Frank Bellew wasn’t exactly dressed for the occasion Wednesday when the trout season opened at Bennett Spring State Park.
Most fishermen were bundled up in layers of clothing and insulated waders to ward off the early-morning chill. Bellew was dressed in shorts, a tee-shirt and flip flops. And he waded into the cold water like that.
“It’s hard to find waders that will fit a guy as big as I am,” said Bellew, 30, who lives in Kansas City. “A lot of times, I’ll just fish like this.
“The water is warmer than the air temperature.”
Normally, Bellew might have blended right into the zany crowd that shows up to fish elbow-to-elbow with others on the Missouri trout opener. But people took notice Wednesday.
Using a brown and green marabou jig, he caught a 6-pound, 2-ounce rainbow, one of the biggest of the day at Bennett Spring. His fish was only slightly small than the 6 ½-pound trout caught by Dino Nolte of Ft. Worth, Texas, that won big-fish honors.
For Bellew, it was a day to remember. He has fished at Bennett Spring for most of his life, but this was the first time he participated in an opener.
The day didn’t start out well. He slept through his alarm clock and he showed up late. By the time he got to his favorite spot on the stream, he counted 23 people already getting ready to fish there. But he was the one with a trophy trout on his stringer an hour into the season.
“This is the biggest trout I’ve ever caught,” he said. “Normally, I don’t like fishing like this, with people all around you. But this was fun.”