After the second night of sleeping in my car I again woke up as the sun was coming up (notice the pattern?), drank some water, drank some coffee, and got my fishing gear out. I had spent the night next to Big Spring, which shares the title of largest spring in the U.S. with two other springs.
I didn't get any bites near the head of the spring, so I worked my way down to its confluence with the Current River. I saw a small pod of redhorse hanging out where the waters mixed. I threw out half a nightcrawler on a fish finder rig and got a bite after a few mintues. I was hoping for a black redhorse, but it turned out to be a handsome golden redhorse instead.
Golden Redhorse (Moxostoma erythrurum)
I wanted to check out a few spots along the Current River, so after a long streak of no bites I hit the road. Some of the spots I fished, others I just looked at. It was hard to find redhorse to sight fish, but there were feisty smallmouth bass near shore that would bite.
Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu)
I also caught a big white sucker, but unfortunately it flopped back into the water when I was fumbling with my camera. That was a bummer, because it was probably a PR for me. Before leaving the Current River drainage I tied on a Tanago hook to catch a few micros. Bleeding shiners were the most common species.
Bleeding Shiner (Luxilus zonatus)
I was hoping to see an Arkansas saddled darter, but it was too windy, and the water was too choppy. Next to shore I found rainbow darters, but the saddled darters were probably out in the main riffles where the water was a few feet deep.
Rainbow Darter (Etheostoma caeruleum)
Next I worked my way north and east into the St. Francis River drainage. My first catch was another rainbow darter. The red spots on their scales were really prominent here.
Bleeding shiners were common here as well, and I also caught one wedgespot shiner.
Wedgespot Shiner (Notropis greenei)
The Black River madtoms were surprisingly easy to catch at this spot. It's funny that I caught my lifer the day before, and now I was getting them left and right.
Black River Madtom (Noturus maydeni)
I used a technique that I came up with last year to catch yoke darters in southwest Missouri. Three large split shots are put an inch above the hook, and then the line is reeled in until the top split shot makes contact with the rod tip. Once you see a madtom or darter under a rock, you put the rod tip under water and get the bait in front of it. Simple as that!
Originally I thought I would fish a third day in Missouri, but I was feeling a bit demoralized and burnt out when the sun went down on day #2. I hit the road, grabbed dinner near St. Louis, and then continued on until I reached Carlyle. I parked my car by the spillway and went to sleep for my third night in the Subaru. Sunday morning I woke up to find gizzard shad splashing like crazy. I tied two #20 hooks about 12 inches apart, baited them with small pieces of green plastic, and floated them below a weighted bobber. I caught a few gizzard shad, but none of them were hooked in the inside of the mouth. Grrrrr.
Gizzard Shad (Dorosoma cepedianum)
Carlyle is a good place to try for buffalo, so I gave up on the shad and moved downstream so I could fish the bottom. I chummed with corn and alfalfa pellets and then cast out my lines. Unfortunately, I picked a spot that had a really bad snag. My rig got stuck on every cast. I caught one carp and then packed up my gear and headed out.
Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio)
The good of the trip? I enjoyed sunrises three days in a row and fished one of the most beautiful places in the country. The bad of the trip? I discovered that sleeping in my car for multiple nights causes me to burn out and feel demoralized, especially when I see a number of fish that I can't catch. I'll be back again soon, but I'll probably book motel rooms next time.