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An Ozarks Heritage Lives On

“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.”
― Gustav Mahler

If you take a look around at any grocery store, waiting room, classroom, cubicle, you name it, it is unavoidable.  Human progress is rolling forward and we’re more efficient than we’ve ever been.  Accomplishing more with technology than our forefathers would have ever thought possible.

In the face of this progress there have been some casualties.  Consumerism makes it perfectly acceptable to trash something your grandpa would have repurposed 3 different ways before ever dreaming of discarding.  Along with the disposable nature of things purchased, the desire, interest, and often work ethic required to physically create something new is almost lost.  Is there anything more appealing some days than to return to a simpler way of life?  What follows is one example to capture a piece of that if you’re willing to commit some time and effort.

While I’ve had interest in reading the work of author Larry Dablemount of Lightnin’ Ridge Publications I have not had time to really pursue recreational reading lately.  An old friend from high school, Bob Schwab brought his works to my attention and his books look like a perfect winter holdover reading.  What fascinated me most however was when Bob let me know he was planning on building his own wooden john boat.  Not being the handy type myself, I was definitely inclined to see someone else try this first. What follows is a simple photographic journal that illustrates what the process of building your own wooden john boat might look like.  

June 14, 2019

“Book says it’s a 16-20 hour job, start to finish. I think that is BS. Kids and I may give it a try. 2 weekends and evenings should get it done.”

June 20, 2019

“Already gathered up some scrap we had laying around and started on our forms.”

June 27, 2019

“Need to fit the front and rear. Then the bottom. Been slow going.”

July 5, 2019

“She is laying out the spacing for screw holes.”

July 17, 2019

“First time flipped upright”

July 28, 2019

“First coat inside and sides.”

July 31, 2019

“100% done.”

August 10, 2019

“In it now.  Paddled upstream from a low water bridge about 1/2 mile. Float back down. No leaks.”

There are some treasures in life that you don’t appreciate enough until they are gone.  Old men and women’s stories of sacrifice that are unthinkable in today’s era of ultra convenience.  Summers with your kids while they’re little and they still like you.  The simplicity of time in nature, without electronic devices, and teaching your kids about things unthinkable in today’s world.  A time when you would and could build your own stuff.  When a scarcity complex was not a psychological condition but just reality.  Living near the river, camping, and catching your dinner.

Our lives have become more complicated but some things lost on the path to progress should not be forgotten.  Efforts like that of Bob Schwab and his family have made to create this wooden john boat are a prime example that we should all look for something we see falling behind.  A tradition or practice of value from days gone past that still has enduring value.  This blog is all about fishing and it’s a tradition in my family that I intend to carry on for generations.  That love and respect for nature will be an enduring tradition to keep close and pass on to others.  Whatever you’re passionate about, whatever you love, find that equivalent in your world.  Then go do more of it!   Whatever you value, hold on to it, teach others, so they may carry it on to others. 




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A mixed bag of big catch potential with Tailers & Chasers Guide Service

Nothing beats the experience of traveling to new destinations in pursuit of fishing adventure.  When I can’t do that first hand, being able to write about it is a close second.  Learning more about the species caught, methods used, and the big fish potential of new waters is one aspect of fishing that keeps anglers continually searching for their next conquest.

What’s great fun about this month’s feature is that Scott Smith is also a carp on the fly enthusiast.  While he has a plethora of opportunity in Ontario to pursue trophy smallmouth, largemouth, salmon, pike, walleye, and so many more, he’s got a real soft spot in his heart for the scaled whale.  We took some time to learn more about him, his guide service, Tailers and Chasers, and what their seasons and fishing opportunities look like for those interested in heading north (at least north from where I am) to try their hand at a mixed bag of big fish potential.

How did you get into guiding and why do you do it?

My father got me into fishing at around 3 or 4 years old, catching bass, walleye and muskie. It then grew from there, my fishing expanded from fishing with my father to fishing as much as possible with my friends from high school. Every winter/spring we would go to all the fishing shows to see what was new and the next big thing. I began to get excited for the upcoming season. Spring time, this also means steelhead. We traveled to the nearest tributaries to attempt to catch some steel. We had no idea what we were doing, but it was chance to get out and for the first time to fish, meet some people and connect. The obsession continued into college, meeting some more fellow fishermen. They also shared that same passion. I got introduced to fishing the tributaries of the great lakes year-round, by fisherman that knew what they were doing. I found the next best thing, for me. I travelled all over southern Ontario to catch migratory fish. I then made the switch to fly fishing and travelled to all the same places to catch migratory on the fly. I had found my niche.

