Fly fishing requires abundant patience, intense focus, delicate finesse, and lots of determination. Those aren't usually qualities possessed by small children. Teaching kids to fly fish starts with a strong connection to nature, then making fishing fun, and, finally, the joy of learning how to fly fish. Most importantly, the connection to nature starts by getting kids excited about being outside.
Nestled amidst the rolling hills and lush forests of the Huzzah Valley, just outside of Steelville, Missouri, lies Westover Farms, a luxury outdoor resort, haven for fly fishing anglers, and the perfect destination for creating lifelong memories of being outside with your family.
Meandering across almost six hundred acres, the cool spring-fed waters at Westover Farms offer year-round access to some of the best trout fishing in Missouri. It also boasts five century-old, hand-hewn log and stone houses on the property, a conference center, an inn, a fly shop, a five-stand outdoor shooting range, hiking, and biking trails, a private cave, a hatchery, and so much more!
Westover is also the perfect place to learn how to fly fish at any age. The art of fly fishing is about making a successful cast, matching the water speed with a good drift, and mimicking the trout's fly of choice on (or in) the water. It's part art, part science, and part sport. It's non-stop action and excitement, which makes fly fishing so much fun! westoverfarms.com
In addition to the stocked rainbow trout, Westover Farms is fast becoming the only place in Missouri to target a wild brown trout. The Gateway Chapter of Trout Unlimited ("GTU") and the Missouri Department of Conservation ("MDC") joined forces to implement the first-ever stocking of brown trout in Missouri using Whitlock-Vibert Egg Boxes at Westover Farms.
"While certain species of rainbow trout thrive in Missouri's cold-water streams and naturally reproduce, brown trout are not thought to reproduce in the wild here and have been struggling to survive in the Meramec River basin," noted GTU President (and Kirkwood resident), Ryan McCarty.
"Project Brown Trout" began in December 2020 when GTU purchased and imported brown trout eggs collected from Utah to launch a study of the survivability of brown trout in Missouri streams. Over the last three years, GTU has stocked nearly 200,000 certified disease-free Brown trout eggs in Whitlock-Vibert egg boxes in the streams at Westover Farms.
"The long-term goal is that those stream-born trout that survive will be the most genetically robust of the stocked eggs, thus leading to natural reproduction of brown trout in Missouri rivers," said Ryan. "If this partnership cultivates a naturally reproducing strain of brown trout in the state, it would truly be amazing and would put Missouri on the map as a trout fishing destination."
GTU encourages successful brown trout anglers to submit photos of any caught brown trout to the organization via their website, www.gatewaytu.org. Anglers will get stickers, hats, and other prizes for submitting their photos.
"If you've ever hooked into a wild brown trout, you'll know why GTU is so invested in this project," said Ryan. "Even better, when you watch your child hook into his or her first wild brown trout, a memory will be created that you both will never forget. With any luck, you won't have to travel out of state to make those memories."
Sara McCarty is the founder of Run Wild My Child a website community that reconnects families through outdoor activities and adventures. For more outdoor ideas with kids visit https://runwildmychild.com