Friday, July 25, 2014

Invitation to all Missouri high schools

The Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) made a great call in allowing all Missouri high schools to enter the Missouri Fall Classic bass tournament here at Lake of the Ozarks Oct. 26 whether or not the schools are signed up with the MSHSAA program.  It was agonizing to get those Facebook messages from students and parents who wanted to participate in the tournament but they were disappointed that they might miss out because their school wasn’t signed up with MSHSAA.   I was glad to see that MSHSAA is giving those students a chance to fish if they can find a coach, some teammates and boat captains.
MSHSAA’s decision shows that the state association is committed to helping the bass fishing activity grow so it will reach the 50-school mark needed for MSHSAA to start holding a state series culminating in a state championship.  Hopefully these kids who will be fishing with an unofficial school team will have a great experience in the tournament and will take back to their school administrators several photos and testimonials from parents on how great an event it was for the kids.  
We saw a great upsurge in interest for high school bass fishing after the Bass Pro Shops Open Championship of High School Fishing at Table Rock in June and hopefully since the fall event will be held in a central location of the state it will attract more teams from schools in Kansas City and St. Louis along with the Lake of the Ozarks area schools.
I also hope the schools that competed in the Bass Pro Shops event will also come up to show off their great programs. I was really impressed by how well organized and dedicated those schools were to the bass fishing program.  They are shining examples of what we hope to accomplish throughout the rest of the state and I consider those high school teams the ambassadors of this program.
There are still some details to work on for the Fall Classic but hopefully those will be ironed out in the next couple of weeks.  Even though schools not signed up with the MSHSAA program will be allowed to send teams to compete in the Fall Classic, the teams will have to follow all MSHSAA requirements. To see a list of the MSHAA requirements visit and click on Proposed Insurance Guidelines for Bass Fishing.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Take the initiative to start a high school bass club

I’ve never been very enthusiastic about blogging because I never could figure out what to write about and the pay was pretty poor. So rather than write about my fishing exploits (a boring subject), I decided to devote this blog to my thoughts about the high school bass fishing movement. So here goes. First of all, I didn’t realize the decline in our youth’s interest in fishing until I started pushing for the Missouri State High School Activities Association’s bass fishing activity. It seems like there is a lot of interest in fishing among the kids in the Table Rock area, but it seems to be lacking in other parts of the states even in the rural areas. I can understand in the suburban areas a lack of high school youths who have an interest in joining a school bass club, but what is up with the lack of schools around the other lakes throughout the state that haven’t signed up for the MSHSAA program? School administrators know about the MSHSAA bass fishing activity because more than 200 of the schools voted for it to be a MSHSAA activity last year. Yet there are still less than 50 schools that have signed up for the activity. However, we shouldn’t expect the school administrators to promote this activity because they probably already have their hands full with all the other sports and activities going on at their schools. In some rare instances you will find teachers like Jim Huson at Republic High School who pushed hard to get his school’s bass club started but in most cases it is really up to the students and parents to push for a bass club at their school. In many of the stories I have written about high school fishing, the central figure in getting a bass club started at a high school was a determined student—or a couple of students—who recruited some fishing buddies and found a teacher willing to supervise their group. So if students want to start fishing clubs in their school, they should take the initiative and either ask the school for permission to circulate a sign-up sheet for prospective members or just start asking classmates if they have any interest in joining a fishing club. Even if they find only two or three kids that is enough to start a club and if they show a willingness to teach others how to fish, they can build up their club’s numbers. They can start holding unofficial meetings off campus and teach the newcomers some of the basics of fishing. A parent, an adult member of a bass club or an experienced adult bass angler could conduct the meetings until the “unofficial” club can find a teacher who might be interested in supervising and initiating the process of getting the club approved by the school. I occasionally hear some students and parents say their school will never allow them to start up a fishing club. Just remember though that there is an annual turnover in school staffs, so there is always a chance that a new school administrator with an open mind about expanding school activities might come on board.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Alaska Full of Firsts

I have to proclaim Alaska a state of firsts even though it is the next to last state admitted to the Union.
While on a Cabela’s writer’s trip last week to Alaska, I experienced the following firsts in my lifetime: sightings of moose, black bear, seals and humpback whales in the wild; seeing an active volcano; catching my first halibut and then a limit of halibut; flossing for a limit of sockeye salmon; backtrolling to catch a king salmon; battling a case of seasickness on the halibut boat; and losing my lunch to a sandwich-snatching dog.
After flying from St. Louis to Chicago to Anchorage, I spent the night in Anchorage with fellow outdoor writers Chuck Smock, Jeff Samsel and Colin Kearns. The next day we took the four hour drive to Homer AK where we were going onboard for a two-day halibut trip to the ocean with Ninilchick Charters (, but rough seas were predicted so we diverted to a smaller boat for two days of fishing in Cook Bay. With the boat rocking-and-rolling in 8-foot waves the first day I got hit with a case of seasickness that had my head spinning and my legs wobbling, so I was unable to contribute to the catch of halibut that my partners accumulated. Medicated with Dramamine the next day I was able to catch my two-fish limit of halibut.
After a half-day of halibut fishing and an afternoon side trip of trout fishing, we got back to our cabin and decided to eat half a sandwich for dinner and save the other half for the next day’s lunch. While sitting at a picnic table, I had to go into the cabin for a minute, so I left my sandwich on the table but when I returned, the half of sandwich I was saving was in the mouth of the neighborhood dog.
Our next adventure was an excursion on the Kenai River in quest of big king salmon. It seemed like everyone in the state was on the river that day as the boat traffic resembled a city highway during rush hour. On some of the stretches we fished I counted as many as 50 boats lined up side-by-side backtrolling. Despite the fishing pressure, we still managed to catch one legal king salmon and three sockeye.
The last morning of our trip was spent flossing for sockeye on the Kenai with Mike Flores, owner of Ninilchik Charters. You floss for sockeye by flipping out a fly with four split-shots on the line and letting it drift down in the current. When the line drifts by a sockeye it flows into the fish’s mouth and as you pull up on the line (floss) the hook of the fly catches the sockeye in the mouth and the fight is on. It took about a half-hour or so of flipping my line in the current before I finally flossed a sockeye. But once I got the hang of it, I quickly landed a three-fish limit and missed three or four more fish.
For anyone wanting to plan an Alaskan halibut/salmon trip, Flores suggests the following dates as prime times: middle to late June for giant halibut; last two weeks of July for trophy king salmon; and July 14 to the end of July for the sockeye run.
Although we never landed a trophy fish, we each brought home a 50-pound box of halibut and salmon filets. That definitely made up for my lost sandwich.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New York Fishing

