North Fork Fishing Report

By Thomas and Mark Malkowicz

Fly fishing has given us a whole new reason to explore new places in the Ozarks, such as the White River. It looks a lot like other large Ozark streams, but the White River also has a western feel about it. It can be much wider in spots, and has a bedrock bottom in places. We started in the upper part of the river at Twin Bridge, which is home to the native Bronzeback, also known as the smallmouth bass. Twelve miles downriver, past the massive Rainbow Spring, the White River turns into world-class trout water.

untitled (1 of 11)The inflatable BOTE boards did us well. Sliding off little waterfalls and down shoots was a blast. Literally standing on the water casting a fishing line can’t be beat.

IMG_1533 3.JPGSmallmouth bass on a top-water popper as night started to set in.

IMG_0018.jpgSpecial thanks to River of Life Farm for suppling the best map of the area.

untitled (3 of 11)A nice rainbow, caught not long after entering the blue ribbon trout water. 

IMG_9637Deciding on a campsite each night depended on whether we thought it was a good spot to fish. Unfortunately, we didn’t do that well at picking out campsites. 

IMG_9653Hopper-dropper seemed to be the fly combination of the weekend. Even with two slightly heavy flies, such as a hopper with a Pat’s rubber-leg dropper, the Woodard #4 Pinnacle rod casted well, while reacting delicately at the same time.  

Pat’s Rubber Legs.

untitled (7 of 11)Every time we found one brown trout in the red ribbon section, we always found a few more nearby. While the rainbows seemed dispersed, the browns seem to be somewhat stacked.

DCIM101GOPROGOPR3453.JPGWe have paddled past a lot of things over the years, but seeing evidence of the historic floods along the river is a good reminder of how unpredictable nature and flooding can be. It was crazy to see a new bridge being built alongside an old bridge that still lay twisted along the river. We asked the owner of Rainbow of Life Farm, an outfitter we met one day, if he had flood insurance to help rebuild his cabins. He looked at us and said, “This wasn’t supposed to happen …”

IMG_9642As far as Missouri Ozark streams go, the North Fork ranks as one of the best.

IMG_9663Keep them wet!


We ended our weekend where the North Fork of the White River runs into Norfork Lake. Even with the signs of destruction caused by recent historic flooding, this river is top-notch, and we can’t wait to get back on it!


Return of the Current

By Thomas and Mark Malkowicz

Akers Ferry.jpgOn April 30, 2017, two inches of water flooded the Aker’s Ferry Canoe Rental shop. The Ozark National Scenic Riverways (ONSR) and the surrounding communities were hit hard by this year’s historic flooding. Yet just a few weeks later, the outfitters were up and running; the park service had re-opened many of the access points on the upper Current River; and we were headed back to our favorite Ozark stream.


Our plan was to paddle from Baptist Camp to Cedar Groves, a short 6-mile section of the river, giving us plenty of time to fish.

Because of the crystal clear water and the elevated perspective, inflatable standup paddle boards are the best way to travel on Ozark streams, in our opinion.

We’ve been obsessed with the ONSR for as long as we can remember. BOTE Boards, combined with our newfound love for fly fishing, only strengthens this obsession.

Safety on the river is always the No. 1 priority, especially after a big flood. At every sketchy spot, we hopped off the boards to make sure we were ready for stuff like this. Pictured above was the only spot we found that was not passable. Big thanks to the ONSR Stream Team and the local outfitters for doing all they did to clear obstructions.


untitled (7 of 7)A backpacking state-of-mind is helpful when packing for an overnight paddle board trip. We like to add a small cooler full of chilled water, fresh food and ice cold beer.

How we have been on this river for more than the past 20 years and never narrowed in on these fish until now seems almost unacceptable.

Brown trout can be elusive in the Current River, but you will definitely know when you have one hooked: they fight like monsters.


Nothing beats being able to just kick the board to the shore to fish a riffle and land a good fish.

untitled (6 of 7)


This was our most successful fishing trip on the Current River. In case you’re wondering, every fish we caught, we put back in the river.

