Your monthly guide to Missouri outdoors
Volume 1 Issue 5
Long before finding fame in Nashville, Craig Morgan was just a country boy from Tennessee with a dream of serving his country. Even though his name appears in lights these days, Craig remains a humble and gracious family man rooted in the ways of a sportsman.
Also in this issue of Driftwood Outdoors Hot Walleyes Summer Scouting Family Fishing
Truman Whites pg 11
Float Camping pg 12
Monster Cats pg 8
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Craig Morgan Keeps it Country
by Brandon Butler For a fella who seems to really have it all, Craig Morgan has stayed true to his country roots and kept both feet on the ground. Aside from being one of Nashville’s most likeable celebrities, Craig has become a household name in the outdoor industry. The third season of his outdoor television show – Craig Morgan All Access Outdoors – is airing now on the Outdoor Channel. You’d think all country kids growing up in central Tennessee would dream of making the big time on music row. Craig says that’s not so. “Music wasn’t really my dream,” he said. “I went into the Army thinking I would retire from the Army and become a sheriff somewhere. Music just sort of happened. But I’ll tell you this…now that I’ve had the opportunity to have a music career, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.” Craig’s road to music row supports his statement. Before he ever had a hit song, he swung a hammer, proudly wore the uniform of the United States Army, and he even worked at Wal-Mart for a spell. “Having done other things before music gives you a lot of life material to write and sign about,” he said. “And taking the long road, whether by choice or not, gives you a different sense of appreciation.” Craig really started playing music and writing songs
frequently while he was in the Army. “I kept waiting for someone to tell me I didn’t belong in music. But no one ever did. It just sort of progressed,” he said. And we can all be thankful for that. A number of Craig’s songs have been amongst some of the best released on country radio over the last 10 years. Songs like; “Almost Home,” “Redneck Yacht Club,” “Little Bit of Life,” “International Harvester”, “Love Remembers” and “Bonfire” are all recognizable to country music fans. Chances are you can sign along with most of them. His biggest hit to date though is “That’s what I love About Sundays.” The song spent four weeks at number one on the Billboard country charts, and was named Billboard’s number one country hit of 2005. Craig’s new album, “This Ole Boy” was released back on February 28. Craig co-wrote seven of the songs on the album. “This is the best album I have made by far,” Craig said. “The music has the same feel as my most successful songs. I just felt soul making it.” The fall hunting season is fast approaching and Craig has a lot of shows to film for season four of All Access Outdoors. This fall he’ll be all over the country chasing big game, but whitetails remain his favorite. “Two hunts I am really looking forward to this year are whitetail hunts in Illinois and Kentucky. I just loving chasing big bucks,” Craig said. With a new hit album out this year, an ongoing con-
Country music star Craig Morgan hosts All Access Outdoors on the Outdoor Channel.
cert tour and filming his outdoor television show, not to mention his obligations as a husband and father of four, Craig Morgan is a busy man. But he’s the first to tell you that it’s all good. With complete humility and a sense of disbelief to this day, Craig said, “If you want to be blessed come hang out with me because I have a lot of angels.” I plan on doing just that on July 14 at the Lincoln County Fair in Troy, MO. Craig is in concert there with Joe Nichols. Tickets are available at the fair the day of the show, so maybe I’ll see you there. See you down the trail…
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In this issue of
News From The Field
A Deeper Look Into Missouri Outdoors
MDC taking measures to contain CWD 05 06
Missouri Family Fishing Vacations
Fishing For Monster Blue Cats
Summer Scouting for the Serious Hunter
Schooling Truman Whites
16 18 20
Leupold’s Legendary Lady
Camp Cookin’ with a Dutch Oven
When a Dream Calls, Answer It
Bass Tactics For Hot Weather Walleyes
Float Camping Adventures New York, New York Great Fly Fishing Action at Deer Ridge
Columnists Kevin Reese - Mitch Strobl Stephanie Mallory - Ron Kruger John Martino - The Wilsons John Neporadny Jr. Brent Wheat - Tim Huffman Managing Editor Brandon Butler Fishing Editor Kenny Kieser Sales Manager Nathan Sizemore 660-216-5727 Creative Layout Joe Pendergrass Circulation Director Jeff Thompson 573-822-2217 Driftwood Outdoors is published monthly. The entire content of this newspaper is Copyrighted 2012 ©. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written consent from the Managing Editor.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Measures approved by the Conservation Commission should help contain chronic wasting disease (CWD) in north-central Missouri. Over the past two and a half years, the Missouri and U.S. departments of agriculture have detected 11 CWD-infected deer at private hunting preserves in Macon and Linn counties. In response to these discoveries, MDC conducted intensive sampling of freeranging white-tailed deer in the surrounding area and found five deer that tested positive for the disease. MDC is working to limit the disease to a CWD Containment Zone consisting of Adair, Chariton, Linn, Macon, Randolph and Sullivan counties. MDC and agriculture officials supervised the removal of deer from the affected hunting preserves. MDC will continue testing free-ranging deer from the CWD Containment Zone to determine how far the disease has spread and how prevalent it is within the containment zone. At its May meeting, the Conservation Commission approved regulation changes aimed at limiting the spread of
CWD in free-ranging deer. These include restricting the placement of grain, salt, minerals and other deer attractants in the CWD Containment Zone, effective Oct. 30. MDC urges hunters and landowners to remove existing attractants or make them inaccessible through removal, fencing or covering. Landowners and farmers are encouraged to make mineral blocks inaccessible to deer when not being used for livestock. The Conservation Commission also approved rescinding the antlerpoint restrictions in containment-zone counties during the 2012–2013 hunting season. To further reduce the chances of spreading CWD, MDC is asking hunters who shoot deer within the CWD Containment Zone not to take whole deer carcasses or certain parts of deer out of the zone. CWD is caused by abnormal proteins known as prions. It is not known to affect any animals except those in the deer family, including deer, elk and moose. The disease progresses slowly, but it is always fatal. It has the potential to seriously damage Missouri’s world-
MDC sharpshooters gathered more than 600 deer from the CWD-containment area last winter to determine the extent and prevalence of CWD in wild deer.
class deer hunting and the economic benefits that go with it. To learn more about Missouri’s CWD management strategy and express your opinions on the subject, visit mdc. mo.gov/node/16478.
MDC opens gate on second elk cohort Missouri’s free-ranging elk herd got a boost June 19, as the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) released 33 elk at Peck Ranch Conservation Area (CA) in Carter County. Another release of 13 elk is planned for Saturday on neighboring land in the elk-restoration zone. In May, MDC brought 35 elk from Kentucky and placed them in holding pens at Peck Ranch CA. Since then, 11 of the elk cows have produced calves, bringing the number of elk available for release this year to 46. Elk still in holding pens at Peck Ranch CA after the Tuesday release will be taken to land owned by The Nature Conservancy and released to the wild on Saturday. “Eastern elk herds often have small home ranges,” says Elk Restoration Program Coordinator Ron Dent. “Our goal with moving a small group of elk to The Nature Conservancy’s property is to form a nucleus in the center of the restoration zone.” MDC launched the elk-restoration program in 2011, when it brought 34 elk from Kentucky. Dent says this year’s releases will bring Missouri’s free-ranging elk population to approximately 80. In addition, MDC biologists expect the majority of last year’s cows to bear young this year.
The 12,000-acre central refuge area of Peck Ranch CA currently is closed to the public to minimize disturbance of cow-calf pairs as they settle into their new surroundings. The portion of Peck Ranch CA outside the marked refuge fence remains open to hunting and other activities. Dent said MDC will announce the reopening of the refuge some time in July. More information about elk restoration in Missouri is available at go.usa.gov/VoX
Driftwood Outdoors Gear & Gadget Review by Mitch Strobl
LOWA Tibet Pro GTX Boots
The Tibet Pro GTX boots by LOWA are ideal for long tracks on rocky land, especially when carrying heavy weight on your back. The Tibet Pro GTX’s support and stabilize your ankle with a tall nine-inch ankle shaft, preventing twisting and rolling on rough trails. Plus, the boot is waterproof and extremely breathable, contributing to lasting comfort day in and day out. Starting at the base, the outsole is patterned for exceptional grip and is even molded to help you break going downhill. The foot-bed is composed of slow reacting foam that provides a cushiony custom feel. In addition to the foam layer, there is also a moisture wicking layer that transports sweat away from the foot, therefore minimizing friction with each step. The Flex fit lacing system doesn’t just secure the boot to your foot, but rather molds it to your foot. The three hooks above the ankle provide the ankle support mentioned above, but the best part is the fourth hook. This flex fit hook is designed to compensate as your foot articulates through your stride, meaning the boot moves with your foot and minimizes any friction in the heal and ankle area. This concept adds up to comfort on long hikes. While there are many more features worth mentioning, the most important is the lining. The seamless, waterproof GORE-TEX liner under the Nubuk leather makes the boot not only waterproof but also breathable. Overall, the Tibet Pro GTX boot was designed with comfort and performance in mind, and does exactly that for you and your feet.
