3-28-04 - Day Two of the Missouri Trout Trip!
Waters Fished: Bennett Spring
Fish Caught: 7/14 or so
Outing Date: 3-28-04
Weather: Rain until around 2:00 PM
Air Temp: 60's dropping to probably low 50's.
Water Temp: forgot to take it.
Water Level: ? Normal?
Water Color: pretty clear, visibility several feet although some
runoff put a slight tinge in the river towards afternoon.
Fish Species: Rainbow Trout
Pattern Fished: Successful patterns included Olive and Orange SLF
scuds, a small tan softhackle, Blue Winged Olive dry and a peach
Pattern Color: see above.
Fishing Quality: challenging, plenty of fish to be had if you can
unlock the secrets.
BACK AT BENNETT! All last night Wenk and I had
been a slight bit giddy; we both really enjoyed our prior 2 days
last fall in Bennett; it's roughly 1 hour away from Dan's place
in Springfield, MO, so he's actually been back a third time...in
other words folks, this is WENKER's home river for at least the
next year or two. Man, I'd be thrilled to call Bennett Spring my
We got up early; it'd be a 2 hour+ drive from St.
Louis to Bennet Spring. On the road after 7:00 AM, and with gas
stops and such we got to Bennett Spring shortly before 10:00 AM.
A quick stop into the Park Store for tags and we were ready to go.
Well, I was. The drive started out gorgeous, sunny, but 30 minutes
in it was dark. 60 minutes in, it was raining pretty thoroughly,
and by the time we were ready to fish, the rain had still not abated.
I had my raingear with. Wenk had left his at home!
From 10:30 to 12:00 we pounded the middle stretch
of fly only zone (#1). Not a single bite as long as the water was
being churned by the rain, but I did manage 2 fair fish, one on
a #20 olive SLF scud, the other on a bright flame orange SLF scud.
Both fish came with breaks in the rain, both went without photos
and were quickly released.
Wenker was having problems. First, he was definitely
soaked. It was probaby lower 60's...not exactly freezing but still
not comfortable to be wet all day (see 3-24). Additionally, he has
new contacts that are driving him batty. Try threading #20 hooks
on 2 lb. flourocarbon in the RAIN. If you had bad eyes you'd give
up and go home, which is basically what Wenk did.
I was up in the air once Wenker left (he did stop
at several fly shops to try magnifiers, but he felt for the $50
they wanted and the minimal benefit he got it wasn't worth it).
It was just after noon...the rain was still coming down. My buddy
had gone home, so here I was all alone in a big state park left
to fish for myself, 8 hours or more from home.
Well I drove around a bit, warmed up, and decided
I should at least take more pictures before I left. I put in some
casting practice for a while, perfecting my single-handed spey (the
fish weren't biting, why not practice on big water?!) Well I can
now say that I can put a speycast bank to bank in the middle of
Zone #1...aka. one HUGE roll cast baby! Only takes a 9' 4wt St.
Kinda bored now that the casting was down, I went
up to the springhead to watch the trout (there are TONS up there).
Tried my luck and man, it brings back Paradise Spring. The fish
will even congregate at your feet here (for the opportunity to feed
on anything you stir up while wading) but they'll turn their noses
up at just about anything I offered. I also got to sight some non-trout
residents of the spring, including some sort of darter/scuplin and
The rain let up and I headed back downstream. Noting
my earlier success, I tied on an olive flashback scud and pounded
the water. Most of the guys out here were fishing long casts with
indicators and glo bugs underneath....they weren't having any luck.
Again, I should note that as you walk through the gravel, fish congregate
at your feet. It is in fact ILLEGAL to shuffle your feet in the
water. But it is legal to wade, and it is legal to MOVE. So while
all these guys were fishing the far side, I was fishing the border
of vegetation and gravel. Periodically I'd have a dozen fish stacked
up at my feet, I"d take 3-4 steps back into considerably shallower
water...and now I had a pod of rainbows to sightfish with my miniscule
scud. Eventually I picked up the most elegantly colored rainbow
of the trip. This is what I was here for.
Well the action remained slow in Zone #1, so I
bumped down to Zone #2. Below the damn, there are TONS of larger
fish, smart fish, and overall the water isn't that fast. I swung
a Tucker Nymph for a bit in a couple of different sizes; I'd get
follows from BIG trout up to half way across the pool, but nothing
I could offer as far as movement could convince them to bite.
Then the hatch started. Looked like little BWO's
or something. Well, actually I should clarify, it was both a hatch
and a spinner fall. After rotating through several flies, I found
what worked, a #20 soft hackle dubbed in tan, swung right underneat
the surface over the heads of actively feeding fish. Nailed 2 and
missed several this way.
I then bumped down to below the bridge and switch
up to a surface presentation. A couple missed strikes later and
I noticed an actively feeding fish right at my feet, no more than
2 feet away, whack anything that floated on the surface. I slowly
moved back and hovered my fly right above the water's surface. The
trout came upwards and floated in the mid-water column. I touched
the surface and could almost see his eyes turn upwards. A couple
hops and he was definitely watching. The moment I set the fly on
the surface and walked it to form a v he SLAMMED IT!
Now again, I'll note that the action wasn't FAST,
these fish see countless offerings year round. Yes, many are stocked
(and harvested) but many remain overwinter (afterall this stream
does see some natural reproduction...many 3-4" fingerlings
were feeding in the shallow water). Zone 2 is definitely unique
in that many anglers clean their fish here.....at first I though
I was seeing crusty fish swimming around, once I got a close look
I realized it was trout with their mouths overflowing with trout
flesh. I watched as trout tore at a carcass like a pack of sharks.
Instinctively I look for something "flesh" colored in
my box...a pink glo bug?!
3 casts in and whack, fish on! At this point I
had bagged my limit, and I seem to remember something about the
MO Trout Park rules being that once you have your limit you must
cease fishing? Wasn't going to go back and check, and heck, it was
4:30 PM, so I stopped. Took a few more pictures and got in the car
to make the long drive back, straight all the way to Chicago! Didn't
get home until just after 12:30 AM Monday morning. I'm still beat
from the drive. Bennett Spring though, definitely worth a trip at
least once a year. However, I still know there is MUCH MORE to see
and do in Missouri (and Arkansas)...Little Red, Spring River, Taneycomo,
and many more unique settings to try for trout!
In the meantime, I'll leave you with this link
until I've rebuilt my links pages - www.ozarkchronicles.com
- MT (Matt Tucker) runs the site and is an avid Ozark Fly Angler.
Great place for info should you be considering a trip to Missouri
or Arkansas. Matt had a schedule conflict this time around, but
you can bet I'll do my best to put in a day or two on the water
with him in 2004! Heck, Matt (Matt P) Tucker (Tucker Nymph)? You
know the trout karma says that something interesting is gonna happen
when the two of us get out on a river....can you say maybe Cutthroats?