Wade Fishing an Ozarks Stream
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
Equals Good Fishin’
By Dewayne French
With all the hills and holler’s we have in the Ozarks we are blessed a lot of ponds, streams, rivers, and lakes to fish in and on. On April 30th the Ozarks region experienced a major flood event and it devastated a lot of houses, businesses, and even altered some of or streams. The lakes are all full of water and some were also in danger of having too much of a good thing and had to open flood gates. My place of business got flooded out and we are still in the cleanup stage as a lot of others that I know and talk to. With all of bad flood experiences that occurred, one positive can be taking away, is that we truly live in a great place, neighbors helping neighbors, friends helping friends, church’s helping all, and strangers helping strangers. We do live in a great area of this big ole world.
With all the water we had and in a short amount of time some of our fishing “Holes” took a beating. Some got more fish added to them from the flood waters and some got big rocks and trees deposited in them. Let’s use this month’s write up to focus on fishing during a flood or other high water event. I got a few tips for you all that are itching to go fishing. Depending on what species of fish you are after you may have to alter these to fit.
1. Head To The Bank
This is actually very applicable to bass fishing a lake or even a river in high water. Rising water means more flooded cover, and also increased current, both combine to push baitfish and bass straight to the bank. When you’re fishing in high water, you really can’t get too shallow. You want to focus all your efforts on the shallowest cover available in the area you choose to fish weather it is river or lakes or even a pond. Fish swim jigs or swimbaits through the flooded bushes to catch the big one.
2. Find A Eddy or back flowing area
In river systems, high water means a very fast ripping current – and most fish just aren’t physically built to fight current all day long. For that reason, they congregate in areas that allow them respite from the current. Focusing on current breaks, and the eddies they create, as this is one of the quickest ways to find fishing action when the water’s high. Eddies allow bass, catfish, crappie and other fish to hang in an area with ease, just out of the current, while staying close enough to nab any baitfish or crawdad that might wash their way.
3. Look for Clear Water
Muddy water not only obscures visibility for fish, but it can also make the bite tougher by decreasing their feeding activity. This effect is most dramatic the first few days of high water, as the bass and trout will eventually adjust to the murkier conditions and catfish love the new bugs and food that the rain brought in. To compensate while fishing flooded lakes, start your search for bass by looking for the cleanest water possible, because it will almost always harbor the most active bass. For catfish search out the eddies and pool areas with fresh smelly bait. For trout look for that clean water that is conducive for them to survive in.
4. Think Bold and smelly
When the visibility is low, bass have to rely almost entirely on their lateral lines to feed – which means you have to amp up your presentations to get their attention. The same baits may be effective, but you’ve got to tweak them a little bit. Opt for spinnerbaits with thumping Colorado blades, vibrating jigs, bulky plastics, and loud rattling crankbaits in high water. It also pays off to use colors that will show up well in the murk – like dark blacks and blues for plastics, or bright chartreuses and oranges for winding baits. For catfish the smelliest bait you can find will bring them in to your hook.
Also when fishing a river find the slack water areas where friction actually plays a part in where fish will be laying in the current. The current is always slower on the bottom and along the banks so if you’re a trout fishermen you may have to use some “split shot” on your larger and brighter fly patterns to get them down to the fish. So fish the edges, generally within a foot of the bank and within inches of the bottom because that’s here fish hold. Increasing river flows and rising water increases the amount of food available for trout. Many aquatic insects get flushed off the bottom of the stream, while others emerge from the freshly submerged stream banks.
Any way you look at it go fishing and enjoy our beautiful Ozarks Outdoors. Be safe and take extra precautions as a lot of debris has filled into some of our good fishing holes. Take extra care in boating on the area lakes because of all the floating debris and trash that is there. Please help pick up and clean up if you can. Catch me on the water, if you can?
As most of you know I write an article ever other month for the Avenues magazine, which highlights our local area of the Ozarks. Most of the time the article deals with fishing (I know who would have thought that), in the local area. From farm ponds to the large Lakes I write about them and the fish that live in them. I will start adding my article to this blog page as some of you have requested me to do. You may just have to apply it to your region of the country. Also most of you know that or area experienced a major flood on April 30th. It will help some of our fishing in the future and definitely has moved some of our river fisheries around. I will be in middle Missouri and in Texas chasing fish tournaments in the upcoming month so keep an eye out for passing by
Bassmaster Central Open on the Freezing cold Table Rock Lake that you could Wear Shorts and Flip Flops on
The highland lakes we have around here on the White River chain Beaver, Table Rock, Taynacomo, Bull Shoals, and Norfork. Are very beautiful and have very humbling fishing characteristics about them. Everyone always denotes fishing to putting those dang jig saw puzzles together as kid, Well I wasn't good at that and I like CATCHING better than fishing any day. With Spring around the corner we had temperatures from low 20's to the low 70's and from high skys to 40 mph wind gust.
