Bootheel and thru the Ozarks

After much planning with Greenwood to fish our way down to the NANFA convention and back, we laid out our plans and adjusted those plans according to our ever-changing circumstances.  With news of high water and flooding in Oklahoma, the convention was even moved to Northeast Oklahoma.  Since the bootheel was being good to us, we ended up remaining there longer than planned.  


After a few trips already through the Ozarks for me, my goals were to bat clean-up and pick those species up that I had missed before.  The Spotted Gar was a major target that I failed to get on this trip.  No worries though, since they are abundant where found.  


Day 1  After meeting with Bob Hrabek and hanging out with Tyler Goodall, I felt adequately supplied with enough fishing information for a long time down there.  Tyler is probably the most knowlegeable guy on wildlife in general in these parts, more than most professional biologists I would challenge too.  Great guy!


Here is Tyler calling in some rare bird with his bird call app.

I was always looking around for the overly abundant Cottonmouth of Mingo especially after seeing Tyler wearing snake proof boots. 

The Bantam Sunfish were abundant.  After catching 6 or 7, I felt like I had mastered the species good enough and so we moved on.

And then a few Starheads showed up.

Then on to another area dam to try for multiple species.

I was able to catch a much desired Blacktail Shiner which are abundant in the South.

We then asked Tyler if he knew of any good night fishing spots and we went to a good Sculpin area with both Knobfin and Bandeds which Greenwood needed.

I caught this beautiful Knobfin in some spawning green colors.

Day 2:  Another day in paradise to us northerners.  This time we went to whoop up on some Dollars and Redspots, both of which I already have but why not master the species.

Check out the colors on these spawners.




And close by was a stream full of Brook Darters

Then onward to go beat up on some Chain Pickerel.

And still being daylight, let's head to Sam A. Baker, that chigger ridden beach, but beautifully clear water.  My advice is to just stay in the water.  Gilt darters were the target but how do you catch a little fish that love the torrent.  Get a snorkel and mask.  That's right, the next 2 fish were caught by snorkel angling.  I wish I had pictures of the ice rod and snorkel gear but Greenwood is my witness.  I was so excited to see a group of Gilts darting in the fast water.  Getting my sinker heavy micro rig down to their level in torrent water was the next challenge.  Thankfully, Gilts are aggressive biters and before long my first Gilt is in my hand.  Wow!  Awesome!!!!

And then a surprise Ozark Chub came by snorkel, goggles, and ice-rod too.

Day 3 in the Bootheel.  High water changed our plans a bit and also in a good way.  Catching a Skipjack took another spot off our list for later.

Then later we hit a small stream with good numbers of Slender Madtoms.  Fishing at night with headlamps was the key.  I could see them all over in the riffles.

Day 4 was a bit more of a driving day but we managed to get Greenwood his Shadow Bass on the way out of the Heel.

Now half way across the state, we found Ozark Bass country.

Greenwood with a darker Ozark.

Yoke Darter

Then the test came as we were is Checkered Madtom country.  Will we be able to sight-fish them like the Slenders or is it more like a nocturnal blind Stonecat deal?  It was more like a Stonecat deal.  We bank fished with smaller tackle and waited for the Longears to lose their vision.  Sure enough I ended up catching 3 of the sexiest Madtoms I have ever seen.

Day 5

More traveling on Day 5 but now in Cardinal Shiner country.

Fantail Darter

Unfortunately, no spawning colors on the Cardinal.

Day 6

Northeast Oklahoma

Current Darter

Redfin Darter


Sunburst Darter

Day 7

Spent the last day in Oklahoma. 

Here is a Neosha Smallmouth subspecies.

Greenwood caught this Redspot Chub all lit up in spawning colors.

We then had to walk across this rugged dike to get to some Golden Topminnows.

Golden Topminnows were found in water that felt as warm as a hot tub.

These Longears were the most interesting looking fish.  Check out the bars on their sides.

Species List:


drawer.bli's picture

Sounds like an epic trip!!! The ozarks are an area on the top of my bucket list.

GeluNumber1's picture

All those fish are so beautifully colored. I know Minnesota has good roughfishing too, but... We just don't get fish like that here. Sure would love to head down there and catch some. Great report!

All fish are beautiful.

Deftik's picture

Whoa. That looks like one hell of a trip filled with colored up lifers! Glad to see you guys had a good time.

Eli's picture

Love the different sunnies and small cats. Looks like a fun trip.




zippyFX's picture

Simply awesome! Love those Madoms. 

Carp Chaser's picture

Great stuff! Love all the darters and other micros. A couple that stand out, the gilt darter, golden topminnow, checkered madtom. But I really like all of them.


We tried the skipjack spot, it was very high and muddy. Good work on getting those. The ozark bass would be nice too, just haven't ventured out to the western portion on the state. 

"There's always a bigger fish"

Gary's picture

Thanks for posting this write up on your awesome trip! Beautiful fish!

Do not meddle in the affairs of BAGMAN, for thou art crunchy and good with Old Bay seasoning...