The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 4, 2013

Silas Gray: Angel Inn trip provides heavenly fishing experience

By Silas Gray
The Joplin Globe

WEBB CITY, Mo. — Everything was familiar and yet new. The carpet had the look and feel and cleanliness only available when it’s not been long off the roll.

The walls had been painted, and both the ceiling and the furnishings had been replaced.

This was my first trip back to the Angel Inn in Branson, Mo., since last year’s tornado removed the roof. Although the room was fine before, the changes have made it even better.

I’d arrived last night with only an hour or so to fish. However, it is Lake Taneycomo, so I did land four trout, although three of those were rather small. I was staying in Branson for two days of wade-fishing on Taneycomo, the tailwaters of Table Rock Lake.

While fishing the night before, I’d ran into my friends Stan and Carolyn Parker, who run River Run Outfitters, and they’d invited me to join them for breakfast at Riverstone Restaurant, which is inside Ye Olde English Inn in downtown Hollister.

Although I knew of the place, I didn’t know that they served breakfast.

I like downtown Hollister. Once you pull off the busy main road and onto the spur that historic Downing Street has become, you’re transported back in time to a quaint village in Switzerland.

I got there early and picked a table not far from the door. Deeper into the 100-year-old timbered dining room was a much larger table filled with a group of guys who were obviously retired.

They were loudly discussing politics, bad service and the general hopelessness of the modern generation. I couldn’t help but listen in.

Carolyn arrived first, which broke the spell that the group had over me.

She was joining friends and going fishing directly after breakfast, so she and Stan had driven separately. We were soon joined by a friend of the Parkers named Gary Groman.

He was wearing a hat embroidered with “The Ole Seagull,” which I later found out was the name of his newspaper column in the Branson Independent. Stan came in a short time later, and we ordered breakfast. I followed Carolyn’s suggestion and had the ham.

Riverstone is loaded with both character and characters, and the breakfast was good.

I’ll be back.

After we’d finished, Gary and Stan decided to head for Scotty’s Trout Dock. Apparently that’s where the Bransonites meet for midmorning coffee and major problem-solving. I would have joined them had it not been such a nice fishing day.

I stopped in at River Run fly shop to visit with Gary Hollowell, who was covering for Carolyn.

He was in his usual good mood and picked out several items that I certainly couldn’t live without.

Once I’d purchased those and finished off some of his free coffee, I headed for the water.

I crossed over the dam and wound down to a parking lot called Rocking Chair.

Happily, mine was the only vehicle in the lot - not a lot of competition.

I selected a slightly heavier weight rod than usual and added oversized line to try and help with the wind, which had kicked up sharply. That seemed to work well as I landed several rainbows over the next two hours.

During that time the stream had filled with anglers and the area was getting more and more crowded.

I’d seen Carolyn’s drift boat anchored a short distance downstream and decided that this would be a good time to go and see how she was doing.

I watched during my short walk as she hooked one fish after another.  Her buddy Dawn was doing just as well.

Carolyn said that she was using a sinking tip on a floating fly line and one of her own fly creations called the filoplume. A sinking tip is a short section of heavy-weight tippet material.

It is much easier to use than adding lead shot to the line.

I rigged up, walked back upstream a short distance and began swinging the fly downstream as Carolyn had instructed. Within two casts, I hooked up. I missed that one as well as two others before actually landing one but it was working.

Soon the stream was full of folks swinging flies and landing fish.

The filoplume action lasted for another two hours before it stopped.

I then looked around and noticed that most of the anglers that had dropped in were already gone. I switched to another fly and then to various streamers. Although I did land a few more fish, nothing worked as well as Carolyn’s filoplume had.

Eventually it grew dark and cold and I began to notice that I was hungry.

I loaded up and headed back toward the Angel Inn, eager to find something to eat and then to tie a few filoplumes for tomorrow and then for a long soak in the hot tub at the motel.

The fisherman’s life is often filled with hardships — sometimes long hikes over rough terrain to reach rarely fished waters, other times braving sleet and snow or scorching temperatures. And then sometimes we’re soaking in a hot tub at the Angel Inn.