To Heaven and Back on the Upper Jacks Fork

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Published on: Mar. 19, 2013

bluffs, the saturated greens of spring, and the soothing sounds of flowing water tune out the world, and make for bliss-filled hours fishing. No bites. No regrets. I guess that’s why they call it fishing and not catching.

The Power of Wild Places

The upper Jacks Fork reminds you of the power of wild places. It is a jewel of an intact natural system. The Ozark National Scenic Riverways will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. It continues to preserve the most biologically and geologically diverse float streams in Missouri. The Jacks Fork and Current rivers were the first in the nation to be federally protected, and their watershed is an area of global biological significance.

Here on the upper Jacks Fork, wilderness reigns supreme. Gone are the typical float stimuli of overpasses, roads, power lines, countless gravel bar camps, and the drone from outboard motors. As humankind continues to reshape much of the state, the importance of these remaining wild places will increase.

After a leisurely second day fly fishing and floating, we reach our takeout at Bay Creek late in the afternoon. A local outfitter has shuttled our truck down to the takeout, which makes loading up for the long trip home a simple process.

Now all packed up, I walk around my truck checking the tie downs on my canoe one last time. The sound of the Jacks Fork rushing over shallow rocks is heavy in my ears. I enjoy one long last look as it disappears around the next willow-covered gravel bar. On it flows. And it is already pulling me back.

Departures are often accompanied by epiphanies. Watching the river meander out of sight, I realize I have been to heaven and back on the upper Jacks Fork. I know there is life after the Jacks, but for me, there is no longer life without it.

Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass

There are some great smallmouth fisheries in North America. However, I think most fly fishers are unaware that some of the best smallmouth flyfishing is found in the Missouri Ozarks. It is a place of swift streams, cool, clear waters, and rocky bottoms — ideal habitat for the smallmouth bass. Toss in the scenic beauty of the Jacks Fork with its grand dolomite bluffs and it becomes an inspiring place to fly fish.

Smallmouths are pound-for-pound one of the best fighting freshwater fish to

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