Lifeproof iPhone Case
It’s a fact of life; hunters, fisherman, and outdoorsman in general are not nice to their equipment. Like many of you, I’ve dropped my phone out of the truck, and even from a tree stand. However, I have good news for those outdoorsman and women with an iPhone. A new, innovative case built for people like us! LifeProof is the first and only waterproof, shockproof, dustproof and snowproof case for the iPhone 4/4S. Its sleek, ergonomic design still embraces the iPhone aesthetics and design concept, but does so while being ultra protective. The LifeProof case is backed by military specifications (MIL_SPEC) so it is tough and robust against all undesirable conditions. Another great feature found in the LifeProof is it doesn’t hinder functionality of the iPhone. Unlike other “skins” or cases, the LifeProof includes crystal clear double anti-reflective coated glass lens, which both protects the camera itself while providing the sharpest images possible. HD videos can be taken anywhere, underwater, in the snow, even in the mud. Overall, this case is perfect for all outdoor adventurers, whether you are golfing, swimming, hiking, fishing, hunting, camping, boating or at the beach, the LifeProof iPhone case can only help protect your phone from the elements. In addition, the case is great for those with dirty jobs. Farming, construction, industrial work, police, fire, and military occupations are all rough on equipment. Whatever you are into, protect your iPhone with the LifeProof iPhone case.
Hawke Optics Endurance 30 IR
Like all Hawke Optics scopes, the Endurance 30 IR 3-12 x 50 riflescope is designed with quality and performance in mind. Precisely machined from high-grade aluminum with innovative techniques, the Endurance 30 is nearly 25% stronger than conventional riflescopes. The one-piece mono-tube body is not only sleek and accurate, but is also extremely resistant to harsh conditions. The Endurance 30 is waterproof and fog-proof, plus it is rated for all firearm calibers. A coil erector spring secures the internals during recoil, making the scope robust enough to withstand large amounts of recoil generated by the big guns. To say that the Endurance 30 IR is clear is an understatement; the fully multi-coated optical system provides unparalleled clarity, even in low light conditions. Combine that with the eleven brightness settings for the illuminated reticle and you have a top-notch field of view with this scope. On the downside, you can no longer use the excuse, “I don’t know what happened, I guess my scope fogged up!” In addition to the ultra clear field of view, ¼ MOA fingertip turrets and rubber magnification ring near the eyepiece allow for quick yet precise adjustments. While the Endurance 30 is available in multiple magnifications, the 3-12 x 50 model is a great choice for both up close and long range shooting. The illuminated reticle allows for fast target acquisition, making it great for all types of hunting. I especially like this scope for coyote hunting, due to its wide range of magnification and fast target acquisition. Overall, the scope is clear, accurate, rugged and sporty. To cap it all off, the Endurance 30 IR is backed by Hawke’s Worldwide Warranty.
Frabill Crawler Can
The Frabill Crawler Can is ideal for holding and transporting night crawlers, leeches, wax worms and even minnows. Load up one side with ice and the other bait, or pack both compartments full of bait for busy days on the water. An extra-thick foam liner and tough watertight lid keep your bait cool and dry, and most importantly contained. Sporting a sturdy handle, the Crawler Can is lightweight and easy to carry when on land, plus it is small and easily stowed out of the way on a boat. What’s unique about the crawler can is the divider, separating the unit into two compartments. It is very advantageous on a hot July day to place ice in one side, keeping your bait cool on the other. Nobody wants to mess with stinky rotten worms that have sat in the sun all day, nor do you want to lug around a full size cooler with ice. Grab the Frabill Crawler can and you have a lightweight, easily transportable bait container that keeps your bait handy and fresh.
Watch for the next issue of Driftwood Outdoors to be delivered
September 1, 2012
By Lawrence Taylor
eyes crush rattle baits all through the day. No need to wait until evening. Minnow-shaped cranks or stick baits are deadly for walleyes. Suspending baits are especially effective, using a basic pause-and-pull retrieve, but they often dig a little too deep to work over the tops of the weeds. Where weed tops are 5 feet or more below the surface, a Suspending Smithwick Rogue or XCalibur XEE4 EEratic Shad worked with the rod tip held low will whack a lot of fish. Where weeds are 4 feet below the surface, retrieve with the rod tip held high or go with a floaterdiver like the Bomber Long A and work it slow. When a floating minnowbait makes contact with weeds, stop it, feed it a little slack and let it float up. Hard plastic baits like the Long A float up slow -- an enticing trigger for walleyes skulking around in nearby weed clumps. Tackle should be fairly stout. Unlike fishing minnowbaits in open water, these baits need to be ripped free of weeds, and after a strike the challenge becomes turning a big walleye and moving it quickly toward the boat. Don’t offer any opportunities for a trophy to turn and burrow into the weeds. Medium-heavy spinning or casting rods coupled with 20- to 30-pound braided line accomplish it best. Braids won’t stretch, so the distance the rod tip moves is pretty much the same distance you move the fish. Where the water is clear, tie on a 3- to 4-foot section of 12- to 17-pound fluorocarbon, using a small barrel swivel or back-to-back uni knots.
Bass Tactics For HOT, HOT, HOT Weather Walleyes
Hot weather and walleyes don’t mix? Think again. A walleye is cold-blooded. Like other fish, their metabolism rises along with the water temperature in summer, meaning they need to eat more, not less. Conventional wisdom, all summer long, demands dragging leeches and minnows on Lindy rigs in deeper water for walleyes. Obviously, it works. Hundreds of thousands of walleye enthusiasts can’t be wrong, especially since it’s still working after half a century. But the walleyes conventional anglers target are seldom the most active fish around. Hard to convince people of this, but active walleyes are not on bottom in deeper water. They suspend with the baitfish, or prowl around on shallow reefs, weedbeds, shorelines, and points. With years of practice, some walleye anglers have become experts at feeding line and timing hooksets for finicky fish that hold minnows by the tail and regularly drop baits at the least sign of pressure. The only way to become expert at it is by missing a few thousand fish. Wouldn’t you rather find walleyes that try to rip the rod out of your hands? The three primary attractions for active walleyes in summer are weeds, rocks, and suspended baitfish. Bass tactics will put you on active fish quicker and put more of them in the boat faster this summer. Bass-Tactic Walleyes Active walleyes can be approached like bass. Put the trolling motor down at the bow and move quickly to cover those shallow-water spots, Few of the best walleye pros use bait between the beginning of July and the end of September. It’s not necessary. Walleyes in weeds rise right into the tops of cabbage, coontail, hydrilla, and milfoil, looking for small panfish, golden shiners, shad, and any other baitfish that swim by. Bait is a perpetual nuisance here, ripping free of hooks whenever a jig or lure needs to be popped off the weeds. Almost any lure or package in the 3- to 5-inch range that can be worked between the weeds and the surface will take walleyes here. The crux is finding lures or speeds that touch the weeds without getting too involved. Rattle baits like the Cotton Cordell Super Spot and XCalibur Xr50, pitched on casting gear with 30-pound braid, are perfect because you can simply speed up or slow down as necessary to clip along through the weed tops. During warm, stable weather, wall-
Hot weather walleyes are possible.
Lawrence Taylor shows off a monster smallmouth.
Plastic Tactics Weeds are basically ambush stations for walleyes. When they set up along the deep weed edge (a strategy often employed where perch populations are dense), approach them with slightly lighter tackle and soft plastics on jigs. Soft swimbaits like the 3.5-inch YUM Money Minnow swimming slowly by on a horizontal plane near bottom brings walleyes ripping out of pockets in the weedline. With the boat on the weed edge, make short pitches parallel to the weeds in the direction you’re moving and let the bait hit bottom. The right retrieve speed is critical, and tends to be easiest to achieve with a ¼-ounce jighead. After selecting the right head, speed becomes a matter of keeping it near bottom without dragging. If it drags, speed up. If it never touches bottom, slow down. This is a trophy-walleye tactic that will entice more than a few largemouth or smallmouth bass hanging around in the same areas doing the same thing. Be sure to fan cast a little toward deeper water and try walking the baits over the tops and down the deep edge of the weeds, too. The right tackle for a light swimbait like this is
10-pound mono on a fast, medium-power spinning rod. A similar tactic with slightly lighter tackle absolutely smokes walleyes throughout the open-water season around rock reefs, rip-rap, and rocky shorelines. From spring through ice-up, in areas 8-feet deep or less, try pitching an auger-tail grub, like the YUM Walleye Grub, on a 3/32to 1/8-ounce head with 6-pound mono. The optimum gear includes a fast, 7-foot, medium-light spinning rod. Just cast to the deep side of boulders, rock piles, or rip-rap, let the jig fall to bottom (or count it down to a spot near bottom where it’s really snaggy) and slowly retrieve with the rod tip held low. Don’t jig it, snap it or rip it. Just reel. Hard baits, plastics, and bass tactics score massive numbers and trophies from mid summer though early fall, especially during stable-weather periods. Unconventional behavior can be disturbing, though. If it sounds too radical to have a walleye rip the rod out of your hands, don’t try any of this. Taylor is the Public Relations manager or PRADCO fishing.
