Select Page

Spring fishing can be fickle, especially in a river or creek. So many variable come into play that decide what kind of day you’re going to have. Both air and water temps are ever changing and bass are transitioning for the spawn. Fish could be in a feeding frenzy or could be closed lip and not eating at all. The best thing about being on a river, though, is that even if the fish aren’t biting there is still plenty of scenery during the trip downstream. 

On April 28th, 2018, I had the chance to get out on the water for my first river trip of the year. My friend and fellow Jackson Kayak teammate, Jason Griffith, happened to be free and drove down from the Kansas city area as well. Though Jason lives in the KC area he is actually from Texas and one thing that Texas doesn’t have many of is smallmouth. Smallmouth fill streams in the Ozarks so I knew that if the fishing was good, Jason would be in for a treat! 

The body of water that we are on, which I try and keep somewhat secret, is a very small creek. Its pretty secluded and at times gets too low to float. For these reasons, you rarely ever see anyone else on it and for that reason, it has a fantastic population of quality smallmouth. As we put in, Jason turns to look at me and asks if there is enough water to float this stream. I laugh, as we scrape on rocks and boulders just under the waters surface, and reassure him that it will be ok. We make it about 200 yards down stream an find a root wad with strong current going around it. We decided to stop and spend a little time fishing it and pull out several 8-10 inch smallmouth and a few goggle eye. This was a good time but not exactly what we were looking for so we moved on. 

Along the way we caught a lot of other fish but nothing with any real size. We then came down a narrow chute that took a hard left at the end. There was a decently strong current coming through here and as soon as I came out of the chute I casted a teal and white 3/8oz War Eagle spinner bait as deep into current as I could. The moment that it came out of the current and into some slack water it was annihilated by a 17 inch football shaped smallmouth. Even though 17 inches is a good smallmouth, I really thought it was going to be bigger because I had fought it pretty hard for a good amount of time. It pulled me around while the current beat me up at the same time which made for an eventful catch! We catch a few more fish out of this hole and see a lot of neat things, to include several 4ft+ gar, a beaver and some kind of fish that was so large it left a massive wake when we scared it off. Not only was the wildlife a spectacle, this particular hole is amazingly beautiful. Boulders and chunk rock line the bank along with some decent bluffs. The water here is also this gorgeous blue/teal that is so clear, you can clearly see the bottom even where its 15ft deep. 

As we get to about the halfway point of the float, we reach the “honey hole”. On the left bank there is a rock bluff. On the right bank there is a gravel bar. The bottom of the river slopes from ground level on the right to about 12ft on the left. Almost center of the river there is several large boulders. This particular spot has a fairly mild current, but there is definitely some movement in the water. We bank just before the hole starts so that we don’t spook the fish. Jason and I catch a few quality smaller fish and then I catch a VERY respectable 18inch smallie that was an absolute brute! We keep fishing the spot for about another 30 minutes but don’t catch anything worth mentioning and get ready to leave. Jason says something about “one more cast” and so I get my rods together and get ready to leave. He was using a crank bait and noticed that a fish kept chasing it but wouldn’t commit so he casted in and then when the crank bait got to where the fish was he stopped the crank bait and waited. As soon as the crank bait stopped, the fish hammered it. It ended up being another 18inch smallmouth! What an incredible day in the Ozarks!