11-16-03 - The last opportunity for Dan to lose
his "Trout Virginity"; it's DO OR DIE time folks!
Waters Fished: Bennett Spring
Fish Caught: 4
Outing Date: 11-16-03
Air Temp: somewhere in the upper 60's!
Water Temp: Didn't Take It, relatively bathwater
Water Level: Normal
Water Color: CLEAR
Fish Species: Rainbow Trout, Smallmouth Bass, Bluegill
Pattern Fished: White Midge, #22 & a Home-Brewed Tan Thread
Pattern Color: see above
Fishing Quality: With some thought and some help from the locals
we are starting to unlock the secrets...
Last Day...we thought about doing Taneycomo's tailwaters
but I'm just not sure that Wenk is ready for that, and neither of
us had chest waders with to go there anyway. Wenk was kinda itchin'
to go back to Bennett Spring; ya think I'm gonna argue?
On the way up we stopped at Larry's Sporting Goods;
I went straight to the fly boxes. I had left my dries at home, and
obviously the Griffith's Gnats (the only dries with me) were getting
shunned by the trout. I assume the "Larry" was behind
the counter, and as started selecting flies, he kinda said, "Yup,
that's what I thought...dries were really hot yesterday". Alright,
I guess I do know a thing or two about the trout afterall :P
We first started in Section 3, the only place where
we found a nice deep pool to ourselves. In short order we realized
WHY there was no one here...no trout! ACK. However, this area was
full of suckers and, wait a minute, what the heck are those? Those
are SMALLMOUTH! 2 casts and they're gone.
We moved upstream and started fishing where everyone
else (and the trout) were; just below the dam that separates Section
#2 from Section #1 (I think, correct me if I'm wrong). Not only
were the plenty of trout, and some BIG ones, but also bluegills
and those were pretty big TOO!
Once again, the fish were spooky...follows on many
offerings but rarely a taker. There were a couple guys banging fish
with regularity at two outflows from the hatchery up on the bank;
again fast water was the ticket. Another midge hatch was coming
off and I took advantage as best I could. Most fish would look at
the White Midge as it drifted by, but the current wasn't quite fast
enough to elicit the "gotta eat it now" urge. I did manage
2 good hookups in this water, but patience was the order. I lost
a third jumper....it hit the fly, turned down, and immediately came
back up, throwing the hook. Well that was fun!
Eventually we moved our way up into a stretch of
Section 1 that we had fished on Friday and gotten some hookups (although
nothing landed). By this time the midges and mayflies were coming
off in full force; it looked like two different mayflies, one more
olive (BWO?) and one solid pale cream (I don't have a clue). Tossing
#18 mayflies didn't get any interest, but I got a few takes on the
little #22 White Midge.
Let me tell you, my first fish was breathtaking.
The ground color was an olive yellow, more towards the yellow, and
the gill plate was ruby red. Not to mention the vivid white-tipped
red anal and ventral fins, nor the solid red stripe down the lateral
line. This was simply a perfect fish. Wait, I didn't need to write
all that, just look at the picture to your right!
Well, I'll tell you that this being the third day
of the C&R season, I expected to see more folks out all weekend,
especially on this sunny and warm Sunday Afternoon. While it wasn't
as crowded as I expected, there still was an angler every 50 to
100 feet. Etiquette was not quite what I would have expected in
a situation like this, and unlike the Root, people were moving around
quite a bit.
So when I broke off, I somehow expected I'd get
to fish the risers on the far bank after I retied, but two folks
literally stepped in and walked right up to the fish. I was admittedly
very PO'd and somewhat flabbergasted. They proceed to whack about
10 fish in half that time, right out of the spot I was fishing!
Pissed was kinda becoming "rage"; that point where I actually
Well, there were more risers (and no anglers) to
my right and I started working downstream. A few missed takes got
me more frustrated with the situation. Then another angler comes
in maybe 20 feet downstream of me and proceeds to work downstream
ahead of me, so now I'm stuck between 2 sets of what I'm considering
very INCONSIDERATE fly fishermen. And the worst part is that the
couple to my left has landed another 20 trout while fishing over
an area I just covered.
