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Just Got Back...

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Let's see, short version is that in three days of hard fishing I personally averaged about 25 bass per day with no smallie over 16 inches and the biggest fish a 17 inch largemouth. That takes care of fishing. As for fun and companionship, I averaged three hours of sleep per night, which should tell you that we had fun around the campfire (well, we only had a campfire last night, thanks to Cricket using his boat as a wood hauling trailer. The other nights we say around an empty metal ring where a campfire should have been). Food? Gavin's pulled pork and brisket on Friday night was terrific, and Mitch's mondo steaks on the grill last night was about as good as it gets.

Longer version...

I left the house for the 2.5 hour drive to the Gasconade at 7:30 AM Thursday, with plans to meet Gavin at Schlicht Spring Access for a float from Ozark Springs down to there at 10 AM. Thanks to road construction, slow traffic, and missing the correct exit off I-44, I was fifteen or twenty minutes late...hate it when that happens. Gavin, on the other hand, was a few minutes early and had already caught a couple of smallies off the boat ramp while waiting. That was promising. Unfortunately, the promise didn't hold true. It had been a number of years since I'd floated that stretch, and it was not all that impressive as to habitat. Lots of frog water. A bunch of long dead pools. We caught fish, but we had to work at it and they weren't very big for the most part. That's about a 10-11 mile float, and a lot of dead water to paddle through. We had been worried about the forecast for heavy thunderstorms, but lucked out because we didn't even hear a rumble of thunder...although we thought were hearing thunder until we realized it was artillery practice at nearby Fort Leonard Wood.

Finished the float late in the afternoon and headed for the campground, where we were expecting to meet up with Coldwaterfshr and FishSWMO, who had told Gavin they would be getting to the area in late afternoon and doing a short float somewhere. Their short float turned out to be the Piney from Blue Spring down onto the Gasconade and to the campground, about seven miles, starting at 4 PM, so they didn't show up until dark. Everybody had various guy meals, which is what you eat when nobody wants to cook and you've driven by fast food joints on the way. Mine was Chester Fried Chicken. Mass quantities of beer were consumed, along with some excellent scotch furnished by Gavin, a man after my own heart, and bedtime was about 2:30 AM. I'll let Gavin tell you about why his fishing rods turned up in the middle of the road the next morning.

Plans for floating Friday changed several times during the night as maps were blearily gazed at by the light of a dim electric lantern. And they changed one more time when morning rolled around and we opted for more paddling and less driving. The four of us put in at Riddle Bridge and floated to the campground, a whopping 14 plus miles. If the habitat had stayed as good as it was the first two or three miles, we might have arrived at camp well after dark. But if you float that stretch, be aware that toward the lower half of the Portuguese Point bluff, you enter a pool that runs about a mile of flat, dead water, and then you come to about three miles of some of the most boring, flat, featureless, shallow no-fish water I've ever seen on a stream the size of the Gasconade. It got better from there on down, but not great. Which is why we ended up at the campground about 4 PM, after taking about 7.5 hours to float the 14 plus miles. Fishing continued slow...although I caught my 50th bass right in front of the horde of swimmers at the campground gravel bar, none were big and 50 fish in that many miles ain't great.

Mitch arrived soon afterwards, and Cricket made his first appearance. Mitch was understandably anxious to get on the water after having driven from somewhere in the benighted St. Louis metropolitan area, so Gavin agreed to holding off on preparing the pulled pork until Mitch and Cricket could go out in Mitch's jetboat for some evening action. Although I was dead tired, the pull of the river was stronger than the lawn chair I didn't have anyway, so I went with them. We fished until well after dark, and Cricket will be happy to tell you that he caught many more fish than I did...I caught one, plus I had a gar up to the boat, after dark, on a buzzbait. I'd missed several bass that struck and didn't get hooked, but the gar did get hooked. Go figure.

Gavin's pork was hot when we got back, and a great supper was had by all, followed by Cricket and Gavin playing guitars and doing some singing after Coldwaterfsher unfortunately had to head for home. I only knew one song they sang, so my musical contribution was limited at best. We actually got to bed early...about 1 AM...after Cricket also left for home with a promise to return Saturday evening. No further fishing plans were set in concrete.