Missouri Family Fishing Vacations by John Neporadny Jr. When I was a kid, I always cherished our summer trips to Branson and Table Rock Lake more than any of our other family vacation excursions. Wading in the frigid waters below Table Rock Dam was worth the early morning chills because Dad and I could easily catch our limits of rainbow trout and occasionally hook into a lunker. Our family would spend the rest of the day swimming, sightseeing or visiting Silver Dollar City amusement park or Shepherd of the Hills outdoor theater. Then in the evenings Dad and I would try some of Table Rock’s excellent bass fishing. When I moved from St. Louis to Lake of the Ozarks with my own family, we spent a lot of our summers at home where my daughters learned to fish, swim and water ski. We also visited most of the local attractions including Big Surf water park, HaHa Tonka State Park , the Bagnell Dam Strip and Bridal Cave . So I have spent a lot of family fishing outings at two of the top vacation spots in the state, but I have also discovered throughout the years that other locations in the Show-Me State can offer vacations filled with fishing, sightseeing and family fun. Here’s a look at four of the best locations in the state for a family-friendly fishing vacation. Branson “The whole experience there is nice because there are numerous restaurants, shows and activities after you get off the water,” says Brian Snowden, a touring bass pro and guide at Table Rock and Lake Taneycomo . Branson offers families fine dining, shopping malls, music shows, museums, Silver Dollar City and White Water theme parks and Shepherd of the Hills historical site. Branson visitors can also enjoy some of the best trout and bass fishing in the state at Lake Taneycomo and Table Rock Lake . Snowden suggest even novice anglers can catch trout throughout the summer, and Table Rock offers excellent topwater action for bass in June and good bluegill fishing in the heat of summer. For early morning rainbow and brown trout action in the trophy area below Table Rock Dam, Snowden has his clients use either 2- to 3-inch jerk baits, micro jigs or small marabou jigs to catch trout on spinning tackle. He rigs the micro or marabou
jig with a float set about 2 to 3 feet above the lure. Fly fisherman of all skill levels can catch plenty of rainbows in the trophy area. Low water flow during this time makes wading ideal in the trophy area. Down lake a wide variety of live or scented baits such as pieces of nightcrawlers or Berkley Power Bait Eggs in chartreuse or pink work wonders for anglers of all ages. Early risers vacationing at Table Rock can experience some fun topwater action for bass with Cotton Cordell Red Fins and Heddon Zara Spooks around the pole timber on main and secondary points. Later they can catch fish in the same areas throwing crankbaits or dragging split shot rigs along the bottom of gravel points. The best action for summertime bluegill at the Rock is to hook red worms or a piece of nightcrawler on a drop-shot rig and lower the rig around cedar trees, pole timber or docks. Lake of the Ozarks Heavy recreational boat traffic makes fishing tough on my home lake during the summer, but families can still catch plenty of fish if they pick the right times and locations. When I guided on the lake, I would usually take my clients out bass fishing early in the morning and try to get off the water before noon . We would catch keeper bass and plenty of sub-legal fish on Texas-rigged plastic worms, mediumdiving crankbaits, topwater chuggers and Carolina-rigged plastic lizards. Catfish provide plenty of action at Lake of the Ozarks. Blue and channel catfish can be taken on juglines, trotlines or drifting with cut shad or tight lining from the resort docks with stink baits, nightcrawlers or chicken livers. Kids can catch bluegill and green sunfish all day long off the resort docks or seawalls. Attaching a small bobber to their lines and baiting their hooks with red wigglers, crickets or even pieces of bread or hot dogs will keep the kids busy. Resort owners usually sink brush piles around their docks, which makes these spots ideal for catching crappie on minnows at night under the lights. The lake area offers families plenty of amenities and attractions when they come off the water. Popular activities include visiting Big Surf water park, Miner Mike’s Indoor Family Fun Center, HaHa Tonka State Park, Bridal Cave and the Bagnell Dam Strip or shopping at the Osage Beach Premium Outlets mall.
Families on vacation in Missouri will find catfish are abundant and easy to catch most anywhere in the state.
Mark Twain Lake While visiting the birthplace of Missouri’s most famous author, families can also indulge in the good fishing this 18,600-acre reservoir has to offer. The best bass action in early June is with topwater chuggers or buzz baits inside the points. Later in the month Mark Twain Guide Gary Morrison and his clients catch bass on the points with a Carolina-rigged plastic worm. Mark Twain crappie will either be spawning or in the post-spawn stage during June. Morrison suggests trying tube jigs tipped with minnows or Berkley Crappie Nibbles in the shallow timber. Morrison rates fishing for catfish phenomenal in June with cut bait either tight lining along the bank or drifting in a boat. Smithville Lake Only 15 miles north of the sprawling Kansas City metropolis, this Corps of Engineers reservoir features a smorgasbord of fishing opportunities for families. “We get some people who come up or call for guide trips that are down at Worlds of Fun or come to the races (at the Kansas Speedway),” says Gary Burton, owner of Burton’s Bait and Tackle in Smithville. Families spending a fishing vacation at Smithville can also take the short trip to Kansas City to attend a Royals baseball game or take the kids to the Kansas City Zoo, Science City , Oceans of Fun and Hallmark’s Kaleidoscope. Bass fishing is good at Smithville, but it can be challenging for novices. “There
are lots of trees so everything looks good,” says Burton . He suggests the easiest way for newcomers to catch Smithville bass is to run shallow-diving crankbaits along the riprap around the bridges and in marina coves. Smithville crappie can be found in the tree rows suspended over a depth of 20 feet. “They will always eat a minnow,” says Burton . “It is a little slower fishing, but if you want to keep moving, fish a jig.” The lake also contains countless small bluegill for kids to catch with a small bobber and worms or crickets. Smithville’s catfish are shallow in June and will bite on stink baits, worms, livers and shad sides. “Catfish are not fussy,” Burton says. “The whole trick is to be where there is some catfish and generally they will eat it.” The lake’s best fishing for catfish is usually above the bridges in the Camp Branch and Platte River arms When the kids get out of school try one of these locations for a fun family fishing vacation. John Neporadny is a freelance outdoor writer from Lake Ozark, Mo., and the author of THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide.
