One Of Those Days

Spotted Bass (24 inches)

The above pic is a spotted bass that I caught on the St. Francois River. It was a tad over 24 inches. Using the App Fishing Scale it put the fish at 8.5 pounds. I returned it to the water only to find out later that the state record is 7 pounds 8 ounces. Yep it was one of those days. Now on to my day on the Big River.

It was just another glorious day on the Big River in Missouri. Bright blue sky with a touch of those puffy white clouds and temp in the mid 70s. I was floating a stretch of Big River that I love to fish. I put in at the Mammoth access and float to Merrill Horse access. It is a beautiful stretch of river with great smallmouth fishing. It has areas of shallow fast moving water followed by slow moving deep water and limestone bluffs. I usually see deer and there are a pair of Bald Eagles that I usually see around the bluffs. The fishing has always been pretty decent and plenty of spotted bass, largemouth bass and smallies.

Smallmouth Bass

That day I was having great success with a Rebel Wee Craw. I caught 6 smallies that were 13 inches and better. I had just went through a pretty narrow swift stretch of water that emptied into a shallow wider area of water but still fast moving. There was a place at the edge of a weed bed that swirled into an eddy. I maneuvered the yak where the bow was pointing upstream. I placed the Wee Craw right on the edge of the weeds when BAM! something hit it hard. I set the hook and the fight was on. I could tell it was a nice fish. It was pulling line but the bad thing was I was floating backwards downstream and couldn’t see what was behind me but on a good note I was still in the center of the river. Things were going good then it went to hell in a hand basket. I had got caught in an eddy that was pulling me into the bank and spinning the bow of the yak down river. By some miracle I got the bow headed back upstream but that was the end of the miracles. I was parallel to the bank in about three feet of water. I got it beside the yak and my heart started beating a hundred miles an hour. Hooked on the Wee Craw was the biggest smallie I had ever hooked. It dwarfed the 24 inch spotted bass I had caught. I completely blew my attempt to lip it. I was better than that. Well down under the yak it went and there in the water on the other side was a tree about 16 feet long with all its limbs. The smalli3 could its way to freedom and without hesitating the smallie began weaving through limbs until the line stopped pulling and after three tugs broke my line and disappeared into the waters of the Big River. I could hear it laughing. All I could do is sit there and slap my rod tip on the water over and over like a five year old child. I was devastated.

The image of that smallie is etched in my mind. It looked like one of those big samllies you see in the Bass Pro Shop tanks. Only if I hadn’t have blown trying to lip it. I made a rookie mistake even though I was a seasoned veteran. I had ran out of miracles. Yeah it was one of those days. One of those days I will never forget.

For those of you unfamiliar with smallmouth bass in Missouri Ozark streams it takes a samllie five years to reach 12 inches, seven years to reach 15 inches and nine to ten years to attain a length of 18 inches. Presently very few live more than seven to eight years. Missouri has a length limit of 15 inches on small mouth.

What would I have done if I had landed it? Put it on the board and took a measurement, took a picture, ok several pictures, then returned it to the water so it could finish living out its life. That’s the way I roll. I may have not landed that smallie that day but I will always cherish the memory.

MDC Once Again Under Attack!

The Missouri Conservation and Use Tax is once again under attack. ‘This money goes directly to support forest and wildlife conservation efforts. Out of every $8 of taxable goods one penny goes for conservation.

In the early 70s Missouri citizens petitioned to get the tax placed on the ballot. They succeeded, it passed and was implemented on July 1, 1977. Then in 1999 state officials attempted to divert the money collected to pay refunds to taxpayers to only have the Missouri Supreme Court rule that the money could only be used for conservation and not be considered part of the states total revenues.

When I was a child there were a lot of areas of Missouri where it was rare to see a deer or a turkey. I grew up fishing the Big River and bass fishing was mediocre.

In 1977 when the money was allocated to the MDC, things began to change. A little slow at first but soon things began to improve. Due to responsible conservation efforts game became more abundant. Hunters were allotted more tags to fill for deer and turkey. Bass fishing became more rewarding. Money started coming in from out of state hunters who wanted to take advantage of our good hunting. Out of state fisherman also traveled to Missouri to take advantage of our excellent fishing. New land was bought and more public hunting areas and river accesses were made available. New conservation areas were established. Other states began to take notice and implemented programs in their states that the MDC had created.

Now Republican Chris Dinkins of District 144 has introduced two constitutional amendments that could destroy the improvements that have been made. HJR 108 and HJR 112. She says it is in an effort to rein in the overgrown bureaucracy of the MDC and make the department more accountable to the people.

HJR 108 would give the voters the opportunity to change the Missouri Conservation Commission. Presently the commission has four members who are appointed by the governor. Her amendment would change that number to nine nonpartisan members. Voters would elect one member from the current MDC districts and the governor would appoint one member to the commission. I thought she wanted to rein in bureaucracy within the department but this would only add to it causing more bureaucratic red tape.

