Thursday, January 8, 2015

January 2015: New Year at the Bennett Spring State Park

A view of the stone bridge from the base of the dam
January 5, 2015: It has been difficult finding a day to fish the state parks, with Christmas and getting to spend family time; Ann had a total knee operation at the end of the year and is recuperating. So, Monday there was an opportunity to get out. I had not been to Bennett Spring State Park for more than a month and decided to return to familiar water.  The day was cold with a light wind and very bright skies. The area above dam had very little fish activity with two fishermen at the end of the point catching a few trout. I decided to fish near the stone bridge and wade up stream to the dam. The fishing was a bit slow until the fly could get near the water below the dam. This water had a broken surface and the trout were eager to take a fly. I was on river left and as I approached the dam, made a decision to climb on top of the dam and slowly fish the waters immediately under and below the dam. 

A walk on the dam
The #20 dry fly was fished dry, wet, dabbed and skated across the surface. The trout made many attempts to take, drown and eat the fly. I had three hours of constant action and stop counting released trout after twenty to hand. I was amazed to the number of trout swimming in the seams below the dam; it looked almost like the mass of trout seen in the hatchery.  The footing on the dam was good with solid traction on the concrete surface. It was a good time catching trout and it is always a joy when you get the key to unlock the secrets to catching many trout. Hope to return next weekend.
The footing is better than it looks

January 16, 2015 (Friday): The weather forecast for this past weekend, called for sunny skies and temperatures in the upper fifties. I took Friday and Monday off from work to fish Bennett Spring State Park. On Friday there were fifty to sixty fishermen in zones 1 and 2. I fished in offbeat areas to find some solitude. The water was clear and difficult getting the trout to take a fly. I saw only a few people in view catching a trout here and there throughout the day. I did see a fellow standing on the dam fishing with a fly rod wet wading in his bare feet. Later that day came across a turtle sunning himself on a tree limb in the water. 

I checked the calendar and it is still January. Yep… There’s something strange with the weather; 2014 was recorded as the warmest year on record. Maybe 2015 is on track to top that record. Needless to say to the catching was tough with seven trout released from hand for four hours of fishing. Hope Monday is more productive.

It's too nice to fish
January 19, 2015 (Monday): I went back to Bennett Spring State Park on Monday. The day was warm with temperatures reaching the lower sixties, a bright sky with a variable wind from the south. I stopped in to see Charlie Reading and purchased some barbless hooks (Daiichi #18 and #20 1190). I was in the water before noon and fishing below the whistle bridge in zone 3; I try to fish this water at least once during the catch and release season. There was not much surface activity but managed to take a few with a dry fly. I did try a brown jig and took a few more rainbows. There was a crowd on hand with people dispersed all through zones one and two. There were several people fishing off the dam, so I passed up fishing below the dam. The water just above the dam in zone was vacant so I finished my day fishing along the weed edges hoping to hide my presentation. 

The mayflies made a brief appearance
With the bright sun, the line hitting the water made enough ripple to cast a shadow on the bottom of the creek, spooking most of the fish. It was a disadvantage to throw a long line. I found it somewhat better to slowly walk to places the trout had shelter and lightly land a dry fly along the edge. I managed to release eight from hand with my last cast last fish two minutes before the whistle blew. That was after breaking off two trout with 8x tippet after 3:30 PM. There are only three more weekends left for the catch and release season.

January 25, 2015 Sunday: I met Bill Taylor at six AM and he drove to Montauk State Park us for a day of fishing. The day was cloudy with occasional rain showers, a moderate wind with wind gust to twenty-five knots and the air temperatures in the mid-forties. For me, excellent conditions to fish; a rough water surface and no shadows on the water. There were a few fishermen in the park, but I had very few fishermen in view most of the day. Bill and I started below the dam and fished our way upstream and finished nearly a mile towards the spring at the end of the day. There were a fair number of spawning trout on or near redds. I fished mostly dry flies throughout the day. We released from hand twenty-one trout with Bill catching one rainbow over sixteen inches. There was a small hatch of mayflies and midges swarming on the banks. We finished the day of fishing at 4 PM with the sound of the whistle and left the park. We drove to Rolla to dine at Bandanas BBQ. It was after 9 PM when I returned home. A fifteen hour day of traveling and fishing made for a long day. Montauk is a very enjoyable park to fish and visit, consider the journey for your next destination.

Bob Randall lining his rod getting ready to fish Bennett Spring SP
January 30, 2015 (Friday): Bob Randall and I made our first fishing trip together. Bob is retired federal worker having worked for the US Forestry and National Park Service. We met at the Springfield Nature Center at 9 AM and drove together heading for Bennett Spring SP.  The day was sunny with a light wind and the air temperature in the mid forties. The park had a dozen fishermen above the Holland dam with two fellows above the dam. We started our day to fish by walking the dam. We managed to catch and release a few from hand and fished it until noon. 

Bob fishing from the dam releasing a trout
There was no one fishing near the top of the dam with four fishermen up stream near the access path. The water was clear and the sun was bright. There was a good hatch of pale morning duns and the trout were chasing them down. Getting them to take a dry was difficult at the beginning of the hatch. I fished near the intake for the hatchery and worked around the aquatic plants. I was only able to get a few in the area. Bob walked up to fish in the slough and took a few with a wooly bugger. It was after 2 PM, many of the passing fishermen were voicing frustration with the catching and many left. The dry fly was starting to get the trout’s attention and more came to hand. Bob and I fished to the whistle at 4 PM and returned to Springfield to help with the MDC teen club by teaching the teen club members how to tie a wooly bugger. John Dozier lead the discussion and provided the presentation. Overall, Bob and I had a good day, with 37 trout released from hand. There is one weekend left and I am undecided were my next destination will be.

February 2, 2015 (Monday): My daughter called at 9 AM to let me know it was too cold to fish. We made plans to fish Roaring River SP the week before. So with this news, I decided to fish Bennett Spring SP. There was a light snow flurry when I left Springfield with the air temperature near fifteen degrees. It was forecast to be above freezing by 2 PM. When I entered the park, it was empty; no one fishing and no one parked. There was some sunshine beginning to break through the clouds with a brisk north wind blowing up stream with a wisp of fog dancing above the water surface. It was 11 AM when I started at the dam and fished my way up stream. There were some mayflies on top, with the trout being very selective allowing the insects to float some distance before slurping them down. I used the #20 PMD with a white tail, bright green body and light blue dun wings.  The line was kept tight and short to reduce the ice in the guides. A bald eagle did come into view and perched near the dam in a sycamore tree for a short period. The clouds moved on before noon with the sun coming out, a light tippet was used and several trout brought to hand managed to shake a head and break the tippet taking the # PMD with them, that happened eight times. The cold light tippet (8X) did not have enough elasticity with to cold temperatures. I did manage to bring to hand twenty-two trout for the day. It was a good day to fish with no other fisherman on the water, a serene setting at a Missouri state park.

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