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Ozark’s Riverside Bridge Group finalist for national preservation prize

21 May

Ozark — The Save Riverside Bridge organization has been named as a finalist for a $25,000 grand prize through the National Trust for Historic Preservation “This Place Matters” Community Challenge.

Kris Dyer, who heads the organization, said their application was selected as one of the 100 finalists out of 265 submissions.

“When I read the e-mail (stating they were a finalist), I jumped out of my chair and shouted for joy,” she said. “…I think $25,000 would do a lot.”

It would be a huge boost for the nonprofit organization, helping their cause to save the historic Riverside bridge. (more)

New company serves up Float Trip Pickles

19 Apr

Carving its way through the Missouri Ozark Mountains is the spring fed and crystal clear, North Fork River.

In 1992 my brother and I took our father, Jerry Sr., to the North Fork for his first float trip.  The “float trip” became an annual ritual for “Senior” and five others.  Over the years, we have enjoyed the timeless beauty of the river, the thrill of jumping into Rainbow Spring and shooting the rapids, and the great times spent with family and friends.  The float trip has included many other rituals such as, Senior insisting on a red canoe, frosty beverages, fireworks, grilling of fine steaks a/k/a “the good meat”, and a gallon of the “float trip pickles”. (more)

Float Trip Pickles website.

Basics of Catching Ozarks Fish

3 Mar

Spending time on the James River doesn’t make me an expert. It does give me some insight in how to tackle situations in regards to catching fish. Here in The Ozark’s you might not catch a whopper but you will catch a great view of The Ozark’s from the front of the boat. I have taken folks fishing who have just moved to The Ozark’s and have literally no experience outdoors, that doesn’t make them any less “pumped” about going. They remind me of my kids when they were young and full of excitement about the next day’s trip, so much they couldn’t sleep. On the way down to the river in the truck they were sawing logs the entire way.

They asked a millions questions, always thinking I had the answers. Unfortunately, there are no magical, easy answers when it comes to catching fish. I learned through the years that the experts were a dime a dozen. I like to keep it simple especially when teaching kids. I explained to them that they have to learn the basics of fishing… current, depth, shade and casting.

Largemouth Bass Painting by Ralph Martens

The James River and it’s feeder creeks are engineered in two ways eddy’s and shoals. However no two are seemingly ever the same. Year in and year out they change, so you have to learn to read the water. Flooding makes the river structure shift, change or disappear so the log you saw last fall might be completely gone the following spring. Most fish like to hold in the shade of a tree in the summer months. In the winter months those fish will stage in deeper holes. These holes will be the deepest, largest bodies of water and tend to have the least amount or most drastic change during colder weather. As the temperatures rise in the spring those bass will move to feed more freely and start looking for places to spawn. The upper and lower ends of the holes can be depended upon for holding these fish as water conditions allow. Once spring has arrived in The Ozark’s and water temps stabilize fish will be consistently found in these holes.
There are more than a few objectives about reading the water and they concern bass behavior, variables of the river or stream and the weather. I am only touching on the basics.

Reading The Breaks
You need to identify a break in the river’s current as it generally is a holding area for fish. Smallmouth and largemouth are ambushers, they usually sit in the current break to conserve energy. Anything that breaks the current be it a log or a bridge pier is a resting place for these ambushers.

This is an absolute must for predators, they want to lurk in darkness and then pounce on the prey. Find the deepest, darkest places on the river and you’ll find dinner. Throw in a current break and you have it made in the shade. An oxygenated area where their food source is being washed into them can be excellent and you can, at times, sit there all day.

Perfect your skills, learn to cast on a dime and remember not to spook the fish. Throw beyond the target area and bring it back to the spot. Let it wash into the hole and hang on.


And perhaps the most important thing you can do is to take a kid fishing. Practice catch and release and teach them to respect the Ozarks outdoors.


Septic Care and The James River

20 Feb

Provide by The James River Basin Partnership – Video describes several different types of septic systems and their maintenance requirements. Produced by James River Basin Partnership, Table Rock Lake Water Quality, INC, and Watershed Committee of the Ozarks. Funds provided by TRLWQ 319 Grant.

How I snuck up on a raccoon and lived to tell about it.

18 Feb

I am pretty proud of this shot. How many guys can say they snuck up on a coon and shot it’s picture? I probably wouldn’t have if the wind wasn’t blowing 40 MPH. This guy was going through a hole in the fence and had his head down in a spring between the rocks trying to get a crawdad. Once he caught wind of me he backed out and found the first big tree available, he wasn’t at all happy and I was lucky enough to be across the creek from him. He might have been a trussle.


