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Notes From Hunter Creek 3.23.2017

Lets’ Go Fishing!

If you have fished the local streams for a couple of decades, you have noticed that legal-sized keeper game fish are fewer and smaller in recent years.

The cause is mainly two-fold: loss of habitat (to include gravel mining), and over-fishing.  Therefore, one of the foremost Conservation agencies in the USA, the Missouri Department of Conservation has amended and modified statewide fishing regula-tions the last few years to help solve this problem. If you fish locally, you need to be aware of these new rules, as it could save you from a hefty fine.

For fishing permits, Missouri is fairly liberal: those 15 and under do not need a fishing permit, unless fishing for trout (trout stamp $3.50).

If you’ve reached that magic senior age of 65, no permit is required.  Just carry your license to show your proper age. Again, trout fishing requires a trout stamp, $7.00. All other resident fishing permits are a reasonable $12 per year.

A super good deal is to purchase a resident combination small game and fishing permit for $19.00. Non-resident fishing permits are $42/yr, and don’t forget Missouri’s free-fishing weekend when no permits are required June 10 – 11.

If you fish in any of the neighboring states, or especially in any of the western states, you soon realize these permit prices are quite reasonable.

For suckers and other non-game fish (to include bluegills and sunfish), grabbing season opened on March 15.  It will close May 15. There is a daily limit of 20 fish. If you have the right equipment, this type of fishing can provide a fun afternoon for a few close fishing buddies.

If there has been a recent rise on the smaller streams, and then, the water starts to clear up, give it a try. Suckers harvested out of clear Ozark streams are great eating, much better than those pulled from the muddy streams of northern Missouri.

There is a new regulation this year that relates to goggle-eye or rock bass fishing: a 7-inch length and a 15-fish limit. Really, in my opinion all goggle-eye under 8-inches ought to be released as the meat to bone ratio is just too small.

Remember for stream bass fishing, its catch and release only until Memorial Day weekend, May 27, and a 12-inch minimum length with a daily limit of six fish.  For local fishing on the Big Piney, Gasconade, Eleven-Point rivers, and Jack’s Fork Creek, check local regulations for small mouth bass.

A reminder for jug-line fishing –– anchored jug-lines must be labeled and checked every 24 hours.

Unanchored jug-lines for stream fishing also require labels as well as the requirement of 24-hour atten-dance.

One important note that a lot of local people don’t realize –– the lower North Fork of the White River has become known as one of the premier trout fishing streams in the United States.

From the upper outlet of Rainbow Spring, about 5.5 miles below Hammond Camp, on the North Fork River, this stretch is labeled a special “Blue-Ribbon” trout area. It is basically a catch and release area unless you are lucky enough to hook into a giant German Brown Trout of at least 18-inches in length.  Only one is allowed, and all fishing must be done with artificial lures or flies. No natural baits are allowed.

And then, from Patrick Bridge down to Norfork Lake at Tecumseh, the North Fork River is labeled as a “Red-Ribbon” trout stream (7 miles). On this stretch, all lures may be utilized, and two trout may be taken daily, with a minimum length of 15-inches.

There are a few other “Blue-Ribbon” trout streams in the Ozarks: Crane Creek, a tributary of the James River; upper sections of the Current River; Greer Springs Branch to Turner Mill on the Eleven Point River, and the Little Piney Creek, a tributary of the Gasconade River.

All of these Blue-Ribbon and Red-Ribbon trout streams are making Missouri a nation-wide “must-fish” region for trout fly-fishing.

One other note –– any stream walleye that venture upstream out of their lake impoundments must be a 15-inch minimum with a daily limit of four fish.

And while I am thinking of it, let’s give a big shout-out and congrats to my neighbor on Bryant Creek, local legend Rick Clunn, who has competed in over 400 B.A.S.S. tournaments and is a four-time Bassmaster Classic title winner.  In January 2017, Rick was honored as he was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.

Note:  Shiloh National Battlefield

If you are planning to travel through southern Tennessee this year, you ought to consider a visit to Shiloh National Battlefield. The horrendous two-day battle occurred on April 6 – 7, 1862.

This battle was fought with heavy losses on each side, but ultimately was considered a Union win as the Confederates left the Battlefield to Union forces and retreated south to the rail-center town of Corinth, in northern Mississippi.

The Battle of Shiloh is known for three very significant items in the War Between the States.  It was the first time that a major commanding general of either side was mortally wounded.

Sidney A. Johnston, commander of the Confederate Army of the West, had his horse shot out from under him and he grabbed another one from one of his aides while leading his men in battle. He also had been shot in his lower leg but continued to ride and lead his men. As nightfall approached his men realized that his left boot was filled with blood. They helped him dismount and get help next to a roaring campfire.   But he soon expired from excessive blood loss.

And, command of the Confederate forces was then taken over by the less-capable Gen. P.T. Beauregard.

The second major item was that the recently promoted General Ulysses Grant, Commander of the Union Army of the West, made a tactical blunder as he and his forces were pinned against the Tennessee River at Pittsburgh Landing.  Only nightfall and General Johnston’s death pre-vented a catastrophe for Union forces.

Early the next day General Buell’s Army of the Ohio, containing 18,000 men, while arriving late due to cold rainy weather, saved the day for Grant.

But the most important facet of the Battle of Shiloh occurred in news coverage from the battlefield.  While many optimistic people from both the North and South had ventured that the War initially would last maybe 90 days, and surely for no longer than one year, the Battle of Shiloh crushed hopes for a speedy conclusion to hostilities.  When ordinary people read of the tremendous casualty count on both sides, people realized the War would not be short in blood or treasure.

Besides losing their commanding general, the Confederacy lost an astounding number of field brigade officers (five) in the two-day battle!

Southern casualties amounted to 7,500 dead and 4,000 wounded.

Northern casualties were 4,000 dead and 10,000 wounded. And remember approximately half of all wounded eventually succumbed and two-thirds never returned to fight another day.

Shiloh was noted for one other interesting fact. The battle was planned to begin one day earlier by the Confederates, but there was one big problem –– a hard-driving spring front came through Tennessee with blowing rain on April 5, 1862. And because of the wet Confederate gunpowder, a decision was made to delay the surprise assault until the next morning.

Well, guess what, with a combined force of almost 96,000 men traipsing around in the woods, it was no longer a total surprise when the Confeder-ates launched their attack 155 years ago on April 6.

After the Battle of Shiloh, General William Tecumseh Sherman, who was almost captured, and had three horses shot out from under him and was twice wounded, examined the battlefield and described “piles of dead soldier’s mangled bodies, some without heads and some without legs.”  Sherman lamented the scenes “on this field would have cured anybody of the love of War”.

Now, get up and go enjoy our beautiful Ozark outdoors!