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It’s Float Trip Time With James River Outfitters!

7 May

Established in 2003, James River Outfitters is the most respected outfitter on the James River. They offer a wide range of services including outfitting for canoeing, fishing, tent camping, floating, swimming, nature photography, bird watching or just relaxing and enjoying the scenery. Local family owned and operated, we offer a lifetime of experience and we’re eager to share our knowledge with you. Our customers return time after time in order to enjoy the Ozarks and James River Outfitter’s personal and professional services.Wanting to float from Hootentown to Galena? JRO has everything you need to make your trip memorable and exciting. There’s nothing like a good old fashioned float trip with James River Outfitters. While floating on the river you will see breathtaking rock bluffs and wildlife such as: bald eagles, deer, mink, fox… the list is endless. Come see for yourself!

The James River offers a broad selection of fish. “Catch & Release” or “Feed The Family” – everyone will have a great time! So come and enjoy nature as Ozark sportsmen have for over a century.

For more information contact:
James River Outfitters, LLC.
110 Y-Bridge Road
Galena, MO 65656

417-357-6443
Home: 417-357-6447 • Cell: 417-830-1344

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Illinois anglers taking the bait

22 May

Bass tournaments luring new fishermen to the sport for family-friendly competition

By CHRIS YOUNG

Casual evening bass fishing tournaments are trying to hook a new generation of anglers and keep the fun in a sport that has grown increasingly competitive. Spring Lake has a Tuesday evening tournament that costs only $30 per team to enter.“It’s not a big money tournament and the guys know it,” said Troy Galvin, who lives a stone’s throw from the lake.“It’s for fun and the joy of catching fish.”Galvin took over coordinating the tournament about six years ago.

“It started out with a few guys who wanted to fish during the week, and it was mostly local guys,” he said. “But they enjoyed it so much the word has got around and spread, and now we’re pulling from 40 miles away or so.”

Last Tuesday’s tournament drew 28 boats.

An hour or so south in Springfield, two weeknight tournament series offer the chance for anglers to fish without the pressure of too much competition.

“We don’t want that (emphasis on competition),” said Ed Skube, who for years helped coordinate bass fishing tournaments at Lake Springfield. “We want to instill the friendship aspect of the sport.

“We try to keep it real family-friendly.”

Tuesday night tournaments at Sangchris Lake and Thursday night tournaments at Lake Springfield drew 18 and 25 teams, respectively, May 10 and 12.  (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.

Shade
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.

Casting
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.

 

80 Years Ago Today

1 Mar

Roaring River on opening day 1931. I guess it’s always been busy on opening day!

Current River – The Vanishing Ozarks

26 Feb

The Vanishing Ozarks from Missouri History Museum on Vimeo.


This film by my estimation was produced  somewhere between 1958-1961 after seeing the Pontiac on the ferry.  It was hard to quickly research the year, the shot went by pretty quickly but I know I am in the ballpark as there were a couple of early Volkswagon’s spotted as well on the riverbank.

By the third decade of the twentieth century, the loss of the forest resulting from the hinterland development threatened traditional ways of living along the Current River even more than had the many social and economic changes of the lumber and railroad era. Timber, the resource that attracted the railroads and many people to the Current after 1880, showed signs of playing out soon after 1900. The forest was the foundation of the uplander culture. It housed the game that the uplander hunted and fed the hogs that the hill families ate. The uplander-frontier culture’s economic tradition was based on a reactive relationship with nature. Before the introduction of large-scale lumbering, the settlers made few visible changes to the natural environment. Their hunting practices helped to deplete much of the big game but their open range livestock grazing had little impact on the forest. The loss of so many trees through unbridled lumbering, however, damaged the natural and thus the cultural habitat of the traditional homeland.

Some Ozark and state leaders saw tourism as the economic salvation of the region. The early development of modern recreation on the Current and Jacks Fork rivers accompanied the introduction of railroads into the southeast Missouri Ozarks. There were two trends in the growth of recreation. First, the railroad and lumber companies encouraged sport hunting and fishing. The depletion of the wildlife and the exodus of the large pine lumber corporations limited this activity and, by 1914, the promotion of recreation began focusing on attracting tourists to the areas scenic beauty. Although tourism boomed around the springs of southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas during the previous century, it was slow to develop in the more isolated Courtois Hills. Unlike lumbering and hunting, tourism was an unfamiliar concept to most residents of the Current River region.

