I took out of St. Louis about 5pm on Friday, November 4. I was headed to the metropolis of Gainesville, Missouri to meet Brian Wise, a character of many trades (city councilman, county voting guru, fly fishing guide, and all around nice guy) at a restaurant/motel called The Antler. After taking the long way around, through West Plains I checked in to The Antler and met Brian Wise and his wife, and Brian Greer and his girlfriend for a slice of pizza and a beer. There is no doubt that the people at the Antler tend to take to the slow pace of life as it seemed to take forever to get a beer…but I digress.
I was in the town of Gainesville to help Brian Wise teach a free fly fishing clinic. We had high hopes of educating the masses with the generalities of fly fishing, but just not enough time to promote it properly. After a few beers it was time to head our separate ways to get some sleep or rig gear…..in my case I tied some flies and wondered just how long they were not going to generate water on the tailwaters of Arkansas, which were about 40 minutes away. Morning came early, and we met Brian and his wife for breakfast at a local diner called “Skeeters.” It was good, and earned two forks up from Tucker’s Ozark Guide to Biscuits and Gravy. After a filling breakfast, we were off for the clinic.
We arrived at Spring Valley Trout Ranch in Theodosia, Missouri around 8:45am and met with Connie the proprietor of the place. She is a very nice lady that I can not say enough nice things about — she is old school and if you treat her right, she treats you right. The first thing that was apparent was that this private trout stream is anything but easy to get to. There are no signs pointing you in the correct direction, those that want to fish Spring Valley had better know where they are going (and that is just the way the owners like it). The restaurant / lodge was to be our classroom for the seminar and Brian, Jenny, and I quickly got to work setting up everything and arranging the attendance and raffle prizes (a huge shot out to Ron Caimi with Trout Camp Rods for the donation of a handmade bamboo fly rod — what a sweet rod). The seminar was supposed to start at 9am, but we were holding out hope for a larger crowd so we got to know everyone that was present. By 9:30am we held the raffle for the attendance prizes, and had Connie select the winning raffle ticket for the Bamboo fly rod (which Brian Greer won). After the raffle prizes were handed out we got started on the seminar. Brian and I loosely covered the essential gear and care for gear, as well as insects, types of flies, and general questions. We then moved to the casting area where we had a fly rod in all 10 participants hands and casted for a little more than an hour before breaking for lunch and getting ready for the stream portion of the class.
From 1pm to 3pm Brian and I spent working with the students on casting, working flies, knots, and fighting fish. It was a blast. All of the class attendees caught fish, and hopefully learned some useful ifnormation to take with them into the future. The best part of my day was spent with an 11 year old boy named Rykerson. He was just extremely cool. He and I snuck away upstream and proceeded to have a blast hooking fish, and missing fish. He was definitely a roll casting machine. The fish at Spring Valley, while plentiful, do spook and do not attack a fly when it hits the water — which made for an interesting day.
Brian and I grabbed a rod and were fortunate enough to fish from about 3pm to 5pm and had a blast doing so, but the best part of the day was coaching those that had never caught a fish on a fly rod. We have been asked by Spring Valley Trout Ranch to hold the class in the future, and she offered the opportunity for us to potentially do other things with her facility. If you haven’t visited Spring Valley Trout Ranch, I would recommend you give it a try as it is in one of the most scenic areas of the Ozarks.