I have been on Table Rock for about 9 days straight since the 23rd of Feb fishing Webb's Elite Solo Feb 25/26 and then the Bassmaster Central Open and I will be quite honest I struggled to put the winning pattern together in either one. I'm not a grub fishing dude I have never gotten that down (BUT I KNOW THAT IS WHAT YOU NEED TO DO) to catch them this time of year if the A-Rig isn't in play and love to fish a crankbait this time of year. After my solo tournament and finishing mid pack with the crankbait and Jerkbait I realized I needed to go to the clear water and try the Grub thing. After a couple of days of riding around all the boats from KC to Long Creek bridge and catching some quality I wasn't satisfied with my practice and ran back to my Crankbait & Jerkbait fish and started catching numbers with some quality mixed in & with out the boat pressure I was seeing down the lake. I made the decision to make a long run to above Eagle rock for the Open and knew I wouldn't have the pressure as I would down the lake and If I could get lucky I could end up with a good kicker up there on the crank/JB. Day 1 after arriving to my first spot and then second spot with out a keeper and very few shorts. I rotated back through and began catching quality on a Gizit, I was always told by my Dad to never leave fish to find fish. These fish where not going to be moving a along way (they can not go that far up there) so I had to adjust my bait and presentation and Boom a limit, but without a kicker. This was my short day and I had to leave early to make the run back and try some clear water spots (just shorts), ended up in 50th place after day 1. Day 2 dawned still cold and bundled up for that long run again, but this day was my long day and I could stay until 3:15 before I had to make the run back. I never finished out my limit even after resorting to the Ned I could only manage shorts, but I had the kicker a 4.5-5 lbr that helped boost me up to 36th and a nice check to help pay for my trip.
I found water temps during these 9 days from 48 to even 60 on one of those shorts and flip flop afternoons. I never caught anything from the green algea/snot in the clear water and never caught anything from the 60 degree stained water either. I caught fish where shad was to places I didn't even graph a bait ball much less see any. Lures ranged from a Crankbait (WW/RC), Jerkbait, Gizit, Shaky head, Swing head, and yes the NED. Practice was more running and gunning, but on one of my best days of catching before the Solo I did have 27 fish with 7 of those keepers mostly the swing head and 2 custom Rock crawlers did the damage. The shorts also where not those little dinks most where just shy of the 15 inch mark. A good number of just sub legal fish where caught. During the rest of practice I didn't do a lot of catching just looking. The clear water fish I did catch were of good quality I just couldn't duplicate those in areas I thought I should have. I'm never a fishing in a crowd type of guy so I opted to go to the river and I avoided the crowds and actual had fishing areas to my self up there and I learned more about those fish and what they do and where they go up there.
Thanks again to all you guys and gals I really enjoy these highland lakes and trying to figure them out. If you see me out there on the water please come by and say hey. I run a Basscat and it always has Purple in it.
When this time of year gets here you had better have you moving game on. By that I mean "movingbaits" something you can cast and retrive back in quick fashion ie..crankbaits, spinnerbaits,Rat-LTraps, and any bait you cast out and retrive will stand a good chance of catching fish this time of year. The fish know that cold hard times are coming for finding food and they better eat now wihile available minnows and crawdads are easily found. This bass hit a Rat-L-trap style bait a couple weeks ago and he was on of about 20. Numbers and qualiity can be found also during this time of the year, as long a you are where the bait is at. The old saying find the bait find the bass is very true this time of the year.
This bass hit a shallow running crankbait also that same day. You can have a good day of fishing this time of the year and generally not very much boat traffic. It can be cold and even a cold boat ride, but the fishing can warm you right up. Also dress in layers as the afternoon Sun can make you sweat when you are reeling them in one after another. Get out and enjoy the water this time of the year and take your moving baits with you. Use care and caution as you boat around the lakes and rivers this time of the year as a fall in the water could mean life or death with the colder water temps. Wear you life jacket (PFD) and take someone fishing and enjoy our Ozarks waters this Moving time of the year.