I did manage rainbow #4 and then did what little
I could to help Wenk out (he somehow managed to squeeze in on my
left). I started thinking about what was going on, and realized
that by MO standards these anglers were actually probably VERY considerate
based on how crowded these streams can be (look for the pictures,
I've literally seen them SHOULDER-TO-SHOULDER, SHOULDERS TOUCHING!).
So in comparison to the norm, these anglers probably felt they were
giving me PLENTY of room to work. Thinking through this problem
I kinda figured I shouldn't be as upset as I was.
Well, one of the angling couple got out and was
resting on the bench, and as Wenk and I were thinking of leaving
I decided to talk to him. After brief hellos, I broke the ice. "I
have to ask you, what the heck are you banging all those trout with?!"
He reached into his vest pocket and pulled out
a box of flies. He carefully reached in and handed me a tan scud
imitation that dropped my jaw with it's simplicity. I won't divulge
the exact pattern here out of respect for his generosity for sharing
a technique that was developed over 16 YEARS of fishing Bennett
Spring. This couple had put in some SERIOUS time on the water, and
it had paid off. The other angler had a 60 trout day on Saturday.
After re-rigging Wenk's rod I decided we were going
to finish the day RIGHT THERE. It was "DO OR DIE" time,
Wenk had the secret fly, the secret technique, and if that wasn't
going to get him any fish, NOTHING WOULD.
The last picture of this report sums up the results.
We left at 3:00 pm so I could get to the Airport just a touch early...turns
out I was delayed several hours and more or less a prisoner in the
airport terminal (they close security at 7:30 PM, you have to be
in the terminal before then in order to get on your flight)!
As I sit here now, I am conflicted on the weekend.
Don't get me wrong, I had a fantastic trip. However, I'm not sure
I would EVER fish the Missouri Trout Parks during the regular season.
Dave @ Creekside mentioned he had heard that Missouri wasn't as
good as Iowa. For numbers for the average out-of-town angler, I'd
say no. However, for the shear beauty of the Missouri Rainbows,
I'd say it beats Iowa (no contest). For the opportunity to catch
large fish, I'd say they are about equal. For solitude, Iowa again
wins without question. However, for sightfishing and water clarity,
these two spring creeks really put IA to shame.
Will I go back to Missouri? Without a doubt yes,
as long as Wenk is living there. Will I do better? You bet, especially
now that I've been keyed in on the local tricks that really get
the fish biting (and I'm sure there's 20 other ways to get them
to bite too). Would I suggest going to the Missouri Trout Parks
if you're a new Fly Angler looking for a weekend trip...not a chance
in H E Double Hockey Sticks!
However, I do have to make one observation; this
was opening day of Winter C&R Season. All the trout in the rivers
had been there for at least a month with not a single angler around.
Many of the trout had obviously been in the river a lot longer than
that. They've made it through at least 1 long harvest season in
which they are probably pressured more than Trout ANYWHERE. In other
words, the fish were were fishing too were definitely "experienced".
And now put them through a C & R season where they get to learn
what not to eat. Without a doubt this is where some of those BIG
TROUT we saw came from...years of being fished and at times learning
the hard way. I suspect that the regular harvest season is much
different; fish are stocked DAILY. Eager trout fresh out of the
raceways are no doubt a bit easy to catch...so that might make things
a bit easier during the heavy harvest months of spring and summer.
The few that make it through that first week are the ones that make
it for a LONG time, the ones that are still here come C&R time!
So if you want a bit of a challenge and some stunning looking rainbows,
the Trout Parks are worth the trip.
NEXT TIME I'm in the southwest you bet I'm hitting
Taneycomo. The North Fork of the White River is on my list, as is
Norfork River in Arkansas and the other two MO State Trout Parks.
PLENTY more rivers to explore down there in the next 1.5 years while
Wenk is livin' there, and I hear that FAT is itchin' to get his
driftboat down there on some of those tailwaters! I smell a "Spring
Trip" in the air....