Missouri Trout Hunter

Blog for sharing thoughts, beliefs and opinions on issues affecting the world of trout fishing in the Ozarks.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

River Update -- 12/16/15

Hey all,

First, a bit of explanation. This river update used to be an email subscription service. It began as an effort to help potential guide trip clients plan their next guided fishing trip with me -- the link appears on my guide trip web page, located HERE. In other words, its purpose was to book more guide trips. Over time, word spread, and it's become something different. Largely through word of mouth, I now have somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 people subscribed to the email, and I'm fairly certain they're not all using the update to help them plan their next guide trip. That's okay. It doesn't hurt my feelings. That said, it makes a lot of sense to blog these updates instead, removing them from the "exclusivity realm." So, here we are!

Fair warning. This river update will continue to focus on the specific river(s) I guide, since I'm obviously most familiar with them. Currently, that is only the Meramec River. After the massive summertime flooding we had a couple of years ago, the Mill Creek trout population was devasted, so I haven't been guiding there for a while. In the future, I'll be guiding the Current River and probably Little Piney Creek for you little wild trout stream enthusiasts out there, so I may also include information on those streams as well. Overall though, the information I'll be sharing will be transferrable to any of the spring-fed trout streams around the state -- Taneycomo is its own thing, so keep that in mind as well.

Before I jump into the update, a quick bit of business. Many of you know that I host a trip to Alaska each summer. This year I decided to try something different by charging a $2600 flat rate to make the trip almost all-inclusive -- all you have to do is get yourself to Ketchikan (around $500, if you do it right), and I'll cover the Ketchikan hotel, dinner, lodge, tackle, food, guiding, lessons, truck rental, float plane to Prince of Wales Island, etc. I've had several cancellations for various reasons, and it's now suddenly looking like I might have to cancel the trip altogether (first deposits are due to Alaska people in about 3 weeks). So, to try to fill up some of the empty beds, I'm taking a new look at my pricing plan to see if I can make it cheaper by allowing the freedom for folks to book their own hotel, buy their own dinner, skip the lessons, etc., trimming about $600 off the total bill. If you're interested even a little bit, take a look at this PDF document, and let me know AS SOON AS POSSIBLE: http://1drv.ms/1lPPhI2

We've had a WEIRD couple of years in trout river world. Little rainfall in the spring, and flooding in the summer, fall and winter. Obviously, that has screwed with the fish in a myriad of strange ways. Our browns try to migrate in October and early November in response to, among other things, fluctuating river levels. Our wild rainbows will start migrating in November, also triggered by flow. Half of our hatchery-born rainbows will migrate with spring rains, and the other half will fall rains. What all of this means is that you'll usually find good concentrations of fish in the upper sections of all Missouri trout streams between late October all the way until the end of April. Oddly, that hasn't happened on a lot of streams this year, and that has to do with flooding.

I can't remember the last time we had just a "normal" rainy time. It seems like we generally get very little rain, and then we get 3-6 inches pretty much all at once. As the river current speeds up, the trout start migrating, but when the river's really cooking, they hunker down in sheltered spots or "migrate" downstream with the current. The warmer the water gets, the lower the oxygen level. So, if they find themselves too far from the spring, they're in bad shape. Some will survive and move back upstream. Many will suffocate and become food for turtles and crawdads. Incidentally, I'd be surprised if we didn't see some big freaking smallmouth downstream from trout sections next year. More dead fish means bigger crayfish which means bigger smallmouth! Food for thought.

At any rate, things seem to be on the mend right now on the Meramec. The MDC have stocked smaller numbers of browns several times this fall, and many of the flood survivers have returned to traditionally good fishing spots. Overall, the average size is down a bit, which makes sense. Lunker-sized fish do not have the swimming endurance of smaller fish, so they're the most likely victims of a fatal flood event. That said, I've caught several fish in the 14-16 inch size range recently, and I'm starting to feel good about the Meramec yet again. The Current and other decent-sized rivers in the region all seem to be producing as well.

The little wild streams in my area are all still in rough shape, with the exception of the Little Piney. The others are struggling with a cycle of insanely low flows briefly interrupted with insanely fast flows. The fish counts are down, and the fish are edgey and frustrating. Since they're never stocked, we really need two or three years of NORMAL weather patterns for the little creeks to really recover. Cross your fingers, but don't hold your breath.

Hope to see you on the river!



Blogger Ray Zesch said...

Thanks for the update Walt, thought I would share my experience on th little piney in the fall. I think it was the first time I have been "skunked" there, but on the positive side I saw some very nice size bows and I thought that was worth sharing.

12:51 PM  

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