I then moved to the city for work and my obsession for fishing the tributaries turned into a life style, but what to do in the summer months? Work was busy, not always time to travel to fish. So, I began researching carp, they were big, in every tributary, marsh and in the area that I lived in, so I joined a fishing club, MACO (match angling club of Ontario) & C.C.C. (Canadian Carp Club). My fishing repertoire was evolving from bait casting to spinning rod for warm water species and then float fishing, for everything, the obvious, Steelhead, Salmon and then Carp, yes Carp. Traveling to all the places, sometimes up to 3 hours away to fish these events and meeting new people to learn as much as possible to catch them in my area.  As much as I loved sitting, chumming and prepping bait, it wasn’t enough to feed the obsession. So, I began the quest to catch them on the fly, with little to no information on them doing this at the time. It took some time, but I finally managed to get one, two, and well now some almost fifteen years later, they are my obsession.

A few years ago, I took a job at a lodge in Northern Ontario and it was amazing! I set the Ontario fly fishing record for a walleye and got to meet a lot of awesome people. It was an unforgettable experience. It was then, that I knew I was meant to do this. I love to share my passion, help others teach and educate people to catch fish on the fly, while adapting, developing and to keep pushing the fly fishing limits.

What’s been my favorite experience/fish story I’ve seen first-hand as a guide?

It still amazes me how many people still are surprised that 1) I’m fishing for carp and 2) that I’m doing it on a fly rod. I just keep spreading the “CARPY” word and educating others that it is possible to catch a carp on a fly rod. My favorite first-hand experience, it is hard to pick just one, but to sum it up it’s got to be someone’s first fish of any kind but especially carp, as it’s such a visual thing. It’s you against the fish, you are on their turf.

Sight fishing for carp is not for the faint of heart, but it is definitely a thrill, a challenge and a rewarding feeling to have. It’s the ultimate rush, seeing fish, getting refused, spooking fish, but when you finally get it right, “the take” and the fight, man that fight! The satisfaction! Especially on the great lakes fish and big rivers. The carp definitely makes you a better fly angler, it tests every aspect of your game and your equipment, from persistence, stealth, patience, casting and ability to hook and land big fish. Man, I love carp on the fly.

What are the fishing opportunities where you guide & best times to hire me for a given species?

The main fish that I guide for are carp in the early spring, depending on snow and such it can be around mid-April. This is some of the greatest fly fishing you will see, as they are putting feed bags on before the spawn. After the spawn (around June) is also fantastic time to get them, as the water is warming up and so is their metabolism, they are active and feeding. They can be great in the big Lake “O” (Lake Ontario). I also have the option of chasing them in large river if the lake doesn’t cooperate. We fish them till September/October. All carp on the fly days are spot and stalk in shallow water. Canadian sight fishing at its finest.

South Central Ontario is blessed with so many opportunities, so muskie and bass (smallmouth and largemouth) days are also an option. Some days we do all three in one day. (carp, bass, muskie). We also have some unique catches as well such as suckers, walleye, perch, crappie and more.
In the fall, usually around September, salmon (Chinook & Coho) on the fly, and some lake run browns mixed in. Nothing pulls quit like a 20lbs fresh run salmon in a small creek. The fall is a mixed bag with carp, salmon, muskie, walleye and then steelhead, the fall is the toughest time, to choose a species, lots of options. Steelhead, as well as muskie is great in fall (October to November). Some winters (December to February) are fishable for steelhead, depending on snow and ice. Spring (March and April) is primetime for steelhead, again. Then the seasons start over again.

To learn more about Scott’s guide service and to book a trip to catch your own beast, his link and contact information is below!

944 Colonel Sam drive
Oshawa, Ontario
Get Directions

Call +1 905-922-5153

Instagram: @tailers.chasers

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All things beautiful with Jamie Sandford

There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion. -Francis Bacon

It’s a great thing in life to find friends that are as excited as you are about a shared interest.  It’s even better to find people that have not only a couple of things in common with you but several.  Then it’s a very peculiar, almost strange thing to find someone who lives in another country you’ve never met in person with so many of the same interests, you wonder if perhaps you’ve been seperated at birth.  Jamie Sandford is a friend I’ve known at least a year as another Carp on the fly enthusiast.

Though we live on different continents, Facebook allows us to keep in touch and his updates via Carp Champions are how I first got to know Jamie.  Over time I became interested in his other posts on things I really enjoy too: travel, metal music, good beer, fly tying, etc.  While I’m not rehabbing an English cottage and not much of a biking enthusiast, just about everything else about Jamie’s into has been interesting to follow.  Plus I think we all should have a good variety of pursuits to help us continue learning and avoid becoming a bore.

