Fly fishing offers the ultimate in trout fishing adventure at Missouri’s trout parks. It is one thing to catch a limit of four rainbow trout on baits, or even artificial lures such as spinners, jigs and minnow imitators, but it is an entirely different ball game to fool trout into taking a tiny fly which a fish has judged to be a live, aquatic insect which it relishes as an easy meal.
Thousands were attracted to the sport of fly fishing when the movie “A River Runs Through It” debuted. And rightfully so.
The movie actors aptly portrayed fly fishing as a beautiful, artistic endeavor undergirded by religious fervor and personal reflection coupled with deep, mental aspirations and equally prevalent emotions.
I have enjoyed the distinct pleasure of drifting flies to trout from the Appalachians to the Rockies and Canada to Mexico. Gorgeous scenery and breathtaking views are often associated with trout fishing. I can vouch that the precepts are true.
Likewise, trout fishing in the Show Me State takes place in some of the most spectacular scenic areas within its boundaries. The trout parks are no exception.
Trout fishing need not be as complex as many people are led to believe. A little study and practice will put any newcomer to the sport in ready fashion. A 5-weight rod, line and matching reel are the basic equipment essentials and will handle most trout encountered in the trout parks.
A weight forward, floating fly line will make casting a cinch. Add a tapered leader to the end of the fly line and you have the perfect mixture of equipment ingredients to cast a fly as easily and as far as is necessary in the trout parks.
Maintaining the “ten and two” casting posture, as demonstrated in articles and videos on fly fishing, will go far in aiding your casting ability, increasing your success and bolstering your confidence.
I found it particularly helpful to point my rod tip at a stream-side treetop when completing the cast. This approach keeps from lowering the rod tip too much, which results in pileups, poor casts and spooked fish.
Waders are essential to fly fishermen. Their use allows an angler to position himself in the best spot to approach and cast to fish he has sighted or to spots that likely hold fish.
Good quality waders go a long way toward keeping a fisherman dry, warm and happy. That combination keeps one in the water longer, which equals more casts and more fish.
Choice of flies is a subject that draws as much attention as politics in an election year. Every trout stream is different and while all may harbor many of the same aquatic insects, each will have bugs special to that area.
Studying the species of insects found at each park and the time of year and day that they are most prevalent will go a long way toward increasing your catch rate. Find fly patterns that most resemble the insects you find and you will be in business.
Google up fly patterns and you will be overwhelmed. Narrow your search to trout flies and the situation becomes more tolerable. Search topics like fly fishing Missouri’s trout parks and books on trout fishing and flies, and you can quickly become an educated trout fisherman.
Tiny jigs capable of being flipped with a fly rod are hard to beat early in the season when aquatic insects are less visible. King jigs makes a fly rod jig that are the best that I have found. I prefer brown and black, but they now make some very colorful jigs that produce good results as well.
As warmer weather nears and more bug hatches take place, I begin to use black ant patterns in number 18 and 20 sizes. Pale evening Duns in size 22 work for me as well.
However, I carry three or four fly boxes stuffed with dozens of types of flies. Each seems to have its day, regardless of weather or bug hatches.
I, do however, find myself relying on a half-dozen or so old faithfuls throughout the year. I would never leave the house without several scud patterns. These dumpy looking patterns resemble freshwater shrimp and are relished by trout.
I catch most of my fish on tan or pink patterns by drifting the flies at the edge of currents near rocks or weed beds. Freshwater shrimp like to hang out in such areas.
Nymphs of any type are good throughout the water column. You’ll have to experiment to find out where the fish are feeding on any given day.
Emerger nymphs are fished just below the surface of the water, imitating an aquatic insect struggling to break through the topwater film and emerge as an adult of its species. Other nymphs may fished from the surface all the way to the bottom of the stream.
Bead-headed nymphs are one of my favorites. I prefer the Pheasant Tail nymph in number 12 and 14 sizes. The gold bead head adds a bit of flash to the presentation and the forked tail may imitate a small crayfish.
My favorite summertime trout fly for late evenings or early mornings is a Griffith’s Gnat in size 18. The grizzled little bug looks like it needs to be eaten by a trout and it often works. I like to fish it in the current in open, clear water.
When fishing gets tough, I often bring a hand-tied fly of my own into play. Trout park streams often contain offal from fish that have been cleaned in the streams. Other trout will feed on the remains, especially the white or pink pieces of meat and skin which wave in the current.
I tie clusters of white and, occasionally, light pink feathers on a number 12 hook to resemble fish flesh. The feathers should be fluid enough to wave in the current.
These flesh flies are best fished in riffles or just below them where trout wait for food to be washed their way.
These patterns will work at both Maramec Spring Park and Montauk State Park. If you have never been fly fishing in these parks, Montauk has separate fly fishing areas while Maramec does not.
Regardless, both parks offer excellent fly fishing opportunities.
Grab that magic wand called a fly rod and orchestrate your own fly fishing dreams.