Fishing For Monster Blue Cats By Kenneth L. Kieser
Rivers throughout the country are full of trophy blue catfish searching for an easy meal. Most anglers ignore this remarkable fish, completely unaware they are missing a world-class fight. Blue catfish are fierce predators that seem to possess the power of a bulldozer when they are hooked on a medium-heavy action rod in river current. Ryan Gnagy and Brad Kilpatrick, veteran fishermen from the Kansas City area search for these fights from the spring thaw to sultry days or nights when most people sit in air conditioning. They travel to rivers throughout the country in search of blue monsters. The Kaw River, located close to Kansas City, Mo. is filled with big catfish. Unfortunately, Gnagy and Kilpatrick picked a time to fish this winding stretch when water levels were receding and conditions were not ideal. Experienced cat fishermen know that fishing is best when the river is rising, but the men just wanted to go fishing. Gnagy opened the throttle of his115 Mercury engine early one hot morning. The Sea Ark aluminum boat cranking downstream created a welcomed stream of cool-morning air mixed with spray off the surface, soothing sunburns from the previous day’s fishing. He maneuvered around floating logs and other debris and soon slid his boat through deeper passages within a few feet of big logs and rocks. Soon Gnagy shut the powerful motor down and drifted towards brush-filled bank, watching his depth finder screen for a cloud of bait. He suddenly stopped the boat and nodded. Kilpatrick stepped up on the boat’s deck and tossed out throw nets that opened up into full circles while twisting through the air. Both nets landed flat on the surface and slowly sank down to unsuspecting schools of Asian carp. Several more casts quickly filled Gnagy’s live well with the day’s bait. Many carp still flopped in desperation with futile hopes of escape. Sturdy 7’6” medium-heavy action rods with Model 7000 Abu Garcia reels with 40 pound test line were soon rigged with shad heads on Gamakatsu Kayle style off-set hooks. Baits were cast at least 60 to 80 feet from the sturdy rods. Baits quickly sunk into a deeply submerged rock chute located just off a long mud flat in the current, a boulder-lined area catfish swim
through like cars driving down a highway. Baits dropped and settled in the strong current, held down by large lead weights. “We’ll soon know,” Kilpatrick said. “Bigger cats bite quicker than smaller cats at times. Just be ready, the bites can be extremely savage.” Tightened lines showed betraying movement from the bouncing current, mixed with slight jerks from a welcome morning breeze. Gnagy’s rod tip suddenly bounced a couple of times, like you might expect from a small channel cat and not the powerful hit both anglers had predicted. He set the hook hard twice to penetrate the hard bone in case the bite was from something bigger and groaned as a powerful surge shot through the rod. A very large catfish took off deep in the river like a runaway train, stripping line and testing the reel’s drag system. The big cat made several hard runs around submerged boulders looking for a place to lose the unexplainable force that clenched its jaw. Numerous powerful surges stretched the equipment to its limit from sheer brute strength, like tying fishing line on the neck of a running 100 pound hog and trying to hang on. The big fish started weakening and moving closer to the boat. Gnagy’s chance to reel and gain line brought the fish to surface and we got our first look at a very thick head. The big blue drifted closer, got a good look at the boat and dove down deep and hard like a submarine’s runaway torpedo. The rod immediately doubled straight down over the side and Gnagy might have gone overboard had he not expected the cat to run some more. Large blue catfish have that kind of strength. His medium-heavy rod made highpitched sounds of strain as the big fish took several more powerful runs that gradually became weaker. Soon Kilpartick helped drag the 47 pound blue catfish on board and everyone in the boat sat back and took a long drink of Gatorade, everybody’s shirts were soaked with sweat. “Large catfish are intelligent,” Kilpatrick said. “They fight with every ounce of power available. Bigger cats dive straight down to brush or rocks and often escape so we use heavy equipment.” FINDING THE BIG BLUES--Shocking surveys by different Conservation groups throughout the country found smaller catfish around shallow riffraff or other cover and big blue cats around deeper structure, sometimes deep as 30 feet . “The big blue catfish that may go over
Catfishermen usually fish with more than one rod.
100 pounds are mainly found in rivers and the upper reaches of reservoirs,” said Kevin Sullivan, Resource Scientist for the Missouri Department of Conservation. “They are an open water type of fish that feed throughout the day and night. Many are caught in shallow flats during the hot summer time. Blues are aggressive schooling fish that love cut shad, a fact utilized by fishing guides.” During hot weather spawning cycles, big blues look for cavities and caverns in rocks walls, rock ledges or mud banks out of the current. The bigger fish swim back to deeper water after the eggs are hatched and gone. Then they mix with junk on the bottom, anything to find relief from the ever pushing or pulling current. “Blues like deep, fast running water,” Kilpartick said. “But at night we generally fish shallow, slower current mud or sand flats. Blue cats are more active during the night hours and easier to locate because they often chase bait into shallow areas.” Rivers with dikes and heavy current like the Missouri or the Mississippi provide bigger fish scour holes. The constant pounding of current on sandy or mud bottoms create these promising holes at the end of each dike. Big catfish lay in these holes during hot weather for a natural source of oxygen. Smaller fish avoid these areas because of the heavy current overhead and more importantly, the very good possibility of being eaten by a bigger fish. New dikes tend to hold more fish because the rock structures are still clear of sediments. Older dikes are generally filled with mud and sand delivered by tremendous river currents. When searching for these cats Kilpartick and Gnagy move every 20 to 30 minutes, especially in a lake. River fish located on a graph mean a change of plan. Both fishermen might sit all night while waiting for the blues to find their bait. When a
big cat is discovered on the graph, boat position is changed to present bait where currents take scents to waiting cats. Active fish tend to react quickly to appealing bait and the trick is to find feeders through their sense of smell. Bait presentation is extremely important. Catfish have eyes and whiskers that allow them to sense their food with 32,000 taste buds all over their body, not only in their whiskers WHEN TO FISH FOR THE BIG CATS—“I really enjoy fishing for blues in early March through the end of May,” Kilpatrick said. “Early cats are coming off their winter pattern and the water is starting to warm. Their metabolism starts rising and they go on feeding frenzies in shallow water flats close to the deepest water. Southern winds push warmer water into the northern end, and the cats move in to food.” Throughout May big blues spend more time in the shallows and are easier to locate. Spawning blue cats in June become extremely difficult to catch. Blue cat fishing picks up after July 4th when fish are ready to eat and pack on weight lost during the breeding season. They continue this bite until lakes or rivers ice over. TACKLE AND BAITS—Fresh cut shad, skip jack or Asian carp are Kilpartick and Gnagy’s favorite blue catfish baits. Skip jack are caught on rod and reels with small hooks and pieces of worms, and then taken home to be vacuum packed for future trips. Asian carp and shad are found on Gnagy’s graph and netted. “My preference for rods is a 7’6 Shakespeare medium-action rod with an Abu Garcia model 6600 or a model 7000 reel,” Kilpartick said. “Both reels feature a carbon matrix drag system designed to dissipate heat, an important feature for catching big blues that test tackle with jolting dives and runs while ripping off drag. We add 40 pound test Berkley Big Game line.”
July/August 2012 Riggings generally are tied on a threeway swivel with a leader to the hook and a dropper to our weight that may be 6 to 8 ounces. “I have used up to a pound lead for weight in heavy current,” Kilpartick said. “You are not going to catch fish if that weight doesn’t stay on the bottom. Lines get tangled in the current and your presentation of the bait will not be right. Big catfish always require a correct presentation of bait or they will swim away. They are cautious by nature. We both use Team Catfish double action hooks in 8/0 sizes.” SEE THE LIGHT—Night fishing is a fact of life for big cat fishermen. Kilpatrick uses a Cabala’s clip on light attached to the bill of his hat. Good flashlights are important too, for fishing or safety. “We tape small glow sticks on the tips of our rods to show bites,” Kilpatrick said. “I occasionally buy small glow stick bracelets like kids wear that are about 12 inches long. We cut them and add pieces with a bit of electrical tape. We never miss a bite.” THE ALL-IMPORTANT GRAPH SYSTEMS— Gnagy’s Lowrence HDS 10 sonar screen with structure scan shows
river bottom in detail. The structure scan allows fishermen to view under the boat and on both sides for long distances. This scans large areas for locating fish. The multi-colored screen presents pictures of bait fish, bigger fish and different forms of cover across the bottom. Gnagy once found an over-turned car with his sensitive sonar that led to a police investigation. Thankfully no bodies were found. CHOOSE YOUR BOAT AND MOTOR CAREFULLY—Type of boats to use depends on where you fish. River fishermen may want to stay with aluminum Jon or V-bottomed versions. Most tournament fishermen use a Sea Ark or G-3 aluminum boat, wide and long, many over 20 feet. Gnagy runs a 115 hp Optimax Mercury outboard motor with stainless steel props, a necessary addition when fishing rivers full of submerged logs, rocks or sand and other prop breaking junk. HOW BIG ARE BLUE CATS—“The pending world record blue cat was caught in June, 2011 in Bugg Island Lake in Virginia by Nick Anders and weighed 143 pounds. The past world record caught by Greg Bernal was 130 pounds caught in
Nothing pulls like a monster catfish.
the St. Louis, Mo., area from the Missouri River. That record held for less than a year. CATFISH TOURNAMENTS--Kilpartick and Gnagy organize the annual Kansas City cat fishing catch and release tournament. For more information about fishing Kilpartick’s catfish tournament,
check their web site at: www.kccatfish.com and check their contact page to request further information. Kenny Kieser is a the Fishing Editor of Driftwood Outdoors.
Summer Scouting for the Serious Hunter by Kevin Reese Manifest Your Destiny this Fall
With temperatures nearing the century mark, it seems that simply tolerating the boss and the heat are about as much as we can handle sometimes; in fact, for many, the summer grind does much to suck every minute out of every day, leaving no time, or thoughts, to the fall. All too often we don’t switch gears to hunt-mode until that first moment we feel the subtle, cool breeze. The problem with pushing back thoughts of fall and majestic bucks is we inevitably wind up ill-prepared. The truth is, while you’re battling those summertime blues, a walk in the woods can be both therapeutic and hunt-productive! One of the top reasons we hit the woods every fall is simply to get away, clear our thoughts, find ourselves and reestablish our priorities; when tempers flare and stress rises with summer temperatures, take a walk on the wild side; this is a perfect time to get away from it all and scout, scout, scout! Here are some scouting tips to get your blood boiling before temperatures drop: Here’s Your Sign While you’re finding yourself in the woods, be especially watchful for deer sign. Game trails offer great information about routes in the wild and wooly network of wooded super highways and native grass byways. Take some time to explore where the trails lead and make note of those trails leading to water and food
sources, heavily traveled intersections and thick cover. Following the same rigorous scent control routine and staying off of the trails is always a good idea; walk next to the trails as you follow their paths.
season. Cataloging your phones by weeks or months helps to establish patterns and eases your ability to forecast and plan effectively, including changes in activity as a result of moon phase.