So when Saturday dawned to the sound of birds singing and jetboats taking off from the boat ramp, FishSWMO and I awoke without a clue as to what we were going to do. We thought about the Little Piney or the Big Piney. But Mitch offered to take us in his boat, and somehow after paddling about 25 miles the last two days, thought of sitting in the boat and letting Mitch handle things was pretty appealing. So we got an early start (about 9:30 AM after dithering and saying goodbye to Gavin), we headed up to Riddle Bridge with plans to motor uspstream a ways and fish back down.

If the fishing had been slow on Friday, it was glacial on Saturday. FishSWMO finally hit upon the most successful lure of the day, a small dark Senko on a jig head or slider head or something, and he caught way more fish than Mitch and I did. I think I maybe caught four or so all day. Mitch amply demonstrated his virtuosity at running a jetboat in skinny, winding, congested waters, though, and the weather was pleasant enough and the boat made an ample platform from which to take dips when it got too hot. The two most exciting moments, other than Mitch running the slalom course of the worst riffle, were at the access. That morning right after we put in, we heard screams from the gaggle of Pulaski County's upstanding citizens swimming on the boat ramp..."The baby is underwater!" Yes, somebody had dropped the life jacket-less, floatation device-less infant in the water. They pulled it out..."I think she's okay, just a little scared." Ya think?

And when arriving back at the access that hot afternoon, the gaggle of tattooed, pierced, hairy, bearded men, women, and children had turned into a horde. Cigarette butts were floating everywhere, beer cans were blooming like spring wildflowers, and the conversations were...interesting. Nothing in particular happened, but the sights and sounds were rare entertainment, and getting the boat back on the trailer was a little challenging.

The Missouri Smallmouth Alliance contingent showed up soon after we got back to camp...Matt, Dan, and Steve. Cricket returned for the night with the firewood. Mitch did up the steaks perfectly. More beer was consumed and more conversation ensued until 10 PM or so, when Mitch and the SMA bunch had to leave the campground for their motel rooms or pay for a night's camping, leaving me, Cricket, and FishSWMO to think about going to bed until the nice ladies in the next campsite invited us to play beer pong. (Nice ladies, no dirty thoughts here.) I'd never played beer pong before. I found something else to add to list of things that I'm so bad at that I should never consider doing it again, while Cricket and SWMO were the champions. So it ended up being another late night.

I got up this morning as Mitch, Cricket, and SWMO were preparing to head out onto the river for some morning topwater fishing in his boat. The SMA guys were floating somewhere, I know not where. I had to leave for home.

And now I'm trying to stay awake while typing this.

To those who missed it, you missed a heck of a good time even though the fishing was pretty mediocre. We're planning on having at again next year, maybe someplace different, and maybe with a little more advance warning. Don't miss it again!

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Great summary of the trip Al. I just got home from my float with Cricket and I am beat!

I had great time fishing even if it was tough. It was nice meeting everybody

that came out, just a good bunch of guys!

Food was Awsome, thanks Gavin and Mitch.

Jeremy Dodson

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Great report, thanks.

Pulaski County Public Beach Number One is the most heavily used 10’ wide slab of concrete I’ve ever seen.

His father touches the Claw in spite of Kevin's warnings and breaks two legs just as a thunderstorm tears the house apart. Kevin runs away with the Claw. He becomes captain of the Greasy Bastard, a small ship carrying rubber goods between England and Burma. Michael Palin, Terry Jones, 1974

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First I wanted to say THANKS to all who attended!

Our kick off event was a success on many levels although the fishing was mediocre at best. The food was great, the music was great, and the comradery was even better. I arrived Friday evening to everyone sitting around the non existant campfire, chatting and rehashing the events of the last 2 days of fishing. Introduced myself to Gavin, Coldwater, Jeremy, and Cricket! I already knew Al.

After an hour or so of great conversation, Cricket, Al and I decided to get a little evening/night fishing in before calling it quits that day. Ran up stream to hwy 28 bridge to start, throwing topwater lures and hoping for "Old Walter" to smash our offering. This must have been a foreshadowing to the next days fishing. We only caught a couple, which included a gar.

