Randy did manage to snag a great campsite for me, right next to the creek and even purchased some firewood that he left on site to mark it as taken. The plan was for all of us to get together when I got there, sometime after dark, get the campfire going, and cook up some brats and marshmallows. I pulled into the campground just at dusk with no wind the haze from the campfires was intense. I went straight to my campsite but no wood. Seems that one of my "neighbors" decided to help themselves to our woodpile. Randy had already noticed and was up getting more wood. I went up to get two more loads of wood since I was figuring on a big, long fire and good times cooking brats and discussing how the day's fishing had gone for Randy and Paula.
I was still planning to fish a nearby wild trout stream in the morning so instead of getting up to the siren that signals the start of fishing I headed up to the restaurant for breakfast and to let things warm up a bit before I hit the blue-ribbon water.
Had I stayed I would have had to find room amongst all these folks.
After a relaxing breakfast, enjoying the color of the Ozarks, I took off over the hills to a small creek, well known for its trout, wondering if I'd have to share the couple of miles of public access.
This is what I found:
Not a soul around though I eventually ran into a couple walking their dog. It was a day to be cherished with brilliant color, clear water and trout rising to foam beetles.
So here is something to ponder. It seems to me that Missouri has hit upon the ideal way to manage it's trout resources. To fish in any of the four trout parks you have to have a daily trout tag. Approximately 400,000 daily trout tags are sold each year to adults and youths. It's been this way form more than 20 years. (info is from documents form the MDC). There are three large blue-ribbon trout rivers and about 6 creeks designated as blue-ribbon streams. In these streams the trout are left to reproduce for themselves and they are essentially catch and release. There is limited public access to the streams. There is more access on the rivers but the rivers are best accessed by floating. With only a few miles of small, wadable stream can you imagine the impact if the trout parks did not exist? Imagine trying to accomodate more than a million hours of fishing a year on a few miles of stream like the one above. That is not sustainable. I really don't mind sharing a stream but I like to roam and try things when I'm fishing. I'm not comfortable sitting in one spot casting over and over to a holding area because the stream is too crowded to move somewhere else. Still, the folks that fish the parks during the summer, in large part all take home a nice string of trout to eat and they also take home a bunch of fine memories of good times with family. This is a brilliant system--works for everyone. They get their trout to eat and since I'm not looking to fill my freezer, I get a few precious moments of solitude, crystal water, and trout.
These streams of course are fished by others but I am always amazed at how seldom I run into others and when I do they seem to be looking for the same thing I am. Typically, we talk a bit and then split up to find our own solitude. What a treasure.