Special thanks to



Paddling Across The Kitchen


Paddleboarding has somewhat changed the way we approach backcountry travel. Growing up canoeing rivers, we could never get enough; our trips got longer, our boat got heavier and heavier. When we were not paddling, we were packing backpacks with ultralight gear and hiking deep into the wilderness to find seclusion and a sense of exploration. The boards bring it all together, there is a sense of freedom when traveling light with only the minimal gear needed.

Our plan on this trip was to explore a lake in Southern Illinois, just southeast of Carbondale, Ill., called Devils Kitchen. The lake butts up to a wilderness area that we have always enjoyed backpacking to. It’s roughly a five-mile paddle from the northern end of Devils Kitchen lake to the Panthers Den Wilderness hidden in the southern part of the lake.


It’s argued whether or not Southern Illinois is part of the Ozarks, but as we paddled from the wide-open water of the lake into the long, finger-like coves, the rolling hills and exposed rocks looked an awful lot like the Ozarks. Small rocky shores turn into larger borders and bluffs that rise out of the water.

tom fire.jpgThe reward of this trip was definitely the campsite that felt totally hidden and remote. Even though Panthers Den and the rest of Shawnee National Forest isn’t technically a part of the Ozark plateau, it sure felt a lot like home.

Devils Kitchen 5.jpg

Special thanks to


SUP StL: Our Favorite Paddle Board Spots Around St. Louis

by Thomas & Mark Malkowicz

One of the things that drew us to stand-up paddle boarding was the fact that it was a new sport. Even before our boards arrived, we started researching places around St. Louis that would be interesting to paddle, and we noticed there wasn’t much information out there.

The most rewarding parts about our new hobby was that it gave us a reason to explore parts of our city that we had never been to, and look at familiar places in a new way.

Continue reading “SUP StL: Our Favorite Paddle Board Spots Around St. Louis”

Mount Whitney

By Mark Malkowicz

This is a story and video of how my girlfriend Rachel and I traveled across Death Valley from Las Vegas, Nevada to Lonepine, California with hopes of reaching the summit of Mount Whitney. Standing at 14,508 feet, Mount Whitney is the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states. Our plan was to take the standard route known as the Whitney Trail but having left the first week of June, the trail wasn’t yet clear of snow. The snowy conditions forced us up by way of “the chute”, a winter or spring variation of the route.

whitney edits (17 of 22)
The chute is a steep band of snow leading to the ridge that would eventually take us to the summit. In the early morning hours, the chute is icy, making it ideal for cramponing our way up. Later in the day however, the hot California sun warms it and the ice turns to a wet slush. Our plan was to get up while it was frozen and back down before it got too wet.

This was Rachel’s first climb but despite her lack of experience, she was strong all throughout the summit day, making her a killer climbing partner. Not sure if either of us would have made it without the other and I’m looking forward to getting back on a mountain with her someday.

Caye Caulker by Boat

By Thomas Malkowicz

Water Taxi

Full throttle across the Caribbean Sea, our destination was the small island of Caye Caulker. Every seat on the water taxi was full, and, from a small window, Belize City was disappearing behind the boat. My wife, JoLee, and I are in Central America, on a 21-mile trip north into waters that become incredibly clear and blue. Small green islands are stretched out all along the horizon. Compared to the heat of Belize City, the air became noticeably fresh and cool as we approached the island.

Blackbeard Island National Wildlife RefugeThe free Belize Illustrated map I was reading during this 45-minute voyage was filled with information that explained why this area is a destination for people from all over the globe. It states that, “Belize is a haven for abundant flora and fauna … Belize has the lowest population density in Central America … the climate is pretty much near perfect … and Belizeans make you feel as welcome and comfortable, like nowhere else.” Perfect!

The day before, while waiting in line at the airport a gentleman had advised us to skip Belize City and hop on another plane. He explained it would save us a lot of trouble if we just flew to Caye Caulker. But being on the water is why we came here, and it only seems proper to explore this tropical setting aboard a boat.

Belize 1.1.jpg

Continue reading “Caye Caulker by Boat”