The next day started later than we anticipated (we slept in way too late). Al and Jeremy were tired of paddling for 2 days straight so they decided to take advantage of a jet boat ride. We put in at Riddle Bridge, which is the start of the Smallmouth SMA and went upstream. I think God decided to turn off the fish that day.....Wow, was it slow. The enjoyment of the day for me was to learn from Al and Jeremy. Jeremy is a terrfic fisherman and managed to catch more fish than the rest of us fishing in the back of the boat!

I considered myself pretty good at a "walk the dog" lure until I watched Al fish a Sammy, if you want to witness a true thing of beauty, Just watch Al Agnew work a Sammy! he's the best I've ever seen!

We took a much needed dip or 2 in the river because it got so darn hot and the fishing was slow. The water was pretty small in some spots and we had to get creative with our return routes with the boat. I don't know why the launch ramp at Riddle Brige is such a magnet for people but it is! They dont really want to get out of the way so you can trailer your boat.

Had great steaks that night and retold some fishing lies! I had had a not so good nights sleep the night before so I left with our Newly arrived guests form the Missouri Smallnmouth Alliance, Matt Wier, Steve Harrison, and Dan Kreher. Went to a local flee bag motel and then found out the next morning about the "Beer Pong" Event. Cricket, Al, and Jeremy.....What goes on at Boiling Springs campground, stays at Boiling Springs Campground!!!

Went out the next moring With Cricket and Jeremy, watched Cricket out fish us with a flat sided Rapala jerkbait in the faster riffles. Cricket is a great guy and a terrific fisherman as well!(not to mention he should try out for American idol!). Ended up being ejected from my perch in my Jetboat while drifting into a log! My IPhone was toast and lost my glasses but all worked out well! Got a free IPhone replacement andused a old spare pair of glasses and am back to 100%.

All in all, a successful adventure with a great group of gentlemen! Ready for next year at a different location, maybe Corey's place!

"Honor is a man's gift to himself" Rob Roy McGregor

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Friday night was a blast... My first jet boat trip!!! Also had a really good time jammin with Gavin, we'll need to write a set list.. You can start by learning ANYTHING by matchbox 20 (I know em all).. Might I also suggest we work out an Eagles set? Plenty of good songs to chose from..

Saturday was busy at work (my bank account is super glad I didn't bail on that) but I still managed to have all my stuff loaded and down to the campground around 7pm (including a stop off for firewood). The boys were ready for steaks and Mitch freakin' delivered! He brought a whole side of beef and we cut our own steak! Awesome! He's a pretty good charcoal cook, too I might add. Three guys from MSA had also showed up but I can only remember one name at the moment. We shot the bull and started a fire and at some point someone said "We need a group photo! But who will take it?" So I took the liberty and asked one of the nice young ladies that were playing beer pong at the camp next door if she would oblige, explaining that we had a "famous artist in our camp who was going to paint the photo for us"... She happily obliged and then ventured back to her camp.

The MSA boys said their goodbyes and went to go check into their motel (along with mitch, who had had his fill of camping in his trailblazer), which left myself, Al and Jeremy (fishinSWMO) to finish off my 12 pack of bud light by a rolling campfire..

This is when the girls next door ventured back over and invited us to play a round or two.. After FishinSWMO and I won two rounds Al finally got tired of sitting next to the campfire alone so he ventured on over and was properly introduced, though with the attire he had on he needed little introduction.. ;) (you're awesome, Al!!)

Anyway... Hope, Geanie, Amber and Sara were very gracious hosts ( there wouldn't be all this "what happens at boiling springs/wink-wink stuff if these girls hadn't been very attractive) and taught us all about beer pong.. Al and Jeremy decided to hit the hay at around 1am after three straight victories and left me to continue my winning streak, and continue I did.. (despite not having team One-and-dones oldest member and Lesterville Flip champion around to help) This is when the girls really opened up and started talking about their own stuff.. I learned about their jobs, their husbands, kids, etc... Finally the girls lost interest in losing (I am apparently a beer pong GOD, lol.. Musta been all the darts when I was a kid) and switched to one of those pull-a-card-and-drink-this-many-drinks games.. I lost at that one... lol

Hit the hay at 3am and was up at 6am to stoke the fire.. Mitch showed on time and we were off to see the river, the wonderful river of GNade.. (to the tune of "Off to see the Wizard")

Jetboated around and ended up in front of the mouth of the Big Piney, which yielded a few smallies, but the biggest ones spit the hooks.. Here's one that Jeremy got to hand:


Just as I was thinking to myself "The big piney looks aweful small to be running up with a jet, too bad mitch said it's a short trip" mitch pipes up and says "you fellas wanna make a quick run up the BP just to say we did it?"