With that in mind, I hope you find the following anything but boring.  This piece is about what I call all things beautiful.  The small things in life that can be enjoyed in minutes but are truly big things.  These little moments can easily make your day, week, month, or whole year more memorable.  The critics say one of the major risks of social media is that it breeds envy.  That we only see the sanitized version of people’s lives and therefore it’s deceptive.  It makes others feel left out or prone to compare circumstances with others.

All I know for sure is that I’m happy to see others enjoy what I love to enjoy.  I get the elation that is bringing a freight train of a carp to hand on the fly.  There are few things better to hear than some old school metal on the am drive to work.  And a good quality beer is about the best way to wrap up a long day of anything (but of course fishing is naturally included).  So if you also enjoy fishing, beer, travel, metal, etc., prove the critics wrong, appreciate this piece minus the envy, and take in all this beauty Jamie’s got to share.


My summer fishing: Carp, Trout, Beers and Metal!

As the seasons change here in the U.K. I look back on the summer I’ve had in 2018, And what a summer its been!

Fishing here in England and abroad in places such as the EBRO in Spain and the flats of Portugal have been very successful making for a really fun and exciting summer.

I was very lucky to have one of my best trips yet in Portugal this year catching over 100 carp, sight-fishing the flats using head-stand flies, And as I’ve previously written my annual trip to Spain lure fishing for Black Bass, Zander and Perch was yet again a trip of a lifetime with some great fish caught on a variety of lures including surface walkers, poppers, jigs and crank-baits.

Once back home I have had some great captures at my local fisheries using all manner of floating patterns for Carp and I have been rewarded with some stunning looking mirrors and commons on the fly.

From funky looking beetles to more natural style terrestrials the possibilities are endless when you let your imagination be free at the fly tying vice and as the go to pattern in the U.K. tends to be ‘Pellet flies’ its exciting catching on creatures & critters that are multi-colored with various legs and appendages!

Now with the weather turning colder in the U.K. I have started getting my ‘Trout’ head on.  With lots of local ‘stocked ‘ fisheries all within driving distance I am lucky to have fishing on my doorstep.  These stocked waters contain Rainbows, Browns and the odd bonus TIGER and BROOK trout and although these fish are stocked they always put a smile on my face.

Having taken up fly tying over the last few years I have really enjoyed tying up various coloured lures and a favourite pattern of mine at present is the classic ‘CATS WHISKER’ in white and chartreuse, This really seems to be working really well stripped back fast on an intermediate line creating a ‘WHAT’S THAT’ attitude from the trout.

After a good days fishing there’s nothing better in my opinion than coming home and kicking back with a beer and some music…Now I might be wrong here but most lure anglers I know and speak too are metalheads, So I’ve included a pic of my desert island records along with my favourite beers at present! (I’d really recommend the ADNAMS ‘BROADSIDE’)


I think metal music sums up my lure fishing….Its loud, fast, hard and aggressive…And when you get a take from a Carp, Trout or Bass the echoes of Mastodons ‘BLOOD AND THUNDER’ ring through my head!

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The Practitioner’s Edge: Dan Burr Illustration


The beauty, the wonder, and the discovery in nature is a well that never runs dry.  An angler appreciates this and is underlying the drive to get outdoors.  Each outing is another opportunity to take it in, observe the minute details of your catch, and uncover new treasures where you fish.  It’s beyond amazing to me personally and a pursuit that will see me through to my last days provided in this life.

Today we can readily view this through the eyes of other anglers.  The internet captures much through shared photos on social media but when you see the beauty, the wonder, and the discovery from the perspective of a talented artist, it brings a depth you will miss, even in your own experiences.  Beyond the fact many can’t cover all the locations and species available on this planet in one life, we’re all viewing it from a different perspective.  A talented, experienced angler will see the finite details.

When an artist is also an angler, fly tier, guide, and lifelong outdoorsman, it shines through.  This is the edge of Dan Burr’s incredible artwork.  It’s clear Dan’s not an artist who draws fish but instead a true practitioner and lover of nature, bringing his real world knowledge and experience to breathe life into his work. That makes all the difference.  To learn more about all the depth that Dan brings to his work, I took some time to learn more about his story in the interview that follows.

How did you get started as an artist and what kind of fishing do you do?  

I was raised in Mt Green, Utah.  My father is an artist so I grew up watching him paint and sculpt.  He taught me and encouraged me to draw and paint from a very early age. I studied illustration in college and earned a BFA in Illustration from Utah State University and a Masters Degree in Illustration from Syracuse University.

My grand father was a fly fisherman and so was my dad.  My dad tied his own flies and I can remember watching him tie when I was young.
I can’t remember a time in my life when fishing was not part of our family life.  We camped, hunted and fished.  That is what we did as a family.
Now as an adult, I fish as often as I can, usually several times a week.  I tie the patterns that I use and I’m a licensed fly fishing guide in Idaho as well.  I only guide a day or two during the week so I have time to paint and draw.

