Little Missouri Fly Fishing
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Wednesday - January 17, 2024
"An End Of An Era Report!"

Thursday - September 14, 2023

Thursday - April 27, 2023
Monday - October 24, 2022

Message Board!!!

Wednesday - January 17, 2024

So ya'll have seen that there's been very little from me in recent months! I had a couple of trips in the fall which I will touch upon separately, but I figured I should add here what I put on the Message Board and on the Guiding page. It was as follows:

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.

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 curve at the corner of the big pasture, Dad nearly ran into a horse drawn wagon! It was complete with spoked wheels (but with rubber tires) making the curve.

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!

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 in the 80's and into the 90's. And who knows, I may pluck some strings with more frequency as well!

But be assured – I WILL BE “Always On The Water”!

 Back Cast

Thursday - September 14, 2023

Well, I figure I better make some sort of update before the reports of my demise become greatly exaggerated!

What a ridiculous summer around here! I got two trips in back in early June! Before THE STORM! That thing, that Friday morning, wreaked havoc on a lot of people in the region - and we did not go unscathed... I woke up to the sound of the thunder in the distance and dozed back off, only to be reawakened by the raging winds and a giant crash that we knew sounded "different"!

Indeed, there was a tree on the roof of my studio!

Yeah, that one! >>>>

And while it was not near as bad as what many people around here had (like the folks four blocks south of us who had their house bulldozed a couple of days ago), it crushed a wall and sent the limb through the roof right over all of my tying zone!

<<<< My tying bench is directly under all that insulation!

In fact I had not tied a fly all summer until last week! And that took forever because I had to find the materials in assorted places. Fortunately my vise and tools were all fine, but I did lose some materials.

And all my guitars, studio equipment, electronics, computer, rods (including the canes) were on the other side of the room, so that was all safe! Wheeew!

It took till August 2nd to get the tree off of the roof and finally a tarp up there. Meanwhile I had to collect rainwater and empty basins when it did rain. Thankfully, it turned into a drought shortly after the storm. It's going to be a while before I can get the place back to workable.

Daniel Nelson enjoyed his day on the river! >>>>

Sandy ended up in the hospital the next week and all we/they could figure was that it was stress aggravated on top of the Parkinson's. No heart attack, lung disorders, gall bladder issues - they checked everything. But by all symptoms and descriptions, she was having a heart attack. Fortunately - NO - and she is doing much better now.

So, as I said, just before the summer from hell, I did get to the river a couple of times. May was flooded, as I recall, and I had a bunch of trips cancelled. Daniel Nelson spent a morning with me and we did rather well. The fish were getting healthy and solid after the long period of high water. That's pretty typical on prolonged high water. One would think they'd get worn out and stressed, but it's quite the opposite. Stout and well fed tends to be the norm.

A few days later, Scott Dickinson brought a large group down from Missouri for the most part, like six guys - some experienced, some not so much. That led to some difficult conditions to get everyone on a fish or two on a very stormy early summer day. Fish were there, but they were already being difficult...

Everyone had a pretty good time while we could. The lightning kept us under the pavilion for nearly two hours and it just wouldn't give it up. Every time we thought, "okay, let's give it shot" another bolt would originate right over our heads. We eventually called it an early day. So, the last fishing I got to do was cut short by weather. I should have seen that as a harbinger for the rest of the summer to come!

And now we come to the end of all that! The fishing is usually very challenging at this time of year, but the rewards are great! Excellent quality fish to be had if you can raise them AND keep one on. Most of the best fish I've gotten a hold of have been after Labor Day!

<<<< Including this one! September 10th, 2010.

The difficulties you run into are that they are very educated targets, flies and presentations have to be dead on, and tippets need to be 6X or 7X! If you want a challenge now is the time to try them!

If it's easy fish you're looking for, you're going to have to wait until November. But that's nice too - peak of the fall colors on the river are usually around the second / third week of November. I'm just glad it's not 110 degrees ANYMORE!

Maybe, JUST maybe, I'll be treading about the river bed soon!

 Back Cast

Thursday - April 27, 2023

Spring has nearly finished and finally some fishing to talk about! But first. I want to thank Mike "Hen" Ingram, resident fish catcher, for making so many great reports on the Message Board with so much more frequency than I seem to manage nowadays! I know you folks are taking advantage of, and enjoying, his timely information! Greatly appreciated by all!

Madge DavisThe last FIVE months have been almost everything but trips to the river for me... The weather was a huge problem since last fall, and with that weather came high water for weeks and weeks. If you were lucky enough to go on a whim or catch the right day, you might have gotten some fishing in!

<<<< Madge Davis deals with the first fish of the New Year!

