Bennett Spring is one of several Missouri trout parks that offer great opportunities to a patient angler, especially during non-peak hours. One May afternoon I was working in the area and had the opportunity to visit Bennett Spring sometime after 5:30 PM. The park officially closes at sundown so my time was limited. While I was disappointed at not being able to fish into the night, my favorite time for trout, I was determined to make the most of the time I had.
Preparation is so important. I get that, I really do. But on this day, I realized that my felt sole shoes were no longer allowed in Missouri, so I had an excuse to visit the local fly shop. Luckily, they had some nice new Simms stud soles in my size, as well as a nice Orvis fishing shirt, so that I didn’t have to fish in my button-down dress shirt. Turns out I also needed a license, and a trout stamp. And a permit to fish the park. Only two of those were available at the fly shop, so I also had to make a trip to the commissary in the park to get that permit. Now it is closer to 6:15 PM, but I am more determined than ever to fish. Finally having all the gear in hand, and the necessary paperwork, I parked in the spacious lot, noting with pleasure that it was mostly empty, and began rigging my gear. As I walked toward the water, I noted that the flow coming off the low water dam was forming a nice pool that seemed deeper against the far bank. There were two anglers down to my right where the stream narrowed, so I waded in closer to the dam, giving them a wide berth, and began to cast, letting the fly drift near the far bank.
As you know by now, I’m going to start with a sow bug or a wooly bugger. Today i tied on a bead head sow bug, about a 16, and a strike indicator about 2 feet above it. This is a smaller stream, so the casting was easy and I enjoyed the rhythm of cast, drift, mend, and cast. I took two small rainbows, one that fought completely underwater, and the other that gave me one nice leap against the pressure of the rod before succumbing. Neither required the net, and a quick flip of the barbless hook sent them flashing on their way.
As a warm day gave way to a pleasant evening, I noticed a hatch coming off. While I drifted the sow bug again, I studied the emergers and thought about fishing a dry. Certainly didn’t expect this opportunity! I brought my tackle to hand, looped my rod, and shuffled through my fly box for a dry. I found a #20 Caddis, and tied it on. My fellow anglers down stream were regularly catching fish on light tackle, but I wanted the challenge of the dry. I began casting against the far bank where the pool widened out, a place I had observed numerous trout feeding. I finally found a spot where I can somewhat realistically drift the fly over an active area under some overhanging brush. After my first drift, I back cast, and paused for a few minutes to let the water settle, then cast again. This time, my drift was adequate to fool at least one trout, and the ensuing tie up rewarded me with a nice fish, which I quickly released. For the next few minutes, I took a fish on one out of three casts, as the feeding frenzy seemed to peak. Soon enough, I began to lose the light as the sun dropped behind the trees of the far bank and shadows spread. Even though these were hatchery fish, there was a great satisfaction in bringing them to a dry. I headed to my car, satisfied and eager for supper. The experience was complete when I was able to compare notes on Tilley hats with a fellow angler who was also calling it a day.