I look forward to the winter catch and release program at the Missouri state parks. The BWO Mayflies emerge late morning with dry fly action from noon to 2 PM. I have targeted these insects for several years and understand them a little more every year. If the water above the dam is left undisturbed the trout will move into the shallow water near the slough where the aquatic plants grow. The mayflies will emerge from this area in moderate numbers. The trout will set up in favorite spot to take the duns. A #18 or #20 fly will usually work to take these trout. After they have been caught a few times; they become more particular giving chase often refusing my fly. All in view with polarized sunglasses and high anticipation. This is one of the few places in the Ozarks with the opportunity to fish a dry fly for trout. Plan a day to give it a try. Be sure to dress warm.
Monday Nov 30: I called Frank Moran on Saturday. The weather looked good for Monday with moderate temperatures. I drove by at 10 AM on Monday and met Frank at his home. We drove on to Bennett Spring and arrived a little after 11 AM. There were a few fishermen fishing the area where Frank and I planned to fish. We did not see much activity on the water or the fishermen. We walked and started near the dam and worked our way upstream. It was afternoon before we started to see duns on water. My fly was a near enough to take a few trout, with many of the trout taking it short. I missed three fish for every one hooked. Frank and I fished until 4 PM, with the sound of the horn telling us to quit for the day.
Saturday Dec 5: I returned to Bennett Spring and fished the same area as the last trip. There were more fishermen this day, it’s Saturday…. Imagine that. There was a full sun on the water with light variable winds. I decided to use 8X tippet instead of the typical 6X, since the sun was so bright. Fishermen wading through the shallow waters were constantly disturbing the trout. Many fishermen do not realize the trout feed in shallow water when there is a hatch. Many of the trout moved to mid-stream to shelter themselves from all of the movement. The duns continued to be seen until 3 PM with only a few taken by trout. I managed ten trout with less interest for the #20 BWO fly. I should find another day other than Saturday to fish. …Too many people.
Friday Dec 11: It had been cold for several days with the temperatures dipping into the twenties. I drove into the park to find two fellows fishing in the handicap hole above the New Holland dam. The waters above the dam left alone, no other fishermen in sight. This continued through out the day. I had the waters totally to myself. Again, I started at the dam and fished my way up stream.
The morning started cool and warmed in the afternoon. The sun was in my eyes most of the day and probably made it difficult for the trout to see my fly. There was a hatch of BWO that came on schedule. The trout moved into the shallow water. I still had a difficult time getting the trout to take my fly. It seems with the bright sun on the water, the trout had trouble seeing. For the first four hours, I managed six trout. I decided to walk back to the dam. I was looking for pods of trout and if none were seen, move below the dam to fish. As I approached the dam, I could see many trout up and in position. The sun was below the trees, the water was shielded from the light and the trout were ready to feed. Every time the fly hit the water there was interest. The fly even lost its tail and it continued to be used with many takes. An eagle flew up stream at 3:30 PM and flew over me thirty feet above my head. I was still the only one fishing with a few fellows below the dam, fishing near the bridge. The last hour was a delight and convinced me that the BWO fly I tie and use was near enough to fool trout.
Thought for the day: The problem was finding a place with diminished light. I have fished this area on bright sunny days, with the trout looking into the sun. It is difficult to find a place to present the fly to the fish in these conditions. The game is presenting the fly without spooking the trout. I look forward to the next cloudy day.
Dec 28: This is my last day this to fish for 2009. My daughter Jenn had planned to fish with me but the cold weather cooled her enthusiasm to fish. She and her husband Brent stayed in Springfield spending the afternoon at a movie theater with Ann.
The day started over-cast but the sun did peek through the clouds in the afternoon. There was a fog on the water, making it difficult to see the fly. The trout have wised to my fly, with many short strikes. The trout will approach the fly quickly, only to turn away at the take. There were few fishermen about making their move down stream, but for the most part I had the waters in front of me to present my dry fly.
The eagle did make a pass over head late afternoon, with deer and turkeys seen on the trip home.
My plan is to fish at the state parks for the next six weeks for the catch and release season and return to Bull Shoals in March.