I think my art is unique because I fish a lot.  I know what the water should look like.  I know the anatomy of the fish I am painting.  I know how a fisherman should be holding the rod or rowing the boat.   I’ve lived it so I know in my mind what makes the work authentic and genuine. Its pretty easy to tell if an artist who paints fishing scenes or fish, has fished enough to know what he is doing… I see bad examples of it all the time…

What’s a favorite fishing story that inspires your work?  Do you have any tips or recommendations for readers?

I don’t think I have a favorite fishing story but once when my son was about 8 or 9, we were fishing the Teton river.  We were floating and for some reason he thought the spinning rod was the way to go.  He wasn’t catching many fish so I threw a fly down stream from the boat and handed him the rod.  I said to him, “now when that big rainbow eats that fly, you set the hook” seconds later a nice rainbow ate the fly and he set the hook… we landed it and he has been hooked ever since. My son who is now 21 is a guide as well.  He is studying fisheries biology at USU in Logan Utah.

As for a tip I would give any fly fisherman, fish with confidence and choose a fly for the right reasons.  Fish it with confidence and you will catch more fish.  You will cast it to better spots in the river, you will make sure its floating or drifting well, and the fish will eat it more often than not. Confidence and purpose equal strikes.

Tell us more about your art and how you work with anglers?  

I do a lot of commissions for fisherman.  They usually want a painting from a trip or their favorite place or a big fish that they caught in some exotic land.  I once did a portrait of a 27 1/2” New Zealand brown trout that was huge.  When I drew it to the measurements, I couldn’t believe how big it was!

As an illustrator, I do a lot of work for a bunch of different publishers.  I have to create an image that helps tell the story. I’ve learned over that past nearly 30 years how to create images that capture the narrative. When someone hires me to do a painting, I bring all of those years to the table, all of my fishing and hunting experiences as well. I don’t think I have ever had a client say “ I don’t like it”.  Usually they love the work they have hired me to do. I learned along time ago that if I don’t like the work that I’m doing, I keep working on it until I do.   Any painting that leaves my studio has to satisfy me first and it has to fulfill the assignment, be designed well and painted well. If it does that, I hand it off to the client.

My work can be found on my site, as well as my Facebook page @DanBurrIllustration and Instagram page danburrillustration.

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The Common Carp provides an uncommon fishing opportunity

A great book was published a few years back called Start with Why by Simon Sinek. His golden circle reference has helped define many endeavours since. If you’re curious to see more, check out the YouTube link here that provides his Ted Talk presentation. In a nutshell his message is that no one cares what you do or how you do it if you don’t communicate why you do it.  The phrase “your why” is now seen in a multitude business-oriented communications since.

Some have asked me over the course of the past year why this blog is called River King Fishing and the answer is essentially “our why”.  I don’t claim to be the king of any river but instead advocate for others to open their mind a bit and pursue overlooked species in overlooked locations so they can essentially own their local river.   When you realize the vast supply of strong fighting fish that are available in large rivers, their tributary creeks, and small streams, you can begin to capitalize on that opportunity.  You may find it your new favorite fishing experience over conventional bass or even trout fishing.  This has meant Common Carp at River King Fishing.  No Common Carp are not the fish making the magazine covers here in America.  You may find yourself fishing some dicey waters in this pursuit.  What you’ll also find however is you will have some of the most fun you’ve ever had fishing, battling absolute bruisers in fast water.

carp fishing


I have been like many fisherman the past 10 or so years. I’m busy with life, kids, and a career that often requires travel, professional development, and sometimes exams to study for outside of work time. That has meant fishing has been limited to local lakes near me. They have been great places to catch fun crappie, bass, bluegill, and catfish, especially when introducing my kids to the fishing basics. I had in my high school days caught carp, catfish, and drum from the river but mostly nothing to get too excited about.  Besides, I was too busy chasing game fish like largemouth bass so who had time for the trash fish swimming in the river?

The crossover point was late summer 2017. I had a job change and was interviewing daily for the next opportunity but had a few hours in between so I would get in some fishing. One day I tried a local dam and the carp I landed that day really changed my perspective on fishing overall. This is what I’ve been missing! What a blast! It made me question why do so few American fisherman respect or pursue these fish.  What follows are just some of the reasons you should pursue these fish.

  • Strength-While carp are rarely pursued for sport in America, it’s a greatly respected gamefish internationally.  Anglers already know and appreciate the fighting ability of these fish.





