On the Banks of the Jacks Fork River 

By Len Stagoski 

As a member of the St. Louis Chapter of the Missouri Smallmouth Alliance (MSA), I have greatly enjoyed their pre-COVID meetings and their planned fishing adventures.

One such outing was a planned float fishing weekend on the Jack Fork River in the Missouri Ozarks. 

I would expect many subscribers to the River Hills Traveler are avid canoe enthusiasts who ply our Ozark streams and appreciate the beauty of these clear flowing waters and their wondrous cliffs. 

Of the numerous crystal clear streams in Missouri, surely one of the true gems is the Jacks Fork. Among fishermen, it’s been known for its smallmouth bass habitat. 

Several years ago, the MSA organized a weekend float fishing weekend on the Jacks Fork with lodging at the Bunker Hill Resort. 

What a combination… fine smallmouth bass fishing and comfortable lodging, with meals furnished. 

Before I cover information about the amenities of Bunker Hill Resort, let me emphasize that the main interest of our MSA members is… fishing! 

For wade fishing… it’s an easy walk from cabins to the banks of the Jacks Fork. Some of our MSA members took advantage of this easy wading access and had a bit of luck hooking a few smallmouth. 

However, the primary fishing mode of my MSA buddies is float fishing. Many brought their own watercraft and had prearranged fishing partners. 

From Bunker Hill Resort as home base, there are three potential floats: 

• Upstream from Bunker Hill: South Prong Access to Buck Hollow Access — 7.5 river miles.
• Upstream from Bunker Hill: From Blue Spring Access to Bunker Hill — 7 river miles. 

• Downstream: from Bunker Hill to Bay Creek Access — 8.1 river miles.

A few years ago, a Missouri Department of Conservation annual fishing report had this to say about the Jacks Fork River: 

“The Jacks Fork River contains one of Missouri’s smallmouth bass special management areas which extends from Buck Hollow (Hwy. 17) access to the confluence with the Current River. 

“The minimum length limit is 15 inches and you can only harvest one smallmouth bass per day. The majority of this stream is within the boundaries of the National Park Service’s Ozark National Scenic Riverways. 

“These two characteristics provide for a unique and scenic smallmouth bass angling experience.”

For detailed information on access, campsites, and river miles, contact the National Park Service in Van Buren at (573) 323-4236. 

Bunker Hill Resort is within this Special Management Area. However, the minimum length limit of 15 inches was of no concern to our Missouri Smallmouth Alliance members, since our credo is “catch and release.” 

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