Trout plus The Shack equals a great time

One of my two 14-inch trout caught this past week.

I am not an expert angler. I am not an expert at fly fishing. And I’m certainly not an expert at catching trout.

But boy do I enjoy trying!

And since my brother, Mark’s motorcycle broke down and we were unable to go on our trip to Colorado, I decided to go fishing instead.

I left Olathe this past Monday (Sept. 10) morning and drove down to Bennett Spring State Park, Mo. It’s about 15 minutes west of Lebanon on Highway 64. One of the state’s trout hatcheries is there (construction is going on to improve the hatchery facility) and the spring empties into the Niangua River.

Proof it was 14 inches!

It was about 11 when I pulled into the parking area at The Trout Shack to unload my car. The Shack is the angler’s version of a Man Cave. There is no running water and electricity is provided by either car batteries or a generator. The outhouse, which is in the shape of a trout head, is, well, pretty rustic. Inside is a large bucket in which is placed a trash bag topped by a toilet lid.

The Shack has two rooms. In one are two twin bunk beds and a queen-size bunk bed. In the other is a massage chair/couch, which also can be used for sleeping, a table and chairs, cabinets in one corner filled with cooking utensils, paper plates, cups, glasses and canned goods along with a microwave and coffee maker. In the other corner is an area designed for people to make their own flies.

A.J. Lang, owner of Lang Property Management in Olathe, owns The Trout Shack and he, along with many of his fishing buddies, have made vast improvements to The Shack. It used to be a one-room building with two twin bunk beds, the corner cabinets and a wood-burning stove. Back then it was owned by long-time Olathean and city employee the late Bill Harness. Since 1971, Harness had a policy of  allowing his friends and fishing buddies to use The Shack any time as long as they follow the simple rules to maintain it and keep it clean for all to enjoy. His philosophy was “the more fisherman at one time, the better the stories and the bigger the fish get.”

The Shack prior to 2002.

Even before Lang purchased The Shack, which was not long before Harness’ death, he and others began making improvements: adding a deck, improving the parking area, adding a small, but well-stocked, liquor cabinet. Once he bought The Shack, the deck was expanded, a roof over the deck was added, and now, because of the generator, an air conditioner can be used during the hot days and nights of the summer, and a wall furnace that uses propane gas can be used during the cold days and nights of the winter.

Someone even brought down a television/VCR combo unit.

But I’ve never used it. For me, after a day of fishing, and after a good meal, it’s nice to sit on the deck with a bottle of wine, smoking a cigar, and looking up at the stars as night settles in over Bennett. How peaceful. How relaxing.

Bennett, though, is for fishing. The limit is four trout per day, and I was able to catch my limit for the three days I spent at The Shack (I left Bennett about 9 Wednesday morning). I caught 12 trout and brought home 11 (I fixed one Monday night for supper….mmmmmmmm!) Included in my catch were a couple of 14-inch trout, a couple that were 11 and 12 inches, and the rest were 8 to 10 inches.

Once I catch my limit, and the trout are packed in ice, I do catch-and-release. There were a lot of good “fighters” and “jumpers” on this trip. I use a variety of baits, but mainly use Rooster Tails, specifically black-and-yellow. Trout, though, are fickle. They go through periods of feeding frenzies and will hit on just about anything, and at other times, you have to find the right color to attract them, whether using real or artificial baits.

The Shack today. Notice the Trout Head outhouse on the far right!

And there were some down times, too, when I couldn’t even get a strike.

Tuesday morning, while I was fishing at where the spring empties into the Niangua, I had quickly caught three trout and then there was nothing for about an hour. An elderly man walked up and stood just to the left of me and caught four within 20 minutes.

The next morning, virtually the same thing happened. The only difference was it took him between 10 and 15 minutes to catch his limit.

“What are you using?” I asked.

“Yellow,” he said. “Yellow Power Bait.”

Then he added, “Now I can go golfing!”

I didn’t have that color, but I tried Rainbow Power Bait and immediately caught two and that took me to my limit. And besides, it was time to head back to Olathe.

It was a good time: very relaxing and enjoyable.

But one thing I have to say, it felt really good to get home so I could take a hot shower, wash my hair and shave!

One Response

  1. Glad you enjoyed it Chuck. wish I would have been there with you.
    Bob

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