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Billie R. Cooper
Billie R. Cooper

Cowtown Carp Chasers Go to Branson

Cowtown Carp Chasers Go to Branson

Bill Cooper Aug 6, 2019

Cowtown Carp Chasers Team members traveled to Branson, Missouri recently to meet with members of the Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau to promote both fly fishing and bow fishing for carp.

Fly fishing for carp is very popular in Europe, and is catching on in the U.S. Bow fishing is popular in the U.S., particularly among tournament fans. 

The CCC is the brainchild of Bill Cooper, who saw the opportunity to pull together talented individuals from the bow fishing and fly fishing realms. Cpt. Bryan Wilson, from Jerome, Missouri owns Stained Water Bowfishing. “Organizing the CCC is a great way to promote two enjoyable outdoor sports,” he said. “ I have a big Legend SS boat from Cowtown, that is the perfect platform for bow shooters and fly fishermen, too.” 

Damon Spurgeon, of Rolla, owns Cardiac Mountain Outfitters. “Although I primarily guide for trout and smallmouth, carp are an underutilized fishery that are not only sporty, but plentiful,” he said.

Jerry Cook, of JCook Flyrods, in St. James, is familiar with fly fishing for carp and sees it is an opportunity for fly fishermen to spend more days fishing. “It’s huge in Europe,” he said. “Americans have not been big carp fans, but they are a worthy sport fish.  Too, carp exist in about any body of water you can think of.”

Well known fly fisherman Stacey Gibson, from St. James, jumped at the invitation to join the CCC Team. “I love fly fishing for carp,” he said. “They are one of the hardest fighting fish swimming our waters. I’m very anxious to help develop this fishery.”

  Doug Davis, of Cowtown USA, readily joined the CCC Team. “I think fly fishing for carp is a great idea,” he said. “And combining fly fishing and bow fishing for them is genius. The CCC guys are all fishing fanatics. They will now be fishing both day and night!” 

Cpt. Gene Frank, from Camdenton, joined the CCC team for the trip to Branson, when Spurgeon was unable to attend. “I love the idea of fly fishing for carp,” he said. “It’s a tremendous way to utilize a resource that doesn’t draw a lot of attention.”  

Cooper arranged a meeting with Larry Whitely, the Outdoor Ambassador for Branson, and Courtney Goff, the Media Relations Manager for the Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau to discuss the possibilities of expanding interest in bow fishing and fly fishing for carp at Lake Taneycomo.

The Branson CVB provided lunch at The Fish House on The Landing at Branson for the CCC Team. After introductions everyone enjoyed a hearty lunch, while discussing the tremendous potential of promoting and developing interest in a new outdoor adventure in the Branson area.

“I know there are some bow fishing tournaments in the area for carp and other rough fish,” Whiteley said. “But, I’ve never heard of fly fishing for carp. I certainly see the attraction and the possibility for growing an interest.”

“I deal with all avenues of recreation and family entertainment for CVB,” Goff said. “Fly fishing for carp is certainly a new idea, and I’m interested.” 

“We’ve assembled the best bow fishermen and fly fishermen in our area for the CCC Team,” Cooper said. “Cpt. Wilson has decades of experience with Lake Taneycomo and will be leading our fishing efforts here. I’m confident that with his leadership and the talents of our team members, we can build an interest in carp fishing at Lake Taneycomo. I can see the day when tournaments for fly fishing for carp will be held here.” 

After lunch, the CCC Team headed to Rock-a-way Beach to launch and begin the search for spawning carp. Cpt. Wilson had been there on a scouting trip two weeks previous, and had excellent luck bow fishing in the shallows.

Minutes after launching, Cpt. Wilson eased his Legend SS into a clear, shallow cove. “We killed lots of carp in here two weeks ago,” he said.

The water was a bit higher than when Cpt. Wislon had been there, pushing water into new timber and shoreline cover. “This is perfect carp spawning habitat,” Gibson said. 

“There here,” Cpt. Frank said. “Look, see the swirls.”

Cpt. Frank was the first to lay a fly in front of a feeding carp. He was shocked when the fish took the fly on his second cast.

“Dang,” he shouted. “I had that carp on for just a second.” It had spit the tiny fly.

I had the cameras rolling to catch the action. Cook and Gibson swung into action, flinging different flies in different directions in hopes of duplicating Cpt. Frank’s feat.

Rain soon began pelting down making visibility tough. Additionally, the wind picked up and waves made visibility even tougher.

Cpt. Wilson made a move to another cove where the wind wasn’t as much of a problem. He soon announced, however, that he was not seeing the volume of carp he had seen two weeks earlier. The temperature hovered in the mid-thirties.

“I think the weather has forced most of the fish into deeper water,” Cpt. Wilson said. “All we need is for the weather to warm with a little sunshine, and the carp will swarm back in here to spawn. Too, the really big females, from 30-to-50 pounds will begin showing up.” 

As darkness closed in the CCC team traded fly rods for bows. They had no more than began their hunt when driving wind and rains struck, driving us from the lake. 

“We’ll come back soon, when the weather is more cooperative, “Cpt. Wilson said.  “Then it’s going to be a different story.”

The CCC Team headed to the comforts of the Radisson Hotel, compliments of the Branson CVB.

Branson, Missouri is a world class destination for family entertainment and vacations. Check www.visitbranson.com to make your plans.


Note: Stained Water Bowfishing is now running trips out of Lilley’s Landing.




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