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Bourbeuse Report


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I got out again today on the float from Reikers Ford to Mayers Landing. This time I was a little better prepared- I stocked up with some tackle on the way there-and ready for a great day of floating the Bourbeuse River. The river was a little up and slightly more murky than usual, but it wasn't bad at all. If I had to guess I'd say there was a foot to a foot and a half of visibiliy, with the water getting more muddy further downstream. But I digress. The float was absolutely beautiful today. This stretch of river is surprisingly scenic, and pretty secluded too. And what's more, on this float unlike last time I actually got into some bass. It wasn't great, and it did take me a while to start getting fish, but the bite was decent enough to keep things interesting. Yes, this stretch of river is certainly suffering from the spotted bass, but there are still some smallies in there too, and I am happy to say that I managed to catch a few of those, . The best lure for me today was a Rebel Craw (big surprise.) They were also biting on 1/4 ounce white spinnerbaits, plastic worms, and a silver and black popper (thanks to those on here who suggested the spinnerbaits and poppers.) I experimented quite a bit today. I found fish in all water types from the fastest riffles to the slow, almost dead pools, but not surprisingly the stretches with some steady current were best especially for the smallies-but it didn't have to be much. It can be done much more quickly, but I decided to pretty much take the whole day for the float, starting at about 10:30 A.M. and getting to the takeout at 8:30. It was a great day. I am really starting to fall in love with this float and the Bourbeuse River in general. All the things that I used to dislike about the river (the long, slow pools, the off color to muddy water, etc) are beginning to seem like advantages. It makes the river seem "undesirable" and keeps people away. The river sure isn't for everyone but it can be really nice if you go into it with an open mind.

The biggest fish of the day- a freshwater drum in somewhere around the 13-15 inch range that just slammed the Rebel Craw. I thought I had big old smallmouth for a second until I saw it. Oh well, it fought hard anyway and was an interesting surprise. I also got into a few of the longear sunfish and once again they were strikingly beautiful.

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JoeD, I can only say that anyone who wants to stay away from the Bourbeuse because it's not good enough has my blessing.

SIU, I believe there is one canoe rental/shuttle service on the Bourbeuse called Devils Back Canoe Rental. I have always arranged my own shuttles, so I don't know much about them, or what stretches of river they service.

Finally, Coldwater, despite the fact that I did catch some drum and spotted bass, I will say that the slight majority of the bass caught were honest to goodness smallmouth. That may be largely due to the fact that I concentrated a lot of my effort on smallmouth habitat (riffles, rocky areas, bluff holes, etc) as opposed to the dead, slow pools. The smallmouth weren't big (the biggest was probably just under 13") but at least they were natives. I know it's better further upstream but this shuttle is easy to arrange and it's one of the closest to where I live.

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Guest P. owensby

Nice going, sounds like fun! One good thing about the Bourbeuse with all the SLOW water, it sure is easy to paddle upstream and get to the limited "sweet spots".

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One good thing about the Bourbeuse with all the SLOW water, it sure is easy to paddle upstream and get to the limited "sweet spots".

Absolutely. It is very nice being able to hit the good holes twice if you want to.

I find the smallmouth fishing is spotty on the Bourbeuse. That's not a bad thing really, it just changes how you have to fish the river. On a fast, clear stream like the Big Piney or the Jacks Fork the bass are spread throughout the river to a reasonable extent, because most of the water is decent smallmouth habitat. On the Bourbeuse the smallmouth seem to be concentrated in the relatively few pieces of good habitat-but if you're willing to go on long floats and cover lots of water you can do pretty well. It's a river that is can be pretty puzzling and can leave you wanting more, but I enjoy that and it keeps me coming back. I intend to get to know the river pretty darn well this summer and figure it out as much as I can. I am going to concentrate on it because it is so close and I like it so much, and just absolutely learn the river. Learn the good holes, learn how to catch the bigger fish, etc.-and generally make it my home river. It's been too long since I have gotten to know a river as well as I have a chance to here.

I guess I also just like the fact that it is so unconventional of a smallmouth river. I mean, look at it as you drive over the highway 50 Bridge. It's deep, slow, and muddy. Carp and catfish water right? But then you get on it and float it, and find out it's not only beautiful in it's own way but it also has some halfway decent smallie fishing.

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You are correct Ozark. The Bourbeuse is not good enough for me. I used to fish it quite often. Not anymore. Unfortunately, my time on this earth is running out quickly. When I want to go smallmouth fishing, I want to go someplace where I have the greatest chance of catching fish, in both numbers and size. The B. ain't it. I know it has smallies in it, some very large. But they are fewer and fewer and more far between than in the past. Yes I realize there are many quite pretty stretches on it, it is not heavily used and is quite convenient to urban areas. But I want to catch fish. I admire your enthusiasm for championing a lovable loser, the third wheel, a wallflower, the strange fat girl alone at a dance, a Ford Pinto or Chevy Vega, even an AMC Gremlin. I say good for you and godspeed.

I'm sure to my detriment, I don't have the will or desire to float and fish places that have marginal populations of bass. I get it. The bass you do catch are hard won and satisfying to the soul. There is something to be said about plugging away at something that nobody else wants. The pleasures and nuances of a concerted effort to suffer, however, are lost on me. I'm not a saint, nor a martyr. You can have the B.

PS: I will wave to you while going over the river at the 44 bridge. Hopefully, you'll be tussling with a nice smallie and giving me the finger at the same time. ("I'm quite certain I've earned it" - Judge Randolph "A Few Good Men")

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I gotta agree with JoeD here. In fact, I floated the B this past Saturday via Devil's Back (Peters Ford to Noser Mill). It was the 1st time I floated it in a couple of years and I forgot how utterly disappointing it is. The guarantee of solitude doesn't mean much to me if the fishing is poor. I caught 8 bass total in 6 hours (2 SM, 2LM, 4 spots), one fish over 12". The horseflies were horrible, too.

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