A Kayaking And Fishing Trip On The Elk River
Sitting in the rural south west corner of Missouri the Elk River is well known locally as a great floating and fishing river. With several campgrounds it serves as a major party river during weekends of the summer months. I doubt you find too many people that fish it regularly on the weekends with the massive party crowd constantly in the way, However, on the quieter week days it returns to a more natural pristine state that creates a perfect setting for fishing. The river has a lot to offer, but its all about choosing the time and location. If you want to get drunk and party like an animal you go on the weekends and shuttle with one of the campgrounds, but if you want to do a family float trip or go fishing you are better off going on a week day.
I've floated Elk River many times over the years, but this was the first time I ever floated solely with the intention of fishing. A buddy and I took our new kayaks out on 4-6-2012 for a fishing trip down the Elk. It was a Friday so there wasn't too many people on the river and we were able to get a lot of fishing in.
We put in at a campground called Hog Heaven. I had been there once before several years ago but I believe it has different owners now. The current owners are very friendly and helpful people that my friend and I learned about through a fishing website called ozarkanglers.com. They offer a very reasonable and friendly shuttling service. They even share information about what the fishing are biting and where they have been catching a lot of them.
One of the fish I caught
The fish were biting all day and we caught more than our fare share. Usually if I use worms I get a lot of action from panfish, but on this particular day I was catching small mouth bass almost exclusively all day. Generally I will use worms, but if I'm catching too many little bait thieves I'll switch to a fake bait, but I was able to stick with worms all day. We didn't catch many monster fish, but certainly enough that we wouldn't have gone hungry for a few days had been keeping them.
Fish that were caught where I lost my kayak.
My Stupidity Lands Us A Great Spot
The best spot we hit all day was actually just a short ways down from where we had put in at Hog Heaven. There were some trees down that we had to maneuver through, and the current was fairly strong on the back side. on my way through I cast my line off in the middle of the stream. My boat began to turn however and my line got wrapped on the handle located on the front of my kayak. At the same time my line also got snagged at the bottom of the creek. This made for a very odd situation and I had to bank quickly. I hopped out and unwrapped my line from the front of the boat. Once it was free I was able to see that my hook was caught in fairly shallow water so I waded out to free it. My friend parked his boat close to me and laughed while i struggled with my hook. After I got it free I turned back towards him and screamed in horror as I realized that my kayak was about 50 yards down stream and moving towards rapids. I yelled at my friend to move and pointed trying to formulate the words. My friend is a big girl about snakes however, so naturally he assumed that was what I was trying to convey and jumped out of his boat looking for a terrifying creature trying to attack him. A few frantic moments later he finally saw my boat and made sense of my jumping up and down screaming.
He went to recover my lost boat and I jogged down stream myself. The water got deeper and turned into a fairly swift current so I was forced on the opposite bank. Thankfully my friend made it to my kayak before it entered the fast current and began hauling it across to me. So naturally I went back to fishing. On my first cast I caught a nice small mouth. This of course inspired my friend to move quicker to get back to my location. We ended up staying in that spot and caught several more fish.
I actually caught a big sucker fish. I've caught two this year which is amazing to me because I've never caught one before in my life. I've never known a sucker fish to go after a worm but I've caught two big ones this year on worms. Maybe more knowledgeable fisherman could say its common, but I've just never heard of it.
The Big One
The biggest bass I caught all day I pulled out of an extremely quick current. I was riding a quick stream along when I noticed the water looked darker up ahead, which meant it was deep. If you've spent much time fishing for small mouth bass then you know that unlike large mouth, small mouth bass love quick deep currents. luckily there was pool right beside the current I was able to slide into as I cast. The big fella hit my line hard and actually had enough fight in him to pull my boat back in to the current which made bringing him a little more challenging and I actually ended up slamming up against the bank. This worked out in my favor though as I was able to come to a complete stop and secure the fish. I was pretty ecstatic and waited patiently for my friend to catch up. I could see a boat coming around through the trees and held my fish up like a trophy. It was kind of awkward though as I realized it wasn't my friend but two other guys in a canoe. They appreciated it though and commented that it was the biggest fish they had seen all day. My friend made it around the corner next and begrudgingly took the picture for me. I let the big guy go and we moved on down the stream. I passed the two guys again later when they were with their group and smiled to myself when I heard one of them say, "You should of seen the fish that guy caught!"