Fly Fishing Catch and Release at Bennet Spring


Let’s be clear, anytime a person can get out in December, in The Midwest, to fly fish….is a good time. So it was that my friends, Frank Terkhorn, John Morgan and I left my home early on Friday, December 8th; we were headed west about 400 miles to one of my favorite places in this great land, Bennet Spring State Park.

We cruised into the park just shy of 10 am. Made our way to the park store to pay for our condo for the weekend, grab a few keys, slap on a pair of waders…and water was in our immediate future. If you haven’t yet been to Bennet or haven’t watched one of my other videos…Bennet is located just 11 miles west of Lebanon, Missouri and in the Ozarks. The state park is a rare combination of great fishing and incredible beauty with wild life that abounds.

It didn’t take any of us long to jump from wanting to fish…to fishing. 6 weight rod with sink tip fly line in hand I eased into what I call the ‘kiddie-pool’ above the waterfalls in zone 1, stripped off about 40 feet of line and made an across stream cast with a crème colored trout candy. I could easily see the fly in the crystal clear water of the spring and then I couldn’t as I felt a tug and without even thinking made a strip-set and I was into my first fish of the trip.

A couple of casts later and a few feet downstream, I felt the power of a big fish…as you can see by watching the video it was indeed a nice, 20 inch buck (male) rainbow that was in full regalia, his colors were exceptional and the morning was off to a flying start. By mid-afternoon my early breakfast had worn off and a quick walk back to the condo sitting at the head of the spring allowed for a quick sandwich before once again strolling downstream in search of more trout.

My second day, Saturday, was more of the same with the exception that I made the long walk to the river, The Niangua, and turned right, downstream where I fished my way below highway 64 to the first river takeout. I would love to report that I did well, but that wasn’t the case as the river would only give me one small-smallie. Late in the afternoon I returned back to the spring and experienced some fast and furious fishing with an olive wooly in size 8.

Sunday, our final day would find me up early and off to zone 1 just above the dam. As you can see from the video, I have provided some narration as to how I was fishing along with a casting pattern of upstream that proved to be very successful. It is a beautiful thing to have the stream all to yourself…and that can and does happen while fishing the catch and release season at Bennet.

If you are looking for a nice weekend getaway, try the beauty of the Ozarks and the good folks at Bennet Spring…oh, and make sure to pack a few flies!


    • Roger Hawk
    • February 17, 2019

    Hey Jeff, thank you so much for your videos. I am new to flyfishing and appreciate the instruction you provide. I notice you were using sink tip with your trout candy in this video. I also saw a video where you tied a weighted trout candy to use with a floating line. Does either work equally well at Bennett? I live 60 miles from the park and fished the last weekend of catch and release. I am quickly becoming addicted to fly fishing and am planning to get some instruction to help my casting. Anyway thanks again for your videos I appreciate them.

  1. Reply

    Welcome to the most healthy addiction in the world! The trout candy is for sure an awesome fly…and as I’ve said rediculously simple and easy to tie. As for sink tip or weighted; I start with floating and no weight on a trout candy (TC) and then work deeper in the water column. Next is weighted trout candy and floating line…then weighted and sink tip 1, then weighted and sink tip 3, etc….all so that you can get the fly down in the water column where the fish are active. It doesn’t take much to keep moving the fly down in the water column a foot or so at a time and in doing so, placing the fly in what I like to refer as the ‘death-zone’ where the fish, a trout or smallmouth, will attack! One more thing…sometimes I like to use my three weight with a weighted TC and and bust the opposite edges and in fact I’m actually able to cast to and fish for trout rising or working towards the surface…it is in fact one of my most favorite ways to land fish and have caught several big trout this way. Hope this helps…your lucky to have the pearl of Bennet in your neighborhood…enjoy the addiction!

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