I doubt that many of you will be traveling to and fishing the Smokies to fish this month although I
hope you do. The first part of February are probably the coldest times of the year and you will
have to pick out the better days to expect much success fishing the freestone streams. By the
end of February, everyone will be doing their best to force the bugs to hatch and the trout to
respond even though they will probably have to wait a few more days to see any surface action.
That considered, I thought I would write about some fishing trips we have made to various other
destinations. Don't expect these articles to win any awards, just tell you about
Fly Fishing the North Fork River, Missouri
The North Fork River is actually the North Fork of the White River. This is a
freestone stream but it is aided greatly by two named springs, the Rainbow Springs
and North Fork Springs, along with a lot of other ones. Rainbow Springs is huge.
Most of the stream consist of pocket water. There is a 12 mile trophy trout section
where as you must release trout under 18 inches. Access is very limited.
The best way to fish this stream would be from a small boat such as a canoe or
pontoon drift boat. There are only a couple of places that provide public access
(with the exception of Blair Bridge) or at least that I know about. This stream is in
remote country. There are two float areas or at least that is what is most convenient.
Angie and I have only been there on one occasion and that was a few years ago.
We we arrived, we were the only humans there. We fished the stream at both
access points and never saw another angler even though we were there in May. At
the first access we fished, the stream looks more like a spring creek that it does a
This stream is know for its big brown trout and I don't doubt that plenty of them
exist. We did not fish the river long or hard enough to verify it, however. We did
catch a half dozen trout in just over a half day of fishing. Our largest fish was a 14
inch brown trout. The rainbows and brown trout are wild except that brown trout are
stocked in the lower sections of the river.
Although the stream is not noted for its hatches, we found three mayflies,and two or
three different species of caddisflies hatching when we were there. We caught 4 of
the 6 trout on nymphs and two on the dry fly. Trout were rising everywhere around
us but they were difficult to catch. The water was extremely clear, smooth flowing
and it was difficult to wade close enough to them without spooking them. We would
try for a while and then change back to a nymph and catch a fish. There were a
huge number of dragon and damselflies around the banks. I spent more time
making video of them than I did fishing. Angie caught all the trout.
This is an absolutely beautiful river. It flows through the Mark Twain national forest.
Quite frankly, when we went there I was expecting very little. I just couldn't imagine a
trout stream is the relatively flat Missouri country side. I knew there were spring
there but I didn't realize they were as large as they are. I'm not certain the river is
classified correctly. I agree with Mike Lawson, Henry's Fork Outfitter and author of
"Spring Creeks", when he contends that there is no way (my interpretation of what
he said) to classify some streams as a spring creek, tailwater or freestone stream.
There are many streams that are a combination of two or three of those labels. In
the case of the Henry's Fork of the Snake River, it is a combination of all three but
mostly springs and tailwaters.
If this river wasn't location out in the country away from any highly populated areas
or if there were lots of facilities nearby, I would imagine it would stay crowded. It
does have a lot of visitors during the summer but they consist more of canoe
enthusiasts than anglers. I was very much impressed with the river and plan on
going back and spending some time there.
Copyright 2009 James Marsh