Uhm, hell yeah!! We ran all the freakin way up to the 44 bridges!! By the end of that run my butt was so puckered it was suctioned to the seat!!! One of those riffles ended up being Mitchs undoing...

So the fishing up there was pretty good once we established that a X-RAP was what they wanted.. (go figure) BUT, we didn't get anything to the doggone boat! The biggest one we hooked was prolly 14 or better but he had another PIG following him, so I ended up playing the smaller fish while mitch and Jeremy pitched to the bigger one.. Suddenly my trusty x-rap let go.. :(

Anyway, as we headed down through the riffles I commented that floating down these riffles is twice as difficult as running up them, eh? Not five minutes later were zipping that trolling motor around trying to slide through a set of rocks when we make sudden and abrupt contact.. And Mitch takes a full freakin header right off the front of the boat! Jeremy and I scramble to catch his hat and rod and he popped up and immediately stated "My iPhone is in my pocket!"... but he didn't even notice that his glasses came off.. And the gracious host didn't even confirm that until later, when he couldn't cast or see the obstructions in the water because"I'm not blind, everything's just blurry!"... I'm just bustin his chops, of course... he was very gracious the entire weekend and I just feel really bad that I couldn't think of something to do to save his glasses and keep his iphone dry... I would have happily dredged that hole he fell into until I found his glasses.. I have found earrings on the bottom before, surely I could have found some glasses!

Anyway, so that was the crazy part of the trip.. That morning we ended up only boating about 10 fish, but we did have a lot of fun and now I am convinced that my next boat will be a jet just like Mitch's...

We buzzed on back down to the ramp and said our goodbyes to a half blind and suddenly technologically challenged Mitch and headed out, agreeing that we should just stop and eat a full meal somewhere and dedicate the hot day strictly to fishing.. We stopped at the Waffle house and then headed out to Hazelgreen..

On the water by noon, it was hotter than blue blazes! We had very few floaters come by and we had virtual solitude compared to our other local options.. It was here that Jeremy demonstrated his love of the sport of fishing.. I learned quite a bit from him as he proceeded to drag at least one gogglie out of each and every root wad from Gnade Hills to Hazelgreen! The man is a jiggin' fool!


I managed to get a few strikes in the few deep holes with the x-rap, this was the best one:


Mainly we jigged those root wads though, and that kept us very occupied...


We did also find one root wad that had some respectable Smallies in it.. It was here that Jeremy reminded me of the one thing I forgot to get at Wally World.. A NET!!!


(I don't think he needed a net, but you could tell by the look on his face that he was fully expecting that I would have one! His first words were 'bigger fish, get the net!" and my only response was "ain't got one"... LOL, he kinda freaked! He ended up bellying the fish, but he was excited! Claimed it was his big fish of the trip and that "Cricket had put him on em".. so I was uber-proud)

Anyway, it was a hell of a trip and you guys are all pretty cool.... in person. ;)


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Went out the next moring With Cricket and Jeremy, watched Cricket out fish us with a flat sided Rapala jerkbait in the faster riffles. Cricket is a great guy and a terrific fisherman as well!(not to mention he should try out for American idol!). Ended up being ejected from my perch in my Jetboat while drifting into a log! My IPhone was toast and lost my glasses but all worked out well! Got a free IPhone replacement andused a old spare pair of glasses and am back to 100%.

Yet again you are exceedingly gracious with your statements, I'm blushing... Oh, and I'm very happy to hear that you were able to get a new phone, I truly was very bummed for you....


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Sounds like a very sweet trip and I think Mitch needs to pay a little more attention to the trolling motor and less on the bite.I'm glad nobody was hurt other than Mitch's pride.have-a-nice-day.png Mitch ya know I love ya you are a true predatory fisherman and that's why.

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