Fly Fishing Current River at Salem, MO

Report from the field…

March 29-31

I took my spring break trip to the Current this year because the tailwaters were up and almost every other river was blown out well beyond the point of safely wading.  The river was running high and a little cloudy; somewhere between 200 and 220 cfs which made for some of the best fishing I’ve had on that river in years.  During the summer months it runs low, slow, and clear, so the fishing can be difficult.  While the cloudy water undoubtedly slowed the bite, the high water gave the fish more places to hold and they were considerably less spooky. 

 I started Monday fishing the tan vat access with moderate success drifting wooly bugger and egg patterns.  For those that prefer a more active approach, swinging soft-hackles and cracklebacks worked surprisingly well, especially downstream from the access against the east bank.  The number of browns compared to rainbows really surprised me.  For the most part, you can expect to catch a large number of smaller browns, but I only brought 3 rainbows to hand and landed 20 to 25 fish, losing as many more.  The size of the fish also surprised me, with every brown being in the 12-14 inch range and the only fish smaller than that was an 8 inch rainbow downstream of Baptist Camp.  I broke for lunch after fishing the bluff hole and losing a solid brown and a big rainbow.  I hate to admit it, but I attribute losing so many fish to poor mending and leaving too much slack on the water; a problem I struggled with all week.  I returned that afternoon and fished from Baptist down to where Ashley creek meets the river.  The stretch between the access and the first bend proved to be the most productive of the river for me that week, producing not only the most numbers, but producing a 20 inch brown.  I really wasn’t expecting to hook a fish of that size in what is generally shallow and fast water, but now is closer to knee to mid-thigh depth on my 6’-3” frame.  I was very fortunate in my casting accuracy so when I noticed a lane between a fallen tree and a submerged log, I landed the first cast perfectly to get a good drift and the brown was just waiting.  I didn’t have a net and was by myself but luckily there was another angler who netted and was good enough to take a picture for me. 

 Tuesday fished almost identically to Monday, but this time my big fish was an 18 inch rainbow caught at the end of the bluff hole below tan vat.  Again, the same patterns and methods proved productive.  I took the afternoon and explored the area around Cedar Grove with poor results, though I was more interested in beer and relaxing at that point because the bright sun and wading/hiking really took it out of me.  I left with about 2 hours of daylight left and fished the stretch below Baptist again but wasn’t quite as fortunate as the day before with my casting accuracy- probably due to fatigue.  Where I was threading needles Monday, I was hitting branches and underwater structure that I was so easily able to avoid by inches just the day before. 

I fished the tan vat access down to Baptist on Wednesday morning, but the fishing was a little slower than it was the first two days.  There were also a lot more people coming out to enjoy the beautiful weather so I decided to call it a trip and head back home.  

This trip was one of the better fishing trips I’ve had in a while, if nothing else but for the weather, conditions, and the fact that being a law student leaves almost no time for fishing.  I couldn’t have asked for better weather and three days without so much as a thought of school just lifted the weight off my shoulders.  The Current River is an absolute gem that changes so drastically yet always seems familiar and willing to offer fantastic fishing. 

 Randall Barron


~ by troutdoctor101 on April 5, 2010.

2 Responses to “Fly Fishing Current River at Salem, MO”

  1. Excellent report. I’m curious about Cedar Grove. A few peopla have posted on Ozarks Anglers about occasional large browns in that area. I surmise the river was too high that far downstream. Looking forward to fishing the Current soon.

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