Monthly Archives: February 2016

Missouri’s March 1 Trout Opener

Remedy for Fishing Fever is Missouri’s March 1 Trout Opener

Today’s feature comes to us from the Missouri Department of Conservation.
from The Fishing Wire

Thousands of anglers flock to trout parks around the state for opening day of catch-and-keep trout fishing.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – As the wintery season winds down, anglers throughout the Show-Me State are beginning to show some signs of trout fever. Symptoms include: tying flies, putting new fishing line on reels, checking waders for holes, and practicing casting. Most anglers who get trout fever get rid of it by doing one thing—visiting one of Missouri’s four trout parks to participate in the catch-and-keep trout season.

Tuesday, March 1, marks the opening of catch-and-keep trout fishing at Bennett Spring State Park near Lebanon, Montauk State Park near Licking, Roaring River State Park near Cassville, and Maramec Spring Park near St. James.

“This year’s trout opener should be good and comparable to previous years,” said MDC Fisheries Unit Chief Bruce Drecktrah.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) operates trout hatcheries at all four parks. To help predict angler turnout on opening day, hatchery staff rely on permit records going back more than 70 years. Montauk, Bennett Spring, and Roaring River hatchery staff expect crowds of about 2,000 anglers at each location and Maramec Spring staff are planning for a crowd of about 1,500. Based on these predictions, hatchery staff will stock three trout per expected angler on opening day for a total of more than 22,500 fish averaging around a foot in length. The hatcheries will also stock a mix of “lunkers” ranging in three to 10 pounds.

Trout Season Outlook

Due to the heavy rain and record-breaking flood that took place this past December, MDC crews have been inspecting flood damage and evaluating the impact these floods may have on hatcheries, fish production and fish numbers.

“We have plenty of fish for this year’s trout season,” said MDC Fisheries Division Chief Brian Canaday. “But due to the heavy rains and flooding our trout stocking will be slightly reduced throughout the season. We will stock approximately two fish per trout tag sold at each trout park instead of our usual 2.25.”

Canaday added that MDC staff will continue to evaluate hatchery fish inventories, stocking plans, and make adjustments throughout the season as appropriate.


It’s important to know anglers need a daily trout tag to fish in Missouri’s trout parks. Daily trout tags can only be purchased at each of the four trout parks. Missouri residents 16 through 64 need a fishing permit in addition to the daily tag. Nonresidents 16 and older also need a fishing permit.

Economic Outlook

Trout hatcheries are just one way that conservation pays in Missouri. MDC stocks more than 800,000 trout annually at the state’s four trout parks and approximately 1.5 million annually statewide. Trout anglers’ spend more than $100 million each year in the Show-Me-State, which generates more than $180 million in business activity, supports more than 2,300 jobs and creates more than $70 million dollars in wages. About 30 percent of Missouri trout anglers come from other states, so a substantial portion of trout fishing expenditures is “new money” for the state’s economy.

March 1 marks the opening day of catch-and-keep season at Missouri trout parks, including Montauk State Park pictured. MDC expects thousands of anglers for opening day and will stock more than 22,000 trout for it.
For more information on trout fishing in Missouri, visit

REMINDER TO TROUT ANGLERS: To prevent the spread of the invasive alga called didymo or “rock snot,” the use of shoes, boots or waders with porous soles of felt, matted or woven fibrous material is prohibited at all trout parks, trout streams, Lake Taneycomo, and buffer areas. Go online for more information to

Baked Striper with Bacon and Onions

I don’t cook many stripers and hybrids. They have a line of dark red, oily meat along their sides and it has a very strong fishy flavor. I would much rather eat a spotted bass or crappie. And when I try to cut out that dark meat as many suggest I just make a mess of the filet.

I do have one good recipe for those strong tasting fish. I took one of the filets and put it in a baking pan, covered it with slices of bacon and onion, covered it with tinfoil and baked it for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Then I took the tin foil off and put it under the broiler for five minutes to brown it some.

