A lifetime of fish stories

Jackie Price-Palmer has been fishing at Bennett Spring since 1964


When Jackie Price-Palmer’s father, the late Harry Price, brought her to visit Bennett Spring for the first time in 1964, she never imagined she’d still be coming to trout fish here more than 50 years later.

“Stuff changes and yet the basics don’t change at all,” the dedicated trout enthusiast observed recently, after catching a five pound lunker this past June at Bennett. Jackie has seen a great many changes over the years at Bennett Spring and in her own life as well in recent years. She alternates her time between two small farms, one at St. Claire, Mo., and the other just a couple of miles north of Bennett Spring. 

“For many years, I was involved with horses, raising buckskins and working with my two sons, James who worked as my groom and Brian who was my showman and whom we lost in 2009. We were with the Buckskin Clubs in Missouri and Illinois,” she said. “Brian was my number one horse showman and went on to be a national and world champion. Unlike some of the other breeds, with buckskins, even the little guys like us could compete. In some of the divisions with some of the breeds, only those in the higher income brackets can really afford to be involved.”

At one point, Jackie had four world champion buckskin mares and was busy with shows and acquiring a buckskin stallion of the same quality out of Florida, and of course, breeding beautiful young buckskin offspring. Life intervened, however, and after a divorce, she found herself scrambling to start over.

Following her divorce, Jackie met David Palmer. They have now been married for 28 years. 

Jackie was a school bus driver until 2013 when she was T-boned in a life-threatening accident while driving her bus, which left her with a crushed lower spine, legs and a significantly disabled right hand. Even so, through it all, Jackie has remained true to trout fishing. 

“I still come to Bennett Spring and fish Zones 1 and 2,” she said She added that she uses flies she has tied herself. She began tying flies in 1980 and still does so, although she is disabled to the point that she can no longer work.

“I have my special trout fishing spot with trees all around so I manage to make it there with my fly rod and my chair and wearing a rather heavy vest so I have to be careful,” she added. “About once a year, I manage to misstep and end up in the water!

Jackie has remained friends with several she has known here for decades like park concessionaire and fly casting instructor Jim Rogers, fly rod master and world-renowned fly fisherman Charlie Reading and fellow trout fishermen and women, like Ed Elersic and the late Kay Crabtree. 

Along with instilling in her children a love for horses, Jackie also shared her love of trout fishing with them.

“Of course, I taught my boys to fish and today, all of my family still likes to go trout fishing,” she said. “I like to start the kids off in Zone 3 because the most important thing is get them started having fun, catching fish. Then we can move them into Zone 2, using jigs and go from there.”

Jackie says her sister and brother both fish and her brother ties flies like she does. Her sister’s two granddaughters also fish as does her nephew and her niece and her niece’s husband. Most of Jackie’s fishing these days is catch and release. 

She hopes to one day sponsor a memorial bench at Bennett Spring in memory of her father, Harry Price and her son, Brian and has started looking into that process.

“There’s nothing like getting a bunch of fishermen and hunters together, to share their stories and tell their lies,” she said with a laugh.


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