Monday, March 29, 2010

Fishing Missouri's Wild Trout Streams

There are ample opportunities for some nice smaller stream trout fishing in Missouri for wild trout.  A bit of research and hard work will put you on some nice water.  There is not a thing wrong with Missouri Trout Parks in my mind, but if you are looking for another alternative besides the "big rivers" like the Meramec, Current, North Fork of the White, give these little streams a chance.  You might not catch any lunkers, but the beauty of the streams and the fish may more than make up for it.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Turkey Hunting - Spring Season Success

For those of us who have been biding our time waiting for the next "big hunting event", Spring turkey season is right around the corner. We have been filling our time with some small game hunting and many excursions to Ozark trout streams to fill the time, but now we are really getting geared up (literally and figuratively) for Spring turkey season. It seems like it is a time where we feel the nice Spring weather is upon us, and almost as an unjust bonus, we also get to embark on one of our favorite seasons of the year.

Here in Missouri, the Spring turkey season for youth is April 10th and 11th, followed by the regular Spring turkey season which runs from April 19th to May 9th. For the regular Spring turkey season, it is not an accident that the season does not start on a weekend. The idea is to start the season on a day where hunting pressure will be more spread out. The primary number one focus for all hunters should be safety. Since turkey hunters are clad in camo, there is already an extra embedded danger. Spreading out the pressure helps just a bit with this factor. We encourage all hunters, even those where they are not required to do so, to attend a hunter safety course. These courses will make the woods safer for all of us, and as a bonus, you often attend a class where there are experienced turkey (and deer) hunters who are more than willing to share there knowledge. It can actually be fun if approached with the right mind set. Often, folks form hunting friendships at these courses that last long thereafter.

The outlook for turkeys in Missouri, as well as many other Midwestern areas is not strong relative to more recent frames of reference. Cold and wet conditions have somewhat, but not dramatically, lowered some turkey populations. This should not be too discouraging. Often, an even bigger factor than how the weather has affected turkey numbers, is how the weather impacts our ability (or desire) to get out in the woods. The more mornings you are out and the more hours spent hunting on these days, obviously the greater your chances to bag a gobbler. In summary, even though the numbers are a bit down, if we have a nice season of weather, harvest numbers may be solid. This will also lead to better future prospects for turkey hunting.

For residents in Missouri, the permit cost for licenses this year is $17 for adults and $8.50 for youths (ages 6-15). For non-residents, the permit costs are $190 and $8.50 respectively. The resident landowner permit is no charge. For further information on permits and hunter safety courses, visit the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) website.

There are excellent prospects in Missouri for hunting turkeys on public land. Missouri is blessed with two major public hunting venues. The MDC manages many conservation areas statewide. Mark Twain National Forest has vast tracts of land where with a bit of research and scouting, hunters can often find good areas to hunt almost alone. A good place to begin a research endeavor into these areas is through the  Hunting Section at Family-Outdoors. There are articles for scouting on public lands, databases of information on conservation areas, and a thorough rundown of many of the tracts of Mark Twain National Forest. There are also tips for hunting Spring turkeys.

One of our favorite aspects of the Spring turkey season in Missouri is one that some hunters don't like. We like the morning hunt only aspect of the Spring turkey season in Missouri. We hunt as a family, and the morning hunt is followed by an afternoon of relaxation and time to just sit around camp and visit. Often, the weather is nice and there's little to rival in our book, a warm afternoon nap in one of Missouri's beautiful wilderness areas. If one or more of us has tagged a tom, all the better. We sincerely hope your Spring turkey season hunt is a great one for you!

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Great Places to Camp In Missouri: The Irish Wilderness

In my last post on Finding Great Places to Camp in Missouri, I talked in some detail about the Eleven Point River area and referenced the Irish Wilderness.  I mentioned I would discuss in a aseparate post camping in the Irish Wilderness backcountry.  Here it is...

The Forest Service has an excellent brochure on the Irish Wilderness.  This has a lot of history as well as backcountry ethics information.  On that score, let me underscore the notion that the Irish Wilderness is managed in a fashion that in the future it will be as much of a wilderness as it is in its current state.  The "Leave No Trace" credo is the rule here.  Having said this, let me jump into a discussion of modes of travel and camping in this area.

There are two major trail systems in this 16,500 acre gem.  A map of the area is essential, even if using one of the areas trail systems.  The major trail in the area is Whites Creek Trail.  Click on this map link for a basic trail map.  It is an 18.6 mile loop trail, and is of moderate difficulty.  It is used also as an equestrian trail, but motorized and non-motorized vehicles are not allowed (mountain bikes).  There is plenty of wildlife including bears, bobcats, deer, and turkey.  There are also plenty of snakes, some venomous, as well as ticks.  Be prepared, and consider Fall or Spring visits to minimize some of these things.  This is truly a magical place as the slideshow below portrays:

Irish Wilderness-Mark Twain NF, Mo

Come prepared and click the link below for a comprehensive list of camping gear to consider bringing:
Camping Gear Checklist
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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Great Places to Camp in Missouri

Missouri is blessed with many great camping locations. They are kind of segregated into the following categories:

  • State Campgrounds
  • Campgrounds on Federally Managed Land (National Park Service and National Forest Service)
  • Conservation Department Lands, and
  • Private Campgrounds.
The other way that camping areas could be grouped would be by geographic location. Because most camping in Missouri is done around the large lakes, along the Ozark rivers and Streams, and in other Ozark regions, I will concentrate my discussion on these areas. There are a number of activities to enjoy while visiting these places and I will touch on these as well. For the sake of brevity, I will split this over a number of blogs.

