Categorized | Opinion

Teal, Tourney’s and Doves

By Josh Gowan

Hunter Jones poses with a 75-pound Mississippi River blue catfish he caught on a rod and reel near East Prairie, Mo.

Hunter Jones poses with a 75-pound Mississippi River blue catfish he caught on a rod and reel near East Prairie, Mo.

Another gorgeous late summer weekend is behind us, and with fall right around the corner, hunting preparations are in full swing.
A dismal opening to Missouri’s teal season may turn around by the weekend, and dove hunting opportunities should be increasing daily with the late harvest getting under way.
I fished one of the biggest tournaments of my career, tried to shoot a few doves, and flung a bunch of arrows at deer shaped blocks of foam, so let’s get to it!
The Ben Kruse Charity Crappie Tournament on Wappapello Lake was an enormous success, with 71 boats fishing on Saturday!
My personal experience fishing was rather lackluster, but Chippy and I, while always optimistic, expected as much having never fished Wappapello Lake together, and with a combined eight trips to the lake our entire life, the last being the spring of 2012!
I committed to Bruce Christian, the main organizer behind the event, that I would be there for the weigh-in, and since Chippy was off work we decided just to show up and fish. While we barely caught enough legal fish to fill a crappie po-boy, we had a blast
As was expected though, the anglers that know the lake and fish it often caught some good fish. The winning weight was David Tropf and Edwin Younger with 8.12 pounds, Second was Damon Thompson and Jackie Thompson with 7.36 pounds, and Brett Roper and Allen Below took 3rd with 7.33 pounds. “Big Fish” was a tie between the team of Marty Poetz and Robert Stephens and the team of Dan Hudgens and Don Seymore, each with a 1.4 pound slab. There were a ton of weights above 6 pounds, and while “Wap” is a much better crappie fishery in the late winter and early spring, there were still some good weights brought in.
More important than the weights that were brought in was the participation of anglers, volunteers, and sponsors, who together helped raise $15,000 for this amazing charity! The charity, 18forelife, just celebrated giving its’ millionth dollar to local families dealing with tragedy.
I absolutely cannot think of a better organization to donate to. These folks are excited about helping others in their time of need, and it’s obvious in the faces of the volunteers and the atmosphere surrounding the event. I was so blown away by the event, I committed to Bruce to help bring more sponsors for next year’s tournament and do whatever I could to help, and if you come to one of their events, be it the fishing, golfing, bowling, or volleyball tournament, you will be inspired to help as well! These folks are helping people in our area, and our support is the bloodline of the charity.
There were a ton of sponsors and people that should get mentioned but it would take a book to do so. Dain Bess, Bruce Christian, Reed Brotherton, Brandon Jines and probably more importantly their wives do the grunt work to make this happen. Tyson Foods donated 320 pounds of chicken wings that were delicious, and everyone who fished the tourney received prizes worth more than their entry fee. Please go to www.18forelife.com and read up on the organization and the sponsors involved, and do what you can to help!
The dove hunting was tough this past weekend, predominantly for the same reason as the week before. The unusually wet and cool August we had here in the heartland has resulted in a late harvest.
This translates to very few fields to hunt, and until the corn gets dry enough to sell, it’s going to continue to be tough to get a limit of doves. I called my buddy Joey Priggel, a southeast Missouri farmer, and the good news is his corn is almost there, and he plans to start cutting on Wednesday, and the rest of the region should follow suit. The same is happening in northwest Tennessee.
The reports I got from the waterfowl community are that the teal are not down here yet, and my buddies that hunted Missouri’s opener saw next to nothing. There is a cool front and a new moon coming this Friday, and duck guide and owner of Gray’s Camp at Reelfoot Lake, John Fagan, said this should mean a lot more ducks and doves for Tennessee and Missouri.
Josh M. Gowan, Outdoors Writer, Crappie Angler Magazine, www.joshgowanoutdoors.com

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