Madge DavisI've had probably close to a dozen trips on the books, since last fall, that failed to launch! And then Sandy and I were gone for a couple of weeks to Illinois in February / March, so she could take part in a research study for Parkinson's. The study has also involved numerous trips to Houston to follow up, but that's all settled down now.

David Davis seems to have had his attention drawn elswhere! >>>>

And, yes, it has been well worth it for her. I think great things will come of it for all who suffer with that extraordinarily aggravating disease!

Mike WestSaturday - January 7 - At any rate, the cold weather and lots water were huge issues for the entire winter up until a couple of weeks ago! I did get in one trip in January with David & Madge Davis (Shreveport, LA)! We actually picked a spectacular day and no high water problems. That might have been the last day that happened for a while. They were learning the basics and managed a decent amount of action despite the mid winter murky water.

<<<< Mike West found a nice chunky one at River Ridge.

At that time of year, in those conditions, anything might pull up a strike or two. Somehow we came across some fish that wanted to help out.

Friday - April 7 - But that was it until the first full week of April! That's when the guys from Utah came to the South! Mike West and his cohorts had planned to fish the river last fall on a trip to the several waters in Arkansas, but the conditions did not allow that.

Gibby Gibson tangles with one around the J Ledge. >>>>

So another trip was planned well in advance and we were lucky enough to be on the river during the first full week of some conducive generation patterns. The first time the fish had seen low water during the day since I really don't know when now.

Gibby Gibson, Alan Smiley and Reza Parsia joined Mike on what may well become an annual event for them! They also got to fish the Ozark streams while they were down and I suspect that made for a really great week of fishing while the snows were continuing to pile up on the Rockies!

<<<< That's just hard to beat!

It was a little of everything, shallow water fishing in the Flat, deep Long Creeks at the Old Factory Site and "J Ledge" stretch. Everything produced, which is certainly not surprising for a bunch of busy fish on the prowl.

Okay, maybe that will beat it... >>>>

The Factory Site was probably the busiest with lots of fish within easy reach with the Long Creeks and Little Mo Woolies doing the work in the deeper water. The fish hadn't learned, yet, that the hatching March Browns are good eats!

Saturday - April 8 - The next day I had three generations of Green's out to the river on a spectacular day, at least by weather standards. Tommy Green brought his son, Kelly, and grandson Deacon for some fish chasing.

<<<< Young'un Deacon Green ties into his first Little Mo' trout! I thought he might back up into the woods for a moment - he started out standing where the fish was now sloshing!

And that's what happened at the Park initially. I truly believe that it was the first day in weeks upon weeks that the fish had seen full sun on low water and it freaked them out! They were just about non-existent up in the Trough where you can almost always find fish!

Deacon's dad, Kelly, doing a little close up battling with another nice fish at the J Ledge! >>>>

So, chasing falling water, we headed down to River Ridge and got into a few in that stretch. That turned up several in very strategic spots and a couple of them were really nice fish! Almost everything was on Long Creeks, I believe. Until the fish really get to see a lot of March Browns hatching and flying, there just wasn't much need to throw anything else!

<<<< Of course, Deacon's catch was the largest of the day - as far as we all know.

Friday - April 21 - Which changed last week when Mike Henderson brought his son Hayden to visit... It was one of those days where everything was right!

Mike Henderson ties into one of MANY at the Trough! >>>>

The weather turned awesome, even though it was thretening bad stuff all week. In fact when I left the house it was 48 degrees and drizzling! Up on the river it turned out sunny and 60's!

The best news was that there were scads of fish running the Flat and we took serious advantage of it. Both the guys were hitting fish on nearly every throw in The Trough, which is as it should be, but the 1:4:4 ratio was holding up decisively in favor of Mike! Hayden was getting plenty of fish on, but there were a lot which had learned how to release themselves!

Mike, meanwhile, was doing his own releasing... No idea how many fish were landed! We were finally able to throw some A & W's and March Brown Sliders in addition to some Long Creek Lights. The action was pretty furious and it was definitely the day to be out there!

<<<< Hayden Henderson had plenty of fish on, but they were being particularly elusive to get to hand for him! It happens...

We stopped in at Hind's Bluff for a while and turned up a few. It's not quite as full of fish now as it might have been earlier in the month, but it was worth some throws and the guys did turn up a couple more before they had to head out. Hind's Bluff Access gets hit SO hard that sometimes I'm amazed there's anything left in that pool after Spring Break! However, we were the only ones there, which is quite rare, and I even stuck around and landed several before the high water hit.

Hayden was not "traditionally" skunked however - and far from my definition: when you don't even raise a fish!! >>>>

The lake is in really nice shape right now at 543.51', nearly five feet below flood pool and the generation schedule is showing high water up until mid-day for tomorrow and Friday, with nothing on the weekend! The fish may well get to see some real March Brown hatches every day, and probably some nice Prime Time fishing as well!

