Monday, May 24, 2010

Free Fishing Days in Missouri

Enjoy Free Fishing Days in Missouri June 12-13
Share a pastime that can last a lifetime. Along with the fish, you may catch some priceless memories.

JEFFERSON CITY MO – Discover the lure of Missouri outdoors with Free Fishing Days on June 12 and 13.  Each year the Missouri Department of Conservation designates the weekend after the first Monday in June for permit-optional fishing. The goal of Free Fishing Days is to encourage people to sample the state's abundant fishing opportunities. During Free Fishing Days, anyone can fish in the Show-me State without having to buy a fishing permit, trout stamp or trout park daily tag.

Missouri is blessed with more than a million acres of surface water, and most of it provides great fishing. Fly fish for trout in a spring-fed Ozark stream or trotline for monster catfish on Missouri’s Big Rivers. Our waters hold ancient paddlefish and sturgeon, ferocious muskies, wary bass and tasty bluegill, crappie and walleye. More than 200 different fish species live here, and 40 of them are the targets of anglers.

Normal regulations, such as limits on size and number of fish an angler can keep, remain in effect during Free Fishing Days.  Regulations are outlined in the 2010 Summary of Missouri Fishing Regulations available at bait shops and other stores where fishing permits are sold, or online at Some private fishing areas still require permits on free fishing days, and trespass laws remain in effect on private property.

Public fishing areas are available in every county in Missouri. Many state-owned fishing areas also have special facilities for anglers with disabilities. To learn more about fishing and find local spots, visit www.Missouri and search “fishing” or contact the nearest Conservation Department office.
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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Black Bass Season in the Ozarks

Black bass season opens May 22 for Ozark Streams

JEFFERSON CITY MO – The fourth Saturday in May marks the opening of catch-and-keep black bass season in Missouri Ozark streams for largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass. The Ozark-streams season runs from May 22 to Feb. 28, 2011.

Black bass fishing and possession is open year ‘round for impoundments and areas of the state other than the Ozarks. These other areas are defined as: the Mississippi river, all waters north of the south bank of the Missouri River, the St. Francis River downstream from Wappapello Dam and on streams in that portion of southeast Missouri bounded by a line from Cape Girardeau following Missouri highways 74 and 25, U.S. highways 60, 67 and 160, and the west bank of the Little Black River to the Arkansas state line.  

While the daily limit on black bass in most of the state’s waters is six with a possession limit of 12, there are many lakes, rivers and streams with special daily limits, as well as different length limits.  It is important for anglers to know the specific black bass fishing regulations for the areas they will fish.

Check pages 58-62 of the Wildlife Code of Missouri for special regulations regarding length and daily limits for specific bodies of water. More information is also available in the 2010 Summary of Missouri Fishing Regulations available from fishing permit vendors and online at

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Missouri Squirrel Season to Open

Squirrel season opens May 22
Changes to this year’s regulations are increased bag limit of 10 and possession limit of 20.

JEFFERSON CITY MO – The fourth Saturday in May marks the opening of squirrel season in Missouri. Hunters may pursue gray and fox squirrels from May 22 through Feb. 15, 2011, with rifles, shotguns or archery equipment. New to squirrel hunting regulations this year is an increase in the aggregate bag limit from six to 10 and an increase in the possession limit from 12 to 20.

“In the aggregate” means hunters may bag any combination of fox and gray squirrels so long as they do not exceed 10 squirrels total in one day. If hunters bag a daily limit two days in a row, they will have a possession limit of 20 squirrels. After that, they must eat or give away some squirrels before going hunting again in order to stay within the possession limit.

Hunters also may take squirrels with cage-type traps, as long as they label traps with their full name and address. Squirrel traps also must have openings measuring 144 square inches or less, for instance, 12 inches by 12 inches. Hunters must attend their traps daily. The same regulations apply to rabbits and groundhogs during their respective seasons.

Lonnie Hansen, the Missouri Department of Conservation’s resource scientist in charge of squirrel management, explained that squirrel numbers in the Ozarks are somewhat dependent on acorn production.

“Squirrel populations in the Ozarks often fluctuate from year to year, increasing following falls with good acorn production, decreasing following poor production,” Hansen said. “Acorns were scarce during the fall 2009 in the Ozarks, possibly causing some squirrel population declines.” 

He added that squirrels have a more diverse and dependable food base in northern Missouri, thanks to corn and other agricultural crops. As a result, squirrel populations are more stable there, and hunting is uniformly good from year to year.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Nature lovers invited to “BioBlitz” May 29-30

Help discover and document plants, butterflies, birds, mammals and more on a remnant of Missouri prairie.

STOCKTON, MO – Missourians with a passion for nature can help document some of Missouri’s vanishing biological diversity at a “BioBlitz” sponsored by the Missouri Prairie Foundation.

On the afternoon and evening of Saturday, May 29, and the morning of Sunday, May 30, professional biologists whose expertise spans everything from ants and orchids to birds and butterflies will lead volunteers across Penn-Sylvania Prairie in Dade County. They will survey and inventory as many species as possible in 24 hours. Amateur naturalists are welcome. Following the afternoon activities on May 29, participants are invited to stay for a potluck picnic supper, stargazing and free tent camping on the prairie.