The Bottom Line While the couch seems like a great place to spend your summer afternoons, time in the woods allows for introspection, reconnecting with our outdoor heritage, and curing what ails us throughout our summer loathing. More than that, time in the woods scouting ensures the fall season offers more than just surprises, it offers an opportunity to manifest your destiny. Hunt hard, hunt often! Kevin Reese is an award winning outdoor journalist who specializes in bowhunting.
A good trail camera let’s you know when big boys like this are around.
Don’t Be Camera Shy Game (trail) cameras are an invaluable scouting tool regardless of the season; however, using cameras year round can lend insight to the differences in travel, behavior and food sources from ones season to the next, and more importantly the shift in those activities through seasonal transitions. In warmer climates, seasonal transitions such as summer to fall tend to occur later. Scouting through the summer months and into the fall is a great way to not only educate yourself about those changes but to pinpoint activity the closer we get to opening day. As a side note, tracking through the entire season into the spring gives you useful information for hunting through the rut and late
Use a GPS to mark good stand locations.
Map It! Taking a map of your hunting ground with you is a great idea. If you know your hunting ground well enough to record trails, mapping them is a great way to gain perspective on overall travel patterns and offers insight on better positioning of game cameras, stands and blinds. Mapping water and food sources, funnels and pinch points also offer increase your odds of creating a productive hunting setup as the season approaches. Recording the dates activities or signs were observed can
Tracks tell you where deer are traveling.
also offer invaluable information related to changing patterns and behaviors as the season approaches.
Creek crossing are always good ambush spots.
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Schooling Truman Whites by Brad Wiegmann In the early morning light, the mirror like surface reflects the rising sun. It’s every angler’s favorite time of day. Anticipation runs high as the boat cruises down searching for signs of schooling white bass. On Harry S. Truman Reservoir or Truman Lake as it’s referred to by the locals, the white bass action can be fast and furious during the summer months. Anglers normally will find the best schooling white bass action early in the morning or in the evening; although they will often get active if a school of shad swim nearby. White bass can generally be seen schooling from a long distance. It’s not unusual to see and catch white bass schooling in the same areas during the summer month and if the Corp of Engineers is generating water through the dam. White bass can be caught on almost any shad imitating lure. Professional bass angler and Humminbird Sonar Guru Doug Vahrenberg (www.dougvahrenberg.com) from Higginsville, Mo., loves to chase white bass in the summer months when they go to schooling. Vahrenberg enjoys the thrill of topwater action and willingness of a white bass to strike makes for everyday out fishing for them enjoyable. Vahrenberg uses a variety of lures when fishing for white bass. “What lure I fish with for white bass depends on how deep they are and water clarity. If there is schooling white bass on top, I will cast a Lucky Craft G-Splash or Rebel Pop-R in a shad color pattern or one with some chartreuse in the color pattern,” said Vahrenberg. Other lures that Vahrenberg likes to use to catch white bass are grubs on a jig head, small shad imitating swimbait, and square billed crankbaits. “White bass can be caught on almost any shad imitating lures,” said Vahrenberg. Productive places on Truman Lake Vahrenberg likes to fish is flats, humps, channel swings or break points. The key Vahrenberg noted is current. “I really like fishing current on Truman Lake. Any spot that has current going over the top of it will be a hot spot for white bass to ambush bait fish,” said Vahrenberg. One spot that is hot for schooling white bass in the summer months on Truman Lake is located in the dam area and referred to as the weir. The weir is a man-made offshore hump located immediately above Truman Dam. The best time to fish this area for whites is when they are generating water for power. Other hot locations for catching white bass are Cemetery Hump across from LT2. This spot is easy to find and marked with Corp of Engineer danger buoys and G10. Boat position is critical when fishing for schooling white bass. How an angler ap-
proaches a group of schooling white bass will influence how long they stay up. If an angler runs up to close, the school of white bass will dissipate quickly. They may or may not come back up again. Usually, once the school has scattered it may take a while before the school will come up again. In general it’s best to stay at least one casting length away from the school and make long casts to the schoolers. Besides visually seeing schooling white bass, anglers can use their electronics to find groups of bait fish and white bass during the summer months. Vahrenberg likes to use his Humminbird 1198 unit at the console to locate schools of whites before casting to them. “I will use the Side Imaging to see out to the side of the boat looking for clouds of bait fish. When the white bass show up the schools of bait fish will scatter and you will see the white bass show up as bigger white dots on the screen,” said Vahrenberg. Vahrenberg will usually idle around humps or points trying to locate the schools of white bass. Another technique to catch white bass on Truman Lake is to troll for them. Trolling can be an extremely effective technique in the summer months. “Anglers trolling will catch them all day long. They like to use crankbaits and pull them a long cast distance behind the boat with their outboard engine,” said Vahrenberg. Vahrenberg noted that anglers trolling will often fish the same areas where other anglers are fishing. The most popular crankbaits run 8- to 10-feet deep and have a little chartreuse in the color pattern. White bass are extremely prolific in any reservoir that has a sustainable population. Truman has countless schools of white bass. That’s what makes fishing for white bass so enjoyable. The season is open all year round for white bass on Truman Lake. The limit of white bass on Truman is 15 with no more than 4 longer than 18-inches in length. In Missouri the average size of an adult white bass are 2¾-pounds with a lifespan of four years. Unlike many other southern reservoirs, most of the trees were not logged, but were left standing. Its shoreline is lined with rocks, trees and bluff wall. The water clarity is not gin clear like other Ozark reservoirs, but normally slightly stained and muddy depending on if they have heavy rains. The average depth is 20 feet deep. Truman Lake is one of the largest manmade reservoirs in Missouri and controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Its 55,600 acres of surface area is controlled by the Harry S. Truman Dam and used primarily for flood control and power generation. There are paved boat ramps and camping facilities available. For more information on Truman Lake go to www.mostateparks.com Brad Wiegmann is fishing guide on Beaver Lake in AR.
Chart-Cemetary Hump in the Little Tebo arm of Truman Lake photo courtesy of Lakemaster.
Chart-Dam Area where the Weir is coming out in front of the spillway in green and the road going down to it on Truman Lake photo courtesy of Lakemaster.
Chart-G10 MM on Grand Arm Truman Lake photo courtesy of Lakemaster.
Float Camping Adventures by Ron Kruger
You load everything into a canoe, float to a remote section of a clear stream, set up on a gravel bar and cook something special over an open fire. Float camping is the epitome of “getting away from it all.” The remoteness of a mountain flowage and the primitive nature of the camping combines to add a heightened sense of adventure, and in the evening a blanket of peace settles upon the scene as birds and bugs and amphibians of the night begin their chorus. Later, just before climbing into your sleeping bag, as you marvel at the stars reflecting upstream, you just might find something you never even knew you had lost. I’ve also camped from a boat on remote islands in lakes like Dale Hollow and on the LBL portion of Lake Barkley. And some years ago, I took an extended trip into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of Canada’s Quetico Provincial Park. But when I daydream about canoe camping, it is Ozark streams that prop up the memories of my mind. One of my favorites is The North Fork Of The White River in Missouri, mostly
because I could set up camp in the remote reaches of The Devil’s Backbone Wilderness. In two or three days of float camping, I could experience an abundant smallmouth fishery in the upper sections and exceptional trout fishing in the lower. The lower sections of the Current River, below the confluence of the Jack’s Fork, are ideal. Floating is easy. The current is swift. Fishing is excellent. One of my most recent trips was a four day excursion, from Powder Mill to Van Buren that combined camping, smallmouth fishing and turkey hunting. The Big Piney in Missouri rounds out my top three. It contains more long, deep pools than most Ozark streams, so it requires more paddling. A trolling motor is nice. That’s why it’s not popular with the float-party crowd, and one of the main reasons it offers some of the best smallmouth stream fishing in the nation. Some of the more popular rivers, such as the mid portion of the Meramec River (around Leasburg) offer fine float camping during the week, but on summer weekends, they get crowded with whooping and splashing weekenders. Smaller
streams, such as the Huzzah and Courtois in the same area are not good float camping streams because loaded canoes do not slide easily over shallow riffles or negotiate the hairpin turns very well. Standard one-day floats on most rivers are fine for two-day float camping trips. This not only allows time for setting up camp somewhere between the standard put-in and take-out points, but plenty of time to stop and wade fish likely-looking pools and riffles along the way. I always choose a gravel bar campsite that faces a long pool or run with good fishing. The fact it is remote, and the fact you are there at first and last light, offers you the best fishing a river has to offer. You can float-camp out of a kayak. Some do. But I’m a senior citizen and prefer a canoe that is larger and wider than the standard vessel. I bought my 44-inch wide, 17-foot Osagain Workhorse as a stable and comfortable vessel for guiding float fishermen on the Current and Black rivers, but also with float-camping in mind. With it, I can take the same equipment down a river that I normally pack into the back of my pick-up. If you know anything about paddling a canoe, spills are not likely on any of the
Float camping is one of the ultimate ways to “get away from it all.” It’s not just camping. It’s not just floating. It’s an adventure. Photo by Ron Kruger
For float camping, bedding and other gear can be stored in float bags and Plano’s new waterproof Sportsman’s Trunks. Photo by Ron Kruger
streams I mentioned, but it is always a possibility, so it is advisable to pack bedding and clothing in waterproof float bags. You should pack carefully, taking only what you need, but a fairly large cooler fits well into the bottom of a canoe, and I’ve found I absolutely need a good steak and a baked potato with sour cream to celebrate the first special night on the river. Ron Kruger lives the life he writes about, spending countless days a year on the water in Missouri.
