David had the week off, and we wanted to get a float in before we headed off on our vacation and David back to the field doing forestry research. We planned a couple of days when the weather forecasted the chance of rain at no more than 15%.
Well I have learned over the years not to trust the weather guys and gals enough to cancel a trip because of an iffy forecast, but I have also picked up on the idea that a great forecast can also be paired with bad weather - and we got some of that. We did get enough breaks to make it a good time, but the floating ended up going by the wayside.
Luckily, Red Buff is a beautiful enough area to make it in itself an attraction, and some decent smallmouth fishing can be had right in that area for smallmouth. It ended up being a very nice couple of days.
Red Bluff is right at the upper stretches of the Huzzah (see map). The way we get down there, coming from west of St. Louis, is to get off at Cuba, go through Steelville, and kind of wind through the county roads until you get there. GPS or Google Maps will get you better directions than I can give you.
There are two main sections to the campground, the larger being the loops down by the river. It should be noted, that while it looked like all the sites that were still in existence were campable, there are some down in the lower part that were devastated by the floods last winter. Also, the lower sites are most certainly at some risk in flash flooding events, and are so labeled.
There is a second set of campsites up on the bluffs, right after you turn off the county road into the Rec site. We were there in the middle of the week, and all were reserved, so if you want one of these sites, get a reservation. They have beautiful views and ARE NOT suitable for a family with small children.
There are sites in the lower loops that are above the flash flood risk area, and also have nice grass and shade.
For the fishing, we worked up and downstream from the campground using light spinning gear and primarily Rebel Craws, a standby that rarely fails to produce smallies in the Ozark streams. Though there had been an inch or so of rain, the stream here never got muddy - it was crystal clear. The fishing was good, but not great these two days, producing about one smallmouth per hour - none large (8"-15"), and all were released in good condition. Catch and release of smallies is encouraged as these streams do not produce well enough to allow for taking a ton of fish.
If you have a family, this section of the Huzzah is about as good as it gets for playing in the water. Keep your kids safe, but the water is pretty gentle and not too deep. Obvious disclaimer I have to include - supervise your kids and have them wear PFD's.
We love this spot and hope to get back soon and will float the stream down to the HWY Z bridge, with lots of stops for fishing, swimming, and playing.