14 Feb

Riverdale, once a thriving settlement on the banks of the Finley River. Its history goes back to 1819, when Henry Rowe Schoolcraft wrote in his journal on December 31, of seeing rolling plains and well-wooded bottom lands along the Finley. When Schoolcraft’s account of his exploration of the land between the White River and the James was published a wave of settlement began. The only other residents before 1830 were Delaware Indians.

The mill at Riverdale circa 1902

Around 1840, Benjamin H. Hooten (One the the original founders of Hootontown) built the first mill on the banks of the Finley at Riverdale. For most of the ensuing century a succession of owners operated that mill or others built on the site. In 1867, a much-improved mill-dam was constructed across the river of hand-hewn hardwood logs. Changes in the mill itself culminated in the building of a three-story structure between 1891 and 1896. By then, the community included a post office in the general store, and the name Riverdale became official.

The mill at Riverdale circa 1902


Wagons carried sacks of “White Rose Flour” from the Riverdale Mill to towns throughout the region, crossing the Finley via an iron truss bridge erected in 1906. A little later, a concrete dam was built to replace the 1867 log dam. The bridge, raised and strengthened for flood resistance, and the dam are still functioning today.

Riverdale’s importance as a milling center ended in 1926, however, when a fire broke out in the mill building and burned it to the ground. This ended the production of White Rose Flour, although a small gristmill was built fur local use. First attempts to promote tourism came in the 1930’s. Within the memory of many people alive today are the pleasures of swimming, camping, and picnicing at Riverdale.

Early Riverdale community residents were the John Turners, who owned a nearby farm. There Ben Turner, their son, was born in 1896. A guest at Sunday’s meeting, Ben Turner had interesting tales to tell of growing up at Riverdale, where he still lives. Among his mates at the old one room schoolhouse were “Ma Barker’s Boys.” Even in their youth three of the four Barker boys showed the inclinations that involved them in violence and crime in later years.

In 1982 the Turner family was deeply involved in the move to bring new life to Riverdale. In working on the old mill pond, they uncovered the ancient timbers of the early dam, underwater for 115 years but still worth salvaging. Also underwater was the 75 year old turbine that had been installed in 1906 in the mill by a Springfield, Ohio company. The Turners, seeking to put the turbine to use in generating electricity, sent the old machinery to Ohio for rebuilding. The manufacturers claim it will be as fine a water-powered small turbine as any they could supply to replace it. The plan is not only to use the Finley’s waters to generate electricity, but also to restore old buildings of Riverdale and possibly open a museum.

By Parkerpics DAN & LEILA PARKER - January 28, 2009

Riverdale is reached via U. S. 160, by a gravel road branching off to the East about four miles South of Nixa.

Smallmouth Bass – Noodling Info

18 Sep

smlTrophy Bass Fishing in Missouri – Locations and Techniques
By Davidson Manning

While Missouri may not be known for its trophy bass fishing, there are plenty of large bass around to keep an angler busy for a lifetime. In order to catch them, you will probably have to use different techniques than you use to catch smaller bass. If you are willing to catch a few less fish in search of that wall hanger, then this article is for you. First, I will share some of my favorite big bass techniques. Then I will choose a few of the best lakes and rivers in the state to find the bass of a lifetime.


Live Baitfish

This is personally my favorite way to catch big largemouth bass. The setup is very simple. I use a 2/0 plastic worm hook, a split shot, and a large bobber. I hook the bait (I prefer a green sunfish between two and five inches) in the back, just under the spine. The depth I fish depends on where I am, but generally two to four feet is best. It is important to wait several seconds after the bass strikes to set the hook. When you do set the hook, do it firmly, but not excessively. Besides green sunfish, live shad, shiners, suckers, and various other minnows work very well, fished the same way.

Flipping Jigs

This is one of the best techniques for big springtime largemouth and smallmouth bass. Cast the jig into heavy cover, or near docks, let the jig sink, and jig it up and down slowly as you reel. Set the hook as soon as you feel resistance. This works well into the summer as well, but it particularly shines between March and June. My favorite jig for the method is mini-Strike King Jigs, in green and brown colors.

