Categorized | Opinion

Duck Skunk and Fall Fish

By Josh GowanOutdoor Column 9-26

The weather was absolutely fantastic over the weekend, and a lot of outdoorsmen took full advantage of it! Missouri’s bow season opened, Tennessee’s teal/woodduck season opened, corn was getting leveled all over the region opening up a ton of dove hunting spots, and the cool temperatures turned the fish on, so let’s get to it!
My personal report came from one of my favorite waterways, a series of big ditches by most standards, but the Floodways that run through southeast Missouri hold a special place in my heart.
I grew up in Portageville, and spent a lot of time duck hunting and fishing on the Floodways, especially when everything else froze up. These ditches act like highways for ducks, and I’ve had some great teal hunts there in the past. With a region-wide report of the teal showing up Thursday night, I was really excited for my first waterfowl adventure of the year. A few minutes after legal shooting hours began, we had two ducks blaze in and we all raised our guns, but quickly dropped them when Dave said “don’t shoot, woodies.” My hunting buddies Dave and Jaime Boden live for waterfowl hunting, and their duck identification skills are sharp, even in the early morning light. We had a group of 10 mallards lock up and sit on top of the Mojo’s, seemingly knowing we couldn’t shoot them! We never saw a teal, and I heard a few of the same reports from some other hunters. A few of the guides over on Reelfoot did manage to pile up some birds, and since in Tennessee you’re allowed two woodducks, they had some good shoots. With Tennessee’s bow season opening in a week and Missouri’s a few weeks in, I have yet to hear of a big buck being taken. This past weekend the deer didn’t move much and my buddies that have been watching their game cameras close didn’t see much. As the crops are being cut around the region more deer will be displaced and have to find new areas to hide. This exodus gives hunters a much better chance, especially on a big buck. The hunting in our region, especially along the Mississippi River, has dramatically improved over the past few years, and with private landowners and the conservation agencies working together, it will continue to get better. The catfishing has continued to be great, and we’re selling a ton of skipjack at Grizzly. Skipjack is an oily fish that big river catfish love, especially when they’re cut up in bite size chunks and drifted slowly along holding areas.
A lot of savvy catfishermen catch their own bait, and the most effective way as of late to do so, is to cast tiny white jigs (like 1/80 oz white Grizzlys) usually two to a line a few feet apart, with a small splitshot in slack areas around dykes or other breaks in the current. If that doesn’t work, just drive down (or up Tennessee) to Caruthersville and we’ll sell ya some for $2.75 per pound! Most dove hunters only hunt opening weekend, and I’ve been guilty of doing this in past years myself, however the best hunting is always later in the long season. There are more doves in Southeast Missouri and West Tennessee right now than there has been all year, and more places available to hunt.
Josh M. Gowan, Outdoors Writer, Crappie Angler Magazine, www.joshgowanoutdoors.com

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