Thanks to a writers’ trip put on by Cabela’s, I got a chance to experience the smallmouth, walleye and steelhead fishing on Lake Ontario and Lake Erie and the Niagara River.
Fishing the big waters can be challenging, especially when the wind blows as it did the first day of our trip on Lake Ontario. Despite the rough waters, our guide Terry Jones set up the right drift as we caught several quality smallmouth including caught by Chuck Smock of Cabela’s that weighed 6 pounds, 7 ounces according to Terry’s handheld scale. We caught a few fish dragging tubes but our most productive tactic was to drift a drop shot rig with a Yum Houdini worm and constantly shake the rig as it bounced along the bottom.
The next day I fished with guide Frank Campbell and since I needed some walleye photos for my file, we started out trolling nightcrawlers on spinner rigs which produced a couple of walleyes for photos. Frank caught the best photo fish, a 5-pounder. After getting the walleye shots we tried fro some smallmouth in the shallows with spinnerbaits and jerkbaits and managed to catch a few 2-pounders and missed a few. Moving on to deeper water we added a 4-pounder and a few 3-pounders while drifting tubes and drop shot Houdini worms.
Our second adventure for the day was a charter boat excursion for king salmon and steelhead. Although we never hooked up with any salmon, we got plenty of action from the steelhead with our largest catch weighing around 12 pounds.
If you plan on visiting the Buffalo area and want to experience the great fishing at Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Niagara River, call either Jones (who specializes in bass) at First Class Bass Charters, 716-875-4946; or Campbell for smallmouth, walleye and trout, salmon and muskie, 716-284-8546.

Friday, May 7, 2010

I'm back

It's been too long since my last post and it's not because the fishing stinks. Quite the contrary, it’s been pretty good and that's one of the reasons I haven't posted anything lately. I’ve been too busy fishing and working on assignments.
I finally caught several fish on a writers' trip last month. Uncle Josh/ Kalin's sponsored a writers' trip on Lake Erie out of Presque Isle Bay and the fishing was good for both smallmouth and largemouth. My first full day of fishing there I caught nine smallmouth with my best five probably weighing 15 pounds. I also caught 13 largemouth in the bay's lagoon with the largest probably weighing more than 3 pounds. The largemouth were busting baitfish in the morning and we caught most of these schooling fish buzzing a dirty avocado Kalin's 4 inch grub along the surface. Dragging the same grub along the bottom in the bay and jerking a purple/pearl Spro McStick produced all of my smallmouth.
This was the second time I've fished Presque Isle Bay and both times the fishing has been great. I would highly recommend visiting this great fishery if you ever get a chance. For more information on the area, go to .

Friday, December 18, 2009

High school fishing

I was talking to a bass club president the other night about our high school fishing proposal and he told me about a school official he knows in Kansas that thought it would be a great idea but it would be a tough sell to the schools because of budgetary considerations.
I told him it should be the opposite. This program should be appealing to schools because it will be budget friendly to schools. In Illinois' program, most of the mentors for the schools were from the school district staff or unpaid volunteers from bass clubs. The Missouri State High School Activities Association has told us we could have the same volunteer mentor and boat captain setup as Illinois had in the first year of its fishing program.
As for other expenses, the kids will be required to have their own fishing gear (I'm sure we will be able to collected donated gear for the kids who don't have any) and boats will be provided by volunteers.
So in these tough economic times, this is one school activity that will be very affordable for the schools.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Blade bait bass

Yesterday was a rare treat for me. Since I live around the clearest section of Lake of the Ozarks, I rarely get a chance to fish a spinnerbait unless it's cloudy and windy. However the water down by the dam has been murky this fall and we decided to try some blade baits.
I threw a Hole Shot Tackle Company spinnerbait 3/8-ounce chartreuse with a gold willowleaf and Colorado tandem and my partner threw a chartreuse double wilowleaf War Eagle spinnerbait ( Keying on the front of docks inside of points and also along the black rocks just inside the points, we caught nine keepers. Too bad we weren't in a buddy tournament because our best five fish would have weighed around 21 pounds. My partner caught two fish that we hooked on a Berkley hand-held scale and they each weighed exactly 5 pounds.