HJR 112, if passed by voters, would take two thirds of the money and pass it on to other areas in need. The Missouri Supreme Court has already ruled that the money could only be used for conservation and can not be considered part of the states total revenues. Lawsuits? I know the voters are voting on it but the voters passed it in the first place.

She points out that the MDC has a savings account balance of almost 100 million dollars. Sounds to me like they are being pretty responsible. Representative Dinkins that’s let me point out that a savings account is usually used for emergencies. How much of that money was contributed from the Conservation Sales and Use Tax and how much from the sale of licenses, tags, ammo, etc.? If the economy tanks the MDC could go through that money pretty quickly in an effort to keep its programs afloat. Did you ever think of that are better yet do you even care? She says the MDC continues to attack the civil liberties of this state but cites no references. If you are going to throw the sportsmen of this state under the bus at least tell us why? Since you represent Reynolds county I would be suspect it has something to do with the battle between feral hog hunters and the MDC. So your solution is to punish all sportsman of the state of Missouri?

I hope the sportsmen in this state takes a long hard look at what is going on here and the impact these two amendments will have on bird hunting, deer hunting, turkey hunting, fishing and all the other programs offered by the MDC. Are we going to stand by and let this destroy all the accomplishments the MDC has made since 1977. I for one hope not.

November Day On The River

The weather in Southeast Missouri was exceptional today. It was in the sixties!!! When I heard today’s forecast on Thursday I started planning for today.

When I got to the Leadwood Access on the Big River the air temperature was 35 degrees. I started down river around 8:45 a.m.. I am guessing water temp was in the low forties. Water was clear and dropping.

I had decided I was going to use the Rapala floating minnow, Rebel medium Wee Craw and a jig with a crawfish trailer.

Started out wind was calm but picked up about 10 am. Beautiful blue sky with some cloud puffs. Lots of sunshine and the temp began to rise.

My float started at the Leadwood Access on the Big River located in Missouri. The fishing started out slow and pretty much stayed that way. I did manage to catch 4 but only got pics of three.

I caught a spotted bass that went 10 inches but when I put it on the board to measure him he slipped out of my hands and back into the water before I could get a pic.

Caught this spotted bass fishing the Eaton Branch of the Big River.

Caught this small mouth near the Eaton Branch of the Big River.

The beautiful fall colors of the Missouri countryside had fallen to the ground for the most part. I was a little disappointed. Maybe next year.

I caught two before lunch. Missouri streams can be tough fishing in late fall when water temps have become frigid and clear enough to see a crawfish on the bottom in 4 foot of water. It’s a shallow river for the most part. The stretch I floated probably had an average water depth of 4 foot.

Lunch on a gravel bar on the Big River. After lunch I couldn’t buy a hit. I had several small bass and perch follow the lure all the way to the boat but didn’t take the bait.

The last two bass I caught at the end of my float. I caught them in Owl Creek. It dumps into the Big River at the Bone Hole Access where my float ended.

If you are ever up for some good small mouth fishing I recommend the Big River.

Lazy Day on the Big River

I finally got to float the Big River. First time this year. My school buddy Mark Nelson and I met st the Huddle House in DeSoto for breakfast at 7 a.m.. after a hearty breakfast we headed for the river.

We left Mark’s truck at Merrill Horse conservation area and drove to Mammoth CA. We got the yaks in the water about 8:30 and headed down river to the Merrill Horse Access.

There hadn’t been enough rain to cause the river to rise but the water was stained and not as clear as usual. The water was cooler than I thought it would be with all the hot weather we have had.

Mark chillin’ on the Big River

The fish weren’t cooperating and had apparently ate before we got there. We didn’t really care because it was a beautiful day to be on the river.

Finally the fish got their appetite back. The first four escaped the hook and swam for freedom. I was 0 for 4. Patience finally paid off. I caught a small largemouth.

Then I finally caught a small smallmouth.

I caught a spotted bass then we had to head for the boat ramp.

I fished this stretch a lot last year. It is approximately 5.4 miles. Last year I saw a Bald Eagle 4 times. I was disappointed I didn’t see it this time.

Mark caught about a 10 inch bass and a perch.

“The River is constantly turning and bending and you never know where it’s going to go and where you’ll wind up. Following the bend in the river and staying on your own path means that you are on the right track. Don’t let anyone deter you from that. – Eartha Kitt

Until Next Year!

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“Time will pass and seasons will come and go.” – Roy Bean

The end of the fishing season on the rivers here in Missouri for me has come to the end of the season.  On sunny days I will still float the river but fishing will have to wait until spring.

I know you all are probably getting tired of hearing my fishing stories so I will keep today’s blog short.  I put in the river at 8:30 a.m. and the temperature was 30 degrees. The “weather guessers” were calling for a high of 60.  The fourth cast of the day I caught a largemouth bass.  It appeared the fishing would be good toaday.  So I thought.

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The wind was a force I really didn’t want to deal with.  At one point I was going through a shallow, swift area of the river when a wind gust hit me head on and actually pushed me and the yak back up river against the current.  It made it pretty difficult to fish.

