A prefect winter day!
If you look for it come December and if you are ready for it, a day or two can crop up that is absolutely perfect for float fishing. On the upside, too, is that no matter where you float, you will be there by yourself. Competition on the river is not even a thought to consider. Just pick a stream and go. I promise you, your vehicle will be the only one parked at the boat ramp all day long on any given day of the week. Last winter I managed to catch a few such days. I look for them diligently. One of my favorite tools is the "ten day" look ahead from the various "weather" websites. There you can get some idea of what to expect for pending conditions and in doing so you can make for better plans for conditions that you prefer. Another tool that comes in handy is the United States Geological Survey (USGS) "Stream flow Data". With a little effort you can find the specific flow rates on a given stream anywhere. I've had the streams of Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma as a fixture on my website, denniswhiteside.com for years now. With this information you can more easily pick and choose among the options available close at hand. Sometimes, the weather and stream flow rates may be too high or too low to fish on a given stream. However, by moving just a county away to another stream you may find the conditions are perfect. One of my favorite choices when there has been too much rainfall is to check the flow rates on streams "below" the various lakes here in the Ozarks. For example, it may have been raining too much on the Sac River watershed above Stockton lake to allow for floating. However, the discharge below the Stockton dam on the Sac may remain constant regardless of the rainfall. As a result, that may be where I'll be floating and fishing. That was the case last year on an exceptionally fine day in December. Good friend, Rich Abdoler and I decided that we should float fish for crappie below the lake. And, so we did. We were alone all day, caught a good mess of crappie, saw eagles, had Mallards attempt to land around our canoe and not least, I landed a Largemouth close to five pounds on a crappie jig and a light spinning rod. Each and all were vivid memories to carry through the harsh winter days ahead. You can also find a surprise or two along the way when floating late in the year. I've seen Trumpeter Swans a time or two. Rare and huge birds that migrate through the Ozarks each winter. Twice the size of a Canada goose, and seeing them up close is a special treat. I often find dead deer along streams in December, unfortunately. A wounded deer will often go to water and there they die. It's during and following the deer seasons when I find them. Normally, they have been eaten by Coyotes and Eagles; but, I'll see the curl of antler protuding from the water's edge and know from experience that another hunter has lost the blood trail. Sadly, I found a lot of dead deer from another source in 2012, Blue Tongue! This viral disease, spread most frequently by the midge fly, was particularly deadly in Southwest Missouri. Apparently, drought conditions helped to promote an abundance of the midge fly. On one particular float trip in mid August I found five different deer, dead in the water, on about a ten mile float trip. I continued to find the carcasses of dead deer on several streams well into the winter. Regardless, there can be many pleasant surprises on a winter float. I encourage you to pick a stream and to make your own perfect winter day.