As I set in my Motel room working on tackle and preparing for the last Central Open of the year and my last chance to make it to the classic for the year. I reflect on lots of highs and lows through the year on the Bassmaster Central Open trail, but none I would change except for maybe winning each event, but I still got this one right.
This event is a first for me in that I have been catching Red fish (The Fright train) of the marsh if you will. I have been fishing and looking all over this basin and it covers a lot of ground. I have a spot or two I got confidence in and in this game in which we lose more than we win confidence is a integral part of that win/lose mentality. Just catching fish in this vast water area could be a feat in it self. With friends a little map help and the good Lord above I have not had any major trouble, yet and have caught fish just nothing big yet, I'm saving them for the tournament days.
Enjoy a few pictures and enjoy your outdoors where every they be. If you get a chance put this place on your bucket list it is beautiful and very picture worthy around each turn, just be in before dark, the mosquitoes lifted me off the boat the other afternoon about dark30. I knew I had stayed to long, but we always push the envelope out here, staying longer and going farther trying to find the mother load of Bass. Those mosquites they liked the mosquito spray I had (I tried 2 different) kinds neither worked. Enjoy tight lines and take someone fishing and enjoy life it is short lived.
The 2nd stop of the Bassmaster Central Opens landed us 177 anglers in familiar territory of Shreveport/Bossier City, Louisiana and the Red River. This time was different in that we where arriving 3 or so months after the River had been opened back up due to 12 months of closure because of extreme flooding. We where meet with a stingy river and even stingier canals to reach the famed backwater areas. Most canals were filled with sand and only a few were accessible. Although most were tried some of us had a shovel in our hand as much as rod and reel during practice.
My first few days of practice was meet with minimal results. But a start none the less. Small keepers where the not really even the norm I was just looking for bites. All these anglers are good and most "sand bag" from time time. But this time is was true. With the high water for so long the fish have had many options presented to them on where to be and go. Most where not where I was or where I even traveled too.
Day 1 started out with a run to the famed pool #3 and locking 2 times which is almost never done, due to time constraints and possible barges. But still that was the best option I had come up with and we was leaving about 160 boats in the other pools. So areas was not packed with other boats. Day 1 ended with no locking problems and we made it back safely and on time but my co-angler had 2 keepers for 6lbs and I had a big 0. I had a keeper jump off not huge, but a keeper and 6 bowfin and a 8lb CCF, what a day.
Day 2 stated off with a decision to only lock 1 time and stay in pool # 4. Then I had an amazing 25 mile boat run with one of the best Elite Drivers in the bushiness, hint he likes Pink. Back and forth and ducks rising off the river, lite ripples to glass clam, to sunshine coming through the trees. It was one of those moments that you know at the time they are happening, is going to be one of the coolest things that has happened to you in a while. He is the best for sure. But when you have 2 cats like his and mine it is like a Sunday stroll. The day ended with me finally catching a keeper at 2lbs 10oz, it was a good feeling to final go to the scales.
I had a fabulous time as I always do, but this time I was saying with some of my family down there. Cousins I have not seen in years. They opened their house up to me and I was greeted with that hospitality that you get Down Here. Thanks to Sydney, Zak, & Zoey and of course Chad and Rayna. I will be back and hopefully this time with better fishing conditions.
As most of you know by now I have switched Rod companies and now have a Title sponsor ie..FAVORITE FISHING USA . I have had some sponsors for many years and Denali was one of my first Legitimate sponsors. No hard feelings just business as they say. This opportunity to become Rod Designer/Promotions for a major company was one of those that you jump at. Favorite is new to America, but has been around the world for 10 years and is a solid company overseas. With Japanese technology, European design, and our U.S. power we have your new favorite. We have a Favorite series made of premium components and our Select series is based on a entry level angler but still having quality design and workmanship.
I was at ICAST this year and was blown away by the response we received from the fishing industry. Both Bassmaster, FLW, and other anglers were very impressed with the product and the hospitality we bring to the market.
We have catalogs to mail out if you are interested and if you see me at a tournament catch me and let me introduce you to my favorite that can become your new favorite.
I'm a professional angler, keep up with me and my partners as we catch fish all over the southern US.