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That morning I caught 2 large mouth bass and one smallmouth bass.  Oh well a bad day on the river is better than a good day at work.  After lunch it didn’t get any better.  I caught 1 smallmouth and 2 perch and that was it.  It wasn’t the way I wanted to end the fishing season but next season will be here before we know it.

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It was a good year.  The Big River really is becoming a trophy smallmouth bass area.  The largest one I caught, actually put in the boat, was 16 inches.  Here in Missouri it takes approximately 7 to 9 years for them to grow to 15 inches.  I also caught a 19 inch largemouth and an 8 pound channel cat.

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I want to thank my high school friends David Tripp and Mark Nelson for taking time out of their busy schedules and doing some fishing with me.  I had a good time and hope you two did also.

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Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.  It is very much appreciated.  I hope you enjoyed the photos.  Photography is one of my passions.  Remember to spread the love, be kind to each other and above all, respect each other.

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All the photos were taken on the Big River near Desloge, MO.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally!!

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David and Mark

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”  – Thomas Aquinas

On June 22 at noon the Geritol Crew finally shoved off and floated a portion of the Big River.  We started at St. Francois State Park and floated to Cherokee Landing.  It was a beautiful day for a float.  David and Mark used Mark’s canoe and I took my Kayak.   Water was low but clear.  We caught a few fish but they weren’t biting very well.  Mark did catch a sixteen inch smallmouth.

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David and Mark

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Big River

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Big River

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Big River at St. Francois State Park

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Big River

It was a great time with friends.  We took a trip down memory lane and revisited our time at Northwest High School.  When we got to Cherokee Landing no one was around so we loaded everything in the truck and headed out to St. Francois State Park and pitched tents.

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My tent at St Francois State Park

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Coffee perking

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Frying the bacon

I am lucky that I got to spend some time with some old high school buddies.  David and I hit the Bonne Terre lake one day.

Thanks for reading.  Hope you liked the pics.  Be kind to one another, share the love and don’t squat with your spurs on.

 

Rain on the River

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Storm clouds building.

“Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.” – Roger Miller

Wow, what a night on the river.  I knew that rain was in the forecast.  I knew they said some storms could be severe.  Did I let that stop me?  Noooooooooooo.  Instead I load the kayak and my fishing gear and off to the river I go.  My grandpa’s response to my decision would have been,”Boy, all I have to say is you don’t have the sense God gave a turnip.”  I recall the first time I heard that.  I remember thinking, I never knew a turnip had any sense.

I finally get to the river and the sky doesn’t look to awful bad so I back down to unload. Well one of those people who think they are someone special and their poo poo don’t stink, you know the type, has parked where we put the yaks in.  I can still get my yak in the water but it is 10 times as hard.  All of this just because this snowflake doesn’t think rules apply to him,  He is someone special (said as sarcastic as I can) don’t you know.  Then, then, as I am about to shove off he walks up to his truck and sees me and says,”Your face is awfully red.”  At which time I promptly responded by telling him it was probably due to the fact that some one special had parked where we launch yaks, and is a no parking zone, so I had to work 10 times as hard as I should have.  Yep!  You guessed it.  Went right over his head and I don’t even think he realized it was him.

Heading up river I could see the cloud build up wasn’t looking too good so I checked the radar and no rain was showing up.  I paddled to a spot on the river where I have had great luck with small mouth.  I started floating back down river and started fishing.  I started with a Rebel Wee Craw,  Charlie Slider worm and an eighth ounce jig with a pig attached.  No luck.  Nothing. Nada.  Nil.  You know, same thing that is left after a divorce.

I came to a place in the river where there is some under water cover and is usually a producer of some nice pan fish.  So I retied this time using a hook and a sinker and baited with night crawler.  In no time i had caught two.  Then it started to rain.  Just a steady slow rain but camera time was over for the night.

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Just before the rain started.

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By now it had been raining for about 10 minutes and BAM!  The spotted bass had  started hitting.  Looks like things are looking up.  Oh yeah.  I mean what is a little rain when the fish are biting,  Right?  Then, like it wasn’t raining on my parade all ready, there is a bright flash of light followed by a clap of thunder that made my fillings rattle.  It hit a tree up on the bluff from me.  Not a lot bothers me but lightning gets my undivided attention.  Sooooooo i reel in my line and headed back to where the truck was parked.

I finally arrive and beach the yak and head to get the truck.  Still not raining real hard yet.  I start backing down to where the yak is and I am here to tell ya I can’t remember the last time I saw it rain that hard.  I thought someone was hitting me with a water canon.  I sit there in the truck for a few minutes and then I thought what the hell, after all it is only rain and I sure as hell ain’t gonna melt.  So I got out and loaded stuff in the truck.  When I got in the truck soak and I thought to myself if it wouldn’t have lightninged I WOULD have got really wet.

Thank you for reading my blog and I hope you enjoyed it.  Remember to be kind to each other, share the love and don’t squat with your spurs on.  God Bless you one and all.