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Ham and Folly Multi-species Current River Trip - July 2020

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A four year reprise of where it started.

At 7:30 am on July 10th, I met up with @Ham again at the Eminence boat ramp on the Jacks Fork river. It had been nearly four years since we first met and fished this area. Again this time I had come down from Columbia and Ham up from Flippin to see what we could catch. We did discuss our targets for the day.

Trip Goals:

Catch 15 different fish species between the two of us.

Catch a total of 3 new lifelist species between the two of us.

Catch 5 new fish for our annual species total

Catch 50 total fish for Waldo

The first catching happened right at the boat ramp on the Jack Fork. We both had micro gear and were casting to the schools of bleeding shiners, chubs, stonerollers, etc. Ham was fishing a microjig with a tandem fly and I was fishing a #22 with a piece of worm. Ham caught the first fish of the day, a bleeding shiner, then another. Then bigeye and striped shiners.

Ham Bleeding shiner - 10Jul20.jpg

Bigeye shiner - 10Jul20.jpg

it would make life so much easier if fish realized that we just want a photo and we will let them go soon after that, but they sometimes just don't cooperate.

uncooperative shiner.jpg

So Ham is getting the species total and numbers going while I'm still sitting on zero. Had my chances, but lost a couple. Then I finally got on the board with a longear sunfish.

Longear - Jacks Fork 10 Jul20.jpg

Then a couple of bleeding shiners. Ham had moved upstream to the other ramp. As I was heading his way a bunch of darters caught my eye. Had to stop and try for them since I have not seen many in MD and have not caught one in 2020. Played with them and caught two. Ham also caught this guy and I had to play my role as COD - Crusher of Dreams and id'ed it as a rainbow darter.

Ham RBW Darter - 10Jul20.jpgHam CP RBWD - 10Jul20.jpg

Still a new species for the year for both of us and another on the board. We had to pull ourselves away from the Jacks Fork and head to the Two River access on the Current. I had tow primary lifer targets in mind for this trip, a current darter and skipjack herring. I would obsess about the skipjack, but more on that later.

We pulled into a large side pool and tried for pickerel, shadow bass, and smallies. We threw some jerkbaits for pickerel with no success. Ham caught shadows and smallies in this hole.

Ham Shadow bass - 10Jul20.jpg

Ham Smallmouth - 10Jul20.jpg

I caught my first smallmouth bass of the year on an olive Rapala X-Rap that I was throwing for the pickerel. Only about 7 to 8 inches in length, but it will "click" ;). I followed that up with my first shadow bass of the year as well caught on a 1/8 oz Tri-olive Zig Jig.

Shadow bass - Current River - 10Jul20.jpg

At the head of the pool Ham had a skipjack follow his jig as he was winding it in. I put on a small silver spoon and the quest began. I got it to follow once, but no bites. Tried many casts for another but none showed up. This will become a recurring theme throughout the day. We moved spots and ran up the Jacks Fork. Could see many new fish, but caught a couple more smallmouth and shadow bass drifting back downstream. Then onto the next spot and the next. In one of the big pools that we fished, the drum would taunt Ham. I have caught a drum this year so I was more focused on what fish were around the logs and root wads in the pool, like whitetail shiners. I caught a shadow bass but could not get the shiners to play. The drum were frustrating Ham as well. Ham will have to correct me, but I thought that we caught the first bluegill of the day in that hole. After that hole we went further downstream. Caught a few striped shiners and more bluegill in a woody creek coming into the river. My first striped shiner in that area hit the X-rap that I was using again for pickerel! We moved on to fish along a bank with boulders and rock to look for sculpin. Saw a logperch, but not for long. Ham caught the first green sunfish of the trip and had a drum go towards his jig. After that he was targeting the drum while I was focused on the darters amongst the rocks. Again mostly rainbows, but there was one greenside darter that I just could not keep a bait in front of while the boat was moving in the water. Ham did the impossible and finally hooked and we landed the first drum on a jig!

Ham Drum - 10Jul20.jpg 

He came back to try for the greenside darter, but no success. We tried a little creek to look for current darters. Again lots of bleeding shiners and other micros. I actually saw a 5 inch rainbow trout and had it bite my microgear but missed getting a hookset. Ham caught a northern studfish and I caught a blackspotted topminnow to continue to add to the species totals for the day.

Blackspotted Topminnow - Current River 10Jul20.jpg

I went up into the creek and saw a groups o minnow with orange tinted fins. They looked like bluntnose minnows to me. They were spooky, but I did get one to bite and got it in the bag for photos.