The first area I will take up will be the beautiful Eleven Point River and the Irish Wilderness. We have taken up the topic of Eleven Point River Trout Fishing and you can find out a lot by visiting this site. Here I will say that there are outstanding rainbow trout and smallmouth bass fishing opportunities on this river, as well as less outstanding but healthy populations of other species as well. The river is an outstanding floating stream year round with class I to class III whitewater in a couple of locations and depending on water levels.

The camping in the area is ample along the river. Let me state that camping is NOT allowed on easements which are private property and are marked in almost all cases. From the Thomasville access to the Riverton access you will truly feel that you are in a wilderness. There are few to no dwellings visible from the river. There are a number of float camps on the Eleven Point. They are primitive in that they do not have water, have vaulted toilets, are first-come (no reservation), and you are expected to pack out trash. They do have fire rings and tent sites. These camps are Denny Hollow (river mile 6.5/river left), Turner's Mill (river mile 21.5/river right), Stinking Pond Float Camp (river mile 22.0/river left), Horseshoe Bend (river mile 26.5/river left), Barn Hollow (river mile 27.0/river left), White Creek Camp (river mile 28.5/river left), Greenbriar (river mile 31.0/river left), Boze Mill (river mile 33.5/river left), and Morgan Creek (river mile 44.0/river right).

There are a couple of traditional campgrounds along the river. One is Greer Crossing Campground. There is a boat launch here and running water for drinking. There is a total of 19 sites and our experience is that the campground is very nicely maintained. It is located river right at river mile 16.7.

Floating the river is a relatively simple affair with 2 semi-challenging exceptions- Mary Decker Shoal and Halls Bay Rapid. A nice photo of Halls Bay is:
halls bay rapid. Mary Decker is at river mile 20.1 and Halls Bay is at river mile 34. They can and probably should be run on the right river line. I have found especially Mar Decker to be deceptive in that it appears a better run on the left. A review of the run from downstream will likely have you agreeing with my assessment.

There are canoe rental and shuttle services in the area. One is Eleven Point Canoe Rental and another is Richards Canoe Rental. I do not vouch for either as I have always had my own gear.

The Eleven Point is a beautiful river and the Irish Wilderness is a true gem.. Next time I will discuss some of the area's backcountry.

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New Ozarks Streams Trout Fishing Reports

We have added this new section for Ozarks Streams Trout Fishing Reports

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Fool's Paradise by John Gierach Blog 1

In Chapter I, "Trips", Gierach has this paragraph:

Color Plate Brook Trout from American Fishes b...Image via Wikipedia

"And then there's the fishing itself. Even if its a familiar fish in a recognizable setting, there are bound to be regional quirks. On the Namekagon River in Wisconsin the smallmouth bass were exactly where I'd expect them to be and they'd eat the same commercially tied deer-hair bugs I always try first, but they were noticeably partial to the yellow-belly version instead of the otherwise identical white-bellied ones I brought from home. Fishing is full of those minute details that actually matter."

Preceding this paragraph, the author has talked some about how the fishing is just part of the experience, but the force that drives the fisherman into that experience. Here he makes the transition into the fishing part. The last sentence of the paragraph is the one that caught my attention. Isn't that the truth? Fishing is full of those minute details that actually matter, but it often seems like there are so many, and figuring out which of them ARE the ones that matter is most of the battle.

Do you ever wonder, especially right after a battle with a big fish that has broken you off, does it really help using that delicate tippet so the fish cannot see your line? When you have changed to a new fly, do you wonder when you catch a fish right away whether it was the fly, or did you cast a bit different, or did the fish just "turn on" right at that same moment?

Of course fishing isn't the only venue where our mind goes through these gyrations. As a classroom teacher, I am constantly asking myself similar questions. Was it something I did, or was it something else. It just takes time to figure things out. Being systematic can help, but that process is tough for me. I have a feeling that many times I miss those minute yellow or white belly details.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Opening Day Alternatives

Don't get the wrong idea about what I am saying here. I love the trout parks and I even love opening day of the trout season. You just probably won't ever find me fishing one of the opening days. I have learned the hard way to always (get the contradiction) qualify my absolutes...thus I throw in a probably before my won't. Anyway, I love the trout parks during winter catch and release season and on Summer weekdays and I love opening day because it sucks a tremendous number of the state's trout fishermen into about 5 square miles of the state's 150 miles of trout streams.

I took my son fishing in the upper stretches of the Current River on the Saturday before Monday's opening. We came in through Montauk State Park and the place was already hopping. The State Troopers had people pulled over and the campground was mostly full. We slid on through and took a look at Tan Vat and it was even a bit crowded for our liking. It was a beautiful day after all. We made our way on down to Baptist Camp, and though the parking lot had a half dozen or so cars and trucks, the fishermen were so spread out we had each hole we wanted to fish to ourselves. Though it was a warm day, the ice hung off the canyon walls creating a beautiful fishing backdrop.

We fished several hours catching and releasing a total of ten decent fish, all of which in my mind are still there awaiting our next trip. I had my required fruitless battle with what I think was a very nice brown. He is nursing a slightly sore mouth and growing to world record size as we speak. Soon, the drunken maniacs will make the river below Baptist Camp a less serene lady as she is violated by floaters who soon know not whether they are in a Scenic Riverway or the log flume at Six Flags. Then we will go somewhere else and maybe I will let you know where that is. If I am not so specific, it is because there are some smaller gems out there, but half the fun is finding them.

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