Cornett of St. Louis fishes at the edge of a large wetlands area
near the spring at SpringRise at Westover, the newer of two fishing
resorts operated by Quint and Cicely Drennan
With a flick of a wrist Jack
Cornett lifts his fly line off the surface of a clear-running creek
and repositions a delicate lure upstream. His fly, little more than
a wad of hair and feather tied to a tiny hook, drifts lazily toward
a wary trout that examines it briefly before letting it pass.
The St. Louis angler normally
travels to Montana in late August to fish but this year an injury kept
him home. Instead, he spends the day along a small stream at SpringRise
at Westover, the newer of two fishing resorts owned and operated
by Quint and Cicely Drennan in Missouris Ozarks.
After 16 years operating
WindRush Farms Trout Stream
near St. James the couple opened SpringRise, 20 miles away on the site
of a near-century-old hatchery east of Steelville. Like WindRush, the
new facility, opened in 1999, is managed for anglers who pay a daily
fee to pursue stocked trout. But while the Drennans improved an existing
stream for their original resort, at SpringRise they designed a fishermans
paradise from the spring down.
If Cornetts reaction
is any indication, they succeeded.
fish the garden streams at Springrise. Intended to recreate an English
meadow stream, the garden streams flow where concrete hatchery raceways
once sat broken and overgrown.
Its just gorgeous.
It really is, he says of SpringRise. There are a lot of
fish and the setting is just incredible. You cant find anything
like it in Missouri or any Midwestern state.
for the facility is even greater because he knows what the Drennans
had to work with. I fished here when it was still the Fishermans
Dude Ranch, he says. It was a mess.
Indeed, Quint and Cicely
had their hands full when they bought the Fishermans Dude Ranch.
The old trout hatchery had supplied local meat fishermen and a Chicago
put-and-take fishing operation since the early 1900s but had fallen
into disrepair as the operation passed from owner to owner.
When they built this
it was state of the art but it had run down since then, says Quint.
I cleaned 16 or 17 junk cars out of the creek. There were old
ice boxes and lots of bullet holes.
Dry Creek, the stream created
by the hatcherys 25 million-gallon-per-day spring had been dredged
for gravel. Many of the hatcherys concrete raceways were broken
and the land around them overgrown.
Today, two small streams
meander through a beautiful garden setting where the old raceways once
stood. An overgrown swamp near the spring is now a lush fen, a type
of wetlands now rare in Missouri. Dry Creek is on the mend and the hatchery
is back in full operation, producing 200,000 trout a year to supply
restaurants, winter stocking programs and the couples two resorts.
Drennan transfers trout from rearing pools at Westover Fisheries,
the hatchery that supplies SpringRise and WindRush.
While restoration of SpringRise
is the largest project Quint and Cicely have attempted, the Drennans
proved their willingness to take on a badly damaged stream when they
created WindRush, named after a stream the couple fished in England
during their honeymoon.
In the early 1980s the couple
lived in St. Louis where he worked in construction and she as an interior
designer. On weekends they traveled to a farm near St. James that Quints
grandfather had owned. The land featured several small springs that
formed the headwaters of Benton Creek. Like many other Ozark streams
the creek had been used to water cattle and was in poor condition.
It was pretty badly
abused. The banks were eroded, very little water depth, says Spencer
Turner, a retired Missouri Conservation Department cold water fisheries
Both avid anglers, Quint
and Cicely wondered if the cold water creek would support trout. With
advice from Turner and others, they began shoring up stream banks and
created a series of pools and riffles where trout could live.
The Drennans were at the
forefront of a nationwide movement which encouraged private stream stewardship.
In fact, they formed Missouri Stream Team number 15. The state now has
nearly 2,100 such volunteer waterway adoption projects.
and Quint grab a handfull of stream-bottom vegetation in order to
show Terry Strattman of St. Louis the kinds of insects trout feed
on at SpringRise. Fly fishing for trout requires anglers to duplicate
the wary fishs natural foods.
What theyve done
is absolutely incredible in my view, says Turner, who oversaw
the creation of many public trout fishing areas in Missouri during his
tenure at the Conservation Department. Quint and Cicely realized
they had potential there and with hard work they developed one of the
premiere little private trout fisheries in the state of Missouri.
While not as well known as
Missouris trout parks and public trout management areas, private
resorts like WindRush and SpringRise are favorites with many anglers
who enjoy the solitude and the near certainty of catching fish they
offer. To keep crowds and fishing pressure to a minimum Quint and Cicely
limit each resort to about 20 rods per day. Both facilities are stocked
daily with keeper-size fish.
Because their trout are farm
raised no fishing license is required and there is no daily limit. At
either operation anglers pay $30 a day for catch and release fishing
or $3.95 per pound ($30 minimum) if they keep their catch. While no
guide service is available, informal instruction is. And the staff even
cleans the fish.
are available at either resort. At WindRush, which is served by Intercounty
Electric Cooperative, two nearly identical 19th-century two-story log
buildings contain eight guest rooms, each with kitchen and bath. The
Solitude House, located on a spring-fed lake farther up the valley,
accommodates six people. At SpringRise, served by Crawford Electric
Cooperative, a restored bungalow, originally purchased from a Sears
catalog, sleeps six.
at the resorts include rooms in these two renovated 19th century
While trout are not native
to Missouri, the fishing at WindRush is pure Ozarks. Benton Creek is
a typical spring creek. Fishermen stalk trout under a heavy wooded canopy
where fly fishermen must be wary of the heavy brush snagging their back
This is an intimate
little creek. Your deepest water is probably 5 feet, Quint says.
Some people dont like it. Its too tight. Theres
not enough room for them.
Purchasing the Fishermans
Dude Ranch allowed Quint and Cicely to offer a different style of fishing.
The way I describe it to people is that WindRush is our wild child
and SpringRise is a little more groomed, Cicely says.
Nowhere is this refinement
more apparent than in SpringRises garden section, which is reminiscent
of an English meadow stream.
You get all the flowers
in bloom over there and a nice sunny day and its just pretty. Its
like fishing in a city park, says Chuck Tryon, author of Fly
Fishing for Trout in Missouri, the definitive guide to the states
trout waters. Its totally unnatural but its a really
pretty area with lots of good fishing.
A retired hydrologist, Tryon
helped Quint and Cicely restore Dry Creek and offered technical help
with SpringRises garden streams. Although Tryon says he prefers
fishing for wild trout in Missouris natural streams he understands
the allure of the environment he helped create at SpringRise.
Schlueter, an employee of WindRush, displays his catch.
If you want to catch
fish thats a great place to do it, he says. You can
actually look in the water and see trout and be confident that trout
While Quint says the garden
streams at SpringRise offer some of the easiest trout fishing in the
Midwest, other parts of the property challenge the most experienced
When we get into the
spring branches at the top end its probably the most technical dry fly
fishing you can find in the Midwest, too, he says. Its sort
of like both extremes over here.
Whatever their preference
or ability, anglers can find plenty to please at these two Ozark resorts.
We have customers who
fish both places and split between the two. Some like WindRush better,
others like SpringRise, Cicely says. Thats what makes
the world go round.
The Drennans fishing
resorts are open February through November. For more information contact
WindRush at (573) 743-6555 or on the Internet at www.WindRushfarms.com.
Contact SpringRise at (573) 743-6284 or on the Web at www.SpringRise.com.