By Josh Gowan
Another beautiful weekend in the Heartland brought a lot of people out on the water to do some fishing. The cool mornings were so reminiscent of fall I talked my wife into thawing out some deer burger and cooking a pot of chili, and man was it good! The biggest jugging tournament in the area, (and possibly the world!), was this past weekend, and Chippy and I attempted to defend our title.
The 6th Annual Blockin’ on the River tournament was once again, a huge success. Ben Baker and his band of helpers really put on a great tournament. The night before there was a party on the river front at Caruthersville, Mo, complete with vendors, rides for the kids, and even a live band. It was a great time and a lot of folks came out to support the event.
Chippy and I scouted out our “honey-hole” a few days prior to the tournament, and got in line early (a day and a half early to be exact) to insure a quick launch, since we were fishing a long way from the ramp. The pre-dawn boat ride on the glassy Mississippi River was majestic. The low waters transformed the normally flat sandbars into beige plateaus that towered over the narrow channel. The long expanses of rock dikes stood 20 feet high in places and paralleled deep holes and erratic currents along the channel. There was thick, bright green vegetation along stretches of the bank that hadn’t seen the sun in many summers. I couldn’t help but think that although these low waters were making life difficult for commercial vessels, they were also revitalizing the river and reinvigorating the plants, fish, and wildlife that depend on nature’s cycles. The experience was such that, it was all I could do to keep from pulling over and writing a patriotic country song about it!
We floated our 15 jugs along a nice stretch ideal water, and although we had a lot of hits, we only hooked three fish. If I could go back and do it again, I would have downsized my hooks and bait, but hindsight’s 20/20. One of the three was a nice, 24 lb blue cat, but the other two were barely big enough to make a sandwich, and our combined weight of 25.8 was only good enough for 6th place, one away from a check! The field of 42 boats was smaller than last year’s tourney, but the competition was stiffer! A few teams of “tournament rod and reel” guys came down and applied the same tactics they use to blockin’ and put on a clinic.
The results were: 1st Place-Ricky Seals and Eric Bing with 93.6 lbs, which included their $1200 “big fish” at 63.8 lbs, 2nd Place-Jason Massengale and Darrell Massengale with 87.8 lbs, 3rd Place-Chris Stephens and Luther Foster with 42.6 lbs, 4th Place-BJ Cooley and Jacob Emery with 29.6 lbs, and 5th Place Mathew McClendon and Jerry Manns with 26.6 lbs. Ben Baker and Napa Auto Parts and Louie Mansfield and Grizzly Jig Company had a long list of folks they wanted to thank, including a ton of sponsors who donated prizes. Nobody left the tournament without a prize. The Pemiscot Rescue Squad, Game Warden, and Pemiscot County Sherriff Dept. were all on hand in their official capacity helping. This little community in the bootheel of Missouri continues to show just how successful outdoor events can be with local support and proper planning!
Dove season is right around the corner and it’s time to get the old game vest out of the closet, empty it of old shells and feathers and rogue snack cakes, and maybe give it a wash. Missouri’s dove season opens at dawn on September 1st, and Tennessee’s opens the same day at noon (a savvy, traveling hunter and marksman could have himself 30 doves by sundown!). The limit is 15 per day in each state, and with the farmers cutting corn earlier than usual, we should have plenty of birds. So go buy your migratory bird license, shells, bacon, and bbq sauce, and get ready to hunt! Go to www.joshgowanoutdoors.com for more information on this week in the outdoors.