Fly fishing Montauk after the flood

Businesses and individuals have been busy cleaning up after more than a foot of rain dumped on the Ozarks a few weeks ago.

Damage occurred to roads, bridges and structures. Parks and resorts along rivers suffered from the highest water levels ever recorded in some areas.

Almost 500 miles of the 600 miles of county roads in Dent County suffered some type of damage. Montauk State Park saw water two feet higher than during the flood of December 2015, according to superintendent Doug Rusk. Campgrounds and roads suffered damage and lots of mud, sand and debris had to be removed.

The Missouri Department of Conservation fish hatchery suffered damage as well. Additionally, thousands of trout were washed from the hatchery and into the spring branch and Current River.

“Wildlife is resilient,” said Brandon Butler, the executive director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri. “Fish normally hunker down and survive these types of water events.”

Trout anglers became anxious about the future of trout fishing for the upcoming season.

“Wow,” Damon Spurgeon, of Outside Again Adventures, said as he prepared to fly fish at Montauk last week. “This place was a real mess just a few days ago. Park and conservation department personnel have done an incredible job of cleaning up and fixing up in a very short period of time.”

Fishermen have had a heyday at Montauk since the flood. The spring branch, particularly below the hatchery holding pens, is holding thousands of rainbow trout that washed out of the hatchery during the flood.

Anglers simply looking for a meal have caught four fish limits in less than five minutes. Others hang around for the fun of catching dozens and dozens of fish.

I joined the fun for a few hours one day last week and caught trout on my fly rod until my arms ached. I easily landed 150 fish and lost many more.

“It’s a great time to bring kids to the park to learn to fish or to simply catch lots of fish,” Spurgeon said.

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