Growing up in Illinois during the 1960's, I developed a real passion for both small and large mouth bass fishing. Like many a mid-westerner, I did a fair amount of spin fishing during this time and had some success catching them. Fishing for these species with a fly rod was the next step in angling evolution. However, moving to Missoula in the early 70’s put this type of fishing on the backburner. Recently I am discovering more bass and pike fishing opportunities around Missoula, but that is another story.
Since my early mid-western fishing days, bass fishing has turned into a big business sport with innovative gear, high tech boats and very popular competitions. A good competitive bass fisherman uses a specialized boat and spinning gear (mostly) coupled with incredibly accurate casting and presentation skills. As a tournament angler, one also has to have knowledge of bass life histories, the impoundments he fishes and the endurance to keep fishing.
On my recent family visit to Missouri my sister's friend, Randy Conlon, volunteered to take me out. He is a tournament bass angler who hasn't given up his day job yet. He has the same attributes I've found in my favorite trout fishermen; a genuine love and appreciation of the environment where bass/trout are found and knowledge to predict bass/trout behavior. Did I mention he is super accurate with his casts? He was very handy with an arsenal of rods and lures used to fool his favorite game fish. I enjoyed his pleasant demeanor, excellent boat handling skills and caution while respecting his fellow anglers on the water.
The morning started with us on the water and fishing about 6:15 am. During the morning, each of us caught several smaller bass on top with poppers. Watching Randy handle these fish, I was impressed as he took out hooks and released fish as gently as any neurosurgeon client I have seen. Part of our success was due to our flies and poppers. I had purchased several effective patterns from Backcountry Outfitters Fly Shop in Springfield, MO. See some of them in the slideshow below. It was a good time visiting with Michael Kyle, the proprietor. He is a knowledgeable angler and has the only fly shop in the area that I know of.
To sum it all up, I’ve found that a fly rod trout fisherman and a competitive bass angler have more in common than one might think. Randy, thanks for a great morning of angling. I look forward to my next Missouri bass fishing experience. Yep, I am planning to do it again.
Backcountry Outfitters click here for their webpage.
Michael and Kristina Kyle
2863 South Campbell
Springfield, MO 65807
contact them at (417) 889-6548