Possible hybrid - Current River 10Jul20.jpg

The blackspot at the tail as well as the lateral stripe led me to believe that this was a bluntnose minnow, but it just didn't look right. I ultimately ended up looking over a few different species and again none really looked like this fish. I contacted a friend and he responded that he believes that this fish is a common hybrid in that area with a parental lineage of an Ozark minnow and hornyhead chub. Not sure how those seemingly different species would be able to hybridize, but this fish does have characters of both of those species. So who knows. We did count it as a different "species" for the day. I called Ham over to try for these fish as well, but the few that I had seen had left the area. Then the darters from hell showed up. We just got into a bunch of greenside darters including a couple of males in breeding colors. Ham has not caught one before and he did most of the fishing for them. Many just would not play or were in positions where you couldn't get a bait to easily enough to get a bite. So nothing there either :angry:.

We went to a few more spots and creeks, but never did really find any current darters. I had my chances at a few skipjacks. I had one bite a PET No 1 spoon and missed getting it hooked. I tried silver in-line spinners that just didn't go fast enough to trigger a bite. My next possible successful attempt was using a PET spoon tied to the white/gray Zig Jig. One skipjack actually hit both the spoon and the jig on a retrieve and did not get hooked. I never did land one and spent a lot of productive fishing time trying for those guys, which limited Ham's ability to catch more species himself.

We did have an encounter with Cujo, I mean Emma, which at one point I thought she might have tried to jump into the boat.

We did stop in one hole just to abuse sunfish for a while. That was fun. All in all it was a good day, albeit quite hot.


So how did we do on our goals?

Catch 15 different fish species between the two of us. - we only caught a total of 13:mellow:

Bleeding shiner, bigeye shiner, Northern studfish, striped shiner, smallmouth bass, shadow bass, rainbow darter, hybrid minnow, longear sunfish, bluegill sunfish, green sunfish, drum, and blackspotted topminnow -

Catch a total of 3 new lifelist species between the two of us. - neither of us caught a new lifer :mellow:

0 - had chances at greenside darters, the hybrid minnow, and skipjack herring

Catch 5 new fish in total for our annual species total - :)

I caught my first bleeding shiner, striped shiner, blackspotted topminnow, smallmouth bass, shadow bass, and rainbow darter of the year

Ham caught his first bleeding shiner, rainbow darter, and drum of the year

Catch 50 total fish for Waldo  - :)

In total we caught well over 70 fish on the day.

It's always a great time getting together with Ham. Can't wait to do it again.


Rainbow Darter - Current River 10Jul20.jpg

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1 hour ago, snagged in outlet 3 said:

Nice @Ham and @Johnsfolly!  Were there many people on the river?

We only saw a couple of boats on the Current. When we got back to the Jacks Fork access it looked like a pool party with folks everywhere. Sunbathing on the boat ramp, floating in innertubes, etc.

One surprise was the small size of the smallmouth that we had caught.

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I freaking love fishing with John and it was a really fun trip, but if you set enough silly goals for yourself, you can get snippy when they don't happen.

I'm pretty surprised John did not mention the biting flys which really became an issue the last few hours of the trip. They took almost all the fun out of it.

We had to pass up a lot of productive water. John and I need three day trips and then we still complain bitterly about just not having enough time. I really wanted to get John that Skipjack, but they are just crazy fish. I am Glad John got the Shadow Bass done. 

The Most aggravating part of coming up short on the 15 species is that we should have caught LMB pretty easily and we had our chances. We put enough baits in the right areas and should have caught a Chain Pickerel pretty easily, but John is CP repellant. those two would have gotten us to 15.

The Greensides were right there for the taking, but darters are my bane. And the RBT and Logperch that were seen briefly. Common carp were seen often. I saw a big catfish cruising around. 

The river was at 2.35 or so which was great for running the shoals. I was pretty surprised at the limited boats on the water and the unlimited number of campers in that heat. 

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The catfisherpersons on the rivers up here use Daiichi sabiki rigs for skipjack and they work quite well from what I have seen.  They may not be sporting, but I tossed one around below Bagnell just to try it and caught some of everything.


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2 hours ago, nomolites said:

The catfisherpersons on the rivers up here use Daiichi sabiki rigs for skipjack and they work quite well from what I have seen.  They may not be sporting, but I tossed one around below Bagnell just to try it and caught some of everything.


Where its legal throwing a Sabiki is a great way to catch herring and lots of other small fish species. Like @Ham no problem throwing one.

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1 hour ago, Ham said:

@Johnsfolly Tell these Good ppl how many species you’ve caught this year.

I'm  up to 50 different species so far this year. Six were new species.

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