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11-16-03 - looking over the bridge into something that must be a broodstock raceway...I told Wenk "Up here we call those STEELHEAD"!
The dam that separates Section 1 (upstream) from Section 2.
It took tons of effort, and Wenk must be bad luck, 'cause the second he walked away I got my first rainbow of the day.
Another Rainbow, again on the little #22 White Midge (white hackle, white dubbed body, white tail).
A stretch of the Section 1 water....Bennett Spring was indeed quite beautiful in spots.
OH MY! This rainbow looks more like a Kern River Golden Trout! Another "replica-worthy" catch in Missouri!
One of the monster red-stripers that lurked around all day! Fat, Healthy, and definitely not interested in the dries (or anything else we tossed at them!)
Another Rainbow succumbs to the White Midge.
Wenk is starting to get a handle on how to cast that SCIV St. Croix that Justin built for me. By the end of the day he was puttin' out fat roll casts all the way across the river.
FINALLY, 10 days on the water, and with help from a kind stranger Wenk LOSES his "Fly Rod" and "Trout Virginity"! CONGRATULATIONS!

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
Weather: Gorgeous
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 Scud
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 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 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 SAY SOMETHING!

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 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....


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