Let's hope we have a quieter May than we have March and April!

 Back Cast

Monday - October 24, 2022

Well, well well! An entire spring and summer have gone by since I updated almost anything! And certainly since March since I did "The Latest"!!!

Walker LyleThe year has been such that I just couldn't seem to sit down at the computer and get a report done. I know, I know - seems like it wouldn't be that big of a deal, but it does take time to do the write up, and the pictures, and the code to get what you're seeing on the screen!

Walker Lyle in The Trough with one of many hook ups on the day! >>>>

My spring and summer have been frightfully busy though. Most of it with teaching tennis, which thankfully, I could do since Covid changed what everyone did for so long. And Sandy's Parkinson's, of course, is a day to day, and even hour to hour, challenge! I tend to stick closer to home much more nowadays...

Illnesses were still coming into play all the way into the summer! I had a lot of trips scheduled to the river that just did not happen. And add to that the ridiculous summer we experienced and, suffice it to say, I did not get back to the river from May until just last week!!! That was the longest stretch probably since 1998 that I did not get on the river at all! So it was partially, weather, partially high water, partially people not coming and me just too worn out to sit for the several hours that it takes to do this.

Walker LyleBUT, a new season is upon us! I do feel, though, that coming weeks may be a little closer to normal! The big word, as many of you may already know, is that we had fresh fish stocked last week - I believe it was either Thursday or Friday. Mike Ingram posted that on the Message Board. Here's what he commented: "Melissa [Jones -AGFC] sent some really nice fish!! I caught a stocker that was over 16 inches and I could barely get my hand around the girth of the fish. Caught several in the 14 to 15 inch range."

<<<< One sample of the healthy fish of late summer!

I hope we get to see a lot of those fish stick around for a while! Mike also pointed out that the first load didn't arrive last year until the first week of November, so we're ahead of the curve. It's actually been years since the AGFC was able to stock this early!

Walker LyleSo, that's the REAL Latest!

Last week, as I mentioned, was the first trip to the river since May and it was pleasure to get back to the water with long time client, Gordon Spencer, his daughter Kate, but mostly her husband Walker Lyle. Saturday, October the 15th, was hot once again after having had quite a few very cool nights under our belts. There was scarcely a cloud to be seen but we did have some nice breezes bringing us a little chop.

Walker readies his net! Not letting that bad boy off! >>>>

If you have never fished at Riverside in September and October, you have not experienced the joy of throwing over some of the toughest, most educated, finicky fish you'll see almost anywhere. I've often said that, of the fish I've personally fished over, I would put the late season fish of the Little Mo' at an 8 on the 1-10 difficulty scale... They have seen a lot of people, lines and flies go over their heads.

Walker had been out with me before a couple of years ago so it took him a little bit to find the groove again. But once he did we had some very nice success, mostly around The Trough, where numerous resident fish were constantly milling about. The Light Cahill is the hatch of autumn, though we have missed most of it. But the holdover fish (what remains of them) are going to stayed keyed on them for weeks to come. Maybe even into December!

Walker LyleWe threw Light Cahill R&A's and Sliders. Then some Long Creek Lights. All of them worked reasonably well, but the unweighted Long Creeks might have produced only slightly better through the first half of the day...

But, as is always the case at the end of the season and before the Catch and Release is lifted - the only fish left are healthy, hearty, educated "resident" fish and they are all going to be of high quality! Walker had on some really nice fish and landed up to 14 inchers and nothing less than twelves. Plus we released at least six in the first session! That's not bad at all for the conditions and fish with which we were dealing!

One of the fish in the 14 inch class! Just great fishing most all the day, really. Only a slight slow down around 2:00 to 3:00 PM, and that's when I caught a couple myself for the first tie in a while... >>>>

Gordon had taken a pretty significant spill in the shallows - enough to come up with an entire hatch of mayflies on the back of his shirt - so, sadly, he just observed in the late afternoon session. But we went to a Smidge early and it was promptly obliterated by the first fish that took a shot at that! It looked like someone had thrown a rock into the river where the fly was!

Unfortunately, that fish was not landed, but the rest of the evening was full of hard hits and several fish on! It was a classic, near Prime Time, Smidge kind of event! Maybe not so many fish as you'll see in May, but it was worth being there on this day.

So, for not being on the river in months, all in all, it was great to be back in the water - even if it was 90 degrees in the peak of the day. As Mr Ingram mentioned, the AGFC has already brought in some nice fish to Riverside, River Ridge, Hind's Bluff and Old Factory Site (but not to Low Water apparently) not to mention a load of smallish Browns a few weeks ago! We may find a few of those lurking about in hidy-holes somewhere...

And, for a change, I may be up there "sooner than later"!

 Back Cast

Always On The Water - Jeff