How To Cook Baked Striper with Bacon and Onions

Its very simple. A filet from a three to five pound striper or hybrid is what I like. I spray a baking dish with no stick spray and lay the filet in it. I then completely cover the filet with strips of bacon. Top that with onion slices about a quarter inch thick, cover and bake. Delicious!

Cooking it that way removes the strong flavor and it is good. I usually cook potatoes au gratin and broccoli to go with it and it makes an excellent meal.

The weather is getting nice and everyone will be fishing a lot in the next few weeks. I hope you can be a good, consistent fisherman rather than a luck fisherman like me. And if fishing gives you lemons, not the fish you are after, make lemonade by cooking them in a new and different way.

Fishing Lake Oconee for A Magazine Article and A West Point Tournament

Last Friday I went to Oconee to get information for my March Georgia Outdoor News article. Ethan Thomas, a student and fishing team member at Georgia College in Milledgeville, took me to show me his patterns and baits and ten spots to catch March bass on Oconee.

The Georgia College fishing team is ranked first in the nation right now by the Cabela’s School of the Year Rankings. Ethan lives on Oconee and fishes it a lot. He showed me some good places to fish on a cold day but we had a tough time catching much until late afternoon when the sun started warming the water.

At about 3:00 PM Ethan caught a keeper on one side of a dock and I got a four pounder on the other side. In the next hour or so Ethan caught five or six keepers while I tried to get another bite. The sun warming the water back in the coves definitely helped make the fish bite better late in the day.

There were a lot of fishermen out trying to catch crappie. They were trolling and drift fishing out on the creek channels and around standing timber. This is a great time to fill up your freezer with good eating crappie on most of our area lakes like Oconee, Sinclair, Jackson and West Point.

– Saturday morning I was excited to head to West Point Tournament for the Potato Creek Bassmasters tournament. I had a good feeling about catching fish based on my luck this year. Unfortunately, I proved it has been luck, that I am not a good fisherman. A good fisherman is consistent, a luck fisherman goes from catching to not catching like I did.

In the tournament JJ Crompton had 8.16 for first, Jack “Zero” Ridgeway had 7.33 for second and Raymond English placed third with 7.20 and had a nice 6.15 pound largemouth for big fish. I think I was the only one of the 14 fisherman without a keeper!

The day was the kind of day I most hate this time of year. A strong cold front came through, giving us bluebird skies and strong winds. I may have let the weather mess up my mind but I tried to concentrate on catching fish, not how tough it was.

After fishing shallow for an hour I went to a rocky bluff bank where I can usually catch at least a keeper spot this time of year, but never got a bite. For the next three hours I fished shallow and deep without a bite.

In a creek mouth with standing timber in 35 feet of water I could see scattered fish in it on my depthfinder. A few years ago I landed a five pound largemouth there in January and caught a keeper spot the next day in a tournament.

I jigged a spoon in the timber and got one bite. The fish fought good but I was disappointed when it came to the top and I saw a five pound striper. I invited I home for dinner and spent the next two hours jigging there, thinking that stripers and black bass like I was after ate the same thing so there should be something I could weigh in. But I never got another bite.

I finished out the day hitting several places that should be good this time of year but never got a bite. I heard the fish were caught shallow and there were several nice three pound plus largemouth and spots brought in, including Raymond’s big one. Most of the fisherman said they got only one to three bites all day. I fished several good shallow areas but no luck.

Some days are just like that.

Bassmasters Classic

A Few Thoughts on the Bassmasters Classic

By Frank Sargeant, Editor
from The Fishing Wire

The “Alabama Mafia” again looks to make its presence felt in the 2016 Bassmaster Classic, to be fishing March 4-6 at Grand Lake northeast of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Aaron Martens

Aaron Martens

Aaron Martens, Angler of the Year in 2015, is likely to be among the favorites to win the 2016 Bassmaster Classic at Grand Lake, Oklahoma, March 4-6. (Photo Credit B.A.S.S.)

With nine Classic contenders, more than any other state, Alabama is living up to its name as the tournament bass fishing capitol of the nation–perhaps not surprisingly since B.A.S.S. was born here in Montgomery, and has returned its headquarters to Birmingham after a brief flirtation with Florida.