It’s not just about good fishing, but float camping is a great way to catch smallmouth bass and trout on Ozark streams. Photo by Ron Kruger The best float campsites are near good pools or runs you can fish during last a first light. Photo by Ron Kruger
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Leupold’s Legendary Lady by Stephanie Mallory
Leupold’s innovative optics and features are legendary among hunters, shooters and outdoors enthusiasts. However, few people realize that had it not been for a woman named Ruth, the first hunter in the Leupold family, Leupold’s scopes may have never come into existence. Born Ruth Cowdin Saunders on May 11, 1902 in Olympia, Wash., Ruth lived with her mother Georgia, a gifted pianist, and her father Herbert (H.D.), who traveled all over the Northwest on his bicycle tuning pianos. Ruth was only 12-years-old when her mother died of tuberculosis. Unable to raise two little girls and still travel for his career, H.D. sent Ruth and her younger sister, Margie, to live with his brother, Al, a professional photographer who was going blind and could no longer support himself. Al lived in an 800-square-foot “homestead shack” in a place called Virginia Gap, Ore. Ruth’s oldest grandchild, Linda Neale, who is a Leupold and Stevens board member, remembers her grandmother as tough and spunky and says those two traits came in handy as a young girl living in the remote and rugged area known commonly by Oregonians as “out of Burns”. “It is a vast and harsh landscape made up only of sagebrush, volcanic rock and space,” Neale says. “The summers there are unbearably hot and the winter temperatures sometimes dip to 20-below zero.” The land was not suited for homesteading as it was almost impossible to raise crops. For this reason, many people left in search of more fertile land, but Al wanted to make a go of it. The deal was if Al would ‘prove up’ the land and take care of the girls, Ruth’s father would support them by sending Al his piano-tuning earnings. The girls arrived at Al’s in mid-winter, just before Christmas, on a sled.
Ruth, sister Margie and neighbor Olga Schwender, a homesteading neighbor who’s still alive today at 97.
“Out of Burns” Despite the cruel reality of life in this barren land, Uncle Al did his best to make the girls’ living arrangements as normal and pleasant as possible. “Al built a swing for the girls, and their small home became a mecca for the local homestead children,” Neale says. “They often had dances in the tiny front room with Al playing the cello and other homesteaders playing along on the flute or violin.” When Ruth wasn’t playing with the other children or attending school in the one-room school house two-miles down the road, she was shooting and trapping the jackrabbits that overran Virginia Valley. They’d eat the meat and she’d save the jackrabbit ears in a gunny sack until the family could make the two-day trip into Burns where she could redeem the ears at the courthouse for 5 cents a pair. As Ruth grew in stature, she grew in skill as a hunter and provided meat for her family on a regular basis. Virginia Valley School’s education ended with the 8th grade, so later Ruth eventually went to school in Burns and began violin lessons given by Mary V.
Ruth with deer.
Dodge who encouraged her to join the “Sagebrush Orchestra”. During her time in Burns, she also developed a strong devotion to deer hunting and took part in the annual deer camps in the surrounding mountains. Most years, she successfully harvested large bucks. The Start of Something Special In 1918 Ruth’s father made a deal with Mary to have Ruth live with her and her husband who had moved from Burns to Portland. Mary was developing what would eventually become the Portland
Youth Philharmonic, for which Ruth played the violin. Mary needed a pianist as an accompanist for her violin players, so she hired a young, talented man named Marcus Leupold to fill the spot. Thus the deer hunter and a pianist met and fell in love. Soon after meeting, Ruth introduced Marcus to deer hunting, which became an immediate passion for him, and the two soon began a life and business together that would benefit thousands of outdoorsmen in the years to come. “Ruth just loved to be outdoors,” Neale says. “She and Marcus especially loved the camaraderie of hunting. She told
July/August 2012 me that even when she was freezing to death in the harsh winter weather, she felt great satisfaction hunting deer – she felt as if she were doing something ‘real.’” In 1914, Marcus decided to stop pursuing a career as a concert pianist and instead he joined the family business Leupold and Stevens, Inc., which repaired surveying instruments and eventually expanded into the manufacture of these instruments. At the time, none of the other Leupolds or Stevenses were hunters, but Ruth changed that. In fact, she organized the first of what would become the annual deer camps near Burns for company officials. She taught the men all she knew about hunting, mapped out the hunting locations and often shot the largest bucks in camp. After a few years, the annual fall deer hunting trips became one of the most keenly anticipated events of the year for the heads of Leupold and Stevens. The Legend of Leupold Few loved the hunting trips more than Marcus and as family legend has it, during the late 1930’s he and Ruth were hunting together on a cold morning. Ruth had shot a nice buck the day before and it was Marcus’s turn. Soon after they had begun hunting, the largest black-tailed deer
that Marcus had ever seen stepped out into the open presenting an easy shot, but his scope fogged up causing him to miss. At that moment he exclaimed, “Hell, I can make a better scope than this!” During the following years, Ruth made sure he remembered that statement. At her urging, he set about making that better scope and Leupold entered into the riflescope market with the introduction of the 2.5x Plainsman. Those of you who use Leupold scopes today can thank Ruth who used them right up to her last years on her favorite rifle, a Winchester 270 Model 54. She continued to play an active role as the matriarch of Leupold until her death in 1992. “She worked behind the scenes at Leupold, but everyone knew that if you wanted to get something, you had to get past Grandma first,” Neale says. “Those who met Ruth never forgot her. She had this ability to truly focus on you and tune into who you were as a human being. She was interested in people of all types and had no prejudices, but she would let no one push her around. Once she participated in a big anti-war march during Vietnam, which appalled my grandfather. She did it anyway. She stood up for what she believed in and we are all better for it.” The home in Virginia Valley where Ruth spent several years of her youth sat
The fully remodeled homestead.
vacant for decades, slowly eroding from the harsh winters and hot summers of the high desert. But out of love for the old homestead, Linda and her brother, Marc Neale, restored it and held a re-dedication and blessing ceremony on May 26, 2002. The old homestead and Leupold Optics live today as a testimony of Ruth’s love for
the outdoors and her contributions to the sport of hunting. Stephanie Mallory is the owner of Mallory Communications, and represents many of the largest companies in the outdoor industry.
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New York, July/August 2012
text and photos by Brandon Butler
Chautauqua Lake Appeals To All
The Chautauqua Lake Region is an incredible sporting destination. The county surrounding the lake is the number one turkey kill county in New York, and the fishing on Chautauqua Lake is outstanding. There are a number of surrounding lakes that offer great fishing too, and Lake Erie is only a half hour drive away. A number of tributaries that flow through the area have strong runs of steelhead and salmon each year. Couple of all of this with the mystique and allure of the Chautauqua Institute, and you have one of the most interesting outdoor destinations I have ever visited.
Muskie are one of the main reasons so many fishermen flock to Chautauqua every year.
Andrew Forbes shows off a bass from Cassadag Lake, another beautiful natural lake in the area that is full of fish.
Brandon Butler is all smiles after closing the deal on his quest for a New York turkey.
The Athenaeum Hotel at the Chautauqua Institute was built in 1881 and to this day remains a classic masterpiece. Sitting on the front porch looking out over Chautauqua Lake is an incredible experience.
