Not nearly a week into October and the time has once again come for the annual Montauk State Park trout fishing trip! Last year ended a multi-year trout drought so this year I would be looking to continue the streak and bring home more fish for the freezer!
This trip has always been a bit of a wild card when it comes to weather and this year would be no exception. Despite there being perfect fall weather just days before, this weekend would see something unthinkable... a pair of 90° days. I figured this would be miserable as always but, because it was very much fall, it really wasn't all that bad! Far better than the 95°+ days of summer for sure! The trip would start out as most of them do, late. Arriving after dark, as is usual, it was setting up in the dark once again. Again, it wouldn't matter much to me as I have grown accustom to setting up in the dark. After setting up, it would be time to crash knowing full well an early morning would be greeting me the next day and with it, the hunt for more trout!
The first day at the stream proved a success with one trout landed! As there weren't many other fisherman along the stream, fishing pressure was light but still, that I was only able to catch one, it just goes to show how much I still have to learn about trout fishing.
Trout fishing is something I have been doing for quite some time now, mostly at Montauk though there have been other places as well, but it's still very hit or miss for me. My tactics, if you can call them that, rely heavily on color preferences which I sometimes question whether they even matter at all. I would like to think colors matter as many animals and insects change colors with the seasons to better blend in to the changing environment, you also need a lure that matches what the fish would expect to see as well. Who really knows though as I am far from an expert at this point!
Before long, we were heading back to camp to start on lunch which would be hotdogs cooked over an open fire. I have to say, this doesn't happen too often! Typically, if there is cooking of any kind to be done, it's done on a stove but this, this is what camping should be about! Low tech ways of getting it done! On top of that, the "campout chef" of the family would set up an apple crisp to cook in the Dutch oven I brought along. I typically bring this on every campout but rarely have I ever used it. After this apple crisp, I'm thinking it should be put to service more often!
After lunch, we set out to search for a place to kayak, this being the famous Current River and all. The Current River, if you haven't see my prior posts, runs through and is the main star of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways! As Montauk features the headwaters of the Current River and, immediately after leaving Montauk State Park begins the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, finding a put-in and pull-out spot was quick. We would put in at Tan Vat Hole and decided our pull-out point would be at Baptist Camp, a rather short float trip but a good, close by stretch of the river to see that we had not previously seen before. The interesting thing about Baptist Camp is that there are two places to pull-out. Neither access point is particularly challenging to use but, as we noted during our scouting mission, getting to the second pull-out point would take some technical skill with a paddle. As the river snaked back and forth in the short distance between the two pull-out points, you were faced with poorly placed obstacles including a fallen tree that looked to be the most threatening as the river narrowed and the current raced over and under the barrier with great force. It deserved some serious thought before attempting, that was for certain!
On our way back to camp, we would swing by the headwaters of the Current River and Montauk Spring. I can't say, at least in my poor memory, I have ever been here before so this was a bit of a new experience for me at Montauk, a place I have visited many, many times. It was beautiful to say the least and, standing in the right place, you were able to see the water stirring up the sand down below! If you could make it in there, it would likely be the same effect as quicksand until you hit some kind of solid ground below. Not something I was looking to try out anytime soon.
Pigeon Creek, main channel, Montauk Spring, right channel, forming the Current River!
After a look around at Montauk Spring, we would head back to camp to begin the process of making dinner, starting up a nice campfire, and even do a little star gazing! After a day like this, I don't think you could ask for too much more from a campout!
The next day, as it always does for trout fishing, came early again. Looking to equal or, better yet, improve on the success of the day before, we set out hoping to get a good spot before the weekend crowds arrived. Knowing from past experience, these days no one cares whether you were there first or how long you had been there. Really, this is just an exercise in futility. One that we practice day after day, year after year. Regardless, the beautiful sunrise kept frustration to a minimum and when the opening buzzer sounded, it wasn't long after that trout #2 had landed! True to the morning routine, the pace slowed slowed when the fish stopped biting, people started to move on, and it was time to clean the fish. Wait, is that a lobster trying to steal my trout?!
The rest of the day would be a "do as you see fit" kind of day which, for me, brought lots of biking. It had been a while since I have taken my bike out on a trip with me so it was nice to get to cycle the campground again. This being the first of two 90° days, I would take my relaxation very seriously so as not to break a sweat and, as the day ended, it wasn't long before a beautiful sunset was upon us followed up by a scenic waxing crescent moon. Absolutely stunning!
The next morning found us again at the trout stream ready to do battle with the trout and the weekend crowd. I know I mention this a lot without sharing to much detail about what goes on..
This time, that changes. A trio I dubbed "The Gal Pals", present the day before but well out of our way, would make another appearance. This time their appearance would very much be in the way. You wouldn't think you could fit 3 people within 10 feet of one another, especially between two other people, all trying to fish.... But they would! And they did... Much to my dismay. While I had two people directly across the stream from me, fishing at me, hoards of people to my right, and 10 feet of space to my left, the Gal Pals shoehorned right on in. To give you imagery of what I mean, the gold chair on my left is family while the fuchsia jacket covered chair on the right is the head Gal Pal... You might mistaken these two for being friends. I assure you, the feelings about this arrangement were anything but friendly especially as I awkwardly reached for breakfast between the two chairs...
Due to the circumstances, I would return to camp empty handed.
Not to end the day on a sour note because of the Gal Pals, we loaded up our kayaks and hit the river for a float trip!
Despite earlier exploration and identification of hazards around the second pullout point, one of the three of us decided to go for it. There were miscalculations in the chosen route which lead to the kayak riding up on the earlier mentioned log, the river then pushing down on the rear of the kayak causing it to roll, and upon rolling, lodging itself under the water hazard log. That was more than enough for the rest of us to avoid attempting the same stunt. Fortunately, no one was injured or physically harmed in the process. After the excitement on the Current River, we would head back to camp and relax for the rest of the day.
The final morning, again, found us at none other than the trout stream! Surprised? Didn't think so! It was expected to be a lot lighter fishing pressure at the stream given the early morning rain. Whether or not this would make a difference remained to be seen! At least, with the rain, or maybe other reasons, there was no appearance from the Gal Pals! Fortunately, this would make for a much better morning as I was able to land two trout, one of which was rather sizeable!
After exhausting the morning trout frenzy, it was time for me to make my way back to camp to breakdown, pack up, and head out while the going was good!
Span of 5 days; Approximately 6 hours and 27 minutes of cumulative driving; Approximately 320.3 miles; Approximately 32.641 gallons of gas used; Approximate average MPG 9.88; Approximately $97.89 spent on gas; Average fuel consumption rate of 5.060 gallons per hour.