Aaron Martens, a Californian now living near Leeds, Ala., is likely to rank near the top of the 54-man Classic field; he’s the reigning Angler of the Year (AOY), and has consistently proven himself one of the best in the world over the last several years on the Bassmaster Elite Series Tour.

Also at the top of his game is Justin Lucas, now a Guntersville resident, who finished 2nd in this year’s AOY race. Another young gun who may do well is Auburn grad Jordan Lee of Vinemont, who finished 9th in the AOY in just his third season of Elite competition.

Other Alabama anglers who made the Classic cut are Matt Herren of Ashville, Greg Vinson of Wetumpka, Chris Lane of Guntersville, Randy Howell of Springville, Russ Lane of Prattville, and tackle-maker Boyd Duckett, also now of Guntersville.

Edwin Evers

Edwin Evers

Edwin Evers lives virtually on the shores of Grand Lake, and will know it better than any other angler in the field—a likely factor in success if the bite is tough. (Photo Credit B.A.S.S.)

One name conspicuously absent, to the misfortune of the weigh-in crowds, is funny-man Gerald Swindle of Warrior. Win or lose, Swindle is always a crowd favorite who can draw a laugh, but he did not make the Classic cut this year.

Two Oklahoma anglers loom large in the field this year because Grand Lake is virtually their home water: Edwin Evers lives at Talala, close enough to hit the lake with a long cast, and Jason Christie lives at Park Hill, a short drive south. The last couple of years, home-lake familiarity has been a key factor, with S.C. native Casey Ashley winning at Hartwell in 2015 and Randy Howell winning at Guntersville in 2014. Cliff Pace of Petal, Miss., was the winning angler at Grand Lake in 2013, but he’s not in the Classic field this year. The event is being held a week later than it was last time at Grand, and anglers are hopeful they’ll get a break compared to the freezing temperatures and high winds they battled on the last visit.

The Tulsa Classic in 2013 recorded the second highest attendance in history, with more than 106,850 fans visiting one or more of the Classic venues. Total purse will be more than $1 million, with the winner receiving $300,000. The Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo provides an added attraction at the event in downtown Tulsa, with hundreds of boat, motor and tackle manufacturers displaying their new-for-2016 gear to the public for the first time.

For details on the event, visit

Trying To Learn To Hunt Wild Hogs

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I am excited and having fun trying to learn to hunt wild hogs hunting and trapping them. Although I have hunted for about sixty years and have been hog hunting one time with some guys with dogs in South Georgia, trying to figure it out on my own is very new.

For example, I now know hog and deer tracks are very similar. Although I grew up on a farm with hogs and saw their tracks many times, that was a very long time ago and there were no deer around to leave tracks to compare to the hog tracks.

Learning about hog habits, food sources, bedding preferences and movements has been interesting. They definitely behave in different ways. And trying to figure out how to trap them leads to all kinds of possible traps and how and where to build them.

I am getting more exercise than in many years from walking creek bottoms and hillsides looking for signs. My goal is to get some wild hogs for meat but the process has been fun so far!

What Is Collegiate Bass Fishing?

Collegiate Bass Fishing is on a Roll

By Frank Sargeant, Editor
from The Fishing Wire

Colllege teams

Colllege teams

Collegiate bass fishing may never approach the interest levels generated by college football, but there’s evidence that competitive angling is following the footsteps of other popular NCAA sports as more and more colleges around the southeast add tournament fishing teams to their rosters, and a few even offer scholarships to attract young anglers who have already proven their skills competing at the high school level.

The Bassmaster College Series Southern Regional, fished this past week at Lake Martin in central Alabama, drew an amazing field of 225 boats, one of the largest fields at any level ever attracted by a B.A.S.S. event, and by far the largest college event.

“The College Series tournaments have seen growth each year,” said Hank Weldon, senior manager of the college, high school and youth tournament series at B.A.S.S., which is headquartered in Birmingham. “But this year’s field is more than 80 percent higher than the 124-boat field we had at last year’s Southern Regional. This surpassed any of our expectations and is a clear indication of how desirable the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series is.”