“Public involvement is an important part of the event,” said Carol Davit, the Prairie Foundation’s development coordinator. “We encourage anyone with a strong interest in nature to join us. We want to spur people’s interest in prairies. Besides, the more eyes we have looking, the better our chances of finding new plants and animals.”

Participants must RSVP to take part in the BioBlitz. To RSVP, for a detailed BioBlitz schedule, and for directions to the prairie, visit, e-mail, or call 888-843-6739.

The 160-acre Penn-Sylvania Prairie is tiny fragment of grasslands that once covered more than 15 million acres in Missouri. The Missouri Prairie Foundation owns the prairie remnant and has protected it since 1971.  Botanists have identified more than 260 plant species there. However, much less is known about other species that live on the area.

“Tallgrass prairie is one of the richest ecosystems on the planet but also one of the rarest,” said Davit. “Collectively, our remaining prairies in Missouri support up to 800 plant species, dozens of vertebrates and thousands of invertebrates. We want to see how many of them we can find at Penn-Sylvania Prairie.”  

BioBlitzers will work in groups under the guidance of Missouri Department of Conservation staff and other experts in subjects such as insects, snails, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, mosses, liverworts and butterflies.

“We are thrilled that so many professional biologists are giving their time to help uncover the plant and animal treasures of this prairie,” said Davit. “If you love wildlife, this is a great opportunity to learn from experts passionate about their given subjects, as well as to have a tremendous amount of fun.”

Conservation Department Naturalist John Miller, who will lead the amphibian and reptile group added that prairies are important habitat for at least 15 amphibians and reptiles. “This is going to be a neat event because spending time like this helps connect us to the past. We’re going to see some of the same plants and animals that pioneers saw when they settled the prairies and traveled west across the plains.”

-          Jim Low –

Missouri Ozarks Trout Fishing Reports
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Monday, May 10, 2010

Women Invited to Discover Nature through MDC Summer Workshop June 4-6

The Discover Nature Women Summer Workshop at Windermere Conference Center gives women a fun, safe way to learn outdoor skills.

JEFFERSON CITY -- The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) invites women to get hands-on outdoor skills training at its Discover Nature Women Summer Workshop, June 4-6, at the Windermere Conference Center in Roach, Missouri.
The registration deadline is May 14.

The workshop provides a safe and friendly environment where women experience hands-on outdoor skills training at the beginner level, taught by a team of longtime professionals. Courses include archery, basic hunting, canoeing, Dutch oven/outdoor cooking, an introduction to firearms, camping, fishing fundamentals, fly tying, map/compass/GPS reading and shotgun shooting.

The special weekend is targeted to women 18 years and older, along with young women age 14-17 when accompanied by a woman 18 years or older. The workshop is free, but a $20 deposit is required at the time of registration. The deposit will be refunded at check in. There is no deposit fee for young women aged 14–17 when registered with an adult.

Participants are responsible for making room and meal reservations directly with Windermere by calling 573-346-5200 or (800) 346-2215, or online at Various lodging options are available including lodge, motel, cabins and camping. MDC will provide dinner on Saturday.

For more information, and to view photos from last year’s event, visit, or contact Lynn Merritt-Goggins at 573-522-4115, ext. 3808 or Kevin Lohraff at 573-522-4115, ext. 3294.

The Windermere Conference Center is flanked by 1,300 acres of wooded Ozark hills and occupies 3.5 miles of shoreline on the Lake of the Ozarks. For more information, visit

- Joe Jerek -

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Spring Turkey Harvest Final Data

Spring turkey harvest tops predictions
Hunters were aided by a slight improvement in turkey reproduction last
year and mostly good hunting weather during the three-week spring season.
JEFFERSON CITY–Hunters made the most of the final week of Missouri’s 21-day spring turkey season, shooting 8,263 birds. The last week’s harvest boosted the regular-season tally to 42,254, an increase of 429 from last year.
Top harvest counties for the regular season April 19 through May 9 were Franklin with 872, Texas with 755 and St. Clair with 701.
Missouri’s spring turkey season has two parts. Hunters age 6 through 15 shot 3,945 turkeys during the youth season April 10 and 11. This boosted the combined spring turkey harvest to 46,199, which is 1,491 more than last year.
Resource Scientist Tom Dailey had predicted the total harvest would be approximately 44,000. He attributed the 5-percent larger harvest to two factors.
“We had the usual mixed bag of weather during the hunting season this year,” said Dailey, the Missouri Department of Conservation’s turkey expert. “The opening weekend was pretty rough, with lots of wind and rain, and the last Saturday was windy. Other than that, though, conditions were extremely favorable for hunting.”
The second factor contributing to this year’s better-than-expected turkey harvest was a slight increase in wild turkeys’ nesting success in 2009.  The Conservation Department measures nesting success by the number of poults – young turkeys – seen with turkey hens during the summer by volunteer observers.
“Compared to the long-term average, last year’s poult-to-hen ratio wasn’t what you would call great,” said Dailey, “but it was slightly better than the two previous years. It allowed turkeys to hold their own in many areas and increase in some others.”
Dailey said he was pleased that this year’s spring harvest did not include a higher-than-normal percentage of young turkeys. “Jakes,” as year-old male turkeys are called, made up 21 percent of this year’s harvest, compared to the historic average of approximately 25 percent.
“Hunters could have shot more jakes this year because we had a few more of them than in recent years,” said Dailey. “Apparently the opposite happened, so we will carry over quite a few jakes to next year. That means more two-year-old birds next spring.”
Dailey said 2-year-old toms are the ones that gobble most, and hunters measure the quality of a day’s hunt largely by the presence or absence of gobbling birds. He said the moderate take of jakes is a good sign for the future.
Also a good sign is the return of more moderate spring weather. Cold and rain reduce wild turkey’s nesting success, and the past few years have set records for both. Dailey said with more normal weather during the summer there is every reason to expect the state’s turkey population to rebound from its current dip.
“I’ve got my fingers crossed,” said Dailey, “and I’m sure lots of other turkey hunters do, too.”
The Conservation Department received reports of four firearms-related hunting incidents during the regular spring turkey season. That is the same number as last year, but none of this year’s incidents was fatal, while one person died last year. Two hunting incidents – neither fatal – were reported during the youth season.
-Jim Low-

