December 9th found Frank Terkhorn, John Morgan, my son Harrison and myself rising early in preparation for a day of fly fishing; we had traveled the night before from Indiana to Lebanon, Missouri, then another eleven miles west to Bennet Spring State Park. We knew the morning would be cold…in fact it was supposed to be in the mid-teens, what we didn’t know-we would wake up to a balmy 9 degrees. So, what do you do when you’ve gone somewhere to fish…you fish!
A couple years back dad and I had traveled to Bennet to fish and on that day the mercury had dropped to 17…leaving me the only person on the stream that day and that was just fine with me because I had one of the best fly fishing days of my life as I not only caught fish hand over fist…but I could go anywhere I wanted to without worrying about running into others. Knowing this made me even more curious as I strode off towards the head of Bennet Spring, located just a hundred feet or so from where we had spent the night…in one of the 12 duplex units that can be rented out from the state park.
When the water temperature is 56 or so degrees and the air temps are only 9 degrees…what results is a lot of fog and haze, when you mix that with a brilliant sun rising from the east through an opening in the surrounding trees…you have the photo posted above today’s column. This photo was snipped from my GoPro just seconds after entering the water and landing my first of over 40 trout on the day.
While John, Harrison and Frank were gathering in their licenses for the next three days I shoved off and as I had done a couple years in the past…the stream was free and clear of anyone…oh, except for three bald eagles, two of which had given me the sight of a lifetime. As I was approaching the stream I heard the shrill chirp of an eagle and looked up in time to see a pair of eagles tumbling towards the spring, talons locked up and spiraling down, down, down. At the very last second the pair separated and flew off in different directions…just missing a splash down in the cool water by a mere yard or so!
Less than an hour later I looked back up the stream and could see that John and Frank were waist deep, casting towards the western edge of the spring…and Harrison was ‘waltzing’ his way down the road…still, no one else in sight; the four of us indeed had the place to ourselves and it couldn’t have been on a more grand day. It might have been 9 degrees but God was shining down on us and Mother Nature was strutting her stuff in full regalia.
I’ve written about Bennet a number of times but just once more…if you haven’t yet visited this Missouri state park then please put it on your to-do list. This is truly one of the most scenic and beautiful places anywhere; best of all it is only a mere 400 miles via interstates 70 and 44. The folks who work the park, from the guys/gals who run the store to those who work the grounds…to the park ranger…are all special people that go out of their way to make your visit a special one.
By noon a few other hardy fly-guys had shown up and we had to share the ¾ of a mile spring stream with about five other folks…I say this laughingly because the fish were totally cooperating and by the end of the day we returned back to our duplex and as a group, the four of us had caught over 75 trout. We took a few minutes to talk over the fishing, flies and even a few mis-steps that had two of our group (Frank and John) a bit wet and chilly as both guys slipped on a slick rock and bit the dust…well, in this case they bit the water and at these temps you couldn’t continue to fish…so they had returned to the duplex, changed clothes and once again returned to fishing and catching trout.
I can laugh at ‘the boys’ (John and Frank) because on Saturday with the temps still below freezing I too took a tumble…the difference, I did so with Harrison standing just a few feet behind me on land and running my camera. So, if you want a laugh…along with some beautiful scenery and some nice clips of me landing a few trout … check out the video. Please keep in mind that this was the first ‘tumble’ I had taken this entire year…and had to do so with my oldest running the camera!
All in all, it was an awesome few days with lots of fly fishing…and even a bit of catching. We enjoyed some great soups made by my gal Vickie and played a few games of competitive euchre all before once again climbing into Frank’s truck as we traveled back across Missouri and Illinois, all before crossing into Indiana…and it is always good to be “Back Home Again in Indiana”.
We went there to fly fish and catch trout…but as always the trips are more, much more; we were first class visitors to nature at its very finest…we were privileged to Enjoy the Great Outdoors.