Urban businessmen formed several hunting and fishing clubs and built cabin retreats on the Current River after the Current River Railroad laid its tracks to the mill of the Missouri Lumber and Mining Company. In 1888, the year that the railroad was completed, businessmen from St. Louis, Kansas City, and Springfield, Missouri, established two clubs. Sportsmen in St. Louis chartered the Current River Fishing and Hunting Club with a five-dollar membership fee. Another group from Springfield and Kansas City organized the Carter County Fishing and Shooting Club and charged its members twenty dollars to join. The Current Local reported that the club had 125 members and that Alex Carter, a leading political figure in Carter County, appeared to be the only member from the county. The incorporators of the club were mostly officials of the Kansas City, Ft. Scott, and Memphis Railroad, the parent company of the Current River Railroad. With lumber from the Grandin mill, the members built a clubhouse six to eight miles south of Van Buren on a bluff overlooking the Current.

In 1912, another Springfield group incorporated a club, Shannon County Hunting and Fishing Club, and built cabins on the Jacks Fork. Again, as the purpose of the corporation stated, it solicited an exclusive membership:

“The object and purpose of this club shall be to furnish facilities for bringing together as often as may be, gentlemen in commercial, manufacturing and professional pursuits throughout Southern Missouri for educational, and for recreation and improvement . . . [and] to develop the mental and moral faculties of its members.”

The Shannon County Hunting and Fishing Club out lasted the other organizations and continued to exist into the 1980s.

The records of the Carter County Fishing and Shooting Club described something of the logistics and recreation activities of late nineteenth century float trips down the Current and Jacks Fork rivers. Because of the club’s association with the Kansas City, Fort Scott and Memphis Railroad (later part of the Frisco line) and because of this railroad’s partnership with area lumber companies, club members had ready access to the main KFS&M lines and the lumber trains. The sportsmen often traveled by train to Chicopee or to Chilton and from there headed the short distance downstream to the clubhouse. The favored pastime was floating and fishing down the rivers and, at least until 1930, most parties recorded in the club registry their catch and sometimes highlights of their trips. A 1907 entry by sportsmen from Carthage, Missouri, stated:

Put in Jack’s Fork about 3 miles above Eminence May 24, 1907, and floated to Club House. River about 18 inches high. Caught 60 bass, one jack salmon, one shad. Saw first engine cross Jack’s Fork. E. B. Jacobs caught a double consisting of two 3-pound bass. Had a fine time and good ride with Andy Pitman (guide) in gasoline boat.

This brief trip record noted an important transportation improvement furnished by the lumber railroad crossing the Jacks Fork. Before the construction of the tram in 1907, the fishing parties heading for the upper Jacks Fork had to depart the KFSM track at Birch Tree or Winona and travel overland by wagon to the river. They then floated downstream in canoes or johnboats, the latter was most common on the Current. The early johnboats were built of pine planks sixteen to twenty-four feet long. They were narrow (often three feet wide), flat bottomed, with slightly beveled sides. “Bow and stern [were] blunt, and the bottom at both ends tapered upward so that the boat [could] be swung easily in the current by a boatman operating with a single paddle from the stern.” Boards for making boats were carried to the departure point, along with the other sporting gear, and local woodsmen/carpenters built the boats on the spot for the fishing parties. The club records indicated that members organized float trips of varying lengths. Some excursions started up at Round Spring, on the Upper Jacks Fork, at Van Buren, or a number of other locations.

During the last two decades of the nineteenth century, the tallies of fish caught boast of the Current and Jacks Fork as a “fisherman’s paradise,” but a marked decline appeared after 1900. In 1946, Charles Callison, secretary of the National Wildlife Federation, demonstrated the decline by examining the number of fish caught by members of the Carter County Fishing and Shooting Club during the decades 1890-1940. The last column of the table, displaying a person’s average catch per day, reveals two dramatic declines: first, after 1900, the catch dropped from 13.5 to 7.3 and then, after 1920, fell from 8.8 to 5.9. The number of recreational fishing trips, themselves, decreased sharply during the Great Depression decade of the 1930s. Yet the trend reflected more than just the extensive removal of fish by sportsmen. The gigging and illegal dynamiting of fish by the residents of the Current River basin also contributed to the decline.

(Excerpt From the National Park Service)

Outdoorsman’s Spring Swap Meet

19 Feb

March 19 in Brighton, MO

The Grizzled Old Veteran Outdoorsman’s Spring Swap Meet is set for Saturday, March 19, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. We will have it where we had the fall swap meet, at the big gymnasium of the Brighton Assembly of God Church, 17 miles north of Springfield, just off Highway 13.

It is free to the public and there are 40 tables available to anyone who wants to sell outdoor-oriented treasures,like fishing lures, camping gear, art, canned goods, baked goods, and the like. You can even bring canoes or boats to set up out in the parking lot.

The church will be offering breakfast & lunch to raise money for the youth of the church.

Someone will win a free fishing trip to Canada before the day is over. Tinker Helseth, the guide and outfitter from Lake of the Woods in Northwest Ontario, will be there in person. Call to reserve a table, or write. See all the details at Larry Dablemont’s Website.