Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas Comes Early In The Ozarks

Just returned from a great trip to the Ozarks. My main goal was to catch a big brown. This has been my goal for a number of years but every year a big fish has avoided me.

Under Water Release Shot 

Day 1 found me on the river bright and early, conditions were perfect with overcast skies and showers in the forecast along with water release from the dam in the forecast. It only took a few drifts before I was hooked up with the first fish. The morning was great as far as numbers were concerned, all the 12-16" browns you could handle but no big fish to speak of. The best fish was a nice 19-20" male. As the morning continued the water release from the dam had made its way down stream. I decided to stay put because this location made a perfect funnel for trout to move up into to feed. I picked up a few fish on high water but it was pretty slow overall. I decided to take a nap and eat lunch while the water dropped out. After the water dropped out I fished around some more before deciding to head down river to check some other water out. I found more of the same, loads of smaller browns but nothing of any size. Fun none the least, but almost to easy for my taste.

Best Fish From Day 1

Day 2 found me on the river at first light again. Deciding to fish the same run that I started at the day before hoping some big fish showed up over night. As it started getting light enough to make objects out in the water, luck would have it and I spotted a nice 25-27" brown. Unfortunately, moments before a spotted this fish I had just broke off on a smaller fish. Not sure if it was a faulty knot or the tippit got nicked. Either way by the time I was able to retie a fly the fish had disappeared. For the next hour I scanned the water like a hawk looking for any sign that the fish was still there. I decided to move upstream some to check that water out. Lots of fish in this section with some nice 16-18" class fish. The rains the day before put a nice green tint to the water. It's a color I like to refer to as "big fish green". In my experience it seems like big fish of all species like to come out and play when the water has this green tint to it. And so they did, I had the biggest brown I've ever seen in the wild sit in front of me for over 45 minutes. This fish was easily in the mid to high teens. I made drift after drift to this fish with no reaction. There was a pretty good ripple on the water from the current so it made it very difficult to see what the fish was doing and what I needed to do to entice a take. Needless to say the fish disappeared. I guess they don't get that big by being stupid. No ten minutes later I hear the guy above me reel start screaming and his flyline zipping down stream. I knew right then and there where that big fish went. I wasn't sure if this guy ate or was snagged because this guy was snagging quite a few fish. I know since I was about 30 yards down stream from him, I ended up netting several of his fish because he couldn't bring them back up river with them being tail hooked. That's all I'll say about that to keep from going into a rant. So that big fish ran straight down stream and off the shoal. The guy was hooked up with him for maybe a minute before the fish took him into a downed tree and broke off. The guy handled it pretty well, I'd still probably be in a depressed coma after losing a fish like that. That pretty much sums up day 2, finished the day with more average browns but no more big fish spotted.

I've always loved the adipose fin on browns

Foggy Morning Brown

One of the many beautiful browns

Day 3 found myself up at the dam. There typically isn't many big browns up there but there are some nice rainbows. I caught a few fish but not what I was after. So once the sun got up good enough to see well enough into the water I left for a section of the river I haven't fished in sometime but I knew it had a reputation of holding some good fish. I found a lot of fish and overall some better fish were holding in this run. I spotted a pretty good fish and after making several offerings to it he finally ate. I didn't realize how good of a fish he was until he rolled on the surface. Then when I got'em worn down and was about to net him is when I realized he was a really good fish. By far the best brown I have caught. I didn't get a measurement on him. My main concern was to get him netted and released with minimal stress. I got a few quick pics and released him to fight another day.

Couldn't be happier

I had a great time and always enjoy my trips to the Ozarks. Before I started my Blog I did a trip with Jamie Rouse of Jamie Rouse Fly Fishing Adventures. He taught me a lot about the river and defiantly shortened my learning curve and gave me several tips that have made me a better angler. He and his guides have made Orvis Endorsed Guide of the Year twice along with making the finals two more years. He's put a great team together and comes highly recommended in my book.  

Can't forget about the rainbows

I haven't used midges in forever. 



  1. Casey
    An insane amount of trout landed in those three days---what river were you fishing? Some fly fishermen go a lifetime and never land trout that size. Having a guide was a plus to get you started; what weight fly rod were you using and size leader/tippet. Thanks for supplying the guide service you used, my wife and I might have to check them out for a future trip. Congrats on landing what may be the largest brown you ever land with the fly—consider mounting this fish---Thanks for sharing a great trip!!

  2. Thanks guys.
    Bill I was using a 5wt and 5x tippit. I might get a reproduction of the fish but with out an accurate length/girth measurement it would be kinda hard to do. I have always been happy with a good photo of the fish. Blow it up and put it in a nice frame and i'll be happier with that any day of the week over a mount.

  3. Flippin SOLID photo's man, what fish excellent fish. Congratulations!