Lake Erie is only a short drive from the Chautauqua Institute. The shore line of Lake Erie provides opportunities for numerous species of fish, including smallmouth, steelhead and walleye.
The Italian Food at Andriaccioâ€™s was incredible. The pizza was what youâ€™d expect from an honest Italian establishment and the wait staff was incredibly friendly. The owner is a big time sportsman.
New York July/August 2012
Niagara has so much more to offer than just the falls. Don’t get me wrong, Niagara Falls is unbelievable and something you must see in your lifetime. I’m only letting you know that when you plan your trip to Niagara, there is so much there for sportsmen to do. Fishing on the Niagara River, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario is incredible, and deer and turkey are all around. You’ll want to visit Fort Niagara, and maybe take some time to explore a number of the area’s wineries. I’ve been fortunate to visit a lot of premier sporting destinations, but Niagara County is near the top of my list of places I can’t wait to return to.
Water is a way of life in the Niagara Region. Boats are everywhere, and are used for both pleasure and work.
Niagara Falls – You simply must experience Niagara Falls at some point in your life. The rush of water is beyond comprehension. Seeing the falls at night is especially beautiful.
Lake Erie is just a short drive from Niagara. A trip on Erie could put you on a smallmouth bass of a lifetime, like this 6 pound pig Brandon Butler took on a fly rod.
Running up river towards the falls is a scenic trip. It’s also well worth it as the fishing is outstanding.
A Niagara River steelhead found its way to the filet table. A couple hours later the Chef at Barton Hill turned this fish into an appetizer spread.
Fort Niagara has been standing guard at the river mouth for nearly 300 years. When you visit Niagara a trip to the fort is a must.
Great Fly Fishing Action at Deer Ridge By Terry and Roxanne Wilson
The hardwood forest encased lake was blanketed in creamy pre-dawn light and draped in silence. Then, unexpectedly, the thrashing explosion of a massive surface feeding bass disrupted the tranquil scene and jump-started our hearts. That second cup of coffee would have to wait. Our canoe skimmed silently across the glassy calm waters toward the stumpfilled shallows along the western shore. Deer hair divers accounted for a dozen 12to15-inch largemouths before an acrobatic 3½ pounder inhaled the bug and cartwheeled across the surface. When the action began to wane fourweight rods and size 10 sponge spiders rekindled it. Two dozen eight to nine-inch bluegills were brought to hand, admired, and released before the mid-morning sun bathed the lake with light accompanied by July heat. This 48-acre fly fishing jewel is nestled in the midst of the 7,000 oaktimbered acres of Deer Ridge Conservation Area in Northeast Missouri’s Lewis County. The lake’s wooded structure and placid waters attracted our attention shortly after it was built in 1960 and we’ve returned there often since. It was stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, and channel catfish. All are thriving and, frankly, it’s under-fished. The lake offers a concrete boat ramp but gas powered motors are prohibited which aides in the preservation of the wild character of the area. Boats propelled by electric motors provide excellent access but canoes, kayaks, and float tubes are the perfect fishing vehicles for these waters. A handicapped accessible fishing pier was added in 2007. Shore-bound angler’s will find adequate back-casting room near the boat launch and to its southeast to the corner of the dam. There’s a shallow shelf that attracts feeding bluegills and bass but the area can fill up with coontail and leafy emergent vegetation by early summer. The rip-rap facing along the dam can
offer excellent fishing action and plentiful back casting for bank stalkers. It’s especially productive during periods of low light. The diverse rock size along the dam facing makes footing difficult but the rewards often out-weigh the risk. Bass and bluegill forage there for crayfish, minnows, and other menu items and can provide outstanding action. The mechanical spillway, located in the center of the dam draws water and food during periods of high water. Over the years a silt pile has built up around its base that supports weed growth and harbors dead branches that have blown into
crayfish. Cast a size 6 tan or olive crayfish pattern parallel to the edge of the rocks and allow it to sink to the bottom. Sinktip or full-sink line can facilitate keeping the fly in contact with the bottom. Then, remove the slack line, point the rod tip at the fly, and lift the rod tip 4-6 inches. This activates the fly and causes it to hop off the bottom. Then lower your rod tip to its original position and only then strip line to remove the slack. This “lift, drop, strip” retrieve causes the fly to “swim” off the bottom before returning there which replicates the escape attempts of the live version. It’s a presentation that bass often can’t resist.
Deer Ridge is a beautiful place to fly fish.
the water and drifted there. As a result, the area has become a fish magnet and always deserves attention. Softly manipulated chartreuse or white poppers in sizes 4 through 8 are especially effective. Position yourself along the base of the dam and fan cast the area before moving to another location and repeating the process. Cover the shallows in both directions as well as the relatively deep adjacent water. If there is a chop on the water’s surface or the popper is ignored try casting streamers in the same area. On day’s when there is a westerly breeze pushing water toward the dam cast streamers directly into the wind and allow them to sink 3 to 4 feet before imparting some erratic action. The bass and bluegills face into the wind-blown current and feed on the smorgasbord that drifts toward them. Rip-rap areas are best known for providing shelter for a large population of
Those with watercraft options have lots of productive water to explore. From the launch ramp move northwest along the shoreline into the stump filled cove. Toward the back of the cove it becomes shallow and weed-choked in the summer. The pockets in the weedline as well as the abundant wood structure hold plenty of feeding fish. Eight to nine inch bluegills that are fatter than ticks on a lazy hound can be taken on size-10 sponge spiders and poppers on the surface or with rubberlegged size-8 through -12 wet flies. (check out our web site www.thebluegillpond.com to see the flies we use.) It’s not unusual for the explosive strike of a school bass to interrupt the bluegill fishing and catapult across the surface after the hook set. Along the west shoreline there are many deadfalls and stumps and a gradually sloping point with a conservation department-placed bush pile. Cast a size-4
floater/diver near that structure and hang on to your rod. Dynamic strikes often follow. Most of the time it will be an aggressive school bass but 4- and 5-pounders are a daily possibility. The deep side of the brush pile often holds a school of crappie which can be tempted either with a streamer or one of our originals we call “Crappie Bully”. Another crappie option involves suspending an insect pattern under a strike indicator off the deep edge of the point’s brush pile. The south end of Deer Ridge Lake is dominated by two weed-infested coves. Fish the adjacent wood structure with surface flies during low light or with wets during sunlit hours for mid-sized bass and some jumbo bluegills The eastern shoreline is an early morning location as it is sun-drenched through most of the remainder of the day. Twenty years ago we fished there through a misty rain and landed two chunky four pounders within ten minutes of each other. They came to hand begrudgingly before a third broke a frayed leader. The memory of that day still prompts at least a few casts at that bank. One camp site is located just a couple of hundred yards up the hill from the boat launch but there are eight campgrounds scattered throughout the 7,000-acre conservation area. All of the sites are primitive and provide only a fire ring, picnic table, and an area outhouse. Many of the sites can accommodate pop-up and enclosed campers but they must be self sufficient with regard to water, electricity, and sewage. To reach Deer Ridge Conservation Area travel east of the village of Lewistown for 5 ½ miles on county highway H then another 2 miles on county highway Y to the entrance, To discover the lake go approximately a half mile to the first turn opportunity and make a right. Another half mile will bring you to the parking lot and boat ramp. If you’re tired of fighting the trout park crowds or catching only small bass and bluegills Deer Ridge Lake offers a pleasant surprise. You may just have the lake all to yourself. Any fly-rod wielding bass and bluegill enthusiast is certain to enjoy this beautiful, serene and bountiful fishery. Terry and Roxanne Wilson are the authors of 4 books and more than 200 magazine articles about warmwater fly fishing. They reside near Bolivar, Missouri. Visit them at www.thebluegillpond.com.
Camp Cookin’ with a Dutch Oven By Paul E. Moore Take a moment and picture the perfect camping scene. Did you see a tent pitched among a wooded backdrop, alongside a picturesque lakeshore with a clear star-filled sky overhead? Did you perhaps see a campfire surrounded by a small group of happy campers? Within the coals of the campfire, on a grate, or suspended from a tripod, did you see a black cast iron pot? The Dutch oven has been a staple of the perfect camping scene for hundreds of years. There is not a single piece of camp cooking equipment more versatile or more important than the Dutch oven. If one were to trim down the must-haves on a camping trip, the Dutch oven would most assuredly need to make the cut. Dutch ovens originated in the Middle Ages in Europe. In fact, cast iron was created in China 1,000 years ago and was used mainly for weapons and other military implements. Sales people from the Netherlands brought cast iron pots to England to sell and thus they became known as Dutch ovens and the moniker has stuck ever since. Paul Revere, the same one from the famous midnight ride, is credited for creating the flanged lid used for placing coals on top. The Dutch oven was heavily used in the westward expansion of our country. It was primarily the only cooking implement used by Lewis and Clark on their trek across the country and was one of the few manufactured items besides their guns that they brought back from their journey. Dutch ovens were as integral in the development of our country as were flintlock rifles and they are still highly used today for camping,
Cast iron cooking is fun and rewarding. Photo credit – Lodge.
