Windrush Trout Stream……Fish In A Barrel?

One of my business partners and I were invited as guests to an outing at Windrush Trout Stream by one of our corporate banks for a quick overnight trip (thursday / friday). Charlie isn’t a fly fisherman by any means (he has been only one time before at Westover and that was it) and we were going to check out Windrush as much as anything else. The itinerary said arrival at 10:30am (which we made it by, and we were the first there…..later via voicemails the hosts didn’t even leave STL until after 12pm). We did meet Quin when suiting up (I definitely should have wet waded today) and he told us to fish the big pools…….I should have gotten the hint then.

We walked down the gravel road to the stream and peered in, the stream is nothing more than “meat hole” after “meat hole” where the caretaker can back up his vehicle and dump trout in certain holes. There really wasn’t a stream at all and the fish definitely just looked like they were dumped there… much so they were still swimming in circles (literally). When crossing the stream to get to our first stop, the first thing that we noticed was how warm the water still was; which i thought was unusual b/c of the cool nights we have been having.

The ticket of the day was a leech pattern I named “The Whore Magnet” or a #18 tungsten bh copper midge under half a palsa. It really wasn’t about outsmarting fish, or catching them in thier element. Charlie, who had only been trout fishing once before, was catching fish — but the fish had very little fight in them (warm water temp?).

After about 3 1/2 hrs we had both had enough and decided to go find a beer. We grabbed our bags and found our room in one of the two lodges. We walked in and were greeted with no less than 100 black flies and if there were 50 lady bugs all over the ceiling that would have only been half. As we are standing there with fly swatters trying to fight a loosing battle, we crashed for a bit and enjoyed a brew.

The rooms are actually very nice for the buildings they were in — but could have used some clean-up prior to a big group arrival (wasp nests knocked down out of the windows — couldn’t open either windows in the place due to the wasps; flies / bugs killed in the room; floors swept; AC turned on or Windows open to freshen the place up) but none of it was done. It definitely was nicer than alot of places I had stayed — but if you had a big corporate group, it definitely should have had some time spent on it.

For some odd reason, I didn’t have cell phone service, but my phone was receiving email and I made the mistake of checking it. A few emails regarding our new accounting / project management software implementation and my vast workload regarding the software combined with any real satisfaction to fishing the stream again was all the motivation Charlie and I needed to head back to STL. We both felt bad about leaving our hosts high and dry without ever seeing them, but a couple of voicemails and all was well.

In the end, I doubt I will venture back to Windrush. It is vastly different than Westover; and I definitely prefer the more “natural” spring creek nature of Westover. However, truth be told I think I would rather be on the 11pt, NFOW, or the White River before hitting either place again. BUT to each thier own.

I will say this, the corporate bank that invited us was really trying to put the foot forward with the set-up they were providing. For those people that only get a fish a couple of times a year, or only fish the trout parks it was probably alot of fun. Unfortunately the two bank hosts that were supposed to be there didn’t show early on, so we didn’t feel obligated to make the stay.

–Matt Tucker

Westover Farms….Alive and Well….

Evan Muskopf and I decided on Friday afternoon to head down to Westover Farms on Saturday morning for a quick peak around the place. There had been rumors that the property was foreclosed upon, yet the place was still open, so we needed to see for ourselves. It is a quick drive from my house to Westover Farms (which beats the multi-hour trips to Arkansas that I have been making lately) as we left my house at 6am and were pulling in to the property at 7:20am.

We were greeted with the familiar face of Tom Schlueter, who has been the caretaker of the property since the new owners bought it. The first thing we noticed is the fly shop is now operational and they are no longer running the operation out of the pole barn like they were doing a year ago.   The new fly shop building is definitely something to behold, with its rustic finish it definitely has a lodge feel to it.

Tom filled us in on what has changed with the property and in fact that the property was in foreclosure and is now bank owned; but it is business as usual is what he has been told (complete with fish deliveries and getting ready to raise double the amount of fish that they raised the previous year). The facilities, while not complete are very impressive as is the stream (they have let the garden section of the stream grow up with weeds / bushes so there is no more manicured lawn look to it). They are now renting out a couple of rooms and one of the houses for overnight guests — Tom told us the rock band POCCO stayed there for a week not too long ago. All in all, I think the facilities and the streams have improved since my last visit.

As for the fishing, the fishing isn’t like it was in a barrell like the days of the past. The fish in the garden section of the stream spooked easily anytime a shadow hit the water or a fly line flew overhead (which…surprise…is what they are supposed to do). While there were still a considerable amount of fish in the stream, they were not in pods of fish as they used to be. The fish were dispersed and really hanging to the undercut banks and specific structure; and generally presented a tougher opponent than in the past.  Which was great.

We did however get into a hopper bite as the sun came up and the hoppers came out. We found that when in the garden section the order of the day was to really slam the hopper onto the water and get a drift close to the bank and it was on. It made for alot of fun catching fish on chernobly ants, madam x’s, and yes…..a turks tarantula. We managed to run out of camera battery while we were there and didn’t shoot near the amount of photos that we should have — but both photos and video will be uploaded shortly. As for when I will be back, I will probably get back down there sooner rather than later. If anything, to see what kind of critter Tom has caught (this trip, he had managed to catch a common tarantula out of one of the houses that are in various stage of construction on the property — it was huge and still alive….but cool as shit).  I highly recommend you pick up the phone and give them a call and reserve a spot to fish.

–Matt Tucker