  • Numbers – The business world talks to value proposition a lot: what makes a company and what they provide a customer stand out? If we’ve got limited time and money as fisherman, I’m looking to maximize my time catching fish, not dealing with distractions like outboard motors and baitcaster backlash. The days of bragging rights on a 4lb bass that took all day to catch seem more like opportunity cost when contrasted with a 100lb morning spent catching carp at the river.  One value proposition for carp fishing is that they are among the best species going for maximizing your time and money. The fishing is fun and fast on the river at times.  

Here is one example from one day in August this year.  Each fish averaged between 5-15lbs and after snapping pics as I always do, I was able to check the time logged for how many I caught and when.  Other than 90 minutes to practice fly casting in between, I was pretty busy this day.  There are robust populations out there and they’re often eager to bite.

10:14, 10:25, 10:37, 11:03, 11:23, 11:34      1:14, 1:28, 1:42, 1:55, 2:00

  • Challenging conditions-It’s a simple equation: larger fish + strengthened in river current + ultralight gear=A fantastic fishing experience any bass or trout angler would envy (if they only knew what they’re missing!). I seek a connection to nature when I get outdoors. Carp fishing is no different. I prefer to use ultralight and light action gear to pursue carp. I don’t use bite alarms for my lines but attentively watch the rod tip awaiting the next bite. When they do, these fish run, fight so hard, and relentlessly challenge your gear until you land them in your net (if your lucky!). That sound of the drag, pulling line clear off your reel, is the sweetest sound in fishing. It breaks up what is often the only background noise when fishing at the river: the serene sound of the current.\

Where I live in MO, the problem is perception. Fisherman think all carp are invasive. Common carp are thrown on the shore and left to die because “that’s what my dad taught me to do” or they make good fertilizer for a garden(?).   Increasing awareness of the carp as a sportfish is one of my drivers in starting my side project.  Most of all, I see the opportunity for many families to have great fun like I’ve had with my boys this summer and want them to share that with their kids as well. I am grateful for the opportunity to create on my blog and look forward to continue shining a spotlight on this great sport of carp fishing in the future!


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Made to hunt: Stalking mud movers on the fly with Jason Schwermer

carp fishing

Catching my first carp on the fly was just an electric experience.  Catching carp was the main motivator for me to learn how to fly fish.  Though more experienced and skilled anglers had warned me that the skill required to convince these intelligent quarry to bite is best left to skilled fly anglers.  I taught myself the basics of casting with online videos and scouted new spots for carp that were more suited for a fly rod than the big river spots I fished with bait for carp.  On Memorial Day I finally caught my first and thought I maybe figured it out.

The subsequent weeks and months have shown me there is still so much to learn.  The stalk, the approach, the cast, are all opportunities to blow it.  I’ve blown many opportunities this summer and connecting with Jason Schwermer online, I’ve seen his waters are quite similar to where I catch carp.  I was curious regarding his approach to stalking carp specifically.  He was willing to share some of his methods, fly patterns, and gear he uses to catch these mud movers in the below interview.

Tell me about how you got started fishing, fly fishing, and then into carp fly fishing?

I started fishing when I was just a little kid my dad used to haul me and my brother in a backpack before we could walk lol but I’ve been fishing for just about everything from bluegill to deep-sea fishing and pike and muskie in Canada.  I kinda got away from fishing for a few years and I really got active in hunting with a longbow spot and stalk style and just recently. I bought my first fly rod so I could take it to the mountains and trout fish because evertime I was in Colorado I would see tons of fish in those high Alpine Lakes.  So I sprung and bought my first fly rod, a TFO 5 weight.  I thought I would practice by crappie fishing and while walking the shoreline I would see these giant beautiful fish and think man I wonder how I can catch those.  So I went home Googled fly fishing for carp and man I made it a mission to be the best I could be at fishing for these beasts.  I went at it trial and error style until after a few weeks bought a book and caught my first carp on a fly and now I’m hooked for life.

What are the conditions where you fish? Are you sight fishing or casting at bubble trails, mud lines, etc.? Forage and fly patterns that are most favored?

Let’s see most of my fishing is done on a big lake in semi-muddy waters but through sunglasses I start looking for fish to see.  I’m a sight fisherman. I walk the shoreline looking for the fish, mud clouds, bubbles whatever I can find but it gets tricky. I had to learn the fish behavior. If I see a pod of fast movers or a single moving, I don’t waist my time but if I see a sun bather I will toss an unweighted fly in front and hope for the best but my 2 favorite are the belly crawlers and the tailers. Those are the ones I like to target. I’m a drag and drop sight fisherman when I see a fish, I look for the head, cast past, drag and drop the fly right in front of their face.  9 times out of 10 bam! fish on!

The flies I like to use are mini craws versions of backstabber I tie and beetles for top water ….

What’s your stalk or approach? If you crawl up to target fish, do you hide behind cover, how do you cast, or other tips for fly anglers to aid in their presentation?