Most of the young anglers competing in the college events got their start in high-school level competitions, which are also booming around the nation. B.A.S.S. coordinated high school events are now available in every state except North Dakota, and there’s even a team in South Africa. (For information on starting a high school bass fishing club, contact the Alabama state director, Darrel High at, 334-707-7355. Full information on high school events nationwide is available at .)

The high school events have become a bit of a proving ground for young anglers, just as high school ball sports are for NCAA competition. B.A.S.S. has set up an All-American program that honors the top young anglers not only for their success in competition, but also for their character, leadership, and maintaining solid grades–a 2.5 average on a 4-point scale is required. Nominations are accepted from coaches, school administrators and parents, with the open period this year continuing through Feb. 15.

College team

College team

Dave Precht, Editor in Chief of Bassmaster Magazine and Vice President of Publications for B.A.S.S., said there was a pent up desire for a college level circuit.

“Once a few states made it a team sport and high schools started offering fishing clubs, it grew itself naturally into college teams,” said Precht. “It’s a great opportunity for young men and women to get out in the outdoors with people of their own age and compete in a sport they can follow their whole lives, and just like in athletics, a select few will make it on to the ranks of the pros.”

He said several former All American high school competitors have quickly advanced through the college and regional tournament circuits to become members of the Elite Tour, generally recognized as the NFL of bass fishing, where a few of the most successful anglers earn six-figure incomes.

“Bringing these young people in is also good for the industry,” says Precht. “It results in boat and tackle sales, and for the ones that go on to the pro level, they become great spokesmen for their sponsors. They’re well educated, well-spoken and some of them have marketing or business degrees that let them step right into the industry.”

For more information on the College Series, visit Bassmaster at

Wild Hog Hunting

Got wild hogs? I have beenn wild hog hunting one time, on a trip to South Georgia, and the two we killed were great when I took the meat home and cooked it. Although I have tried to find a place to hunt them around Griffin, so far I have not had any luck. My place on Buck Creek does not have any on it, which is good and bad.

Frank Harris called me last week and said he got a report of some wild hogs spotted not too far outside Griffin on North 2nd Street. There is a lot of wild land out past the city and hogs adapt to just about any kind of habitat. They will eat anything and reproduce like crazy.

Farmers hate them. A group of wild hogs can root up acres of planted seed like corn or soybeans in one night, ruining the chance of getting a crop. They eat and ruin many crops after they start growing, too.

The problem is so bad the state DNR has started a program where land owners with a hog problem can sign up and people wanting to hunt the hogs can be matched with them. Hunters get to hunt and get meat and the land owner gets the numbers of hogs reduced. Sounds like a win-win situation!

We hunted with dogs in South Georgia, making it much easier to find them. They don’t move around much during the day so night hunting is the best way to get them without dogs, especially where they have been hunted and have become wary.

Get yourself some pork and do a farmer a favor – shoot a wild hog!

Rain and Fishing

Rain, rain, go away, come again another day. We used to say that when it rained on weekends, messing up our plans. A few years ago we were happy with rain any day since it was so dry. But this winter has been almost ridiculous with all the rain.

Although I live at one of the highest points in my area, as a Pike County water tank a few hundred feet behind my house proves, my back yard still looks like a rice paddy. There is what we called a swale growing up – a shallow dip – that drains the whole hill side through my back yard. The ditch in front of my house has been full of water for months.

Area lakes that were low for years are now full to overflowing. Georgia Power and the Corps of Engineers are no longer trying to hold water back to keep lakes filled. Instead they are holding water back in some lakes to avoid flooding downstream – them main purpose of our federal dams – and releasing water as fast as they can when it is possible.

For fishing, rain can be a blessing or a curse. Rain and fishing go together it seems. It ruined two trips for me in the past few months. Last November I went to Lay Lake to do an article with BASS Pro Matt Herren. He had said we should be able to catch a bunch of three to five pound spotted bass in the Coosa River at the upper end of Lay, just below the Neely Henry dam.

