Monday, 22 May 2017

The Secret to River Discovery

The Secret to River Discovery

When the legendary explorers Lewis and Clark stepped off the banks onto their flotilla of pirogues and keelboats to sail west in 1804, they knew they were leaving behind all signs of civilization.

Isolated fishing CourtoisPhoto: Robyn Areno Ehrmann
Empty stretches of river during the week are perfect for anglers floating the Courtois.

“We were now about to penetrate a country at least two thousand miles in width, on which the foot of civilized man had never trod...” contemplated Meriwether Lewis in 1804. In his imagination he conjured colorful imagery of what they might discover.

You can still experience a similar sense of wonderment to what Lewis and Clark experienced. It awaits every river floater traversing the Courtois, Huzzah and Meramec rivers.

Floating backto campsitePhoto: Robyn Areno Ehrmann
Floating back to your car is a convenient benefit of floating the Courtois.

But, you have to know the secret to unlocking the beauty deep within the heart of Ozark river country.

By departing a day or two after the weekend crowds have thinned out, your river excursion can literally float you back in time to your own “expedition of discovery.”

Floating during the week can be a solitary experience. Fewer floaters venture out on the river during the week. You'll encounter longer stretches of empty water and more chances to view wildlife or fish the bounty of the streams.

With less crowds, you may float silently near groups of aquatic box turtles sunning themselves on a partially sunken tree limb. Wild turkeys inhabit these wilds and are plentiful so keep your eye out for a flock feeding on a river bank. The great horned owl and bald eagle have also been spotted.

Small Mouth BassPhoto: Robyn Areno Ehrmann
Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu) are plentiful in the Courtois, Huzzah and Meramec rivers.

An abundance of critters inhabit the majestic limestone bluffs, rocky outcroppings and cliffs. Salamanders and snakes lie protected under stones and dark passages. Crawfish make their homes in muddy banks and below the surface small-mouth bass abound. They are one of Missouri's most popular game fish and can keep any angler entertained throughout their float.

Floats on the Courtois river are the most popular since you can float right back to your campsite at Bass' River Resort. With nine different floats available on the Courtois, you can experience a full range of floating challenges and each one presents a completely different experience during the week rather than on the weekend.

Longnose GarPhoto: Robyn Areno Ehrmann
A Missouri Longnose Gar fish (Lepisosteus osseus) glides along the banks of the middle Courtois.

Choose your own adventures on the Courtois:

The Berryman to Blunt Slab float is approximately seven miles for canoes and kayaks. This part of the stream can pose a challenge to the novice in the spring after a good rain when water levels rise transforming the rapids to a Class II status; or it can be a great, leisurely outing for the entire family at normal levels. It's tight and twisty and generally has very few hazards.

Blunts Low Water Bridge to Bass is approximately six miles long. It is one of the nicest parts of the Courtois with large winding gravel bars for riverside picnicking. Herons and other wildlife often frequent the long still pools of crystal clear water. This short duration float is perfect for swimming, fishing and relaxing fun in the sun.

Bass to Scotia, starting at the low water bridge at Bass, this trip is approximately seven and a half miles long. Experience a wilderness-type trip where deep, dark caves are located on the banks of this section of the stream. You'll float through sections of the Mark Twain National Forest and on to the Huzzah Wildlife Area. About 100 yards above Scotia's low water bridge is the confluence of the Huzzah and Courtois.

Isolated Rafting on the CourtoisPhoto: Robyn Areno Ehrmann
Rafts are a stable platform to watch the ever changing river scenery on the Courtois.

Scotia to Onondaga is approximately four to five miles and the stream becomes a little wider. It's called the Huzzah for the next 1.5 miles. As the waters of the combined Courtois and Huzzah, rivers enters the Meramec River the water becomes very deep, slow and wide. In most places you can't see the bottom, but it's an excellent trip for the true fisherman. When you reach Onondaga there's a high water bridge. You'll float under the bridge and take out immediately on your right.

Missouri Aster FlowersPhoto: Robyn Areno Ehrmann
Along the banks of the Courtois wild asters come to bloom in early spring and paint the forest with their vivid colors.

The Huzzah river parallels the Courtois to the west and provides a similar floating experience to the Courtois. For paddlers wanting to avoid sharing the water with throngs of other floaters, Huzzah Creek offers a splendid paddling destination. And you have the option of paddling all the way through to the Meramec river from either the Courtois or Huzzah.

Bass' River Resort has been a popular floating departure point for thousands of adventurers over the years.

But to truly experience a wilderness outing, create your own “Discovery Expedition” by floating the river during the week days after most everyone has already left.

Change is Inevitable, Unless it's from a Vending M...
Get out there and Explore!

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Monday, 22 May 2017

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