Early a.m., night best times for fishing

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June 28, 2002

Charlie Farmer, Springfield News-Leader
Outdoors columnist

Early a.m., night best times for fishing

I overheard two men debating the merits of tent camping and fishing in 90 degree temperatures. It was in the supermarket a few days ago. Fixed in a spot near the bananas and oranges, I held my ground wanting to eavesdrop on this most important conversation.

I surmised both men were in their 40s. The one talking said he would never again camp with the temperature hovering near 90. He and his wife and kids pitched a tent near Table Rock Lake. They towed a small fishing boat. There were a lot of other campers and anglers at the campground.

Those who reserved campsites ahead of time had the pick of he best shady spots near the water. Others had some shade, but not enough. Swimming in the lake was fun, but the fishing was slow in the morning. Actually, the man and his family didn’t wake up until 9:30 in the morning. By that time the sun was high and hot and the bass were heading for dark cover.

The other man also had a wife and two kids in their teens. This family headed for their favorite river, the Gasconade. They drove to the Forest Service access, South of Falcon on a gravel road. They put up their tent in a shady canopy along the river. They were the only campers on the clean gravel bar.

There are plenty of cold springs along that access. Apparently, they have friends near by that help shuttle their two canoes for them after a day of smallmouth, goggle-eye and crappie fishing.  

The fishing was good during their two-day adventure. They saved some goggle-eye and crappie, enough to invite their friends for a fish fry complete with hush puppies and homemade ice cream.

I exited the supermarket knowing who had the best outing by far. When the temperature hits 90 degrees, Ozarks streams and rivers are still cordial and productive. As for impoundments, night fishing or early morning — 4-8 a.m. — can work. There can also be a good bite in the morning when it’s overcast or raining. A cooling off spell can also wake up fish that have been feeding mainly at night.

As for tent camping, fishing, frog hunting (opens Sunday), snorkling and swimming, I would take streams and rivers over reservoirs as we swing into July and August. Wading streams and rivers in the Ozarks with spinning tackle and fly rods is some of the finest fishing of the year.

And if you would rather paddle a canoe, motor a john boat or float tube, there will be game fish eager to satisfy catch and release or pan-fry bluegill and goggle-eye.

In the “Missouri Ozark Waterways” book written by Oz Hawksley, there is a detailed guide to 37 major float streams in the Missouri Ozark Highlands. In the course of some 12 years Hawksley covered more than 3,500 miles by canoe in gathering data for the guide.

The special attractiveness to families cannot be over emphasized, Hawksley says in the preface. Most Ozark rivers, in summer, are so mild that even the family with small children need not fear traveling them by canoe.

Having floated nearly all the float streams in the Ozarks in all seasons, I can attest to what Hawksley says.

Contact free-lance columnist Charlie Farmer at 1197 East Court, Ozark, MO 65721 or cjoutdoors318365@aol.com.
 

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