven Point- We arrive at Greer Crossing with a lot of excitement. Current, NFOW, and 11pt. have been on our list of streams to float so we're doing some recon. We find immediately the water is high(we knew going in it was higher than normal). We had hoped we could find a gravel bar we could maybe fish a couple hundred yards but we couldn't find anything. Didn't take long for us to bail on 11 pt. and NFOW. We will come back later during lower water and probably float the Blue Ribbon sections. 

 

 

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@Devan S. great posts! Congrats on overcoming the not so successful trips and sticking it out to get those streambred trout! If it were really easy more folks would get it done. You got the hard ones out of the way for sure. A couple of well timed floats (water depending) and you should have your slam!

Good luck!

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Great post Devan S.

Also wanted to mention that those neoprene waders are great in the winter but unbearable in the warmer months. Get a pair of breathable waders and you will be much more comfortable. 

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My Neoprene's are cheap/junk. Until this year they get used once....maybe twice a year. Early white bass.....use to use them to wade and retrieve ducks in ponds. No more. They leak bad.....I would say they are more like a wet suit than waders....

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Glad you are having fun. Hike to Greer Spring when you do the 11pt, also hike up from the CG at Greer to the confluence. Stay at Sunburst for your NFOW trip. Brian & Stephanie Bade own it now. Both good with a fly rod, ask them about what is working. You may not need to leave their property. 

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