Little Missouri Fly Fishing

A word from a, now, former guide...

My, my! The last three years have seen an assortment of changes around my part of the world...

That being said, here in early January of 2024, I've decided to bring an end to my guiding days on The Little Mo!

It's been a great ride and I've met lots and lots of amazing people since my very first "official" guide trip about 1992 with Robbie Williams, who became a wonderful friend and, occasionally, a fellow music mate.

I've been gifted to be on the water with three generations of fly fishers! I find that a tad staggering, because I still don't feel like I've been around long enough to do that.

When I first set eyes on the Lower Little Missouri it seemed to be, and in some respects was, a wild and untouched place. I had been fishing up on the Saline River at Shady Lake, Blaylock Creek then over to the Upper Little Mo' at Albert Pike, which was just an extraordinary place in the late 60's and early 70's. Then one Easter weekend, my dad wanted to go see the big dam that he had heard about, so a bunch of us loaded into the station wagon and we headed up.

<<<< The Old Factory Site picnic area the day I first layed eyes on it!

We got to Riverside Park - which had no playground, no pavilion, no wall - in the early afternoon and that's when I saw several people fishing up above the bridge in what is now the closed zone. They had quite a few very nice trout in possesion, and I knew I had found a new home! I was probably about 13 that spring.

We drove down to an even wilder place - The Old Factory Site - to look into the history of the place. The road was barely a cart trail and, in fact, when we came to the 90 degree turn at the corner of the big pasture, Dad nearly ran into a horse drawn wagon making the curve! It was complete with spoked wheels (but with rubber tires).

There was, at the time, the very nicely kept Green Thumb Project picnic area at the Factory Site. At the base of the seemingly significant bluff dropping down to the water from the picnic tables was the "original" Honey Hole!

It was there I caught my first Lower River trout!

A 1980's shot of Jim Simpson at the original Low Water Bridge! >>>>

We used to have to hike through the woods to get to the "Couch Hole" - now River Ridge. The Hind's Bluff Access was another goat path where you couldn't see the river for the trees. And Low Water Bridge was truly a low water bridge, just like the one in the Albert Pike campground! The highway was only about four feet above the water where the little paths run down to water's edge on both sides of the river.

Man! As everything does, the place sure has changed! Murfreesboro is no longer a one horse town - there's at least five, but I believe there's still no stop light in the county! SWAHA and the Riverside Cabins (where we stayed on that early trip) were the only places to stay. Though, later on, I frequently camped out at the Factory Site. What an adventure that always was, way out in the wilds. Seemed like we were a hundred miles from town in there once the sun went down.

I took an interest, not only in fly tying with early cohorts in The Port, but took to building custom fly rods too. That eventually graduated to the first fly fishing specialty shop in Louisiana - Clearwaters Rod & Fly - which ulitmately led to the guiding on the Little Mo' and all you fine people!

I'm quite proud to say I took part in the origins of The North Louisiana Fly Fishers, Toledo Bend Rendezvous, The Little Mo' Fly Fishing Festival, the implementation of the Little Mo's seasonal and permanent Catch & Release, instigating The Skinny Water Project and planting the seeds for development of the AGFC's easement up and down river at the River Ridge Access.

I guess I stayed busy around the river over the years...

My greatest appreciation for all of you who have fished with me over the past thirty years! It was a pleasure and an honor to have been involved in so many lives and my gratitude for what all of you have done for me as well.

Closing this chapter has not been all that hard of a decision as the daily challenges of Sandy's Parkinson's Disease continue to occupy much of our time and I'm staying close to home from here on. It's one thing to be off to the courts for four or five hours - it's another to be a three hour ride back to town. And the simple logistics of being out of touch completely while on the water just don't mesh well!

I'll need to stick around town more and more, but don't feel too bad. I am back to teaching tennis on the professional levels that I once did through the 80's and into the 90's (it's keeping me in pretty good shape). And who knows, I may pluck some strings with more frequency as well!

But be assured - I will be "Always On The Water"!