Now this part is where my hunting background comes in play. THE STALK is what I love! Every fish is different but I move very slow along the shoreline looking for the fish .  When I say slow I mean slug pace as these fish are extremely smart spooky with excellent hearing and smell.  Hell they’re a whitetail deer in the water!  If I spot a tailer they are the easiest ones to sneak up on as they are so preoccupied with their face in the mud they don’t notice you so I’ll slowly move into position by sneaking as close as possible and casting a few feet past and drag and drop right in front of their face.

Now the tricky part ..detecting the eat. These fish hit so soft it’s hard to tell so when I drop the fly if I can see the fish in clearer water I watch for the turn as soon as I see that I’ll keep tight line and strip set. The ones I can’t see I drag and drop where I think the head is and watch the end of my fly line for a twitch and set the hook if it moves or I’ll keep the line tight and slowly raise my rod tip if I feel resistance. I strip set and hold on lol!

carp fishing

Now my favorite ones to get are the belly crawlers. If I see one feed in real shallow water I will sneak crawl roll and hide behind bushes weeds trees to avoid being seen.  I like to sneak as close as I can like within 15 ft or so.  I get a huge adrenalin rush and I use the same drag and drop technique on those as well.  I walk light; the vibration of your foot steps will spook them so best tips I can give is walk slow, crawl if you have to.  Walk light, cast accurate , and concentrate on detecting the eat and I guarantee you will have tight lines!

My preferred rod reel is a 7 weight Scott Meridian and a Nautilus XL Max reel but I have caught 20 plus pounders on a 4wt it can be done but not recommended lol

Feel free to check out Jason’s Facebook group, flyfishing carp. if you want to follow page updates, fly tying videos, and more.  If you love hunting turkeys as well as hunting carp on the fly, Jason makes some pretty impressive calls you may want to check out too.

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How the Missouri bronzeback opportunity is golden year-round


Missouri is the Show Me State. Geographically we’re in the middle of the country but we also rarely make the best or worst of many rankings.  According to U.S. News and World Report rankings, we land at #25 for education, #33 for economy #20 for infrastructure and surprisingly #45 for crime & corrections.  Our #21 ranking for opportunity certainly does not factor in our natural resources.  We have absolutely been blessed in this state.  One shining star is the multitude of Ozark streams that are not only fantastic for a variety of outdoor activities like floating, kayaking, camping, swimming, and hiking but of course fishing.

The smallmouth bass is native to and a part of Missouri.  They can be caught readily in their gorgeous natural surroundings and are fantastic sport fish to be pursued.  Smallies are aggressive, athletic, and known for their exceptional leaping ability.  Both fly and conventional anglers love them and while you can catch smallmouth in lakes and reservoirs, the wild stream smallmouth experience is set apart.  Almost a separate species to be pursued from their lake dwelling brethren.  To get just a sliver of the heritage and the opportunity Ozark stream smallmouths provide, take a look at Water & Blood, featuring the Niangua River with Nathaniel Maddux and Jeff Trigg.

Water & Blood // The Niangua River Smallmouth

Nathaniel floats his home river, the Niangua, with Jeff Trigg and explores his family history, rooted deep in the surrounding hills.

Posted by UNDIVIDED on Sunday, August 19, 2018

To be completely transparent writing this, I’ve done myself a personal disservice by not getting out on the streams within a short drive of my home and have only caught a handful of these fighters in my life.  I plan to change this soon so in the meantime to inform this article and help me plan my fishing calendar, Max Turner with The Ozarks Smallmouth Alliance who agreed to share his knowledge on catching Missouri smallies year round.

Can you tell me a little bit about some of the opportunities Ozarks anglers have to catch smallmouth bass?

This is probably one of the questions I get more than any other. Luckily, here in Missouri we have more opportunities to fish for smallmouth than most anglers would be able to fish for in a lifetime. Ryan Walker and I compiled a list of some of our favorite waters here, but there are over 3,500 miles of rivers, streams and creeks that hold smallies in this state so chances are, unless you live in Northwest Missouri if you open an atlas, and throw a dart at a little blue line you can mine some Missouri bronze.


Depending on the season where would you go fishing for smallmouth?

So this isn’t really smallmouth specific but I think the first thing any angler should do when they get to the water is take a minute to, and its a super hacky saying at this point, but “think like a fish”. What are they looking for at this time of year and how can you use that information? In winter they are going to be looking for stable water temperatures so springs and deep wintering holes are going to be the key. In spring areas with a good forage base close to winter staging areas and pre spawn staging areas are going to be absolutely loaded with fish. Once the dog days of summer are in full swing fish are going to be moving from the cooler, oxygenated water of riffles to shaded areas with submerged cover. For fall fishing I have one rule: Follow the forage. Crawdads activity slows down significantly as water temps cool and baitfish will start moving towards deeper water for winter. Follow the food. Find the bass.

