Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Niangua River, MO, Day Trip
by troutdude

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 12/10/2011
Entry & Exit Point: Other
Number of Days: 2
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
Trout and a few extras

Departed Kansas City at 9:45 am and headed to the Niangua River Sand Springs Resort near Bennett Springs State Trout Park. Not far south of Kansas city we made a quick stop at Kansas City Paddlers. A great store that mostly deals in canoes, touring and recreational kayaks. Although, they will be more than happy to order you just about anything that is paddle powered. I picked up a pair of high-top neoprene booties for my winter whitewater kayaking adventures and we moved on. As the course of our conversation turned to geo-politics we decided to make a quick stop at the Wally World in Warsaw, MO. Realizing that without our contribution, China's military industrial complex might come to a screeching halt we opted to purchased a few provisions and libations at said store. On the road again and feeling confident our meager contribution helped fund another tank, plane or munitions we arrived at Sand Springs on the Niangua around 1:15 pm. Not bad time with two stops.

We quickly changed into our respective gear for the day and headed to the trout park. Brent was geared up for a short day hike and I was ready to don the waders for some catch and release season fly fishing. I was on the water at 2:00 pm with very few people to share the crystal clear spring offerings. The air was crisp, the skies mostly overcast with a few beams of sunlight breaking through occasionally. I soon began bringing trout to hand and quickly releasing them to fight another day. Eagles soared overhead and swooped down along the river channel as I cast my olive wooly bugger into the riffles. An otter meandered along the opposite bank turning over rocks with his nose looking for snacks. Ahh, relaxation! Suddenly the park siren sounded signaling the days fishing within the park to cease. I headed back to the Jeep where Brent was waiting having returned shortly before from his hike.

We headed back to the resort room and I dropped my friend off and headed back down to the river to fish outside the park til dusk. I was rewarded with two nice MO smallies on back to back casts, a 16" followed by a 12". A great way to end a short day. 


Awoke at 5:45 am and started with coffee and breakfast. Packed up the dry bags, drove down to the river access at the resort, unloaded the Wenonah Spirit II and  prepared everything to launch. Headed back to the room for more coffee until the resort owner showed up to shuttle my Jeep. All said and done we hit the water at 9:45am.

A wee bit on the cool side this morning, 20 degrees! The ferrules on my fly rod kept icing up. No worries, the fishing was hot and I was on fire. We passed a couple of fishers about a half mile from the access point and from that point on the fishing was ridiculously fantastic. Countless rainbows, a pair of back to back cast browns, small mouth and even a pair of large mouth caught back to back. I can honestly say I think that this day has been my best trout day ever, including several trips to Colorado during the green drake hatch on the Frying Pan.

Aside from the pair of fishermen at the beginning of the float and another pair at the take out, 7 miles down river, not another soul was to be seen. Complete solitude to enjoy our day of epic fishing and sightseeing. The day was filled with beautiful riffles crystal clear pools, many eagles, king fishers, wood ducks, heron, a pileated wood-pecker and another otter who was carrying a large mouth along the bank that was so big he kept tripping over it. It was truly nature's comedy at best and both Brent and I busted out laughing at the spectacle. However, I think the best sight to see all day was a hellbender in the river. It was between 18" and 20" and in about 4' of water. Amazing!  Neither of us had ever seen one before as they are fairly rare and only reside in the cleanest of water with little impact by man. This was somewhat hard to believe as in the summer months the size of the aluminum hatch on this river is of biblical proportions. Some days more than 1000 drunken buffoons floating on this stretch of river. That's why I only float the Niangua in the late fall and winter.

We reached the take out at 3:30 pm, loaded up and were on the road at 4:00 pm headed back to Kansas City. Both worn out, but greatly rewarded for our quick commando strike trip.