Dutch Oven cooking is a fun way to connect to simpler times. Photo credit – Lodge.
ranching, and much more. Mark Kelly said, “It is an amazing piece of American cultural and food culture history.” Kelly is the public relations and advertising manager for Lodge Manufacturing, which is the most prominent name in cast iron cookware today. “Dutch ovens are extremely versatile and utilitarian,” Kelly said. “You can do every cooking technique in there. You can stir fry, you can braise, you can deep fry, you can bake, and you can make a lot of stews and soups.” He added, ‘The only thing that can’t be cooked in cast iron is very delicate sauces.” Getting the most from a Dutch oven and becoming an expert cook with one definitely involves a learning curve according to Kelly. He said, “Just start with the basics and realize you are going to make some mistakes.” Learning to use them properly is very important at Lodge and every camp Dutch oven they sell, with the exception of the small one-quart size, comes with a free copy of the 64-page illustrated guide “Camp Dutch Oven Cooking 101.” Dutch ovens can be used to cook most anything desired while camping. Meats, stews, soups, chili, vegetables, and even bread, biscuits, and desserts can be cooked easily and efficiently. The lid can even be flipped over and used as a shallow griddle for cooking eggs, warming tortillas, and other uses. Experienced Dutch oven cooks also use a technique called bean hole cooking. A hole is dug in the ground and several Dutch ovens are stacked in the hole with charcoal or wood coals added. In this layered arrangement, cooks will often prepare an entire meal
of meat, vegetables, bread, and dessert in the multiple pots. Choosing a Dutch oven can be a bit tricky too. Lodge Mfg. has eight different sizes of camp Dutch ovens ranging from the small one-quart to a massive 12-quart version. The smallest size is used primarily for sauces or individual recipes while the larger ones can cook for a large group. But the larger sizes are very heavy and when filled with food, they are a chore to move around. Kelly said people need to decide how much money they want to spend and what they are going to do with the Dutch oven in order to make an informed decision when buying. He recommends starting with a four-, five-, or six-quart oven. The six-quart is the most popular according to Lodge sales. Standard Dutch ovens have shallow sides. This allows the coals on top to be closer to the food; following the laws of physics that heat rises. This lets the heat be closer to the top of the food for more even cooking and will also allow the tops on biscuits and other food items to brown as well as the bottom. For cooking meat, soups, stews, and other dishes, a camper may want to opt for the deeper-designed Dutch ovens. Don’t scrimp on price when buying a Dutch oven. Quality is of the utmost importance when purchasing. Kelly said, “People buy cast iron for durability and versatility. A good piece of cast iron will last a lifetime. Lodge is maniacal on quality. I still have my grandmother’s cast iron and use it regularly.” Look for consistent metal thickness and finish. The walls and bottom should be smooth with very few pits and no swirl marks. Swirls indicate impurities in the casting which lead to uneven heating, as
well as future metal failure or warping. The lid need to be even, smooth, and fit fairly snug so it will seal. Without a good seal, the oven will not retain heat and steam properly and the oven loses all of its effectiveness and functionality. Dutch ovens are not just for camping though. Many people use them for weekend cookouts throughout the year at home. They can be used alongside the outdoor grill for some excellent cookouts with family and friends. This also gives the cook more practice at using the Dutch oven and allows opportunity to experiment, learn, and grow as a Dutch oven chef. Beginners will probably want to start out using charcoal as a heat source. A chart in the Lodge booklet, as well as in other cookbooks, helps cooks determine how many charcoal briquettes to use for various temperatures and recipes. After gaining some experience, some cooks switch over to using wood coals from the campfire, but this involves a whole new learning curve and is something best learned from a mentor according to Kelly. There are a few accoutrements positively necessary for Dutch oven cooking and also a few others that are nice to add later. Cooks will want a lid lifter, or “a stick” as it is sometimes called. Leather gloves and apron are also wise investments as are long-handled tongs for moving coals around. Long-handled utensils are needed for working inside the ovens. Cooks may also want to add a tripod and Dutch oven table to their arsenal. A charcoal chimney starter, which is basically a metal cylinder used to help start charcoal rapidly and without over-using lighter fluid, is also nice to have on hand. Lodge Manufacturing is not only a good source for obtaining great cast iron cookware and other cooking apparatus, but is also a great resource for learning. Lodge offers a lot of information on their Web site at www.lodgemfg.com and they also have numerous cookbooks and DVDs available for purchase in addition to the one mentioned earlier. Joseph Lodge located his foundry in the tiny city of South Pittsburgh, Tennessee in 1896. Lodge’s family came from England and he named original location the Blacklock Foundry after an Episcopal church. The foundry burned in 1910 and was relocated a short distance away in the same town and the name was changed to Lodge Manufacturing. This same location in South Pittsburgh, a quaint town of 2,900 people, has been the home of Lodge for the last 102 years. Paul Moore is a professional writer from Kentucky.
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H UNTING W ORKS F OR MO. cOM
When a Dream Calls, Answer It. by John Martino I had the same dream again last night. Well, it’s not really a dream at all, but a memory so old it resides in that part of my brain where dreams are kept. It comes and goes on its own volition and seems to visit only during this time of year when darkness hinges on the cusp of daylight. It comes in the early morning during that special moment where I forget whether I’m a grown man dreaming of childhood or a boy dreaming of someday becoming a man. I love it when it comes because it serves as a gentle reminder. “Wake up and remember what’s important,” it seems to say, “because you aren’t going to be here as long as you may think.” I was a boy when it happened. I had just got my drivers license which opened up the whole country side to my fishing exploits. The snow had barely melted when I found myself standing in a long rocky pool fishing for smallmouth bass in Deer Creek. Back then you were lucky to find a cheap pair of vulcanized rubber waders which offered little protection from the icy cold water. The sky was overcast and a brisk wind sliced through my faded sweatshirt. But it felt good to be standing in open water after one of those long 1970’s winters. That pool was beautiful and could have came from a picture of perfect smallmouth habitat you see in glossy magazines. It was long and narrow and deep at its head, studded with boulders and gravel that gradually tailed out to sand. I remember dissecting the water with a small spinning rod loaded with 6-pound mono using my go-to lure, a three inch chartreuse grub on an eighth-ounce
jighead. I swim, bounce and deadstick it through the water. Nothing. Next I try a Pat Floyd’s Wabash Flash in-line spinner and a Rebel Teenie Craw crankbait. Zip. By this time I had already fished the pool for way too long and any respectable angler would have moved on. I become transfixed and believe I can make a fish hit through shear determination. I am certain there are smallmouth bass here, including a respectable three-pounder. After all, it is the Club Med for brownfish. I tie on a small Bomber crank bait in fire tiger and a plastic hellgrammite imitation. Everything comes back untouched. The cold finally started to become unbearable before I retie that chartreuse curlytail and make a couple desperation casts before leaving. One my third cast I felt a subtle hit, then tiny frantic tugging on the other end. “Great,” I thought. “My determination has been rewarded with the smallest baby bass in the pool!” I can’t help but smile. That little fish had more guts than brains, hitting a lure nearly its own size. Then it happens. As I slowly reel in the small fish, something dark suddenly appears beneath the water. It’s shaped like a greenish-brown football except longer. The shape rockets towards the small fish still struggling to shake the artificial lure embedded in its lip. My rod doubles over and the drag screamed a sorrowful tune. In just a few minutes I will have the fish and a story of a lifetime, or so I thought. After a few seconds the line goes slack and all I am left with is a naked jighead, stripped clean of baby bass and plastic curlytail. I stare into the empty pool my hands still shaking. It’s been nearly four decades since that memorable day on Deer Creek. I’ve buried some good friends and some good dogs since then, raised children to adulthood and learned numerous times that life
August 4th, Missouri Valley Archery in Jeff City, MO For more information go to: ShowMeMoreOutdoors.com
or call 573-864-1679
For those dreams of twilight, honor the visit.
is only a limited time proposition. But on the occasions that dream comes calling in the twilight of dawn, I will honor the visit. And, one of these days I am sure I will blow off whatever it was supposed to do that day and go look for that same rocky pool.
John Martino has traveled the world as an outdoor writer. He’s found the true trophy is always the experience.
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