So now that we have the where what are some of your favorite techniques to catch bass year round?

In winter subtlety is the key for me. On the colder winter days, fish are suspended in deep pools and not wanting to move much so the ability to dang near bonk a fish on the nose is key. My most effective technique is actually the classic “float and fly” where I will suspend a black or white marabou jig under a strike indicator (that’s fly fishermen for bobber) and work it through a hole and around any structure I can see. Pre spawn is where it starts to get fun again. Fish are feeding aggressively after a long winter of just hanging out and I’m assuming being super bored. I tend to fish larger baitfish streamers and anything with a LOT of tinsel. Spring is a tricky time to fish because I am vehemently against fishing for spawning and bedding bass. Once I see fish spawning or guarding nests my bass fishing slows considerably (temporarily) and when I do fish I’m avoiding beds and using fast moving flies that are either topwater or high in the water column. I cannot stress enough how harmful to a bass population pulling fish off of nests can be. An entire nest can get stripped by sunfish or any other number of fish in minutes. Summer is the best. Summer means poppers. It probably isn’t the most effective method all the time but it will always be the most fun. Since Ross is reading this I’ll say you should also 100% be fishing crayfish flies come summer. Smallies love crayfish almost as much as I love Chinese buffet. Fall is back to baitfish. I love chucking giant streamers on the outskirts of any schools of baitfish I see. Chances are if you see them the fish are watching and waiting too.

Why smallmouth?

I love fishing. For really any species. If it has fins and will eat a fly I’m down to catch it. But for some reason I keep coming back to smallmouth and it’s for a few reasons. I think they are a fish that was built to be an almost perfect fly rod quarry. They are vicious fighters, they eat readily, (but not too readily) and in the Ozarks they tend to live in places that easily rival the most beautiful trout water. There is also something so wonderful to me about fishing for a fish that has been in the Ozarks as long as the Ozarks as we know them have existed. Since long before men came here these fish have been in this water doing exactly what they are doing now. As long as people have been here they have been fishing for these fish. It’s a tradition I think is important and I think our most critical job is to protect these fish and the opportunity to chase them for those that come after us.

To learn more about smallmouth fishing resources in the area, checkout the OSA mainpage or come check out Bronzefest to celebrate all things Smallmouth Bass on September 8-9th at Hootentown campground.

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An outdoors Renaissance Man: Cody Gould


It’s hard to imagine today but there was a time in the western world when the majority of people were illiterate.  Even royalty were among the uneducated of the day while the clergy were often the only and most educated.  The Black Plague ravaged Europe, sending more than 50 million or 60% of Europe’s population to an early demise.  People relied on their faith and were apt to trust that God was in control during a time when much appeared out of control.

It was only during the Renaissance that civilization was able to emerge from these Dark Ages.  Science was again embraced and the grip of the religious institutions lessoned.  The Renaissance was a period of revitalized learning and began a rise in Humanism.  Emphasis was now placed on what was possible in the hands of the individual alone.  Specific figures rose to prominence during this period.  The most renown during this period would be Leonardo da Vinci, likely the most exceptional example of being multi-talented.   Just look to the below description from Wikipedia:

Italian polymath of the Renaissance, whose areas of interest included invention, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography. He has been variously called the father of palaeontology, ichnology, and architecture, and is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time. Sometimes credited with the inventions of the parachute, helicopter and tank,[1][2][3] he epitomised the Renaissance humanist ideal.

From his example and others during the time you hear the phrase Renaissance Man.

Renaissance man

a cultured man of the Renaissance who was knowledgeable, educated, or proficient in a wide range of fields.
(sometimes lowercase) a present-day man who has acquired profound knowledge or proficiency in more than one field.

In today’s modern society, our culture of consumerism and convenience, we throw away so many things our ancestors would have never thought to dispose of.  Items that could be repurposed or used again later end up in the trash bin.  Many have not had to do without or needed to adopt a scarcity mindset because we’ve not endured the hard times like the Middle Ages described above or the Great Depression like our grandparents or great grandparents had.

The ability, interest, and then initiative to develop multiple skills is likewise lost in a workforce of specialists but it is important for many of us to have multiple things we do well for a variety of reasons.  In addition to making you a more valuable workforce asset or business owner, becoming competent in a variety of tasks helps us become well-rounded individuals.  Being able to pick up new areas of expertise and skill happens more quickly when we’ve already got 3 or 4 under our belt already.  This piece from the Art of Manliness blog is an interesting place to start.

