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Tenkara Day Trippin'

by Jeff D
(KC metro)

the flies du jour

the flies du jour

What to do with a day off? Housework? Meh. Tenkara? YES. Most local lakes still had lots of ice from the recent cold snap, so I decided to make a quick day trip down to Bennett Springs State Park, aka combat fishing central. Luckily it's the winter catch and release season, which means that instead of thousands of anglers, there are only dozens in the park.

When I first arrived, there was some sort of hatch of very small bugs (after a little research I think they were very small black caddis) up at the very head of the stream in the slow water of the spring pool. I used my Kurenai Long 61 and a size 20 olive and starling kebari, which accounted for all 3 trout landed on the trip, all about 10-12". After the hatch died down, I hooked and lost several more trout on a size 26 Utah Killer Bug under one of the new ball floats. I still haven't figured out how to keep them hooked on such small flies.

I started with 5x tippet, but in the slow clear water kebari the fish would swim up to and eyeball the kebari, then refuse it. I went down to 8x and then the eyeballing ended. I kept the 8x for the UKB. As before, I never lost a fly on the 8x to a fish with the Kurenai Long. Twenty feet of rod has a lot of room to flex!

Most of the Bennett Springs outflow stream has been "engineered" to be very slow water, which frankly bores me. So, I went down to a section of the stream that was much more like a natural stream, with riffles, runs, and pocket water. My Tenkarabum 36 and a bead head size 14 Stewart Black Spider caught a lot of creek chubs, a colorful minnow (black nose dace?), and a short hook up to a big sucker of some kind, which broke off by swimming under a rock. If I could consistently catch those, the heck with puny trout! That fish bent the rod almost to the butt section! I honestly had more fun catching chubs where I could fish in a more natural setting than in the "pond in a parking lot" environment of the spring pool.

During the "regular season" this section is reserved for bait only. In fact, the regulations state quite adamantly that NO FLIES ARE PERMITTED EVEN IF YOU SOAK THEM IN WORM/EGG/POWERBAIT JUICE! This looks like a great place for some keiryu and ultralight worm fishing in the regular season, although I might have to do some explaining to park rangers that I am in fact bait fishing despite the fly like casting!

Comments for Tenkara Day Trippin'

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Dec 27, 2016
Bait Fishing Only?
by: Chris Stewart

I have never heard of a "Bait Fishing Only" area! As a keiryu angler I think it is a wonderful idea - at least, if there are going to be "fly fishing only" or "artificials only" sections, it's only fair to have "bait fishing only" sections.

A year or so ago, there was a move to make a portion of one of the rivers in the Catskills "fly fishing only." I had considered submitting a proposed ammendment to make an equal length of the river "bait fishing only" but decided that there wouldn't be enough support to overcome what I suspect would have been very stiff resistance by every Trout Unlimited chapter in the country.

Dec 27, 2016
Bait Only?
by: Les A.

Wow, sounds like a fun day. I loved the report on the Kurenai Long. I love my 6 meter rods, and have noticed on the videos from Japan that I have been digging up that they follow Chris' mantra,"Fish as long a rod as possible." It sounds like the fly fisherman got snobby and the bait fisherman got some attention. Thanks to this website, I don't rate my fish anymore, but enjoy what ever bites. When I lived in Roseburg, Oregon, "The Steamboaters" a fly fishing organization had a lot of political clout, and had rules passed against weighted flies and beadheaded flies in the 23 miles of fly fishing only. I developed a lead crystal wooly bugger that was O.K.ed by the Fish and Game because the "beads" were part of the body. I had those dry fly snobs mad at me almost every time I fished. Thanks for sharing your story. Your State Park sounds a lot like Wilson Springs near where I live. I may end up there as I always try to go fishing on New Years Day, and we are really freezing up this year.

Dec 27, 2016
And no lures either!
by: Jeff D

Yes, and no lures either with the exception of soft plastics. Missouri trout regulations consider soft plastics as bait rather than lures because trout are more likely to be deep hooked with them, and many if not most are scented which blurs the line between bait and lure.

Dec 27, 2016
Re: bait fishing only
by: Mark D

"Gut hooking only"

Dec 27, 2016
Mouth hooking!
by: Chris Stewart

Please take a look at my Keiryu Fishing page, which shows photos of typical hooking locations and explains why there is almost no gut hooking.

Keiryu fishing is a tight line technique where the bites are instantly recognized and the fish are hooked before they have time to swallow the bait.

Dec 28, 2016
Mouth hooks
by: Les A .

Using Chris' technique I have had 100 percent lip hooked fish using red wiggler worms so far. I watched a video from Canada and the guy gut hooked all his brook trout. He let the fish eat the worm for 30 plus seconds after the bite. I'm looking forward to using the new bait hooks I bought from Chris. I think they are going to work even better.

Dec 28, 2016
by: Phillip

Chris, we can obviously tell that keiryu fishing would be against the "spirit" of this strange law. It takes too much attention and the hookups are just too clean!

Dec 28, 2016
by: Tony Schollmeier

Full disclosure, I mostly fish bait - occasionally flies or lures.

Any one deep hooking more fish on bait than they do with flies or lures is doing it wrong. Period.

Personally "bait only" regs sound like a stupidly unnecessary regulation but then I don't like artificial only regs either.

If you want to hook into more suckers though, fish more bait! Red worms work great, though other smaller live baits work well too. Red worms are just the easiest to obtain. Deeper runs near riffles are my favorite places to fish for suckers in streams.

Dec 28, 2016
Tenkara at BSSP
by: Jeremy


Did you get any strange looks when you brought out the Kurenai 61? I usually get a few stares at BSSP when I'm fishing with a tenkara rod.

I'm healing a fractured foot currently, so winter fishing isn't an option right now. I hate missing out on the winter C&R season at the Missouri trout parks (it's usually pretty good fishing and few anglers) - although a buddy said he'd wheel me to one of the handicap access points at Bennett!

Dec 28, 2016
No weird looks!
by: Jeff D

I usually get "why you fishin' fee trout with that there crappie pole?" with long keiryu rods, but this time no comments. Did see one other guy fishing tenkara though!

Jan 01, 2017
Bait area
by: Alan Luecke

I was hoping to hit Bennett mid week but then remembered the winter season is Friday thru Monday only. Since the rest of the park is artificial only they make a special gesture to the bait people. Gut hooking is a nonissue in the bait area-- it is heavy harvest all the way. That's what people come for. They load in the fish every night during the regular season.
I love that area in the winter. It has direct access to the Niangua River and has all sorts of fish including small mouth bass and some of the biggest striped shiners I've seen anywhere.

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