By Bill Cooper
Trout fishing opportunities abound in the Missouri Ozarks, but none offers angling for rainbows in a more elegant setting than Westover Farms southeast of Steelville.
I visited Westover Farms once again, recently. A charming atmosphere welcomes anglers. Reconstructed log homes and German style stone buildings create an aura of elegance found in few trout fishing destinations.
Larry Pearcy, an accomplished fly fisherman from Rolla accompanied me to Westover. Pearcy had the honor of fishing while I photographed and videoed his experience.
A mile of cold, clear, spring fed water accompanied by well over a mile of Dry Creek waters, gives anglers a variety of opportunities to ply their skills against chunky rainbow trout found there.
Pearcy and I met at 7 a.m., hoping to get an early start. As we prepared our equipment for the morning, Westover manager Tom Schlueter stopped by to check on us.
“Say, Bill, you guys should hop on the tail gate of my truck,” Tom said excitedly. “I can haul you way downstream away from the other fishermen. There are a lot of fish stacked in a couple of holes down there. I think you guys will love it.”
Pearcy and I laughed and reminisced as the pickup truck bounced across a pasture field bordering Dry Creek. Decades had faded away since either of us had ridden on the tail gate of a pickup truck. We enjoyed the adventure.
Tom pulled into neatly mowed pull out and instructed us to follow him down over a grassy bank to the water’s edge.
“There is a 40 yard stretch here that is heavy with fish,” he said. A hundred yards downstream is another hole the same way. Lots of fish.”
Tom took a handful of trout food and cast it across the stream. Dozens of chunky rainbows rolled up to accept the offering.
Pearcy and I looked at each other in awe. “This is nice,” he said.
“Gonna be sweet,” I replied. “And I didn’t bring a rod.”
Pearcy spent most of his life working for Kelty, a maker of high end packs and tents. He is no stranger to the outdoors and fished in many locations around the world.
He also ties his own flies. I anxiously awaited to see what this experienced fly fisherman would tie on to the business end of his fly line.
He quickly rigged a tandem setup. A bead head Hare’s Ear nymph tipped his leader. A duplicate fly adorned his line 18 inches above the first.
Pearcy quietly waded into the cold stream. The temperature had climbed steadily. Therefore, Pearcy waded in shorts rather than his usual waders.
I watched with great excitement as Pearcy made his first cast. I could sense his anticipation. His first drift went without a hint of a strike.
Pearcy used the strength of his 3-weight Sage rod to pick up his fly line and make his second cast upstream. Ten feet into the drift, he lifted his rod high and a heavy arc indicated a good fish was on.
The scrappy rainbow raced downstream. Pearcy turned completely around to accommodate the fleeing fish. When he applied a little pressure, the magnificent trout turned and sped upstream as fast as it had come down.
The action looked good on the LED screen of my video camera. The scene played out in my screen. The brightly colored trout shot into the air, writhing like a captured snake. Nymph and fish parted company in mid-air.
“Quick release,” Pearcy laughed.
The rainbow sped to deeper water as Pearcy regained control of his fly line, checked his nymphs and began his next false cast to roll his fly-line and fake bug offerings back upstream to awaiting trout.
We’d found the Nirvana of trout fishing fun and there was not another human being in sight.
Pearcy hooked a half dozen rainbows before the action began to slow. We explored elsewhere for 30 minutes and returned to the hotspot. We repeated the process a half dozen times and Pearcy caught fish each time.
Back at our vehicles, we chugged a bottle of water and began dismantling our gear. Tom stopped by. “Catch any? he queried.
Pearcy and I smiled. I winked at Tom. Tom grinned through a tanned face and hurried on his busy way.
Over the years I’ve utilized Westover Farms for special video purposes to showcase fly fishermen in idyllic surroundings that would make most anglers want to participate. Damon Spurgeon, of Cardiac Mountain Outfitters, has served as my prime model for both photographs and video clips.
“Westover Farms is the perfect fly fishing destination for both beginning and expert fly fishermen” Spurgeon said. There is plenty of room for new fly casters to learn to make that perfect cast. Likewise, experienced fly fishermen can catch trout to their heart’s content, while experiencing world class lodging facilities and hospitality.”
Westover Farms is the premiere private trout fishing destination in the Ozarks. Check them out at www.westoverfarms.com.