When I got over there we checked the Neely Henry dam and all the flood gates were open, the current in the river was very strong and fast, and the water was high. Mat said that made it unfishable. So we went down the lake where the current was a little lighter and caught some small keeper bass.

Last Wednesday I went to Mitchell Lake on the Coosa River just north of Montgomery. On the way over there at 6:00 AM I hit heavy rain, wind and lightning just across the state line on I-85. The rain was so bad that some crazy drivers had their emergency flashers on and were driving 20 miles per hour on the interstate. If it is that bad to them they need to get off the road!

By the time I got to the lake the rain had ended and it didn’t rain on us the rest of the day. I met Dustin Connell, a young professional fisherman and guide, there. He said he was worried. He expected to catch some big spotted bass up the river, below the Lay Lake dam, but the heavy rain might have caused a problem.

Sure enough when we started up the river we hit a bunch of floating trash and the water got muddier and muddier. By the time we got to the good places to fish conditions were terrible. We went back down the river to a place just ahead of the mud and trash, and Dustin quickly caught a 3.5 pound spot.

Last Monday Dustin had caught a six pound largemouth and a four pound spot and lost another largemouth he estimated at seven pounds in some grass beds in a creek. When we got to the area the rain had muddied up the creek making fishing tough.

Rain helps fishing since fish tend to bite better when it is cloudy, and during hot weather it cools the water some. And water running into a lake can wash food into the water, turning on the bass and making them feed. You can often fish faster and catch a lot of bass after a rain.

It really doesn’t matter since we have no control over the weather, we just have to adapt and go when we can!

How Do They Track Lake Erie Walleyes?

E-Z Pass for Fish Helps Track Lake Erie Walleyes

Written by Christina Dierkes Technical Editor, Ohio Sea Grant
from The Fishing Wire

For about six years, students in Ohio State University’s Stone Lab’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Scholarship Program have participated in a multi-state walleye movement and mortality study in Lake Erie.

Using acoustic telemetry, researchers from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and similar agencies across the region are tracking the movement of fish including Walleye, an important sport fish, to better understand how the fish travel throughout the lake during their life cycle.

In a contributing project funded by Ohio Sea Grant, ODNR researcher Dr. Chris Vandergoot is implanting acoustic trackers into Walleye spawning below a dam located in Ballville Township, just outside of Fremont, Ohio. The trackers in the fish, along with receivers placed throughout Lake Erie and neighboring lakes and streams, act much like the E-ZPass system in place on many U.S. turnpikes.

“Each of the receivers acts like a toll booth, and each fish with a transmitter in it is like a car,” Vandergoot said. “So when you drive by an E-ZPass station on the highway, it records what time you were there, and in which direction you were heading. When a fish swims by these receivers, the system basically does the same thing; it logs when a fish was swimming by that receiver.”

 Stone Lab's Research Experience for Undergraduates

Stone Lab’s Research Experience for Undergraduates

Students in Stone Lab’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Scholarship Program have worked with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources on tracking fish in Lake Erie for about six years. Many have gone on to present the research at conferences, or to jobs in similar fields.

When combined with data on each individual fish – they’re aged and sexed when the transmitters are implanted – researchers can determine where fish go between spawning seasons, whether they return to the same spawning location, and if they spawn every year or take “reproductive holidays” on occasion.

Receiver data is shared on the Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation System (GLATOS) website, along with general information about the research projects and instructions for anglers who find a transmitter tag in their catch.

“For the first time we can actually follow fish and see what they’re doing,” said Vandergoot. “We’re not relying upon anglers to turn in tags like we historically did.”

Of course, the researchers aren’t just digitally following fish around the lake for fun. “This is very cool science stuff, but at the end of the day this needs to be able to address management questions,” Vandergoot said.

Spawning site fidelity – whether fish return to their “home” stream or reef to spawn – is an important consideration when making management decisions concerning sport fish like Walleye in Lake Erie. For population modeling purposes, it is important for biologist to understand the origin of Lake Erie Walleye as well as where they go over the course of their lives.

