By Josh Gowan
There is no tougher time of the year to be an outdoors writer than now! The fishing reports are few and far between, (and lackluster for the most part) and there is nothing to hunt. The Mississippi River, generally my saving grace this time of year, is high and full of debris, making the jugging and drift fishing difficult. But alas, I am obligated to deliver 700 words of at least mildly entertaining outdoors news per week, so I’ll try not to disappoint!
I picked up my boat Sunday, and have been working hard to get it back into shape after tourney season. Carl over at The Boat Shop in Poplar Bluff got the outboard running like an Olympic sprinter who failed his drug test, and James at Grizzly reworked the bearings in the trolling motor this morning. I replaced the seats and cleaned everything out, and with a new license plate, some trailer light rewiring, and a couple new decals I’ll be out on the water next weekend come Hell or high water (presumably high water). The Mississippi is cresting and projected to fall over the next week, so if I’m not at a lake somewhere I’ll probably be there.
I did manage a short hunt on Sunday. I’ve been in a fierce battle with one of Mother Nature’s most gruesome villains, a mole, and after eluding my traps over and over again, I came home to find some new levees in a rather manicured part of my yard. I set the trap again, and a little while later I saw an earthen commotion a few feet away. The little excavator showed himself, and I threw my wife my phone, with instructions to film the valiant attack. I slipped up on him with my trusty spade shovel, and delivered multiple blows into the dirt below the movement, and managed to kill a trophy Missouri mole. Mole hunting, welcome to the “dog days” outdoors column!
I’ve heard next to nothing from Reelfoot, except for 2-5 pound catfish being caught at will anywhere on the lake with stink bait. A few crappie are coming out of the deep water slow-trolling minnows, and a few are being caught monotonously dipping the now 5,000+ acres of elephant ear-sized lily pads. The guys that know how to bed fish for bream are still catching a few here and there.
Slabber Dave Maddox, which you may have seen recently on the Crappie Time show with his partner Jeff Riddle putting up a great showing at the CrappieMaster’s Mississippi State Championship, has been catching some fish. He fished Duck Creek in Southeast Missouri and caught some big bream and redear using crickets in the open water. He said the crappie at Wapappello are moving shallow, and a few guys caught limits slow trolling minnows. Like Reelfoot, the catfish bite is pretty solid on “Wap”, with jug fishing and trotlining being the optimal methods.
The 2013 ICAST show just concluded, and there were a ton of new products introduced. ICAST is the biggest fishing show of the year, and is only open to retailers, venders, and media. The products fishermen see on the shelves of their local tackle shops all got their start here, and if they don’t make a splash among industry buyers and sellers, they’re rarely seen in stores.
The high-end cooler market is a growing, evolving industry that a lot of companies are throwing their roto-molded hat into. Unfortunately, the evolution of the most popular brands consists primarily of moving manufacturing overseas. One brand that is not only committed to being 100 percent American made (Sparta, Tennessee to be exact), but is also leading the pack in innovations, is the Outdoor Recreation Company of America, or ORCA. ORCA introduced, in conglomeration with LiddUp, the first premium cooler with interior lighting. The integrated lighting system requires no assembly and is powered by easily replaceable AA batteries. The LED lights are food safe, completely sealed so they don’t come in to contact with water, available in several colors, and do not generate heat. I own, use, and abuse an ORCA, and I’ll never buy another brand. For more information on ORCA Coolers, go to www.orcacoolers.com.
Josh M. Gowan, Outdoors Writer, Crappie Angler Magazine, www.joshgowanoutdoors.com