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Missouri Multi Mission - Road Warrior Edition


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I was in Missouri starting on the 14th and was there for a week on business - ugly business. I needed a release and started looking at options. I have a goal to catch two new sunfish and two darters this year. I have been trying to catch a brook darter in the black river and it's tributaries a couple of times already. I saw a couple of Ben Cantrell's blogs on catching a variety of sunfish species, including warmouth, dollar, and bantam sunfish near Poplar Bluff. I was going to be on my own until Sunday. So developed a plan to fish a couple of likely spots down that way to try and catch some new species. Compared to the local waters which were running brown and muddy, the creeks down around Poplar Bluff were dropping and may actually be running clear. I got on the road and headed east towards Saint Louis and then south, way south. I was going to start fishing near Poplar Bluff, then Wappello, and then a tributary of Lower Taum Sauk Lake. In one of the blogs I read about an unnamed park in Poplar Bluff with a ditch and a cold water pond. I was looking to start fishing one of the conservation areas, but found myself in McLane park. As I was driving through the park I saw a small creek and a ditch running through the park. I walked along the ditch and saw several topminnows. I got out my microrig and got after those fish with a #20 hook with a bit of chartreuse plastic. Since they were spooky I had to try to sneak up to get after these fish. I spooked several, but I finally got a solid bite and landed my first blackspotted topminnow of the year. I was done spooking these fish and went to the pond that had the cold water stream running into it. I still had my microrig.  I saw schools of minnows.

Blackspotted topminnow - McLane Park - 15Jun19.jpg

I made several casts and easily caught several more of the topminnows. Why did I even try to fish the ditch? I kept spooking the other minnows. I did make a couple of casts into the pond that was loaded with sunfish and a couple of smallmouth bass. I caught a longear sunfish.

Longear Sunfish - McLane Park - 15Jun19.jpg

I looked and looked at this fish trying to wish it to be a dollar sunfish if there was flecks of color on the operculum. Just couldn't and it was just a longear. I really should have been smarter and went back to the car and got my other rod to really go after those sunfish. With the microrig I switched to piece of redworm. I ended up catching a central stoneroller that may have been one of the fish in those spooky schools of fish.

Central Stoneroller - McLane Park - 15Jun19.jpg

I continued to fish the creek. further upstream I finally saw some darters. I know that one of the them was a definite brook darter. It was a male with very blue coloration. I tried several time to get it to eat my bait. Every time I would get the bait near the fish it would list to its side then weakly swim off. I never got it to bite my bait. I high banked fished with no luck. I slipped down to the creek and got closer but no fish. I got back up to the bank I saw a tightcut in the clay bottom of the creek. There was a sycamore that had been growing down near the creek bottom. I climbed down and stood on the root wad and above the fish. I dropped the bait and the fish were eager to grab the bait. I caught my first darter. Looking it over it was a brook darter - my first of this species! The cold water and condensation made for a poor photo. I caught a couple of females and another male from that same hole.

Brook Darter (2)- McLane Park - 15Jun19.jpg

I spent a lot of time in this creek and missed an opportunity in the pond, but had to get going to my next spot. I drove up to Wappello to fish the spillway below the lake. I put on a black and green trout magnet. I got a couple of small bites when I fished it without a float. I added a float and could almost reach the other bank. I made a cast near some standing rocks and got a strong bite but lost the fish. Cast back out and got a solid bite. I landed an unusual sunfish, my first warmouth, ever!

Warmouth (2) Wappello spillway - 15Jun19.jpg

I caught a couple of green sunfish and then had to run to the last spot. I was going to fish a spot where I had seen a different madtom species and was hoping to catch a few to get my trifecta of new species. I was going to get to the creek after dark. At one time I saw a gray animal run across the road. It was not a deer or a dog. I can only assume that it was a feral pig. I got out the microrig with worm piece and put on my headlamp. I went down to the creek. Saw what I thought was a checkered madtom, but it was a crayfish. I saw several others and lots of minnows, but no madtoms. I searched for a long stretch. I only ended up seeing one madtom. It looked to be a slender madtom and It never even sniffed my bait before it swam away. It was time to go. I drove on back to Columbia. I pulled into the hotel just after 2:30 am. I drove over 620 miles, I caught several new species for 2019 and two life list species. All in all a good day.  


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Sooooooo Many Miles. I thought I was crazy, but I know you are. Good job on the lifers. 

As I told you before, kinda mad you caught that warmouth w/o my help, but I’ll get over it. 

Every Saint has a past, every Sinner has a future. On Instagram @hamneedstofish

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Sorry buddy on the warmouth. As you know I missed out by not realizing how close I was to Mingo and those bantam sunfish. I was too focused on the CA near Poplar Bluff and lost site of the forest. May haunt me until I figure out how to get back down that way.

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