Hunters checked 2,259 wild turkeys during Missouri’s spring turkey hunting season April 19 through May 9. That is an increase of 429 from last year. The total 2010 harvest, including the youth season April 10 and 11, was 46,204. That is 1,491 more than last year’s total harvest and 5 percent more than predicted by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
 (Missouri Department of Conservation photo)

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Beginner Fly Fishing Advice: Aproaching Freestone Streams Like the Current and Meramec Rivers


There is an art to approaching a stream that you have never fished before, and truthfully, fine art is not created by beginners. However, any art student begins with certain fundamentals and then creates his or her own techniques by building on these fundamentals. I would encourage the reader of this article to look into other advice beyond that related here to devise his or her own approach with which they are comfortable. This is how the author advises those whom are new to the sport and are fishing a new area and looking for a methodical approach.
Initial Research
Know as much about the trout stream as you can. Know what hatches may be occurring at various times of the year. Know which species of trout are present. Try to develop a knowledge of fly types that work on the water you will be fishing. Whether streamer flies, nymphs, or dry flies, try to get as specific information as you can get. Know specific colors and sizes and have as many of those sizes as possible.
This information is available on the internet through regional forums as well as traditional websites (see resource box below). Also, local fly shops are a great source for information and doubly so if you have the courtesy to actually make a purchase relevant to the advice you receive. This is kind of analagous to hiring a fishing guide. You may pay a bit more for your purchase the first time, but you then have gleaned the information you need to make future purchases via discount retailers if you so choose.
Approaching the Water
You cannot go splashing into the water and start looking around for a good spot to fish. Reading the water is best done from a short distance back and is not a snap decision. If the water is clear enough where you can site fish, this means they can see you as well. You may have to make a crawling approach at times. You need to make a decision based on your own skills. Great water with an overhanging bush is not an option if you cannot roll a cast into this water.
Depending on what you will be fishing, dries or nymphs/streamers, make a wise decision on the water you will fish. If you will be fishing dries, and you are a beginner, consider a slower current stretch where you can get a longer drift before drag starts to affect your line. If you will fish pocket water, think about drifting your offering into the pocket in the manner the current will naturally bring food downstream. This is usually done while fishing nymphs. Whether you use a strike indicator is a personal decision, but may be helpful for the beginner to detect strikes.
Fly Offerings
I am not a dry fly purist. I enjoy most catching fish that have risen to a dry, but if the fish are not rising to a hatch, I have no qualms about fishing below the surface. In fact, generally speaking, I fish streamers and nymphs unless I see a reason to switch to a dry. Once trout begin rising to feed, then I will usually switch to a dry. However, there are even times, say when there is an enormous hatch and very few fish are rising to feed, when I will stay with the streamers and nymphs. If there are millions of critters landing on the water and only a few fish rising to them, what chance does my one elk hair caddis or adams fly have?
Often, I will begin fishing the early part of the day with nymphs and streamers in pocket water and deep pools. Often I will switch quite a few times and then hit on something where every drift is eliciting a take. When this stops producing, I assume that the fish gods have told the fish to stop biting, stop biting that fly, or I have sufficiently disrupted that stretch of water. I will usually try a few additional offerings, and if I have no success, move to a new stretch of water.
As evening approaches, I am particularly alert to hatches and/or rising trout. There is nothing more satisfying than a take on a dry. If possible, be able to identify the hatch and/or what the trout are rising to, and as they say, "match the hatch." Sometimes a rough facsimile of the hatch will suffice if an exact match is not at hand. Be willing to experiment. Often, very subtle differences matter. Even for an experienced fisherman, a new body of water can be a challenge. If you are pretty sure that the stream holds fish, be willing to go back a few times even if at first you do not have success. Just like your casting skills, your other fishing skills will build over time, and there is a lot of satisfaction in becoming well versed in a certain body of water.
Missouri Trout Fishing
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