A couple weekends ago, I had the opportunity to go on a Cast n' Blast trip to Missouri with my ol' college buddies, Derek and Joey. The plan was to head to Branson and meet some Missouri friends of ours, Chris and Nathan, for a goose hunt on Table Rock Lake and then some trout fishing on Lake Taneycomo. We left Tulsa friday afternoon from my work and headed for Springfield to make a pit-stop at Bass Pro Shops for licenses, shotgun shells, and anything else we felt we "needed".
After the stop at Bass Pro, we headed south to Branson. We meet Nathan at the hotel in town, unloaded our gear into our rooms, and discussed the plan for in the morning. We left shortly afterwards and hit up the Lonestar steakhouse for some dinner after the long drive. We made our way back to the hotel and hit the sack early to be ready for the next morning. The alarm went off at 4:45 and it was the normal grumpy and groggy routine of getting a shower, making coffee, sorting gear, and trying to squeeze into neoprene waders you havent worn for almost a year. Always a fun time! We met up with everyone at the boat ramp at Table Rock Lake State Park. The plan was to hunt from Chris's blind boat with decoys on an island across the lake where the birds had been coming in to feed in the morning. We loaded up and headed for the island.
It was a fantastic morning as far as the weather goes. It was clear and mild so we didn't even need any jackets or anything, even going across the lake in the open boat. Chris and Nathan had already set up the decoys earlier in the morning so we just settled in for the mornings hunt.
The morning went pretty slow as the birds seemed to be working and feeding on the island to the south of us about a 1/4 mile as we could hear them honking all morning. We seen a ton of wood ducks and teal which was really cool, especially the woodys. After a few hours, we sent Nathan in his boat over to the other island to get the birds on the move. That also proved useless as the birds wouldn't swing around to our side of the island, instead the headed away from us. So we moved the blind-boat around to the other side of the island and just as we were coming around, several birds came flying by. Nathan and his other buddy were able to get some shots off and bring some birds down. A few of the them were banded so we were content with that. Shortly afterwards, we loaded up the gear and headed for the marina to try our luck on Taneycomo below the dam.
We put in the boat at the landing and headed up the river towards the dam. The plan was to setup and hopefully catch some birds moving upstream or downstream, depending on the boat-traffic. We setup on a spot against the bank and waited. Luckily, we had a couple small groups of birds come downstream and we were able to bring them down. Got 4 birds that were banded so we were excited about that. None of us Oklahoma boys had ever got a banded bird, just don't get them in Oklahoma, ducks or geese. We headed back shortly after because it was getting late and Chris had spun a prop on his boat.
We headed back to the hotel, changed clothes, and grabbed our fishing gear. After a quick spot at Anglers n' Archery, we arrived at the dam parking lot. They had a few generators going, probably a light 2 generators. The flow was low enough that you could fish the edges pretty easily around the outlets and in-between, still being able to cover a lot of water. Joey had never fly fished before so I got him rigged up with one of rods and sent him on this way. Fishing was pretty slow. We fished the edges between outlet #1 and #2, getting a few strikes here and there. I was able to bring a couple fish to hand on a zebra midge and then a soft hackle. Joey got his 1st trout ever just below outlet #1. He was pretty excited and it was cool to see another guy get bit by the fly fishing bug.
The next morning we slept in a little bit and took our time loading up all our gear. After getting loaded up, we headed back down to the dam to do some fishing before we headed for Oklahoma. We put in between outlet #3 and #2, just fishing the edges in the seams where the fish were working up and down the river. Derek landed a nice rainbow early on a scud that put up an awesome fight. I got the assist on that one with the net, which took a few tries to get the fish. It was somewhat of an adventure landing that fish in waist-deep water with a small net.
We moved up closer to outlet #2 throughout the morning and started picking up more fish. I caught several fish on a Y2K bug, soft hackle, and a grey scud while Derek picked up a few fish on a tan scud. Lots of nice fish in the river. The big browns are making their way upriver. Seen a few nice fish working their way back and forth between the outlets, they were in the 5-8lb range. They had no interest in anything we threw at them when they actually would hold in 1 spot. We also got Joey into a couple more rainbows, including a nice fat 16" fish with nice colors. He was pretty excited.
All in all, it was a good weekend. Got into some birds and trout, not much else a man could ask for! Also had some good times with old friends that I don't get to see very often which is always a good thing. The trip got me really excited and anxious about duck season here in Oklahoma which is still a few weeks away. Can't wait to get out in the blind with my buddies with a hot cup of coffee and listen to the sounds of whistling wings!