Gotta tell you about my new hobby. Fly fishing.
Patty and I spent a long weekend at Roaring River State Park in southwest Missouri, and I came home with a fly-rod and reel combination and a newfound appreciation for rainbow trout.
Roaring River has one of four trout hatcheries in the state, along with Meramec Spring, Bennett Spring and Montauk Fish Hatchery.
At this time of year, the fishing starts at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 7:15 p.m., at least at Roaring River. A loud horn signals the start and end of the fishing hours. When the opening horn sounds, many fishermen have staked out their positions in the many fishing “holes” along the mile or so length of three distinct fishing “zones.”
It was by no means shoulder to shoulder along the river — as you sometimes see in photos from the traditional opening day festivities at Bennett Spring — but it’s safe to say that a few hundred people were fishing at any given time.
Each fisherman is required to have, visible on his or her clothing, a daily fishing “tag,” which costs $3 a day. A lot of people pin them to the back of their hat.
I started out fishing with a spinning rod and reel but soon spotted an old guy who wielded his fly rod confidently and effortlessly. With a slight, sharp movement of his forearm, he brought the line back, waited a second and brought the forearm forward quickly, setting the fly down softly on the far side of the river. With a fixed gaze, he watched the line for signs of a jerking movement. When the line jerked, he jerked back — and usually had a fish on the line.
I sidled up to him and asked him if I could take a few pictures. We got to talking, and I introduced myself. He said his name was Powell Adams and that he was “a cotton farmer from Lubbock, Texas.” When I asked him how old he was, he said, “Eighty-four…I’m going to be 84, uh, sometime this week or next week…It’s not too important.”
As we talked, one thing led to another, and that afternoon, Friday, I bought the rod-and-reel combination — ready to go — from a friend of Powell’s at a nearby resort. The friend was willing to sell his equipment because he has a rare disorder that has largely disabled his hands.
I kept checking in on Adams, when I would see his tan Mazda pick-up parked near the fishing hole that he most preferred. Not surprisingly, it turned out he was a veritable fish-catching machine. On Saturday alone, he caught more than 30 trout, ranging from less than a pound to two pounds or more.
Me? I caught two fish — one on Saturday and one on Sunday. The one on Sunday was pretty good — about a pound and a half, I would say.
While I don’t expect to become nearly as good as the “cotton farmer from Lubbock, Texas,” I see some nice trout fishing in my future.
Here are the photos: