By Dewayne French
Most of us can remember those “Good Ole” HOT summer days of our youth whether it was on the baseball field, in the hay field or possibly even down at the creek. Well think back to that time when dad & mom would load the kids up in the old truck with fishing poles, bait, some sandwiches, drinks and head off to the local stream or creek to wade around in the shade catching fish for supper or a gravel bar camp cook out. This was the basic entry into fishing that most of us remember getting as a child. Not only were we cooling off by being in the water we also were beginning that journey of learning how to fish. As this years “Dog Days” of summer have arrived here in the Ozarks let’s use this month’s time to talk about “creek fishing” or “wade fishing” as is commonly called in today’s world.
Let’s travel back to those days of our youth when you did that “Ozark tradition” of wade fishing the creeks and streams around your home during the hot summer. Can you remember those fun days in the creek, were you would catch minnows or crawdads, how about catching that big ol “brownie” or “lineside”, as our dad or grandpa used to call the “smallmouth & largemouth” bass respectively. Now fast forward into today’s world and answer this question, “Why haven’t you taking your son/daughter, grandson/granddaughter, or nephew/niece wading in your favorite Ozark stream?”
During the hot summer months, we anglers are looking for that cool area to fish in comfort. Most of serious bass anglers this time of year will only go well before daylight and fish until about 9 am then head for the air conditioner. Others will fish the “Night Time Bite” from the DARK-30 time frame well into the daylight hours. These two times will allow the serious angler some refuge from the 100+ degree heat index days that we now have during the daylight hours. But what about taking one fishing rod and a small amount of tackle and go to the creek for some cooling and some fantastic fishing.
Wade fishing a small creek or stream doesn’t take a lot of complicated tackle just “keep it simple” and use anything small; worms, tubes, jigs, spinners, and crankbaits. These lures will entice a bite from the fish almost every time you go fishing. Rod and reels are even simpler, a small 1000 series spinning reel with a 6’ spinning rod in med/light action will handle most of the creek “giants”. Good fishing is usually the norm in these small waters and the fish are generally always eating. Big fish can also be caught in small creeks and streams and lots of fun can be had. For line since these creeks are generally really clear, I would go with 6 lb. fluorocarbon or use a main line braid to a floor/leader combo for my line choice. Wading with old tennis shoes will work, but the river shoes work really well for traction on the slippery rocks. Always tell someone where you’re going and respect the landowner’s property. Keeping good relations will provide you with a long term fishing spot. Since these creeks and streams are laid out different than a lake you need to be mindful of other’s property.
As with most of my fishing and especially in a small creek or stream setting I use the “CPR” method i.e... Catch, Photograph, and Release. With today’s larger population around here a small fishing hole will get depleted really fast if everyone keeps every fish they catch. I like to have a fish fry and eat what I catch, but I also like to wade in the cool water and be able to catch those fish though out the dog days of summer. This type of fishing is a great way to get kids involved as they can splash around in the water after they get tired of fishing and also flip over rocks and catch crawdads. Not to mention a few deep holes to “accidently “slip off into and swim a while. Good family fun can be had and a child can pick up fishing memories for real and not off the computer or gaming console. Reconnect with your child hood and connect your kids to a great summer tradition here in our Ozarks region.
These HOT days of summer can stress us out just like the cold gloomy days of winter. Make time to go to your local the creek or stream and enjoy the day with your kids by fishing a little, playing a lot, and enjoying your time in the Ozarks. Remember we all live downstream so pick up your trash and maybe even someone else’s. Learn to fish again and recharge those batteries with a day in a cool Ozark stream or creek.
Thanks for your time