Plastic Worms

Plastic worms are good big bass bait from April until early November. The general rule is the bigger the bait, the bigger the bass. I prefer to Texas rig the bait, and reel in very slowly, but there are countless ways to successfully fish plastic worms, including the Carolina Rig, the Wacky Rig, and the weightless rig. My favorite big bass worm is a 7 inch Black Berkeley Power Worm. It works well for largemouth bass between two and five pounds, especially at night.

Lakes and Rivers:

Table Rock Lake

Most people would consider Table Rock the best trophy bass lake in the state. This approximately 40,000 acre reservoir is exceptionally clear and deep. The deep water is home to many smallmouth and spotted bass, and the shallower water holds mostly largemouth. Probably the number one trophy bass technique here is free lining three to five inch shiners. Other successful offerings are spinnerbaits, tube baits, crankbaits, and plastic worms. The main channel near the dam, the James River arm, and the Kings River arm are all great spots to find trophies, but the entire lake holds bass.

Lake of the Ozarks

This 55,000 acre lake in Central Missouri is very heavily fished, but somehow the trophy bass fishery remains one of the best in the state. Largemouth bass reign supreme here, although limited populations of smallmouth and spotted bass do exist in some river arms. The best trophy baits tend to be flipping jigs, spinnerbaits, and various plugs. The key to success here is to fish the many docks lining the lake, because the lake offers very little other cover. The Niangua Arm, Grand Glaize Arm, and the Osage River Channel are all good places to find big largemouth.

Gasconade River

The Gasconade River is a world class trophy bass river. From its humble beginnings near Springfield all the way through the town of Vienna, the river is almost entirely dominated by smallmouth bass. Between Vienna and the mouth at the Missouri River, largemouth bass take there place alongside the smallmouth. Live minnows, crankbaits, tube baits, flipping jigs, and spinnerbaits work well for both species of bass found in the river.

James River

You may have noticed in the section of this article about Table Rock Lake, I mentioned the James River arm was an excellent place to catch big bass. The fishing does not end upstream of the lake, however. All the way from upstream of Springfield downstream to where it becomes Table Rock Lake, the James River is an excellent float fishing river for huge smallmouth and spotted bass. Crankbaits, spinnerbaits, live minnows, and soft plastics are all popular.

Hopefully this article helps you learn the techniques and places to catch trophy bass here in Missouri. It may not be likely that you will catch a world record bass in Missouri, but that does not mean that fishing for them is not an exciting or heart throbbing experience.

Davidson Manning

Davidson Manning

Davidson Manning is an avid outdoorsman spending over 100 days per year pursuing his passion for fishing, many of them in the Ozarks of Missouri and Arkansas. He details many of his favorite spots on his website Family-Outdoors where he writes articles not only on fishing, but also camping and hunting. Looking for recipes for wild fish and game? Visit his recipe section at Wild Game and Fish Recipes for recipes for venison, trout, as well as most other game and fish species.

His other pursuits include many days spent in the field camping and hunting. Davidson loves to share his knowledge of the outdoors in the hope of helping others to find their own connection to the outdoors.



by Todd Waterman

“Noodling can be dangerous,” an old-timer said. “You can get skinned up pretty bad, and there’s a few that’s drowned at it, especially if you wear clothes. First one thing and then another happens when they try to noodle with clothes on. They go down in the water and get hung up and drowned. That’s why I never did wear clothes–nothing! Just like you were born. You find a hollow log down in the river. Then the first thing you do is find out if the fish is in there, and you stop him up, all Duc just a place for your hand, for if you don’t he’ll run out over you and knock you out of the hole. Did you ever get an old sow in the barn and have her get her nose through the door and then try to get it shut? That’s the way of a catfish trapped in a hole when you try to catch one by hand.”

Nowadays any kind of fishing done in the Ozarks is a sport for the most part with regular open seasons. But before the practice of noodling was outlawed in Missouri, it was mostly done for the sake of putting meat on the table. The meat of a catfish is a tender and savory dish. If the larger fish are cleaned correctly, they will produce sizeable slabs of boneless meat. One man said that he had noodled a catfish that measured eleven inches between its eyes. “I tell you what you can do,” he said. “You can eat several meals off from them fish and never hit a bone.”


Article from Bittersweet Magazine Fall 1980 Fall Issue

BITTERSWEET, a special English class of students grades ten through twelve at Lebanon High School, hopes to capture the lore, crafts, traditions and culture of the Ozark people and to portray characteristics of the land which have influenced their life and development.