Winter Trout Tour Stops at Bennett Spring
by Alan Luecke
(Kansas City, MO)
Bennett Spring Missouri
My wife was meeting friends in Lebanon, MO, the closest town to the Bennett Spring Trout Park. I offered to drive.
Bennett Spring is the oldest and perhaps best known of the Missouri trout parks. It's the one most frequented by folks from Kansas City, although Roaring River is the same distance time wise. I'd been there twice before with little success. For whatever reasons I've always done much better at Roaring River.
The spring comes straight up out of the valley floor and turns a small creek into a small river. The top section is a series of large pools behind small dams. The center section is a quarter mile of more natural water which is separated by a bridge/dam from the final run of a half mile into the Nianqua River.
I arrived mid morning Saturday and spent several hours by the spring drifting a variety of flies by active fish that were looking for something else to eat. I did catch a nice rainbow with the TenkaraBum 36 and a prince nymph. After lunch I checked out the middle section and found a surprise (which all the old hands know about). About half way down is a small outflow from the hatchery which dumps into the creek and creates a trout magnet. Using the TBum 36 and mainly a Tupps Killer Bug I stood there for an hour and shamelessly caught about twenty fish. Having overcome my jinx, I switched to a dry and and continued to have success including some fish that weren't in the mob.
I had a few hours Sunday morning and spent it on the lower section. This was a new area for me since it's a bait zone during the regular season and is usually wall to wall with power baiters. The Whistle Bridge acts as a dam and isolates the park from the river. It also creates a large falls and hole structure that is full of fish including river species.
I fished from the bank out into the hole and also from the bridge into the white water using the Diawa Keyosie 53M with 3.5 level line. Hoping to stay on the bottom and catch a small mouth bass I Iet the fly sink and then towed it sideways with most of the line submerged. The strong backbone of this rod handled the drag of the line with no problem. Likewise when I was pulling fish through the whitewater. I caught four trout, lots of striped shiners but alas no bass.
While on the dam I switched from the usual Buggers to an Overhand Worm and great success. On my trip to Crane and Capps creeks I had hooked two nice fish on an Overhand Worm only to have them both get off on the first jump. I knew it would get hits but was concerned about sets. Catching two fish in two casts will always make you feel better.
Towards the end of the morning I was standing on some roots to side of the big pool and noticed lots of little fish around the structure. Since I had established my Bennett Spring trout bone fides I was free to do what I really like and catch some more species. I went back to car and returned with the Soyokaze 27 and some little tiny flies. First thing I did was catch another trout within about five feet of my boots. The Soyokaze handled it just fine. I was not having any luck setting the hook on the smaller fish so I switched to an Overhand Worm hoping a small bass might be lurking. On the last cast of the day a tiny shiner charged the worm so hard it simply impaled itself on the #12 big eye hook which it had no chance of eating.
I like Bennett Spring now. When things warm up I want to go back to the section with all the river species. Maybe I'll change the sign to Keiryu only.
“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” – Benjamin Franklin
"Study to be quiet." - Izaak Walton 1653
"Be sure in casting, that your fly fall first into the water, for if the line fall first, it scares or frightens the fish..." Col. Robert Venables 1662
The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.
Beware of the Dogma