A fishing trip on the Eleven Point is an adventure that takes you through some of the most spectacular scenery the Missouri Ozark Mountains have to offer.
The Eleven Point River is Missouri’s only National Wild and Scenic River. It was given this designation in 1968 as one of the original eight rivers chosen for the system. Located in a remote region of state between West Plains and Poplar Bluff, a fishing trip on the Eleven Point is an adventure that takes you through some of the most spectacular scenery the Missouri Ozark Mountains have to offer.
Brian Sloss could easily be confused for a Rocky Mountain trout fishing guide. He primarily fly fishes from a drift boat, which is a wide, flat bottom boat with a pointed stern that floats down river and is controlled by oars. Sloss’s trips are the same sort of fishing trips available on famed western rivers, like the Yellowstone, Madison and Colorado. Except here in Missouri, you won’t have to fight the crowds, and you’ll likely catch more and bigger fish.
“When you are on the Eleven Point River, you see forest, springs and wildlife. What you don’t see is cabins or resorts. This translates to less fishing pressure than many of the other rivers in the Ozarks and other parts of the country,” Sloss said.
Sloss is comfortable guiding anglers of all skill levels. He often works with first time fly fishers. Fly fishing is a cerebral sport. It requires a lot of practice and attention. It’s comparable golf. The first few times you try it, chances are you won’t be very good. But if you enjoy it and maintain the right attitude with persistence you’ll progressively become better. A good guide, like Sloss, shortens the learning curve dramatically.
“Beginners who need a little extra help, will start with some casting lessons at the boat ramp before we start fishing. The goal is to have them catching fish as soon as possible, so I try to keep it simple. I teach casting basics, how to drift your fly and how to land the fish. I want them to have a positive first experience and realize they can fly fish and prove it with a few fish in the net right off the bat,” Sloss said.
Fly fishing has a grace about it that creates a romantic desire. Many people who have watched the movie, "A River Runs Through It" think they would like to give fly fishing a try, but mistakenly believe it is out of reach. Fly fishing is actually much more local than most believe. It’s often overlooked, because many harbor the common misconception fly fishing is reserved for western mountain rivers. That’s just wrong. The Eleven Point River offers as good of fly fishing opportunity as anywhere, and Sloss is the guy to teach you how to do it.
For those who already have fly fishing experience, Sloss can teach you to be a better angler, while educating you on the in and outs of fishing the Eleven Point.
“More experienced fishermen can expect to learn more about how this river fishes and what methods work best here, especially during the time of their trip. We can mix it up with nymphing and streamer fishing. Dry fly fishing isn’t the most effective method here, but if the opportunity rises, we can give it a shot,” Sloss said.
Sloss provides all the equipment necessary for his trips, including rods, reels, flies and more. He does guide spin fishing trips too, for those who are not interested in fly fishing. Of course, clients are welcome to bring their own gear if they want to. On his full day trips, Sloss includes a shore lunch. You can sit back and relax while he does all the work.
Spend a day floating and fishing the beautiful Eleven Point River with Sloss in his drift boat and you’ll understand why this special river is a National Wild and Scenic River. The Eleven Point River deserves its recognition as one of America’s most precious waters.
Brandon Butler is the Executive Director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri