Easter Sunday at Bismarck Lake

It was a beautiful morning to hit the lake. The temp was perfect and Mother Nature had began painting the countryside with the colors of red bud, dogwood, honey locust and various wild flower blossoms.

The wind however was gusting to 30 mph making it hard to fish. There were a few folks catching crappie but I was after the largemouth bass.

I guess Wayne’s Diner didn’t serve up what they wanted. I did finally manage to catch a bass and a crappie.

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Later that day I rigged my poles for catfish but they must have not liked what I was serving because I didn’t even get a bite.

All in all it was a great day. I am hopelessly addicted to the water and fishing. I guess there could be worse things to be addicted to.

A Day on the St. Francois River

The St Francois River is a tributary of the Mississippi River. It is 426 miles long and meanders through northeastern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri.

In the springtime they have kayak races on the part that goes through Silver Mines Park. Fishing is fair with a large variety of fish.

They were calling for a high near 70 degrees for today. That was all I needed to hear. I was river bound. I decided to try a new place that I had found. It was on the St Francois River in an area I had never fished.

I really didn’t think the fish would be hitting anything that I had in my tackle box. Just 3 days ago the high for the day was 9 degrees and a front was moving into the area today bringing rain with it. Well that wasn’t enough to stop me. I loaded the yak in the truck and headed out for a day of peace and relaxation.

The air temp was 55 degrees when I got to the river and the water temp was damn cold! It would not be a good day to flip the yak.

The water clarity was clear and water level was normal for this time of year. I didn’t go upstream 20 yards before I had to get out and pull the yak through the riffles. Once through there was a good 300 yard stretch with numerous deep holes and lots of structure and cover for the bass to suspend in. I knew to get them to hit I was going to have to drop my lure right under their nose.

I knew as cold as the water was I was going to have to fish a slow moving lure. This time of the year bass are lethargic and slow to attack the food source. So my choice was a pig and jig and a Charley Brewer slider worm.

The morning really started off slow. Not one single hit in 4 hours. Then a little after one p.m. I got a hit and set the hook. Didn’t appear it was going to be much of a fight then I guess it decided, not today bucko and the fight was on. After about 5 minutes I got it close enough to the boat so I could see it. OMG!!!!! He was big. My heart started beating 200 beats a minute then crap: I forgot the dip net.

Well he dove under the yak and popped up on the other side. With the help of the cold water it tired quickly. I got it up to the yak and I lipped it and put it in the boat.

OMG! What a beauty. I put it on the board and it was a hair over 20 inches. I admired its beauty and returned it to the river. It was a spotted/Kentucky black bass.

I caught two more spotted/Kentucky black bass.

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Thirteen inches

All in all it was a great day. When I pulled out of the river it was 68 degrees. I felt good. I really needed that.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It is very much appreciated. Remember to spread the love and be kind to each other.

All photos are property of Double D Acres LLC and May not be reproduced without written consent from me.

The River is Calling

I know I write a lot about the river. It is a big part of my life. I know it is hard for some to understand my passion for the river. For those that don’t have a chance to enjoy the river I hope you can get to experience it through my writing.

I love to be on the river at early dawn. Just as the fog starts to lift off the river. You can hear the fish hitting the top of the water partaking of their morning breakfast.

Songbirds fill the morning air with their beautiful music and the squawk of a Heron can be heard.

The river is my utopia and my kayak is my yacht. The world seems so perfect there. I have watched deer cross the river 10 yards in front of me. Watched beaver hard at work and have had Bald Eagles fly above me. One early morning I had an otter swim up and put his paws on the side of the kayak.

I can sit for hours and listen to the sound of the water working it’s way through the riffles. I can feel the tension start to melt as I begin to relax. There is so much that goes on at the river.

It’s a place one can go to take the time to know themselves better.

It’s a place to shed your troubles and worries.

It’s a drug you can’t overdose on.

It’s a place that can cause you to be overwhelmed with joy.

It’s a place where your soul, spirit, and mind can be healed.

In time it is a place of memories.

I am truly addicted to the peacefulness of the river. My love for the river has been around for a long time.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate it. Remember to spread the love and be kind to one another.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Fishing on the Big River

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On October 17, I embarked on another adventure on the Big River.  I had a client that shuttled my yak and I so I could do a straight through float.  I hit the water at 8:30 am and the temp was 37 degrees.  The sun was coming up and the fog was starting to lift.  It was going to be a beautiful day.  The high was supposed to be 55 however the wind was a big pain in the yak.

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Big River near DeSoto, MO

On my third throw of the day I cast my lure around the boat ramp.  I reeled in a couple turns and whammy.  Something hit hard and the fight was on.  I fought it for about 5 minutes and then all of a sudden it was over.  It had got off.  In the next 15 minutes I hooked 3 more and got them about half way to the boat and they would get off.  It was like I was jinxed.

I fished about a half an hour and not a hit.  Then, whammy.  I had one on.  It was a 13 inch smallmouth and it appeared the jinx was over.  I caught 5 more smallies and 1 largemouth and 4 spotted bass.  Around 1 pm I pulled up on a gravel bar and ate lunch.

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My kayak on Big River near DeSoto, MO.

Around 1:30 I started on down the river only to be greeted by a Bald Eagle that Mark and I had seen the week before in the same area.  What a magnificent bird indeed.

I continued to catch fish.  I caught them on a  Rapala floating minnow and a Rebel Wee-Craw which caught the most.  Last week with my buddy Mark I had caught some on a pig and jig and a plastic worm but couldn’t buy a bite with them today.

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A 13 inch largemouth bass

 

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A 16 inch smallmouth bass

The day was going good and then it happened.  I had cast the Wee-Craw and retrieved it a couple turns when wham!  Something had hit the lure and hard.  It started peeling line and headed up stream.  I was in some shallow fast moving water and I knew it was going to create a problem.  I was in good shape as long as the yak stayed in the middle of the river but then I hit a pocket of water that started pushing me to the bank.  I got it right up next to the boat and I saw what was the biggest smallmouth that I had ever hooked.  It looked like something you see in a Bass Pro Shop aquarium.  The 16 inch I had caught was dwarfed by this smallie.  Then, this was all taking place now in about 3 foot of water and I could easily see the bottom, I saw it zero in on a tree branch on the bottom and wrap my line around a limb.  Here I am sitting with one of my biggest dreams right there in front of me and I can’t do anything but watch it tug then finally pull loose.  I was devastated!!!!!

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Rebel Wee-Craw

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Rapala original floating minnow

When the initial shock of losing the biggest smallie I had ever caught wore off I headed on down river making my way to the boat ramp.  Along the way I managed to catch several more smallies and spotted bass.  It was a great day.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Remember to spread the love.  A few more pics of the river that day.

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Big River

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Big River

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Big River

Time on the River

 

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Big River near DeSoto, MO as darkness gives way to the dawn.

I have always been mesmerized by the beauty of the river.  Due to flooding it is constantly changing but Mother Nature seems to always protect its beauty.  If only man would cherish the river as much as Mother Nature.  The pollution and the trash left behind has grown, adding an ugliness that shouldn’t be there.

“The River… It’s my world, and I don’t want any other.  What it hasn’t got is not worth having, and what it doesn’t know is not worth knowing.  Lord! the times we’ve had together.” – Kenneth Grahame

On August 11, I decided to spend a very much needed night on the river.  Temps were in the 90s and humidity was high.  I loaded up and went to Mammoth Access on the Big River in Missouri.  A lot of people on the river and I got a lot of stares.  I have had a round with melanoma so I show up in a long sleeve shirt and jeans and really don’t look like I belong.  I board my yacht and head up river for a much anticipated night of relaxation.

As I paddle I look for spots to set limb lines and a place to make camp for the night.  I opted out of taking a tent and would opt to catnap on board my trusty yak.  After finding places for lines and camp I went to an area to do some bass fishing however the fish didn’t seem to like the smorgasbord I provided for them.  I finally started tight line fishing and waited for dusk to show up at which time I would set and bait lines in hopes of catching some catfish.

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Big River near DeSoto, MO as dawn takes over the night.

“A river seems a magic thing.  A magic, moving,, living part of the very earth itself.” – Laura Gilpin

I finally finished getting the lines set and baited around 8:30 p.m.  I then set up camp and  set up for tight line fishing while I waited until time to run my lines.  I like to run my lines every 2 and a half hours.  All I seemed to get was empty lines with no bait.  There was a bait stealer loose in the Big River.  My luck wasn’t much better with my tight line fishing but I did manage to get a good fire started.

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The night got cool enough that the fire actually felt good.

Finally I managed to catch a drum, or stone perch.  I put it on a stringer because I had plans for it.  I also managed to catch a sucker but since it wasn’t high on my culinary preferences I returned it to the river.  They are pretty bony.

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One of Missouri’s suckers.

Around 4:30 a.m. my beef stew MRE had began to wear of so I prepared the fish for breakfast.  I didn’t have anything to cook it in so I improvised and rigged up quite a contraption to cook it with.  I used some green tree limbs and fashioned sort of a spit and cooked it 10 minutes on each side and I am here to tell you it was delicious.

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Breakfast on the river.

The darkness began to give over its control to the rays of sunshine.  I headed out to run my lines and take them out.  As I was running the lines I heard something that sounded just like a lamb.  I use to raise sheep so I know the sound all too well.  I could hear it but couldn’t see it.  finally it broke out of the brush and to may surprise it was a fawn still sporting its spots.  I figured it got separated from its mom and hopefully it wasn’t an orphan.  Then I got my answer.  I hear the bleat of a doe and the fawn spun around and headed back into the brush giving what sounded like a very happy round of bleats.

“A river or stream is a cycle of energy from sun to plants to insects to fish.  It is a continuum only broken by humans.” – Aldo Leopold

All the lines were empty and void of bait but one.  I noticed that it was wrapped over a limb but is wasn’t moving so I figured I had caught one and it wrapped the line around the limb and got off.  I managed to pull the line and limb up but to my surprise the line wasn’t empty.  No sirree!  As it broke the service I found a 20 pound, at least, soft shell turtle hooked by its foot.  This means that its head was free.  Now I am here to tell you when it comes to the length of a neck the giraffe has nothing on a very pissed off soft shell turtle.  Now the pucker factor has kicked in and his neck extends way out, jaws snapping and barley misses my arm.  We wrestled for a while and I was finally able to unhook him and I gave a sigh of relieve that was probably heard in St. Louis.

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Phot of Big River by Double D Acres LLC.

After all the excitement and I calmed down a little I headed up river for about 2 hours and then turned around and fished my way back to the boat ramp.  I managed to catch one small Largemouth bass and that was all she wrote.

It wasn’t a very productive fishing trip but the relaxation and peacefulness I enjoyed was priceless.  Being alone on the river without any distractions is the perfect way I have found to cleanse the soul and recharge the spirit.  I have always said when I die I want to be cremated and my ashes spread in the river.  That is the only place that I can experience a true sense of peace and tranquility.

“A river is more than an amenity, it is a treasure.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  I apologize for being a little long winded.  If you get a chance to sit on the bank of a river, close your eyes.  Listen to the running water and feel its energy.  Like us it has a destination.  A beginning and an end.  It has its low times (summer) and high times (floods).  Outside the interference of man, dams and levees, it manages to take out any obstacle in its way to its destination.  We can learn a lot about life from a river.  Remember to spread the love.

 

My Thoughts on Fishing

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“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” – Henry David Thoreau

I have been fishing for a lot of years.  I had the big bass boat with the big gas guzzling motor on it.  I fished bass tournaments, mostly held on lakes.  Then one day I was diagnosed with melanoma and had to have it cut off.  They didn’t get all of the cancer cells so they cut some more and this time got it all.

Growing up we always fished the rivers.  So I decided to sell the bass boat and head back to the river where I had learned to fish and I have no regrets.  I bought a kayak and started fishing with ultra-light gear.  I prefer a spinning reel loaded with 4 pound test line.  I like a medium action rod.  If you catch an eight ounce fish on this rig it feels like it weighs five pounds.  I have a lot of fun with this set up on the rivers.

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Two of my favorite crankbaits, Wee Craws by Rebel.

“Fishing provides that connection with the whole living world.  It gives you the opportunity of being totally immersed, turning back into yourself in a good way.  A form of meditation, some form of communion with levels of yourself that are deeper than the ordinary self.” – Ted Hughes

My favorite way of fishing is with a fly rod and reel. set up.  Personally I have a difficult time trying to cast from the kayak.

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Minnow and shad look- a-likes that I love to use on the river.

There are all kinds of different artificial baits one can pick from.  There are soft baits, jigs, crank baits, spinner baits, top water lures, just to name a few.  For those of you who would prefer using real bait there are worms, crawdads, minnows and crickets.

Here in Missouri I would say the 4 most sought after fish are large mouth bass, small mouth bass, crappie and the catfish.  In Missouri we are blessed with some great places to fish.  I fish the Big River and the Missouri Department of Conservation has designated several miles of the upper part as a Small Mouth Trophy area.

 

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Large mouth bass

 

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small mouth bass

 

“There’s a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.” – Steven Wright

I hope this post helped inspire some of you to pick up some fishing equipment and head out to the river or lake.  It was short so feel free to ask me any question you might have.

I hope you enjoyed my post and thank you for taking the time to read it.  Remember to share the love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benefits of Fishing

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“Fishing provides that connection with the whole living world.  It gives you the opportunity of being totally immersed, turning back into yourself in a good way.  A form of meditation, some form of communion with levels of yourself that are deeper than the ordinary self.” – Ted Hughes

Well the little rodent says that we are going to have six more weeks of winter.  That tells me that I am going to be fishing in the cold.  If you have never fished before you won’t understand but those of you who have, well you understand totally.

Fishing is something that can be shared among friends.  It is a way to get together and enjoy each others company and catch up on old news.  It is relaxing and a good way to recharge your spirit.  It is a great place to find yourself and cleanse your spirit of all the negativity that has latched onto it.

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My friend David and me at Bonne Terre Lake

 

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Mark’s grandson, David, Me, and Mark ready to float the river.

 

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Mark and David during a float on the Big River

We have been on a couple fishing trips and we all three graduated together so there is always lots to talk about and we always have a good time.  A fishing trip is one hell of a friendship bonding agent.  We try to schedule a fishing trip at least once a year.  it is always a good time.

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My fishing buddy (grandson) Catfish Kid

 

 

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Catfish Kid strikes again.

One thing I love about fishing is you can share it with the young-uns.  Me and the Catfish Kid caught some fish.  He sure does love to fish so we have drowned a bunch of worms.

Following pictures are of fish that I have caught.

 

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Channel  Catfish

 

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Largemouth Bass

 

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Smallmouth Bass

 

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One of the Big River’s panfish caught by David.

Last but not least.  If  you have never been fishing on the river before, the scenery can blow you away.  One of my favorite times on the river is in the fall when all the leaves are changing colors.

 

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Big River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Big River

 

 

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Big River at Leadwood Access

I hope you enjoyed my little piece on fishing.  I can’t say enough good things about it.  If you are looking for a new adventure be sure and check out fishing.  It is laid back and very enjoyable.

Thanks for reading.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Remember to spread the love.

(All photos were shot by me)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The River; A Magical Treasure (For Some)

 

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“A river is more than an amenity, it is a treasure.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

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“A river seems a magic thing.  A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself.” – Laura Gilpin

I was finally afforded an opportunity to spend some time on the Big River.  I decided to kayak and fish the St. Francois State Park area of the river.  I went on a Thursday so I had the park pretty much to myself.  I was even able to accommodate myself with some time to read some of Emerson’s work.  The only distraction I had was the chirping of the crickets and the crackling of the fire.

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Home for a couple of days.

The river was really low.  It was hard to fish and float.  I did manage to catch some fish though.  Not very big but when you are fishing with an ultralite with 4 pound test they don’t have to be very big to have fun catching them.  I did catch enough to consume for supper on the second day.

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My time spent on the river is always magical and mesmerizing.  It has been that way since I was a snotty nosed kid.  I cherish the world of the river and the way it can recharge my spirit and soul.  To see the fall painting that Mother Nature had brushed onto  the foliage was a site to behold.

The first day on the river I never crossed paths with another person.  I had the river all to myself and it is hard to explain what a great feeling it is.  My mind races trying to take in all the wonderful things that I am surrounded by everything grabbing my attention at once.  Even though I have been here before I feel like a child in a candy store.

I wish I could explain the “peaceful  easy feeling” that I experience upon every visit to the river.   It is quite refreshing and it gives one a great opportunity to find themselves.

The downside of the river is that everything cooked on an open fire tastes amazing so therefore one tends to eat too much.

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Coffee, bacon, biscuits and eggs

 

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Funny how many times I have read this book and when I get out on the river and clear my mind of all the garbage it has accumulated since the last visit, I find something I have missed.  Emerson did not believe that one could simply change society by changing the laws, or by imposing new regulations.  For one to effectively change the laws of a state, the minds of the citizens must be changed first through culture  or education.  Forgive me for getting off subject.  This is food for another blog on another day.

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I am a realist and I know the river doesn’t work as well for some as it does me.  Not everyone is comfortable on the river and not everyone likes to fish.  I urge you though to find your “river” in life, no matter what it is.  Then share it with the rest of the world.  Spread the love.

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I also realize not everyone likes reading Emerson.  In closing I want to thank everyone for taking the time to read my blog and I hope you enjoyed it.  I wish you luck in finding your “river” and “Emerson”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monsanto Lake

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Lake Monsanto – St. Joe Park -Park Hills, MO

St. Joe Park is located in the old “lead Belt” area and is made up of 8,238 acres that was donated to Missouri in 1976 by the St. Joe Minerals Corp after ceasing operations in 1972.  It has an off-road vehicle area, two campgrounds, equestrian camping and trails, hiking and bicycling trail, picnic sites and lakes for swimming and fishing.

The historic mill buildings still stand on the site and it has been designated as Missouri Mines State Historic Site.  They also have a museum that houses some of the old mining equipment along with an impressive collection of geological specimens.

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Lake Monsanto

There are four stocked lakes in St. Joe.  Monsanto is the largest that is 30 feet at the deepest point and around 25 acres.  Then there is Apollo Lake, JoLee Lake and Pim Lake which is the smallest.  Boats can be used in all four but only electric motors are allowed.  They do rent kayaks and canoes.  One drawback to me, that definitely keeps me from getting too attached to this place, is the hours of operation.  From April – September the lake opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 8 a.m.; October – March 7 a.m. to 5 p.m..  I really wish they would reconsider their hours.

If you want to fish Apollo or JoLee lakes, you must obtain a fishing pass from the park office.  There are no launch fees.  One can catch bass, crappie, catfish and an assortment of pan fish or perch.  The park uses a “slot limit” of 12 inches to 15 inches for bass.  You can keep anything under 12 and over 15 but you can’t keep fish that fall in the slot.  One practice they do that I do like is that they pass a card so you can record your catch of the day so that they can have an idea of what is being caught.  It is done anonymously.

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” – John Muir

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Lake Monsanto

I have fished Lake Monsanto three times.  It is a peaceful place through the week however on the weekend it can draw a crowd.  The lake has a lot of mill foil in it and a lot of standing timber and a multitude of objects to get your line hung up on.

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Largemouth bass caught

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Channel Cat I caught a couple of weeks ago.

I prefer to use a Rapala floating minnow.   If you watch what you are doing you don’t get hung up as bad.  I also use the live bait mode also: night crawlers.  If I am out there just to relax I just use an empty hook.  On a scale of 1 to 10 I would give Lake Monsanto a 5.  If the state would change the fishing hours to allow early and late evening hours I could learn to like it a little more.  (Hint, hint)  Maybe even issue a special permit if a person wanted to do some late night catfishing.

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Lake Monsanto

Someone asked me the other day if I ever get tired of fishing.   For the record, “no”.  I can never get enough fishing.   When I am fishing I can feel my spirit feeding off the positive energy of Mother Nature.  I sleep better when I have had a full day of fishing.

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Monsanto Lake

Thanks for reading my blog.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Remember to spread the love.