Fishin And Fireworks

The July 4th weekend was one that I held in quiet anticipation for many days…for you see, I would be in Missouri, fly rod in hand, cool water running around my waders and tantalizing trout ready and willing to take a fly. School had ran long this year and when combined with many volleyball workouts, Vickie and I had not had much of a chance to camp and be out for a much needed rest, thus our trip to central Missouri could not come quick enough.

Thursday, June 30th found me up and running our 7:30am volleyball conditioning and when I pulled back in the drive at 10:15am the camper was hooked up, loaded and already headed west. A hot 6 hours later…and some 400 miles, we took a left off of Missouri 64 into Bennet Spring State Park and the all too familiar campground that we have had so many good times in.

Eager could easily be defined as me, cool water, fly rod in hand and plenty of trout…for it took only about 30 minutes to set up the camper, slip on my waders, grab a $3 dollar daily permit and hit my favorite hole; just below the waterfall in area one…for it is here that I have had so many memorable days and while it may not be the best spot on the spring, it is where I always like to start my fishing.

As I stepped into the water, all the stress of a long busy day resolved as I quickly switched gears and morphed into my puzzle fisherman…the one who tries to figure out what the trout are eating, what color they prefer and most importantly…at what depth they are lounging. I started out with my 6 weight outfit and my type 3 weighted line; made a few cross stream casts with a black wooly bugger and noticed that most of the fish I could see had their bellies on the bottom of the stream as it was 5:30pm Missouri time and the sun had not quite cast its permanent shadow upon the water. I like my black wooly and at times it can be stubborn so I continued to cast with it but started making more of an upstream presentation allowing my fly to fall further in the water column and on the first adjusted cast I had a take, a tug…AKA Mr. Trout gave me a wakeup call. Next cast was exactly the same and this time I was ready and quickly gave a strip set and had my first trout of the trip. He was nothing special, oh, I am sure that his mom thought he was…but he was the average run of the mill rainbow of about 13 inches and just what the fly fishing doctor ordered for me. Over the next hour and 15 minutes I landed a total of 12 fish…mostly on the wooly, but a few were caught on a blue, size 12 crackle back; a fly invented over here in Mizzou land and made to imitate a hatching caddis.

Now…listen up: don’t fish at Bennet Spring on Saturday mornings unless you have the patience of Job…I am nowhere near Job! Actually I already knew this and when combined with a 3 day holiday, let’s just say that I started my day out on the river, The Niangua River, and it was a great morning. Now let me throw this your way in case you ever go and fish the fabled Niangua…you must be done fishing by 9am as their will be hundreds, maybe thousands of water loving, canoe toting, beer drinking individuals descend upon the river for their 8 mile pilgrimage and you don’t…make that can’t, fish any longer. It is hard to cast between tubes, rafts, canoes…and did I mention guys drinking lots of beer? You get the picture and by 8:30am I was back at the campground with 2 nice trout and lots of great memories.

The weekend was superb and the high water mark came for me on Sunday night at about 6:30pm when a large hatch popped off on the river and every self-respecting rainbow trout took its turn at the buffet. I quickly tied on a size 10 blue crackle back that I had tied just a few hours earlier and proceeded to fool about 20 trout in a little over an hour. The routine was not even complicated as I would make long cross stream casts to the other bank…quickly mend my line and prepare for a take, if that didn’t happen immediately it might in the next few feet of water as Mr. Rainbow would follow across current in hot pursuit, if at that point the take didn’t happen I would wait until the fly was directly over the recently cut weed beds for a take and lastly…and quite frequently the tug would come as I started to strip in line at the end of the swing. If it sounds like I have a process…then you are correct, I do and that is how you catch trout…with a process as these are smart critters.

Sunday night found me tired, ready for bed by 9:30pm and as I lay there drifting off to sleep, the feeling of a trout taking my fly still running through my head, it happened, the first of many area fireworks. Some were organized (and very loud) while others were…let’s say not organized, the folks here in Missouri love to celebrate the 4th! I couldn’t agree more, what a great country we live in and only because of the many men and women in our armed forces do I have the opportunity to go forth and Enjoy the Great Outdoors.


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