This all serves as an interesting introduction for an interesting guy.  Cody Gould is not only a Taxidermist but has also developed artistic and other talents to augment his primary skill.  Also working as a fishing guide and being a talented wildlife artist and photographer, he wears many hats and brings depth to his work.  I was fascinated by a recent sample of his work and thought his story good inspiration for each of us.


Tell us about yourself. How did you get started as an taxidermist and angler too?  I live and grew up in Northern Maine in “The County.” Growing up i was always active in outdoor recreation such as camping, hunting and fishing. Along side that i had an interest in art. I always enjoyed working with my hands and creating things, especially when it had something to do with nature. In high school i started a small business where i turned deer and duck calls on the lathe. I soon realized that i enjoyed working with fellow outdoorsmen. Taxidermy always struck me as fascinating and college was out of the picture as i did not enjoy school so i started researching taxidermy schools. I wanted to take the schooling seriously so i chose Pennsylvania Institute of Taxidermy. This was a 7 month long school, almost triple your typical taxidermy school. I studied under two master taxidermists and put in over 1000 hours at this school.


After i graduated i quickly began the steps to becoming licensed in my state. 8 months after the start up of my business i made the decision to go full time and quit my part time job. This was a big risk but i was ready for it. A year later i doubled business and now three years later i’ve almost quadrupled business. I don’t pride myself in being the cheapest or fastest but in producing the best mount i possibly can with the knowledge i currently have. I never settle for where i am at and always push and critique myself to be a better taxidermist. I have many taxidermist friends throughout Maine and other states that have helped me these past three years grow and continue to grow as a taxidermist in my business, Crown of Maine Taxidermy.

The summer of 2017 i got offered a job part time in the summer as a fly fishing guide at Matagamon Wilderness. I jumped on this opportunity and went through the hard process of becoming a licensed Maine guide. Im working my two dream jobs and loving every second of it!

Do you have a favorite fishing story. Maybe one that provided(s) inspiration for your work? I’ve been fly fishing for almost 10 years. Since then my goal was to catch a trophy brown trout in my local river, the Meduxnekeag. This river is full of brook trout and very few brown trout. To catch a brown trout of any size is a feat in of itself. The summer of 2017 i dedicated my evenings in figuring out how to catch these elusive Meduxnekeag browns. One brown trout from this river a year is huge for most people. I began to realize your chances became much higher when the sun began to set. So one night i went out and started fishing a caddis hatch in the dark. Quickly i caught a 20 inch brown which was my PB out of that river. I thought this was the trophy i was looking for. I was wrong. Exactly a week later i got to the river early that evening, around 6 o clock, to catch some brookies. I noticed in 2 feet of water near a spring seepage a small disturbance in the surface. I studied the water and saw a giant fish in the shallows. I switch my fly from a small caddis to a meaty stonefly, a size 6 stimulator. My first cast was 6 inches to far. No response. Second cast was 6 inches short. No response. Third cast landed right inline with the fish. He slowly came to the fly and opened his mouth without breaking the surface. Like the flush of a toilet the fly whirl-pooled into its mouth. I set the hook and the fish took off like a rocket to the bottom of the pool. I knew at this point i had hook my largest fish yet. I knew i could mess this up so i let the fish run and run again. Giving him as much play to ensure i didnt snap my line. Finally the fish showed me its side and slid into my net. It was the monster Meduxnekeag brown i was looking for! Measuring in at 26 inches. My excitement was through the roof. I couldnt believe it. My hands were shaking like a leaf. Finally after of years of trying i caught one of these beautiful fish.

What are the unique fishing opportunities near you, favorite kind of fishing to do, tackle tips or tricks?  Two hours south of me is the West Branch of the Penobscot river just outside of Baxter State Park. This river is one of the best native landlocked salmon fisheries on the east coast. The landscape is rugged and river challenging and big. Large native brook trout also inhabit this water. Typically i make a few trips a year to this river when i have the free time. I do extremely well nymphing. Some patterns im confident in are large stonefly nymphs and caddis nymphs. The West Branch has a very large caddis and stonefly hatch that at times looks like a cloud. Smelts also work very well swung through the current or dead drifted under a nymphing rig.

In the last year i tried my hand at european style nymphing and have really gotten to love it. When the fish are on bottom feeding its the way to go to catch fish. Recently, i returned from a trip to Montana in which i landed 54 fish in 4 hrs. One of my best days fishing. I still have a ton to learn but really enjoy getting better each trip.

No matter your chosen work, hobby, passion project, etc., there is likely room for you to grow. Look at ways you can become more balanced, multi-talented, and cultured or educated. It will not only serve your professional life but can inspire others at home, church, and beyond!

To learn more or have Cody do some taxidermy work for you, check out his page at Crown of Maine Taxidermy on Facebook.