I saw an internet meme the other day joking about the year 2020. It read something along the lines of how today’s toddlers will be in college conversing 20 years from now about which “month” of 2020 they’re all majoring in. Ha, sounds about right! It sure has been a wild one, and we still have election drama left. All the more reason to get outdoors and away from the craziness!
Like many anglers, one of my bucket list items is making a summer trip to Canada. This is the time of year I hear a lot of folks talking about making the trek up there in pursuit of walleye, smallmouth, pike, and muskie. It’s great fishing away from the hustle and bustle we all deal with, and I’m always jealous.
Problem is, Covid-19 found a way to throw a wrench into all those master plans, too. The U.S./Canada border closed down in the spring and at the time of this writing in late July, remains closed for the foreseeable future.
So, I got to thinking about what all those folks with cancelled Canada trips might be doing. They must be wondering what alternatives there might be close by for a similar outfitter experience. I’m talking about one where you can find a diversity of fish species, the peace of unspoiled waters with scenic views, and nice, secluded accommodations over the course of a week.
Luckily, I have an answer. There is one such place right here in Missouri that offers all of the above: Tandem Fly Outfitters on Stockton Lake.
“We do offer half day trips, but we have really shifted gears to focus on providing a multi-day experience that mimics what one might find with an outfitter all the way up north,” Tandem Fly Outfitters’ owner, Kris Nelson, said. “
On multi-day trips with Tandem Fly Outfitters, the meals, guiding, and lodging are all included into the price. Nelson has several boats available and a team of guides who are all knowledgeable about the lake.
During your stay, you can expect to have an opportunity to fill your limits of good eating fish like crappie, walleye, and white bass. In fact, Stockton is considered to be the best walleye fishery in the state by most experts. You’ll also have an opportunity at quality smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, and more. Not only will the guides bait your hook and remove all the fish from your line, but they’ll also clean all the fish for you, too.
“We just want to take the ‘work’ of fishing completely out of it for our guests,” Nelson said. “Being down here is an escape from everyday stress and we strive to make it as relaxing as possible on and off the water.”
Instead of travelling a full day by car and plane, you can reach Stockton Lake in a matter of hours from Kansas City or St. Louis. Although the lake is well within reach, it still retains the mystique of the wild.
Unlike Lake of the Ozarks or Table Rock, Stockton Lake is surrounded by pristine forests and rocky bluffs free of boat docks. The only docks you’ll find on the lake are a few marinas and public boat ramps. Beautiful islands throughout the lake surrounded by clear water present spectacular views and great fishing opportunities in the nearby underwater structure. Bald Eagles are commonly observed gliding right over the boat.
For a remote spot in Southwest Missouri, the accommodations at Tandem Fly Outfitters are top notch. Over 10 rooms with multi-bed set ups, full bathrooms, and a small kitchen with full size refrigerators are available to guests. The main lodge where meals are served holds an extra-long, custom built cedar table that can seat over 20 people. The amenities and availability of multiple boats make Tandem Fly Outfitters an excellent option for larger groups of friends, family, and even corporate events.
Best of all, Kris and Amanda Nelson, who have two young ones of their own, understand the importance of family and making you feel at home. I’ve seen it firsthand and always leave thinking to myself that the world would be a better place with more Kris and Amandas in it.
“We take pride in making our guests feel like one of our own,” Nelson said. “One of the biggest reasons we began offering multi-day trips was because we wanted to be able to take the time to really get to know and become friends with every person that visits us.”
If you had cancelled fishing plans in the past few months, to Canada or otherwise, Tandem Fly Outfitters is a great alternative. I can attest, along with many others, that after your first trip with them, you’ll soon be back year after year.
You can find Tandem Fly Outfitters on Facebook and can connect with Kris Nelson at 417.839.2762.