Stone Lab REU students have participated in research related to GLATOS for about six years, examining everything from how to best anesthetize a fish for the transmitter implant surgery to how well fish survive after being released back into the lake or after the stress of a spawning season.

The REU program allows students to work one-on-one with professional Lake Erie scientists on an independent research project while taking a Stone Lab course. Selected students receive a full scholarship to Stone Lab, including room and board, and often go on to present their projects at academic conferences, giving them a head start on graduate school or science careers.

One of those students is Zach Steffensmeier, currently a junior in environmental science at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. During the summer of 2015, he worked with Vandergoot on a Fisheries Management REU, analyzing transmitter data and assessing Walleye mortality during spawning seasons in 2013 and 2014. In addition, he was able to work with ODNR staff to collect receiver data in western Lake Erie.

“I heard about Stone Lab back in high school, and went for a weeklong aquatic biology class,” he said. “I just loved being out there, and when I was looking for a summer job this past year, I thought it would be great to go back there. I also really wanted to do research, so this was the best opportunity for me.”

In addition to gaining experience in hands-on research and delivering a scientific presentation, the REU also solidified Steffensmeier’s goal to work in the same field in the future.

“I want to do something with fish, that’s for sure,” he said. “I enjoy being outside in the field for fieldwork, so I’m definitely interested in being a fisheries biologist, whether that’s through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, through EPA, or at a university as a professor.”

And with recommendation letters from Stone Lab and Ohio Department of Natural Resources staff, he’s well on his way to one of those careers.

The larger GLATOS project involves agencies in Ohio, Michigan, Ontario, New York and Pennsylvania, as well as the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the United States Geological Survey’s Lake Erie Biological Station, and funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and Ohio Sea Grant. Overall, close to $1 million in assets are involved in this fisheries management effort.

“These projects are very large, and no one funding source can pull these off,” Vandergoot said. “But when you bring different collaborators together with all these different resources, we’re able to do amazing things.”

(From the January 2016 issue of Ohio Sea Grant eNewsletter. To subscribe, visit

Trapping Rabbits, Possums and Hogs

Can I make a rabbit box big enough for a wild hog? I grew up making boxes that I set out for rabbits and possums and was fairly successful with them. For rabbits no bait was really needed. But I put old apples from the local school cafeteria, where my dad was principal, in some, and possums loved them.

I could get 75 cents to a whole dollar for a live possum back in the late 1950s and early 1960s when I was catching them. Rabbits usually bought 50 cents. All was good money, I could buy a whole box of 50 rounds of .22 long rifle bullets for one sale of either!

And even at 12 years old, I could buy .22 bullets.

It was weird, in 1968, just before I turned 18, I suddenly could not buy .22 bullets I had been buying for years because I was not old enough! A new federal law that had nothing to do with hunting, kids or common sense banned selling .22 bullets to anyone younger than 21 since they could be used in a handgun. That was the first time I realized how stupid gun control laws were.

I always kept my rabbits and possums alive by shaking them out of the box into a croaker sack, tying it up and taking it to town to sell. Back then a lot of folks did not have refrigerators so they bought fresh meat every day and cooked it that night.

I could stand in the parking lot of one of the six local stores that sold groceries – and everything else you could ever need, from bullets and hooks to boots and overhauls (overalls now). Anyone seeing a kid with a croaker sack in the parking lot knew what they had!

Rabbits were eaten that nigh but possums had to be cleaned out. They were put in a small pen and fed food scraps until they were deemed clean of the possibly rotten food they had eaten in the wild. Then they were baked with sweet potatoes!

I have been told there are hogs running Buck Creek where I have some land and have a possible place to hunt out there. I have done some research and found out the only problem is that hogs are nocturnal and you need to hunt them at night unless you have hog dogs. So I am thinking about trying to build a trap for them.

Wild hogs are very smart and I have been told their sense of smell is much better than a deer’s, so you have to be very careful when hunting or trying to trap them. And if you set out a trap and catch one you have to move it. The rest of the passel of hogs will avoid it.

I was happy to hear about a processor that will take hogs locally since I want the meat but really don’t want to have to butcher one if I get lucky.